Seasoned whiskey drinkers know the value of a rich, full-bodied bottle of whiskey. First introduced at 13e century, whiskey features prominently in celebrations around the world. The word whiskey (or whisky) is an anglicization of the classic Gaelic word “water”. Often referred to as the “water of life”, it is usually enjoyed alone, with people, or used for toasting.
Earlier this week, a cask of rare Scotch whiskey dating back to 1975 sold for a record £16million, showing the value of whisky. When considering quality, taste, style and price, here is a definitive list of ten single malt whiskeys every drinker should have:
10. Teeling Single Malt
From number 10, Teeling’s single malt contains whiskeys aged up to 23 years, which have been aged in a range of wine casks: sherry, port, Madeira, blanc de Bourgogne and Cabernet Sauvignon. This blend combines different elements to create a rich and spicy whisky.
9. Monkey Shoulder
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Monkey Shoulder’s name isn’t the most interesting thing about it. A blend of 100% single malt whiskey, Monkey Shoulder combines some of Speyside’s finest to create a unique single malt. It has hints of vanilla and fruity aromas, which makes it perfect for mixing any whiskey cocktail.
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Glenmorangie starts with water, wood, yeast and barley, whiskey makers have imaginative ways to achieve interesting flavors. The Original has a lemon-gold color and an aroma and taste of fruits including mandarin, lemon, apple, pear and peach, creamy vanilla, geranium and wild mint.
7. Glenlivet Founders Reserve
Glenlivet Founders Reserve is a Speyside whiskey aged in selected traditional and first fill American oak casks. It is a well balanced, sweet and fruity taste with a smooth finish. This is another whiskey that can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or used to make a cocktail. It’s also relatively inexpensive, which might make people skeptical about its quality, but its affordability doesn’t take away from the taste. It is tasty and appeals to many whiskey drinkers. It is also an excellent whiskey for beginners.
6. Glenfiddich 18 years old
The most awarded single malt whiskey in the world, Glenfiddich has an 18 year old whiskey with a unique freshness made from the same Highland spring water they use for their other blends. This whiskey has been carefully aged in American oak and European oak barrels for at least 18 years. This gives it a rich, fruity and full-bodied taste that shows care and attention to detail.
5. Balvenia 15
Limited by nature, each heavily toasted European oak Oloroso sherry cask will produce no more than 800 bottles of Scotch whisky. Balvenie Single Barrel Sherry Cask has been aged exclusively in a single European oak sherry cask for at least 15 years. It is rich with an elegant and subtly spicy woodiness.
4. Glenlivet 18
Glenlivet makes its second appearance on this list with its 18-year-old whisky. Winner of 2 gold medals at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), the Glenlivet 18 year old remains the distiller’s most highly regarded Scotch whiskey. This whiskey has an aroma of caramel and cream. The palate offers notes of sweet orange peel and vanilla, with undertones of burnt caramel.
3. Hibiki (Japanese)
Hibiki has five whiskeys under his belt with different ages and blends. Launched in 1989, Hibiki Whiskey is a melodic blend of several malt and grain whiskeys carefully blended to create an array of flavors and aromas. Hibiki whiskeys are vessels of fine craftsmanship, masterful knowledge of blending and a sense of luxury.
- Price: From N31,150.
2. Macallan 18 years old
A full-bodied palate with flavors of mature oak, ginger and raisin is complemented by a natural light mahogany color of this whisky. Aged 18 years in European barrels, its mouth is lemony, vanilla, slightly toasted oak and nutmeg.
- Price: from N110,600.
1. Glenfiddich 21 years old
Refined for 21 years at the distillery, Glenfiddich is a traditional Speyside whisky. After maturing, the 21-year-old whiskey is infused in Caribbean rum-soaked casks that have a spicy warmth and an easy-going vanilla and caramel sweetness. This infusion turns something big into something spectacular. It gives this whiskey an opulent sweet intensity that is both rich and creamy while retaining the characteristics of a Glenfiddich whisky.
- Price: From N140,000.
Nairametrics relies on insights from whiskey drinkers, research and market data to curate its list of the best single malt whiskies. This list is updated quarterly.