If you are not a whiskey drinker, you may not know the difference between Whiskey and Scotch.
whiskey is an alcoholic beverage that mainly consists of fermented grains like rye, wheat, barley, and corn. Scotch is a type of whiskey that consists of malted barley and water.
Scotch is classified as whiskey if it is produced in Scotland and has a minimum ABV of 40 percent at the time of bottling. Distillers age Scotch in oak barrels for a minimum of three years, and longer aging adds more aromas. The barrels can be new or used – some scotch is aged in ex-bourbon barrels or sherry barrels.
There are many distilleries in Scotland that produce a wide variety of Scotch. Some Scotch is more expensive than even bourbon. Such a wide variety can be daunting, so in this article, I will list the best Scotch under $100 to help you make along the way to finding some great new liquors to try.
How Distillers Make Single Malt scotch?
Distillers make Scotch by the following process:
The distillers choose the best quality barley for making Scotch. They first soak the barley in water and spread it on the floor for germination. After six to seven days, the barley converts into green malt.
The enzymes become active for converting starch into sugar during mashing. Now to stop germination, the distillers take this green malt into the kiln. The heat in the kiln is within 70 degrees Celsius so that the enzymes will not get destroyed. Some distillers add peat to the fire. The more peat added to the fire, the smokier the flavor of the Scotch will be.
The green malt is now dry. The distillers subject this malt for mashing. The malt is allowed to grind, and then water is added to it three times, with the temperature of the water rising each time. The water temperature is 67 degrees Celsius during the start and may increase until boiling point. The quality of water plays a vital role in making Scotch. Better quality water will make a better scotch.
The distillers allow the water to cool to 20 degrees Celsius. The water has become sugary, and this liquid is now known as wort. The distillers add yeast to it to react with the sugar and convert it into ethyl alcohol and some other compounds. These compounds add flavor to the Scotch.
The fermentation usually takes two days, upon which the living yeast dies and the distillers can prepare for the distillation process.
The distillers introduce the fermented liquid into pot stills. A pot still has a pot in which the liquid is heated. The boiling point of ethyl alcohol is low, so it vaporizes fast and moves to the condenser. In the condenser, the vapors condense and finally collect in the receiver.
Distillation is a purification process that purifies the wort. The liquid passes into three copper stills (low wine still, spirit still, and wash still) for purification. The alcohol produced by this process is transferred into the spirit safe, where the spirit man monitors the progress.
Now, the Scotch whiskey undergoes an aging process for a minimum of three years. Some distillers store Scotch for more than 12 years. Over time, Scotch will age in barrel, during which more aroma will infuse in the Scotch.
Numerous reactions take place inside the barrel. The lignin adds vanilla flavor to the Scotch. The lactones may add coconut or buttery flavor, whereas the phenols add smoky flavor into the Scotch. The tannins help in balancing all the flavors in the Scotch.
The Scotch undergoes a maturation process either in a new barrel or a used barrel. The distillers sometimes store the Scotch in barrels where bourbon or sherry was stored earlier. The leftover bourbon or sherry will add an aroma to the Scotch.
Once the aging completes, the liquid transfers into the bottle. Remember that the longer the aging process was, the more expensive the bottle becomes in the market.
How Is Scotch Different From Whiskey?
- Scotch is one type of whiskey.
- Scotch is made only in Scotland, whereas other whiskeys can be made anywhere in the World.
- The distillers use malted barley while producing Scotch, but other whiskeys may or may not contain malted barley.
- Scotch is usually aged in oak casks, which may have bits of bourbon or sherry. Other whiskeys are aged in charred white oak.
- Scotch is expensive in comparison to many other whiskeys.
Best Scotch Under $100
#1. Ardbeg Uigeadail
The Ardbeg Uigeadail has a color that is deep gold when it is bottled. This Scotch ages in an ex-bourbon or sherry barrel, which adds a lot of aroma to it. Once you open the bottle and start sipping, it will smell of Christmas cake and walnut oil. The Ardbeg has an ABV of 54.2 percent.
The Ardbeg has a fantastic balance of sweet, spicy, and smoky flavor.
