Taster's Club Best Scotch Whiskies You Can't Miss in 2023
Written by Emma C | August 2023
Embark on a refined journey into the world of whisky with the best Scotch, where centuries-old craftsmanship meets exquisite flavor. Carefully distilled and aged in the heart of Scotland, these bottles are a testament to the artistry of master distillers and the rich heritage of whisky-making. From peaty and smoky single malts to smooth and nuanced blends, these exceptional Scotch whiskies offer a diverse range of profiles that cater to both the connoisseur and those new to the realm of fine spirits. To help you on this journey, we have tasted through many Scotch expressions and came up with our list of the best Scotch whiskies in 2023 that are available in our online bottle shop.
Best Scotch Whiskies by Category for 2023
- Top Single Malt: The Glendronach 15 | Aberfeldy 12
- Top Blended Malt: Dewar’s 19 Year | Johnnie Walker Gold Label
- Top Speyside: Aberlour 18 | Benriach The Smoky Twelve
- Top Islay: Ardberg Uigeadail | Bowmore 15
- Top Highland: Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or | Glengoyne 18
- Top Lowland: Glenkinchie 12 Year Old | Auchentoshan Three Wood
- Top Campbeltown: Glen Scotia 10 Year | Springbank 18
- Top Islands: Arran Sherry Cask Finish ‘The Bodega’ | Old Pulteney Huddart
Top Single Malt
Top Single Malt: The Glendronach 15
In flavor, this single malt from Glendronach offers sumptuous notes of dark fruits, rich chocolate, and manuka honey with an enveloping, memorable finish worthy of this monumental malt’s history. The luxuriously sherried Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky is bottled at 46% ABV and natural in color.
Region: Highland | Tasting Notes: Fruit, Chocolate, Honey | ABV: 46%
Best Value: Aberfeldy 12 Year
Multi-award-winning Aberfeldy 12 Year is a honeyed dram with aromas of floral, fruit, spices, lots of vanilla, and just a hint of smoke. On the palate, enjoy flavors of apple, butterscotch, tangerine, cocoa, and a bit of peat before the long, lingering vanilla-orange finish kicks in.
Region: Highland | Tasting Notes: Notes: Fruit, Vanilla, Smoke | ABV: 40%
Top Blended Malt
Top Blended Malt: Johnnie Walker Gold Label
Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve is a luxurious, creamy, and honeyed blend, making a wonderful tribute to the harmonious partnership of Speyside and Highland Whiskies, with just a hint of smoldering embers from the West Coast.
Region: Highland, Speyside | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Spice, Toffee, Nut, Smoke | ABV: 40%
Dewar’s 19 Year
The Dewar’s 19 Year Old Champion’s Edition returned in 2023, as Dewar’s entered its third year as the Official Scotch Whisky of the U.S. Open. This year’s edition was created by Four-Time Master Blender of the Year Stephanie Macleod in partnership with the USGA. To honor the site of the 2023 Tournament at the Los Angeles Country Club, the 2023 19 Year Old Champion’s Edition is double-aged and finished in Napa Valley red wine casks.
Region: Highland |Tasting Notes: Honey, Butterscotch, Toffee, Spice, Fruit |ABV: 43%
Best for Gift: Aberlour 18
Aberlour 18 has a significant proportion of sherry wood, marking a real step up from the maker’s younger expressions. It boasts a stylish nose of old leathery cigar boxes, vanilla, and orange marmalade. It’s syrupy on the palate, with oranges, sweet sherry, honey, and figs. On the long finish, you’ll get spicy oak, caramel, citrus fruits, and aniseed.
Region: Speyside | Tasting Notes: Orange, Sherry, Honey | ABV: 43%
Top Speyside: Benriach The Smoky Twelve
The Smoky Twelve is the perfect marriage of fruit, malt, oak, and rich layers of smoke. It’s crafted from a combination of unpeated, peated, and three cask-matured spirits for at least 12 years in bourbon barrels, sherry casks, and Marsala wine casks. The whisky from each cask is then expertly blended together to create a smooth, creamy single malt, multilayered with flavors of ripened fruit, aromatic smoky sweetness, and warming oak spice.
Region: Speyside | Tasting Notes: Fruit, Oak, Spice | ABV: 46%
Top Islay: Bowmore 15
Matured first in bourbon barrels then Oloroso casks, there's no finer example of a sherry cask finish than Bowmore’s 15 Year Old. It's the final three years spent in Oloroso sherry casks that give this expression its rich, deep color and robust warming finish.
Region: Islay | Tasting Notes: Wood, Pine Oil, Creamy Toffee, Malt | ABV: 43%
Pronounced ‘Oog-a-dal’, this special vatting marries Ardbeg’s traditional deep, smoky notes with luscious, raisiny tones of old ex-Sherry casks. Ardbeg Uigeadail was voted by the 120,000+ strong Ardbeg Committee as their favorite Ardbeg.
