25 Popular Scotch Whiskies, Ranked

To look through the best Scotch whiskies is to journey through tradition, history, and craftsmanship. No matter what type of Scotch whisky you're discussing — be it a sumptuous single malt or a beautiful blend — coming up with a ranking of popular Scotches was no mean feat. There are over 140 distilleries in Scotland, with each making a variety of expressions. However, we narrowed down our choices by looking at sipping whiskies designed to be enjoyed on their own and prioritizing Scotches that are both affordable and easily available. Additionally, we also chose to stick to one whisky per brand and highlight the most popular expression.

With our deep knowledge of tasting all these whiskies, we've been able to rank them according to our taste while also acknowledging the wider popularity of these expressions. It's also important to note that while taste was the most significant factor in our ranking, we've also considered value for money when determining the order. Join us on our adventure as we look at a comprehensive guide to some of the best whiskies ever made.

25. Buchanan's DeLuxe

We start our list with a Scotch that is not sold in Scotland. Buchanan's DeLuxe has a curious history that has led it to become immensely popular in Latin America but nowhere to be found on the shelves of the U.K. It's a distinguished blend of malt and grain whiskies, resulting in a velvety texture on the palate. 

The taste is an impressive contrast of sweet notes such as honey and gentle spice. A subtle peat smoke helps ground the blend and makes it appealing for both connoisseurs and newcomers. All the whiskies on this list are impressive, but without the great depth or complexity of other expressions here, it sits in our last spot.

24. The Singleton 12-Year

As with Buchanan's, The Singleton is one of many whiskies in this list owned by the beverage giant Diageo. However, it's happy to give the distilleries autonomy to create unique expressions, and that's exactly what we get with The Singleton 12-Year. This Speyside Scotch has a light golden hue, which translates to a clean nose most notable for its fresh fruitiness. 

Those fruits continue to the palate, but it has a surprising kick along with its sweeter tones. The finish is smooth, with a mouthfeel that is a little creamy. Overall, the whisky is a little too clean to rank any higher, as it lacks the power you get from some of the iconic scotches on this list.

23. Dewar's 12-Year

The 12-Year is Dewar's first permanent whisky and has become a great example of how blended whisky can stand up against the famed single malts. A combination of malt and grain whiskies, this 12-year-old has a smooth mouthfeel and features vanilla most prominently on the palate. 

Added with some citrus and dried fruit, you're left with a satisfying tasting experience. However, the finish doesn't linger as long as you'd wish and is, therefore, one of the higher Scotches on this list. That being said, with an affordable price tag, it still represents good value for money and is perfect for making great Scotch whisky cocktails.

22. Chivas Regal 12-Year

Another blended scotch, this whisky was favored by none other than Queen Victoria, and who are we to doubt the infamous monarch? The distilleries 12-year is a great example of blended whisky, and the nose has a lovely herbal undertone. The palate offers a unique combination of honey and orchard fruits, along with the herbs hinted at with the nose. 

The finish is long enough, confirming this as a good Scotch. However, it's good but not great. It doesn't quite live up to its famous reputation, and if you wanted to part with your money on a great Scotch, we'd recommend looking a little further down the list.

21. The Glenlivet 12-Year

It's only a mark of the sheer number of incredible Scotch whiskies that The Glenlivet 12-year finds itself outside the top 20. This quintessential single malt Scotch from the iconic Speyside region is as clean and clear as it comes. 

The nose gives you a fresh burst of aromas before they are delicately showcased on the palate. It displays an impressive range of fruits, such as apples, pears, and citrus, along with elegant floral notes. The finish is clean but does give you some warmth with some lingering spice. There is nothing to dislike about this whisky but it loses some marks regarding value for money.

20. Glenmorangie The Original 10-Year

We called The Glenlivet expression a quintessential Scotch, and the same could be said for this classic single malt. Glenmorangie has a huge range of whiskies, but the 10-year is the one that most perfectly tows the line between taste and cost. Coming from the Highland reason, what we loved most about the nose here was the subtle sweetness that sets the tone for a great tasting experience. 

