A few decades ago, the rising popularity (and limited availability) of single-malt scotch meant that buying a few test bottles was a pricey experiment few of us could afford. It was nearly impossible to take home a good one for less than $200, placing bottles of scotch in the upper echelons of salary-bonus options and truly rare holiday treats. Fortunate for us brown-spirit lovers, a splintered artisanal whiskey world – which includes everything from bourbon and rye to Irish and Japanese whisky – has brought prices back down where they belong, so you can afford to be choosy and have a few on rotation. Behold: Our favorite single malts for less than $100.
Ardbeg 10-year single malt
The most divisive region of scotch is Islay (pronounced "eye-lay"), which produces bold, peaty, smoky, and intense whisky. Ardbeg's 10-year is a great starter since it's lighter than some others in this category. Once you've got a taste for the peat, we recommend moving to even more intense bottles like the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. [$50; ardbeg.com]
Credit: Photograph by Michael Pirrocco