Special Report

The Best Single Malt Scotches This Year

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In the world of brown liquors, single malt scotch whisky has managed to hold sway over the public imagination the world over. Generally more expensive and sought-after than its cousins across the pond (like bourbon and Canadian whisky), scotch is a magical elixir that’s the subject of fierce devotion among those who love it.

In order to be called a single malt scotch, the whisky must be made at a single distillery using a pot still; it must be made from a mash made entirely of malted barley; and it must age in oak casks for at least three years. And, of course, it must be made in Scotland (though there are now single malts being made in Ireland, the U.S., and elsewhere around the world; they’re just not scotch).  

While adhering to these parameters, there’s still plenty of room for creativity. Some scotch whiskies spend just a few years in barrels; some spend decades. Some are bottled at 40 to 45 percent alcohol; some are bottled at “cask strength” upwards of 60 percent. You’ll also notice that many scotches (especially from the island of Islay) are smoky; this is because the sprouting (germination) of the malted barley must be stopped by applying heat, and many distilleries burn dried peat as the fuel. Contrary to popular belief, not all scotches are peated; if you think you’re not a scotch fan, try one that’s unpeated and you might change your mind. (If you’re more of a bourbon fan, these are the 25 best bourbons in the U.S. right now.) 

24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the 32 best single malt scotch whiskies for 2022 by reviewing the results of the 2021 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, a weeks-long multi-part event covering a wide range of spirits, judged by panels including spirits writers, bartenders, consultants, and other experts in the field. 

Click here to see the 32 best single malt scotches for 2022

Our list includes all the single malts rated 95 points or higher. Within each scoring group, whiskies were ranked according to price, with the less expensive ones placing higher. In one case there was a tie in score and price, noted as such. Prices were suggested retail prices for a 750 ml bottle as of mid-2021, and may have changed since the judging and may vary from state to state and in some cases from store to store. (For scotch, bourbon, and other whisky/whiskey types, also tasted by judges at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, these are the best whiskies under $50 for 2022).

There’s a whole world (or rather, a whole country) of single malt scotch out there. Some are young, some are super-aged; some have a higher proof than others; some are smoky; some are far more affordable than others. Some cost about the same as any good kind of spirits, while others are priced strictly in collectible territory. Note that the highest-rated examples in this list are by no means always the most expensive ones.

Source: Courtesy of SMWS Malaysia via Facebook

32. The Scotch Malt Whiskey Society Cask No 76.148 Grilled Lemon-Garlic Elk Steak 1987 32-year-old Speyside
> Score: 95
> ABV: 51.6%
> Price: $1,195

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Source: Courtesy of Country Wine and Spirits

31. Mortlach Cowie’s Blue Seal 20-year-old Speyside
> Score: 95
> ABV: 43.4%
> Price: $220

Source: Courtesy of BOOZY

30. Lagavulin 12-year-old Islay
> Score: 95
> ABV: 56.4%
> Price: $199.99

Source: Courtesy of Regency Liquor

29. GlenDronach Allardice 18-year-old
> Score: 95
> ABV: 46%
> Price: $185

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Source: Courtesy of Clever Wine Online

28. Oban 18-year-old Highland
> Score: 95
> ABV: 43%
> Price: $175

Source: Courtesy of Luxe Life Co.

27. anCroc 24-year-old Highland
> Score: 95
> ABV: 46%
> Price: $159

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Source: Courtesy of Ship Liquor

26. Craigellachie 17-year-old Speyside
> Score: 95
> ABV: 46%
> Price: $149.99

Source: Courtesy of Top Shelf Wine and Spirits

25. Glen Grant 18-year-old Speyside
> Score: 95
> ABV: 43%
> Price: $134.99

Source: Courtesy of Whiskey Caviar

24. Lagavulin 16-year-old Islay
> Score: 95
> ABV: 43%
> Price: $89.99

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Source: Courtesy of Wine Society

23. Tobermory 12-year-old Mull
> Score: 95
> ABV: 46.3%
> Price: $84.95

Source: Courtesy of Drink Dispatch

22. (tie) Highland Park Cast Strength Orkney
> Score: 95
> ABV: 63.3%
> Price: $80

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Source: Courtesy of The Glenrothes via Facebook

21. (tie) Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Cut Speyside
> Score: 95
> ABV: 48.8%
> Price: $80

Source: Courtesy of Sip Whiskey

20. Oban 14-year-old Highland
> Score: 95
> ABV: 43%
> Price: $79.99

Source: Courtesy of Keg N Bottle

19. Talisker 10-year-old Skye
> Score: 95
> ABV: 45.8%
> Price: $69.99

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Source: Courtesy of Whisky and Whiskey

18. Lagavulin 8-year-old Islay
> Score: 95
> ABV: 48%
> Price: $68

Source: Courtesy of Third Base

17. Kilchoman Machir Bay Islay
> Score: 95
> ABV: 46%
> Price: $64.99

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Source: Courtesy of That's It Booze

16. Benriach The Twelve 12-year-old Speyside
> Score: 95
> ABV: 46%
> Price: $60

Source: Courtesy of FrootBat

15. Deveron 12-year-old Highland
> Score: 95
> ABV: 40%
> Price: $44.99

Source: Courtesy of Whiskey Caviar

14. Bunnahabhain 25-year-old Islay
> Score: 96
> ABV: 46.3%
> Price: $699.99

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Source: Courtesy of W & J Wine

13. Highland Park 21-year-old Orkney
> Score: 96
> ABV: 46%
> Price: $384.99

Source: Courtesy of Whiskey Caviar

12. Highland Park Viking Pride 18-year-old Orkney
> Score: 96
> ABV: 43%
> Price: $179

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Source: Courtesy of W & J Wine

11. Port Askaig 110-proof Islay
> Score: 96
> ABV: 55%
> Price: $80

Source: Courtesy of Glenmorangie Distillery via Facebook

10. Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or Sauternes Rare Cask Finish Highland
> Score: 96
> ABV: 46%
> Price: $76.99

Source: Courtesy of Keg N Bottle

9. Bunnahabhain Toiteach A Dha Islay
> Score: 96
> ABV: 46.3%
> Price: $74.99

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Source: Courtesy of Bruichladdich Distillery via Facebook

8. Port Charlotte Heavily Peated 10-year-old
> Score: 96
> ABV: 50%
> Price: $69.99

Source: Courtesy of Glenfiddich Distillery Visitor Centre via Facebook

7. Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14-year-old Speyside
> Score: 96
> ABV: 43%
> Price: $49.99

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Source: Courtesy of SMWS Unfiltered via Facebook

6. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Cask No. 12.43 Desire Lines 1991 28-year-old Speyside
> Score: 97
> ABV: 54.8%
> Price: $545

Source: Courtesy of Whiskey Caviar

5. Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5-year-old Islay
> Score: 97
> ABV: 47.4%
> Price: $46

Source: Courtesy of Bourbon Central

4. Talisker 18-year-old Skye
> Score: 98
> ABV: 45.8%
> Price: $248

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Source: Courtesy of SMWS Unfiltered via Facebook

3. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Smoky Maritime Hit Distillery 10 Small Batch Release 7-year-old Islay
> Score: 98
> ABV: 58.6%
> Price: $140

2. Glenturret Peak Smoke 10-year-old Highland
> Score: 98
> ABV: 50%
> Price: $59.93

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Source: Courtesy of Keg N Bottle

1. Kilchoman Machir Bay Cask Strength Islay
> Score: 99
> ABV: 58.6%
> Price: $74.99

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