When it comes to spirits, Scotch whisky might not come to mind as the most versatile option for gifting. It’s a spirit that’s often (and incorrectly) perceived as being exclusively suited for hardcore smoke lovers, or one that has to be expensive to be of high quality. Neither of these is true: This spirit offers great drinkability and versatility in flavor profile due to both regional terroir and producers that range from generations-old to more experimental. From bold, sherry-cask aged expressions with intense caramel and dried fruit notes to examples with a crisp and citrus-forward profile, there’s a Scotch to fit nearly any palate. Even better: There are great options available at all price points. While there are many splurge-worthy and limited-edition finds on shelves, there are also some incredible budget-friendly bottles and versatile expressions that will shine on any bar cart.
To help you wade through the sea of options, we put together a list of the top bottles for everyone on your list from whisky beginners to cocktail lovers. Here are the seven best Scotches to gift this year.
- Best Budget Scotch: Isle of Skye 12 Year Old
- Best Splurge Scotch: Glengoyne 21 Year Old Highland Single Malt
- Best Scotch For Beginners: Deanston Virgin Oak Single Malt Whisky
- Best Scotch for Geeks: Glenglassaugh Sandend Highland Single Malt
- Best Scotch for Cocktail Lovers: Maclean’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky
- Best Scotch to Impress: The Dalmore 18 Year 2023 Edition
- Best Limited-Edition Scotch: The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12
Best Budget Scotch
Isle of Skye 12 Year Old
Though Scotch has a rep for being pricy, there are some notable budget-friendly bottles out there. This example from Isle of Skye has over a decade of aging, and is still available at an entry-level price. This Scotch really shines in cocktails, so give this to your buddy who got really into making Penicillins this year.
Average price: $30
Best Splurge Scotch
Glengoyne 21 Year Old Highland Single Malt
This 21-year-old single malt leads with a surprising freshness, but the bottle’s age-driven complexities reveal themselves over time with notes of dried cranberries, prunes, and potpourri. With roots dating back to the 1830s, Glengoyne is a family-owned operation that still distills in accordance with many time-honored traditions. The distillery’s motto is “unhurried since 1833,” which is evident in the meticulous methods behind their bottlings — in fact, Glengoyne is known to have the slowest stills in Scotland. Consider this expression the perfect gift for someone who enjoys sipping and pondering the nuances in the glass.
Average price: $245
Best Scotch for Beginners
Deanston Virgin Oak Single Malt Whisky
If you’re looking to introduce a staunch bourbon fan in your life to Scotch, this is the perfect bottle to meet them where they (and their palate) are. This whisky is aged through a two-step process, starting in ex-bourbon casks and then finishing in new oak barrels. These aging vessels impart notes of spicy wood, banana, and caramel, which capture the richness that appeals to American whiskey drinkers.
Average price: $47
Best Scotch for Geeks
Glenglassaugh Sandend Highland Single Malt
Spirit aficionados love to geek out about alcohol content. And while the world of Scotch tends to place more value on age than ABV, this bottle flips the narrative. It has no age statement, but it offers incredible intensity at a well-balanced 50.5 percent ABV. Rich notes of caramel and butterscotch lead the profile, and are enhanced by bright tropical fruits and a hint of briny salinity.
Average price: $70
Best Scotch for Cocktail Lovers
Maclean’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky
This bottle is the perfect addition to any at-home bartender’s set-up. The 46 percent ABV expression offers bright citrus and honey notes on the nose and rounded flavors of chocolate and nougat on the palate. It’s accessible, versatile, and overall one of the best bargains in the category — and it’s ideal to have on hand for stirring up a Rob Roy.
Average price: $37
Best Scotch to Impress
The Dalmore 18 Year 2023 Edition
Swathed in its royal purple packaging, this bottle is certainly dressed to impress. So if you’re looking for a statement Scotch to gift your in-laws or someone who really knows their spirits, this is a classy pick. The liquid is aged in both ex-bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry casks, which lend notes of dark caramel, brown sugar, and baked peaches to the profile. Hints of earth, leather, and tobacco offer even more complexity as the Scotch opens up in the glass, and the palate’s tannic texture helps bring balance and tone down the sweetness.
Average price: $290
Best Limited-Edition Scotch
The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12
This limited-release Scotch from the Valley of Forgue in the Highland region will more than satisfy those who love sherry-aged and high-proof expressions. Not for the faint of heart, this intense bottling is aged in oloroso and Pedro Ximénez casks and clocks in at a hearty 58.2 percent ABV. The high alcohol content lifts up aromas of dried fruit and caramelized nuts, and carries them onto a concentrated, dark-berry palate for a sip that’s sweet, savory, and bold. Make sure to get this limited-edition release while you still can.
Average price: $105