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Best Scotch Under $200 That You Can Actually Find

Best Scotch Under $200 That You Can Actually Find

The $200 price threshold is pretty safe for Scotch these days. You will most likely avoid the crap that bubbles up below $50, while also avoiding the truly overpriced options.

Good single malt Scotch gets expensive. That’s just the name of the game. Still, when you’re looking for a good bottle of whisky–whether it’s for yourself or a gift–you shouldn’t have to spend an arm and a leg. Getting a good bottle of Scotch that costs under $200 is more than doable, but if you want to avoid the high shipping costs that come with ordering bottles from British websites like Master of Malt or driving to that specialty store, you’ll have to rely on expressions that are somewhat easy to find. That’s okay. 

There are plenty of impressive bottles that fit the bill and are easy to pick up. So with that in mind, here are the best Scotch whiskies under $200 (that you can actually find)…

Best Overall Scotch Under $200: Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Ardbeg pushed the envelope when it comes to Scotch whisky. The LVMH-owned brand likes to do everything from crazy fermentations to strange aging techniques, but the Corryvreckan is where the Islay brand truly shines. It’s peat-forward and deep, offering all they flavors and qualities many whisky drinkers look for in a dram.

A deliciously deep, powerfully peaty and wonderfully wild whisky, it features strong peat overtones, along with notes of tobacco and coffee, followed by a long and smoky finish.

Best Islay Scotch Under $200: Lagavulin 16 ($123)

Bottles of Lagavulin 16 can be found at grocery stores, liquor stores, corner markets, basically anywhere that sells liquor. There are abundant reasons for its popularity, from being one of Diageo’s many brands to it being one of the most popular whiskies to impart that beloved Islay Scotch.

Known as “the king of Islay,” Lagavulin 16 is aged in oak casks and offers massive peat-smoke flavors that’s typical of southern Islay. On the nose, expect peat smoke with iodine and seaweed and a rich, deep sweetness. The palate brings more dry peat smoke with a gentle sweetness, followed by sea and salt with touches of wood. The finish is long and elegant with lots of salt and seaweed.

Best Peaty Scotch For Under $200: Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Islay Barley ($107)

Last year, Bruichladdich Distillery unveiled its Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2014. The latest release in the brand’s island provenance series, the single malt Scotch whisky was conceived, distilled, matured, and bottled on Islay using barley exclusively grown on the island from eight separate farms. So essentially it’s as Islay as you can get. Bottled at 50% ABV and peated to 40 PPM, the maturation profile consists of 84% in first fill bourbon casks, 8% in second fill virgin oak and 8% in second fill Bordeaux wine casks.

On the nose, malty digestive biscuits and peat embers open the show, followed by sweet vanilla and notes of honey, toffee, and crème brûlée. As the whisky breathes, its fruity character comes to the fore, with lemon rind and peat smoke rising from the glass, moving to grapefruit, ripe melon, peach, and crisp red apple. Port Charlotte’s signature maritime note is offset with a touch of wood spice, nutmeg and cinnamon, showcasing the depth and complexity of this single malt.

Best Scotch You Don’t Know For Under $200: The Glenrothes 18 ($180)

The Glenrothes 18 is not the most common bottle to find, so it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a change up from the more popular brand names and are a fan of that typical Speyside style.

On the nose, the whisky offers orange oil, vanilla pods, pear and almonds. The palate boasts ginger and rose water plus more pears and vanilla. The sweet and spicy finish also offers notes of black pepper.

Best Popular Scotch Under $200: The Glenlivet 18 ($148)

Another classic brand from one of the world’s two biggest producers, people are generally more familiar with the 12 or 14-year-old options. If you want to stick with a brand that you know (and already like/trust), The Glenlivet 18 might be the perfect way to step things up a level.

The Glenlivet 18 has won more awards than any other in the brand’s lineup. It is taken through a combination of cask types, including both first and second-fill American Oak and ex-sherry Oak. The result is complex, yet elegant and balanced. The nose offers rich fruit and toffee aromas, while bursts of spices, bitter oranges, and oak feature on the palate. The finish is long and lingering with hints of oak and spice.

Best Macallan Under $200: The Macallan Double Cask 15 ($135)

The Macallan is well-known for being soft and among some crowds that quality leads it to be considered overpriced. However, if you’re looking for a bit more weight and depth and also to get your money’s worth, then the Double Cask 15 is where to go.

The Macallan Double Cask 15 Years Old is a balanced single malt whisky created by bringing together sherry seasoned spicy American oak with sweeter European oak. Bottled at 43% ABV, the whiskey offers aromas of dried fruit and butterscotch with baked apples, balanced by notes of chocolate and smooth oak. The palate delivers sweet raisin and sultana with cinnamon and nutmeg, alongside creamy vanilla. The finish features lingering oak and spice.

