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 an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state.
“For me, it's a beautiful nonpeaty alternative to a Christmastime scotch. Cinnamon, spice, toffee and vanilla—a fantastic value!”—Ann-Marie Verdi, co-owner and beverage director at Los Angeles' Bellwether
“This bottle comes from a lesser-known part of Scotland, which is fun in and of itself. Though this distillery might not be as popular as others, it produces a great scotch with notes of sugar cookies, honeyed bananas and almost a bit of custard.”—Gil Izaguirre, beverage director at Chicago's Honey's
“This is an underappreciated single-malt scotch. It’s a Lowland scotch that’s amazing for the price point. It has caramel and toasted almonds and is great in cocktails or just for sipping.”—Jennifer K. Knott, head bartender at 312 Chicago
“I always want a bottle of The Balvenie Caribbean Cask. It may be my favorite single malt. It’s everything you want out of a rum and everything you want out of a scotch in one delicious bottle.”—St. John Frizell, owner and bartender at New York City's Fort Defiance
“I love finding a scotch that is reasonably priced and that I thoroughly enjoy drinking and feel comfortable enough giving as a gift to a fellow scotch fan. Ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks deliver flavors of raisins, peaches and apples and oak notes. This is just a nice easy-drinking scotch at a very affordable price.”—Tommy Tardie, owner and operator at New York City's Fine & Rare and The Flatiron Room
“The combination of cask types, including both first- and second-fill American oak, adds a delicious tropical fruitiness to it, and the ex-sherry oak provides some woody spicy notes!”—Mcson Salicetti, head bartender at New York City's Crimson & Rye
“Double maturation is all the craze, and Glenmorangie does it well. This scotch is finished for two years in olorosso casks after spending 10 years in ex-bourbon barrels, picking up lots of dried fruits and nuttiness.”—Izaguirre
“It’s an elegant, understated Islay scotch from one of the newer distillers in the region. Sixty percent of the malt is aged in sherry barrels, so it’s a lovely peated malt for the Speyside fans.”—Peder Schweigert, general manager at Minneapolis' Marvel Bar
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