The best Scotch whiskey to drink at Burns Night

Burns Night Scotch Whiskey — Getty Images

Scotland’s reputation as a producer of quality whiskey runs deep. The classics have earned their place in our drink bars, but before you reach for your trusty bottle of Glenmorangie, Laphroaig or Glenlivet for your Burns Night drink, take a moment to consider the alternatives – because over the past few years.

There are now over 140 malt and grain distilleries in Scotland (according to the Scotch Whiskey Association the largest concentration of whiskey production in the world) and an even larger selection of independent bottlers and blenders.

More and more of them are popping up in bustling inner-city locations such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, while others show off their true ‘sense of place’ on the remote islands off Scotland’s west coast: all thrive on a perfect balance between traditional techniques (many of which was all but lost in the quest for consistency and scale among larger companies) and flavor innovations (with the advent of new cask styles) – and a broader, noticeably younger customer base with a newfound love of alcohol.

Today’s Scotch whiskey connoisseurs are looking for differences in the bottles they buy, seeking out smaller ranges, whiskeys with an ethical approach, or those whose flavor profiles recreate some of the old styles from regions of Scotland that were previously underrepresented.

The makers of these single malts and blends are creatively and diligently developing the Scottish legacy for a new generation of drinkers. Whether you drink them with freshly cooked haggis (“Oh, what a sight! Warm, smelly, rich!” as Burns himself put it) or enjoy the dram alone, the bottles below are destined to become tomorrow’s classics. Slainte!

Five excellent single malts

whiskey

whiskey

Tamdhu 15 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

46%, Malt master£77.50 for 70cl

Located in the heart of Speyside, Tamdhu Distillery is famous for maturing single malts exclusively in expensive sherry casks. The result of this expression, aged for 15 years, is a rich and fatty Scotch that contains notes of Christmas cake, honey, dates and figs.

Ledaig 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

46.3%, Whiskey Exchange£79.95 for 70cl vs £84.95

Produced at the Tobermory distillery on the Isle of Mull, Ledaig is named differently from the base Tobermory malt whiskey to emphasize its smoky, peaty style. This expression won the 2023 Whiskey of the Year award for specialist retailer Whiskey Exchange and features notes of black pepper, sweet oak and rich smoke.

GlenAllachie 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

46%, Royal Mile Whiskey£53.95 for 70cl

Independent distillery GlenAllachie has become ‘the thing to watch’ since it was acquired by Billy Walker, the man who gave GlenDronach malt whiskey such an incredible reputation. Aged for a minimum of 12 years in former Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks, this whiskey has an explosion of cherry notes and rich oak spices.

Ardnamurchan AD / single malt scotch whiskey

46.8%, Selfridges£68.99 for 70cl

A new Scottish distillery, located in Glenbeg in the Western Highlands, opened in 2014. Her productions are critically acclaimed. AD/ is the distillery’s first consistent and regular release after a series of limited editions. A blend of 50% peated and 50% unpeated whiskey, it shows maturity beyond its years.

Glen Scotia Double Cask single malt scotch whiskey

46%, Amazon£71.95 for 70cl

Remote Campbeltown is Scotland’s smallest whiskey-producing region, boasting just three distilleries. However, during the Victorian era, it was one of the largest and busiest cities in the country, known as the “whiskey capital of the world”. This single malt from the regional Glen Scotia distillery aims to replicate the oily, oily and extremely flavorful malt whiskey of the time, and it does so with panache.

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