Joining it on the palate are some beautiful tropical fruits, mainly in the form of peach and apricot. A hit of almond confirms its unique taste, supported by a long and lingering finish. Experienced whisky drinkers may wish for a little more depth, but this is still a lovely and approachable single malt.

19. Johnnie Walker Black Label

With Blue, Black, Green, Red, Gold, Blonde, and Platinum expressions in its lineup, Johnnie Walker takes a unique approach to naming whisky. However, Johnnie Walker Black shines brightest as a premium quality Scotch with an affordable price tag. It may not shout it from the rooftops, but we do know that the Black is aged for a minimum of 12 years, and it showcases that maturity with every sip. 

For a blended whisky, it has a surprising amount of warmth but also has some lighter fruits and sweetness on both the nose and palate. A smoky finish only proves the complexity here and marks it as a robust whisky that deserves much respect.

18. Glenfiddich 12-Year

Aside from the lower-shelf offerings, there probably isn't a more famous Scotch brand in the U.K. than Glenfiddich. It has long been seen as an approachable and affordable single-malt whisky. The 12-year is the flagship bottle and doesn't disappoint. 

The most distinctive note on the nose is that of pear, which continues to the palate. It is joined by a delightful mix of gentle oak and sweet flavors, including butterscotch and crisp fruits. A gentle warmth and lingering fruitiness make for a wonderful finish. There is a long list of excellent Speyside single malts, but the Glenfiddich 12-year is certainly on there.

17. Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie

Peated whiskies and the island of Islay go hand-in-hand. However, there are some notable exceptions, with Bruichladdich being one of them. The distillery isn't afraid to do things a little differently, and it aims to showcase the natural flavor of barely and combine that with the beautifully clear spring water of the island. The result with The Classic Laddie is a scotch that offers a lovely range of fruits on the nose and a slight saltiness from the sea breeze.

 The malt shines through on the palate, along with various sweeter tastes, such as vanilla. This floral and fruity whisky has a beautiful warmth on the finish, which justifies the innovation and craftsmanship that go into this memorable Scotch.

16. Highland Park 12-Year

Despite its name, this 12-year is not made in the Highlands. Instead, it's made in the northernmost whisky distillery in Scotland, on the Orkney Islands. However, to make this a little more confusing, island whiskies (other than Islay) are often lumped in as being part of the Highland region. 

Regardless of the classification, the 12-year is Scotch that reflects this unique terroir and the distillery's craftsmanship. Highland Park whisky is known for its heather on the nose and palate, which is joined in the 12-year by malt, a slight peat smoke, and you can also taste its maritime influence. Faint hints of cinnamon and nutmeg add to its depth, and when joined by the gentle smokiness, you get a warm finish.

15. Bunnahabhain 12-Year

Only two of the distilleries on Islay specialize in unpeated whisky. Bruichladdich is one of them, and Bunnahabhain is the other. It helps to give its 12-year Scotch a distinctive character as it relies on the environment to shape the whisky rather than depending on peat smoke. 

The most notable smells here come from malt with a hint of dried fruit. The palate starts with briny notes before moving on to toffee, nuts, and a subtle touch of oak. This spirit has a beautiful rawness, and the finish lingers for a fulfilling tasting experience and again shows that Islay is much more than just its peated whiskies.

14. Caol Ila 12-Year

Here, we feature another Islay whisky, but this one is peated. Caol Ila 12-year is a captivating single malt characteristic of what you may expect from an island whisky. The nose has the archetypal maritime notes of peat smoke and brine, along with subtle citrus zest. We get a large hit of medicinal peat on the palate, but it's balanced with some delicate honey. 