Region: Islay | Tasting Notes: Smoke, Raisin | ABV: 54.2%
Top Highland: Glengoyne 18
Glengoyne 18 is the result of 18 long years, a generous proportion of first-fill sherry casks, and the patience taken over the slowest distillation in Scotland. This expression offers lovely notes of spicy vanilla fruit and ripe apples, and a rich, luxurious mouthfeel.
Region: Highland | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Fruit | ABV: 43%
Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or
Glenmorangie’s Nectar D’Or was created with the delicate, fruity spirit of the maker’s giraffe-high stills and aged in American oak bourbon casks along with casks that once held Sauternes sweet white wine. The outcome is a dessert of white chocolate swirled with lemon cream, crème caramel, and almond croissants, balanced by soft spice.
Region: Highland |Tasting Notes: chocolate, caramel, almond |ABV: 46%
Top Lowland: Auchentoshan Three Wood
Aged in American bourbon, Spanish oloroso sherry, and then, finally, Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, this rich, complex whisky offers aromas of cooked fruit, sherry, and toffee, rich flavors of liqueur cherries, dark chocolate, and fruit, and a thick, rich, balanced finish.
Region: Lowland | Tasting Notes: Liqueur Cherries, Chocolate, Fruit | ABV: 43%
Glenkinchie 12 Year Old
This flagship expression from the Lowlands’ Glenkinchie distillery is a fantastic introduction to the region. Glenkinchie 12 Year Old shows off the characteristic lightness and grassy elements that Lowland whiskies are known for, with nods to oatmeal, nuts, cooked fruit, and Sauternes wine along the way.
Region: Lowland | Tasting Notes: Grass, Cooked Fruit, Oatmeal, Nut | ABV: 43%
Top Cambeltown: Glen Scotia 10 Year
Glen Scotia’s 10 Year offers a unique flavor profile of rich oils, green fruits, citrus, and the maker’s signature maritime nuances. It’s matured in first-fill bourbon barrels and makes a great introduction to the Campbeltown whisky region.
Region: Campbeltown | Tasting Notes: Fruit, Citrus, Maritime notes | ABV: 40%
This 18-year-old multi-award-winning whisky is full of authority as a classic, full-bodied dram. Matured in ex-bourbon casks, the unique expression offers delicious aromas of banana, honey, baking, and coastal elements, big, spicy flavors of chili, pine, citrus, and fruit, and a long, salty, chocolate finish.
Region: Campbeltown | Tasting Notes: Chili, Citrus, Pine, Fruit | ABV: 40%
Top Island: Old Pulteney Huddart
Richly warming, this single malt embraces a mellow smoky character, with Old Pulteney at its heart. The combination of influence from the salt-infused sea air and the peat smoke makes for a whisky with real character, depth, and identity. With a richness extending into its rich gold color, this single malt offers plenty of complexity and flavor.
Region: Islands | Tasting Notes: Spice, Vanilla, Smoke, Salted Caramel | ABV: 46%
Arran Sherry Cask Finish ‘The Bodega’
‘The Bodega’ is Arran’s sherry-casked addition to its core range of whiskies. Full of body and complexity, this expression offers aromas of chocolate, orange, spice, fruit, and wood, similar flavors along with caramel, and a rich, long finish.
Region: Islands | Tasting Notes: Orange, Caramel, Spice, Fruit | ABV: 55.8%
This list of Taster’s Club’s best scotch whiskies for 2023 is a super easy go-to whenever you’re having people over or when you just simply need to unwind. Everything is available in our online bottle shop, open 24/7. But, if you’re looking for a more curated experience, try our Scotch club. We have two tiers to choose from, and you’ll receive amazing monthly selections from today's award-winning distilleries not found on every liquor store shelf.
Best Scotch Whiskies FAQs
What is the number 1 Scotch?
There are many fantastic Scotches out there, but our favorite is Glendronach Revival Aged 15 Years, which won double gold at the SF Spirit Awards for 2023! It has deep notes of fruit, chocolate, and honey.
What is the most popular Scotch whisky?
Aberfeldy, Dewar’s, and Bowmore are very popular Scotch brands. However, all of these top Scotch whiskies are great for different reasons. For example, Aberfeldy’s single malt is fruit and butterscotch-forward with a lovely vanilla-orange finish. Dewar’s blended Scotch is double-aged and offers notes of honey, toffee, spice, and fruit. Finally, Bowmore’s Islay Scotch is sherry cask-finished with notes of wood, pine oil, toffee, and malt. Whether you love a peated single malt or a unique blend, there’s something for everyone.
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