Best Speyside Scotch For Under $200: Mortlach 16 ($114)

Mortlach has a bit of a cult following among Speyside whisky finds, which is a rarity for Diageo-owned brands. It is inspired by the first bottling of the 16-year-old released in 1992 and has been matured solely in Sherry casks.

The nose is bold and complex, offering stewed black orchard fruits with earthiness and spice. The robust palate offers a light spiciness with notes of apricot and honey, alongside well-rounded intensity. The finish is long, complex, and surprisingly sweet.

Best 20-year-old-plus Scotch for under $200: Glenfarclas 21 Year ($171)

Why more people outside Scotland don’t drink Glenfarclas remains a mystery. Ask imbibers across Britain what they’re favorite dram is and you’ll no doubt find the Speyside brand come up more than once (and probably more than any other brand).

Aged in 100% oloroso sherry casks, the Glenfarclas 21 Year Old is one of the smoothest whiskies out there. The nose delivered fruit, nutmeg, and almonds alongside notes of citrus. The rich and rounded palate features fruity and spicy notes. While the finish is smooth and long lasting.

Best Annual Release Under $200: Laphroaig Cairdeas ($124)

An annual release from the beloved Islay distillery, Laphroaig Cairdeas changes things up with each edition, but still manages to get it right pretty much every time. Bottled at a fixed strength of 52.3%, the 2023 edition was aged in White Port and Madeira casks.

The nose finds cinnamon, freshly ground ginger, crisp green apple with notes of toasted peaches, charred orange peel, and caramelized sugar with a whisper of bonfire embers. The palate delivers honey sweetness paired with juicy citrus characters and delicate notes of hazelnut, tannic oak, dark chocolate and slightly bitter caramel leading to earthy iodine-rich smoke. The finish is sweet and smooth with a lingering earthy peat and creosote phenolic character. A slight sea-salt sensation to finish.

Best 18-year-old Scotch under $200: Aberlour 18 ($172)

Anyone who visits the Aberlour distillery and tries their whisky while on-site inevitably comes back a huge fan. And if you’re looking for a particularly memorable bottling, the 18-year-old is mature, deep, and spicy. The deeper Sherry influence adds more spiciness and a liquorice tang, while the greater age adds body and develops the distinctive fruitiness to a rich raisin character.

The nose delivers rich and complex notes of toffee and butterscotch, which combine with ripe peach and bitter orange. The palate offers notes of soft apricot and cream offset by developing flavors of blackcurrant jam and sweet oak with a touch of honey. The finish is very long and balanced, progressing from crème brûlée to a gentle oak flourish.

Best West Coast Scotch For Under $200: Oban 18 ($180)

The romantic seaside town of Oban has become a summer favorite for Scotch lovers for a good reason. It’s cute, provides easy access to the western Scottish isles, both the Inner and Outer Hebrides, and has a world-class distillery in the center of town.

Oban is another Diageo-owned brand, but offers a unique flavor all its own. The nose is rich and complex with notes of toffee and butterscotch combining with ripe peach and bitter orange. The palate delivers initial notes of soft apricot and cream, offset by developing flavors of blackcurrant jam and sweet oak with a touch of honey. The finish is long and balanced, progressing from crème brûlée to a gentle oak flourish.

Best Sherry Bomb Under $200: The Glendronach Allardice Aged 18 Years ($199)

The Glendronach became an easy to find bottling just a few years back, and that’s thanks to Brown-Forman (think Jack Daniel’s), who purchased the brand back in 2016. The 18-year-old Allardice is one of the best of the brand’s core range and manages to slip in just under the $200 line.

Bottled at 46% ABV and named after the founder of the distillery, James Allardice, this sherried single malt matures exclusively in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks. On the nose, the whisky delivers fudge and Muscovado sugar with notes of fruit compote and glacier morello cherries. The palate is rich, dark, and seductive with flavors of stewed fruits, all-spice, sherry, and toasted walnut bread. The finish is complex and long.

Best Port-Finished Scotch Under $200: The Dalmore Port Wood ($109)

We’re suckers for whiskies aged in Port casks, and we’re also big fans of The Dalmore in general, so this checks all of the boxes. It’s also easy to find for under $200, which makes it even more delicious.

The Dalmore Port Wood is aged in American white oak ex-Bourbon casks and Tawny Port pipes. The nose delivers sweet red berries, Seville oranges, plummy fruits, and sticky toffee pudding. The palate features nectarines, creamy caramel, roasted chestnuts, and Java coffee. The finish finds rich plums, sultanas, Sanguinello blood oranges, and macerated cherries.