It's one of the smokier whiskies on the list, but it's refined to give it an excellent level of complexity. That smoke carries onto the finish, which is unsurprisingly warm and long. It's one of those Scotches perfect for cold winter nights.

13. The GlenDronach Original 12-Year

Technically a Highland whisky, the GlenDronach sits right on the edge of Speyside towards Scotland's east coast. It utilizes its geography to craft its 12-year expression, drawing all the best bits from its surroundings. Matured in sherry casks, you'll get a symphony of flavors here. The most unique is undoubtedly the sweetness of raisins and the richness of dark chocolate. The sherry influence is notable throughout, but you also get a blend of warm spices. 

With a smooth mouthfeel, it's a truly enjoyable whisky that carries through to its long finish. While not quite as famous as some other brands on this list, the Original 12-year more than deserves its place.

12. Ledaig 10-Year

The Ledaig 10-year is a fantastic single malt from the Isle of Mull's Tobermory Distillery. The rugged charm of the island is reflected in the whisky, as it has all the earthy notes you expect from a Scotch. 

Heavy influences of maritime brine, iodine, and peat smoke mark its robust character. However, there are plenty of lighter notes on the palate, as you can taste a little zest and a nice undertone of malt. A smoky finish supports the initial impression of this being a wild and untamed spirit. It's not the most approachable whisky, but that only adds to its charm.

11. Monkey Shoulder The Original

Here, we have the last blended whisky on our list. Crafted by William Grant & Sons, the name pays homage to the historic practice of maltmen turning barley by hand, a physically demanding task that led to a condition known as "monkey shoulder." 

This expression has the smoothness you expect from a high-quality blend with a nose rich in vanilla, toffee, and subtle floral notes. Those notes transfer onto the palate and are joined by some malt and warm baking spices that continue to the long finish. With its lovely taste, unique branding, and beautiful bottle, it makes an excellent gift and one of the best Scotches for beginners.

10. Cragganmore 12-Year

Moving into the top 10, it's all single malts from here. If Monkey Shoulder is a little quirky in its branding, Cragganmore is the exact opposite. Cragganmore 12-year is a distinguished Speyside malt that presents its whisky more traditionally. Inside the bottle is a beautiful nose marked by honeyed malt, dried fruit, and a subtle wisp of smoke. It has a complex array of flavors on the palate, with a touch of oak being the standout feature. 

This is a very malty Scotch, and its delicate smokiness adds depth to the tasting experience. It's a classic example of the elegance you can expect from a great Speyside whisky.

9. Oban 14-Year

While not an island whisky, Oban is a Highland town on Scotland's western coast, not far north of Islay. Due to this. Oban 14-year has many qualities you may expect from its rugged surroundings. You'll get subtle brininess, honey, and citrus on the nose. On the palate, you'll enjoy a touch of heather, malt, and a gentle hint of peat smoke. 

When added to its sweeter flavors, you'll see why Oban 14-year is a masterclass in balance. It captures the essence of its coastal surroundings without being too overpowering. It masters that delicate balance of being both powerful and refined. 

8. Ardbeg 10-Year

Ardbeg 10-Year is an iconic Islay single malt. Coming from the same southern coast that is home to Laphroaig and Lagavulin, this 10-year is known for its extreme peat flavor, which means this Scotch probably isn't the best choice for beginners. That peat immediately hits you on the nose with the medicinal smoke, along with hints of brine and citrus. The peatiness also takes center stage on the palate but is balanced out by flavors of vanilla, lemon, and a hint of toffee. 

Naturally, any peat enthusiast will adore the Ardbeg 10-year. For those used to mellower whiskies, its raw nature may be a little overwhelming at first.

7. Talisker 10-Year

Many great island Scotches aren't from Islay, and Talisker 10-year is a great example. Coming from the Isle of Skye, this masterpiece encapsulates the rugged essence you get with most distilleries exposed to the sea air. 

