Owning an exceptional bottle of Scotch whisky, is a special occasion unto itself and calls for a celebration. A whisky lover would tell you how easy it is to look for an excuse to pour a dram, kick back and relax after an exhausting day, although all want and need for a good excuse are rendered moot when it’s a whisky as impressive as the ones we are about to discuss.
Whether it’s a vintage single malt like The Glenlivet XXV, or the product of hundreds of years of blending experience built on the foundations of old-school tradition like the Chivas Regal 25-Year-Old, these Scotch whiskies are truly extraordinary.
Not many have them, and many may spend their lives chasing the chance to taste them, and if you share this compelling proclivity for a glass of fine Scotch whisky, enough to put together a bucket list for Scotch whisky brands, we are here to help.
1. The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve
The Founder’s Reserve was created using the blueprints left behind by George Smith, founder of The Glenlivet and pioneer when it came to defining the quintessential ‘Speyside Single Malt’. Distilled in the unique lantern shaped copper stills first used by George Smith, The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve is the perfect homage to tradition.
This no-age-statement single malt is the work of Master Blender Alan Winchester, who blends a number of aged whiskies from oak barrels, finishing them off in first-fill American oak barrels.
A creamy, fruity and citrusy drink, The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve is a classic single malt Scotch that you must try at least once in your lifetime.
2. Chivas Regal 25-Year-Old
A constant feature in many ‘best of’ Scotch whisky lists, the magnificent blended Scotch whisky owns the title of being ‘the world’s first luxury whisky’. Ever since it was first introduced in 1909, the Chivas Regal 25 became the epitome of opulence, becoming a mainstay of the elite New York social scene in no time.
Not only has the Chivas Regal 25 been a consistent crowd favorite, it has been one of the most awarded and critically beloved expressions from Chivas Brothers.
Its fruity nose, rich texture and overwhelmingly pleasant palate make it one of the perfect vintage Scotch whisky blends to enjoy neat, and is a drink that impresses you and the people around you, equally.
3. Ballantine’s 30-Year-Old
The second oldest expression in the Ballantine’s core range, the Ballantine’s 30 is as much a work of art, as it is a chapter in history. Blended to perfection with source whiskies from some of the oldest, and some ‘ghost distilleries’ that are no longer in function, it is a triumph from this historic brand.
It is loved by critics and consumers alike, who praise its complexity, sweetness and soft fruity aromas, the Ballantine’s 30 is enclosed within an elegantly crafted bottle that is a treasure to own for any whisky connoisseur with a bar that is the envy of all.
4. Chivas Regal 18
The labour of love from none other than Master Blender Colin Scott, the Chivas Regal 18 Year Old is an elegantly robust, and highly revered blended Scotch whisky on every single parameter. One of its most impressive qualities is that it carries over 85 unique flavor notes, lending it an amazing richness, and depth in terms of tasting notes. Its smoothness, and richness are perfectly balanced by Master Blender Colin Scott.
The tasting notes carried by this incredible 18-year-old blended Scotch whisky gives off aromas of dried fruits, dark chocolate with a velvety palate, and hints of sweet, mellow smokiness. It’s one of the most impressive expressions from Chivas Regal’s core range.
5. Royal Salute 21
On the pricier end of the segment, the Royal Salute 21 is the true example of bottled regalia, and is a Scotch whisky fit for royalty itself. In fact, the very first bottle of Royal Salute was blended in honor of Queen Elizabeth II herself, and was presented to her on the day of her Coronation.
Since then, the Royal Salute blended Scotch whiskies have formed a part of every major royal event concerning the British Monarchy. Bottled in a Wade porcelain flagon decanter, the Royal Salute 21 was the first in line of many luxury whiskies commissioned by then owner of Seagram’s, Samuel Bronfman.
Named after the 21 Gun Salute, the traditional fired at the Tower of London for royal occasions, whiffs of sweet pears and citrus fruits greet first, followed by a palate of sweet orange marmalade infused with fresh pears. Spicy nuttiness follows with hints of hazelnuts, and a long, warming, smoky finish, making it a drink fit for occasions of extreme importance.
6. Old Pulteney 21
This Highland single malt is produced in Pulteneytown, Caithness and the Old Pulteney distillery was once the most northerly distillery in the Scottish country. That particular title is no longer the claim to fame for this brand, as their acclaimed single malt has managed to impress people all over the world.
Said to be a particular favorite of the Whisky Bible author Jim Murray, the Old Pulteney 21 is matured in ex-Bourbon barrels, with some part of ex-Oloroso Sherry barrels.
Its tasting notes are distinctly creamy, with hints of vanilla and spiciness, with a fruity aroma making it a desirable combination of complementary flavors.
7. Laphroaig Quarter Cask
An enduring Islay classic, the Laphroaig is an exceptionally divisive whisky among drinkers, and those who love it, love it absolutely, whereas those who never found a taste for it, have never been able to get themselves to like it. One thing is certain, the Laphroaig brand has been around for centuries and will continue to do so.
The Laphroaig Quarter Cask is matured in ex-Bourbon barrels, and later finished in ‘quarter casks’, infusing a unique smoothness into the whisky. This coupled with the Laphroaig’s peatiness, and their warehouse’s proximity to the Atlantic shore, adds a multitude of flavors to the drink.
8. The Glenlivet XXV
One of the rarest from The Glenlivet, this single malt is a rich, decadent and intense drink that not many have the pleasure of enjoying in their lives, and for this very reason, it is one of our strongest recommendations to whisky lovers all over the world.
With the colors of molten amber, this Oloroso ex-Sherry barrel aged single malt is the oldest expression from their core range, and the infusion of flavors and aromas from the ex-Sherry butts blend beautifully with this Speyside single malt to create magic.
With a nose that gives off hints of dark chocolate, and a silky sweet cinnamon palate, with an incredibly long, rich and balanced finish, The Glenlivet XXV is the single malt to die for!
9. Glenfarclas 25
Glenfarclas is an iconic Speyside distillery, and single malt brand with whiskies being renowned the world over for their uniquely sherried tasting notes. It’s age statement of 25 years ensures an impeccable smoothness that is hard to come by in younger single malts.
Not easily available, the Glenfarclas 25 is an excellent choice for special occasions and its tasting notes are both typically Speyside, and different from them at the same time.
Apart from the classic Sherry notes, it has a tangy palate with notes of creamy barley, fruitcake and chocolate. A long finish with traces of buttery smokiness leave the drinker with a pleasant aftertaste.
10. Johnnie Walker Green Label
A slightly tumultuous history is enjoyed by this particular Johnnie Walker expression; the Green Label was initially launched in 1997 as the ‘Pure Malt 15-Year-Old’ before being rebranded with the name Green Label. Sadly, it was discontinued in 2012 before being reintroduced in 2016.
The Johnnie Walker Green Label is a blended malt whisky, meaning unlike other expressions from the brand, it is only a blend of single malt whiskies with no grain whisky content whatsoever. Few blended malt expressions exist in the market, and the Green Label is definitely one of the better ones.
With an age-statement of 15 years, the Green Label does carry the signature Johnnie Walker smokiness, with fruity aromas and hints of sandalwood and pepper. A palate of rich cedar is combined with fruity flavors and a smoky finish with traces of saltiness.
These are some of the most exquisite Scotch whiskies you must try to expand your horizons, and explore the different regions of Scotland through a bottle of whisky! Cheers.