New whisky comes out every week, and sometimes even we can get a little overwhelmed by the selection out there.
Take Scotch, for instance: at a good liquor store the single malt section alone can be dozens of shelves deep. And once you see some of the prices, even a lot of good recommendations won’t necessarily push you out of your comfort zone, which usually means another bottle of the same old stuff.
We’ve been keeping a tally all year of our favorite new releases under $100 to hit the market, and the selection is pretty wide. We managed to find a bargain bottle under $40 and a 18-year-old single malt, so whether you’re going for price or age, we’ve got you covered.
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Speyburn may not be a distillery you’ve heard of, and that’s the sole reason this delicious 15-year-old dram is priced so low. The liquid in this bottle is aged in Spanish and American casks, non-chill filtered, and free of artificial coloring. It’s a creamy-smooth scotch with tons of citrus, some chocolate and vanilla notes, and hints of raisin. At $65 you should be drinking this all day.
Credit: Image via Speyburn
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Johnnie Walker Black Label Director’s Cut
We’re always suspicious of product placement and movie tie-ins, but this Johnnie Walker release goes well beyond Blade Runner fan collector item. It’s a nice well-rounded dram with tons of caramel and a hint of smokiness. There are some brand tie-in cocktails created especially for this bottle, but we think a large cube is more than satisfactory.
Credit: Image via Johnnie Walker
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Shackleton is a blend of Highland single malts intended to recreate the whisky carried by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his 1907 Antarctic journey. Some of the whisky was abandoned when they turned back, and when 11 bottles were found a century later. This $35 bottle is meant to be a recreation of that whisky. We get vanilla, honey, licorice and and a hint of smoke--definitely an adventurous journey in a bottle.
Credit: Image via Shackleton
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Astar is Glenmorangie’s 10-year journey back to a great bottle of the past. It was 2008 when they released Astar originally. The liquid was aged entirely in casks made of oak from the Ozark mountains in Missouri. They’ve done it again, and the whisky is bright with lemon and coconut on the nose, and notes of creme brulee, fresh fruits, clove and toasted oak.
Credit: Image via Glenmorangie
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Highland Park Magnus
Magnus is a NAS (non-aged statement) release full of flavor in surprising ways. The $40 bottle still has a hint of peaty smoke, but this whisky is so floral and sweet that it comes off more as the result of cooking caramel over an open fire. A high proportion of sherry-seasoned American casks are likely responsible for the lighter flavors and deeper sweetness. This is a dessert whisky all the way, best served neat.
Credit: Image via Highland Park
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Macallan Edition No. 3
For the the third release of their Edition series, Macallan teamed with master perfumer Roja Dove. The influence is apparent: it’s an aromatic whisky, with lemon candy, vanilla and peach on the nose, and tons of vanilla and fruit once you taste it. It finishes clean and bright, with tiny hints of oak spice and chocolate.
Credit: Image via Macallan
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Ardbeg An Oa
The first permanent addition to the Ardbeg family in almost a decade, An Oa It’s a grassy, salty, smokey single malt in the most delicious way. We suspect peat lovers will already have a bottle of this by now, but if you’ve hesitated because of its lack of an age statement, be assured: it’s vibrant, smokey spicy whisky with all the harsher edges rounded off. Sip this one neat, maybe in front of a fireplace.
Credit: Image via Ardbeg
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Glen Moray 18
You probably haven’t heard much about Glen Moray, but it’s likely you’ve had their whisky a few times before. Over the years Glen Moray has been used to make component whisky for dozens of famous blends, but recently they took ownership of their name and heritage, and began releasing age statement bottles of single malt. We’re especially fond of 18, which has heavy toffee and caramel apple notes, and a long, vanilla and raisin finish.
Credit: Image via Glen Moray
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BenRiach Classic Cask Strength Batch 2
BenRiach was one of the distilleries added to the Brown-Forman portfolio a couple years ago. It was a good purchase: the Speyside distillery produces some tasty drams, including this brand new, soon-to-be-on-shelves Cask Strength batch. It’s loaded with toffee and fruit flavors, with a big vanilla finish that hints at notes of apple.
Credit: Image via Ben Riach