As with most island whiskies, this Scotch has a warmth that isn't matched by any other spirit. A burst of citrus zest joins the smoky nose, and these notes carry through to the palate. A kick of pepper joins them, along with a honeyed malt. That spiciness is evident in the long finish of a whisky that perfectly reflects the untamed beauty of Skye's coastal landscape.

6. The Macallan 12-Year Double Cask

We've looked at some raw whiskies, so let's highlight a distillery renowned for making refined Scotches. The 12-year is a fantastic single malt and a testament to Macallan's craftsmanship as one of the greatest scotch brands. The Speyside malt has a lovely nose of vanilla and toffee with some dried fruits. On the palate, those notes of the nose are joined by some zest and caramel and are underpinned by oaky spice. 

Using American and European casks gives this scotch a wonderous symphony of flavors. The only reason it doesn't get into our top five is that the Scotches above offer a little better value for money.

5. Laphroaig 10-Year

If The Macallan is a classic orchestra, Laphroaig 10-year is pure rock and roll. The bold and distinctive character of the 10-year hits you immediately on the nose with intense peat and medicinal iodine. Hints of seaweed further show why this is such a bold Scotch. The robust flavors continue to the palate, but there is enough caramel and vanilla to ensure earthy flavors don't completely dominate this Scotch. 

We'd usually say such a smoky whisky isn't great for beginners, but if you want to know whether or not you like the taste of peat, this is a great place to start. It's an iconic Scotch that, while raw, is beautifully crafted and therefore, deserves to be ranked so highly.

4. Aberlour 12-Year

What strikes you immediately about Aberlour 12-year is its beautiful amber hue. Once poured, you'll get an array of beautiful notes on the nose from this double-cask whisky, partly due to its maturation in sherry casks. Dried fruits and warm spices dominate, as well as a hint of oak. The most unique note on the palate is that of raisins, along with a beautiful collection of traditional sweet flavors. 

The velvety texture of this Scotch helps showcase the remarkable depth and complexity on show. A touch of dark chocolate on the finish adds further justification to this being one of the best Scotches available and well worthy of its high ranking.

3. The Balvenie Double Wood 12-Year

There's very little separating our top picks, and undoubtedly, the DoubleWood 12-year is an outstanding Scotch. As with the Aberlour above, this is first matured in a traditional whisky cask before it's then transferred to a sherry oak cask. The former gives it plenty of vanilla notes, while the latter imparts an array of fruits and honey. 

The finish is warm and enduring, leaving behind a lingering sweetness and a touch of oak spice. It's a perfectly balanced whisky, and the only reason it's not our top choice is merely reflective of the mastery of the Scotches to come.

2. Dalwhinnie 15-Year

The Dalwhinnie 15-Year is the antithesis of our No. 1 pick. Smooth and clean whiskies often lack depth, but not here. This Highland Scotch is nestled in the windswept landscape of Drumochter Hills, which helps to give it some of that complexity usually associated with island whiskies. 

Once poured, the golden amber hue welcomes you in, and you'll soon enjoy the notes of heather and peat. On the palate, you'll be delighted with some bright citrus fruits and sweetness, along with a touch of oak. It's a refined and elegant whisky with the qualities of both a Spey and an island whisky. It's a truly outstanding whisky but a close second to our top spot when it comes to complexity.

1. Lagavulin 16-Year

A true icon of whisky. A pilgrimage through the world of Scottish single malts can't be complete without tasting the incredible depth of Lagavulin 16. From the storm-beaten coastal shores of Islay, it's a whisky that is a perfect combination of both whisky craftsmanship and exposure to a unique environment. 

The nose of peat smoke, seaweed, and iodine immediately mark this out as robust Scotch. Not for the faint-hearted, the palate displays its signature smokiness but with a vast array of other tasting notes that come from its oak cask and maritime influences. The finish is long and lingering for a faultless Scotch. Lagavulin's 16-Year is, quite simply, a masterpiece.