You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why. Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s a list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary state to state.
1. Glenmorangie Signet ($181)
“It’s a great bang for the buck as it is a blend and has its 30-year-old scotch in it. The aroma is a great blend of coffee, sherry and some citrus, but it finishes very clean, citrusy and spice-forward.”—James Bolt, beverage director and host bartender at The Gin Joint
2. Highland Park 18 Year ($160)
“Consistently ranked as a top whisky in the world for a reason. Still a great value even though it’s over $100.”—Neal Bodenheimer, mixologist at and co-owner of Cureand owner of Cane & Table and Café Henri
3. Glenfiddich 21 Year ($180)
“This whisky has wonderful tasting notes with a subtle finish of rum sweetness. If you can find the older bottles that were done in Cuban barrels, then the treat is even better.”—Gary Patrick Crunkleton, bartender at and owner of The Crunkleton
You might not have heard about the distillery producing some of the finest, most highly rated single malts on the market. Aberlour just walked away from the 2016 International Whiskey Competition with the Distillery of the Year award. Its 18 Year Old scotch won the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and Aberlour A’Bunadh earned the highest possible recommendation from Wine Enthusiast. Either bottle would make an unforgettable gift.
4. Springbank 18 ($189)
“It’s big and spicy with notes of pine, citrus, anise and rich fruits.”—Simon Ford, co-founder of The 86 Co.
5. Ardbeg Dark Cove ($110)
“Deep, dark and intense. One of the richest, most complex and decadent Islays I’ve tried. Perfect holiday scotch.”—Ryan Maybee, co-owner of Manifesto and The Rieger and co-founder of J. Rieger & Co.