#2. Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask
The Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask undergoes an aging process in oak barrels for 14 years. After aging, the distillers add chocolate and fruits to the Balvenie, enhancing the flavor into a mixture that is incredible.
#3. Highland Park 12 Year Old
The Highland Park distillers are in Orkney Islands, Scotland. This region is constantly subject to gusty winds, which sometimes uproot the trees. However, the peat in this region is unique. It consists of heather, which adds an excellent smoky flavor to Scotch during malting.The Highland Park 12-Year-Old ages in a sherry barrel for a long 12 years, infusing it with great aromas.
#4. Aberfeldy 12 Year Old
The founders of Aberfeldy distillery were John and Tommey Dewar in 1896. The Aberfeldy single malt scotch is now used as a base for blending different scotch whiskeys.
The Aberfeldy is aged for 12 years and has notes of melon, green apple, pear honey, and nuts. The texture of this Scotch is relatively smooth. It appears golden yellow in the bottle.
#5. Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old
The Speyside distillery in Scotland is quite famous for making expensive Scotch, and they are sold all over the World. For instance, Macallan 72 Years Old costs a whopping $65,000.
The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old by Speyside is aged for much shorter and costs less than $100. You will taste the notes of dry cherry, vanilla, and caramel in your first sip. It is mahogany in color when it is in the bottle.
#6. Glenmorangie The Cadboll Estate
In the year 1730, there was a distillery near the Tarlogie Spring in Ross-shire, Scotland. In 1843, William Matheson converted this brewer into Glenmorangie distillery, which became quite famous all over the World for making single malt scotch.
In Cadboll Estate, the water used for distillation or fermentation sources is from Tarlogie Spring. There is a team of 16 people in this distillery that helps in making this particular Scotch that uses the tallest still in Scotland during the distillation process, which creates a pure light scotch. The Cadboll Estate ages in a white oak barrel that produces aromas of biscuit, rose, jasmine, and chocolate flavor.
#7. Balvenie Caribbean Cask
In Scotland, the Balvenie distillery uses the barley from the local areas and uses their floor for malting barley. The distillery has a team dedicated to making lovely barrels to age scotch in.
This process is done under the supervision of David Stewart, who originated the process by which whiskeys are first aged in one type of barrel, such as a bourbon barrel, and then transferred to another barrel, such as a rum barrel, resulting in a gorgeously mixed whiskey flavor. He had received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II for discovering this novel process.
The Balvenie Caribbean Cask is aged for 14 years in oak casks and then in rum casks, which results in fruity, creamy, and vanilla notes.
#8. Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve
The Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve is the most popular single malt scotch in the World. The uniqueness of this Scotch lies in the aging process. First, this Scotch aged in old bourbon oak barrels and then in a new charred oak barrel.
This results in a fantastic aroma, and you will be able to detect notes of vanilla and caramel in your first sip. This single malt scotch costs a fairly affordable $100.
#9. Laphroaig 10 Year Old
The Laphroaig distillery has existed since 1815, and it is quite famous for producing single malt scotch whiskey. Most of their scotch whiskey is aged for 10 to 40 years, and can be fairly expensive.
The Laphroaig 10-Year-Old scotch is known for its smoky and sweet flavor. It is aged in an oak barrel for ten years. This scotch has a unique seaweed essence due to the unique distillery location. I think it is one of the best Islay scotch under $100.
#10. Bowmore 12 Year Old
This distillery uses its floor for malting. However, the space is insufficient to malt such a high quantity of barley, so the barley that they import from Highlands is already malted and ready for further processing. They use Laggan river water for the distillation process.
The Bowmore 12-Year-Old whiskey has a warm amber color when it is in a bottle and has the aroma of lemon, orange, and vanilla. It is also one of the best Islay scotch under $100.
#11. Tomatin 18 Year Sherry Cask
This Tomatin Highland single malt scotch whiskey is aged for 18 years in sherry casks. Whiskey drinkers can notice features of clove, cinnamon, vanilla, and a bit of pepper. This scotch whiskey is great for the winter. This excellent scotch whiskey can be had for $100.
#12. Bladnoch 10 Year Old
The Bladnoch 10-Year-Old matures in ex-bourbon casks that are non-chill-filtered. This scotch whiskey has a floral aroma. Whiskey drinkers can get notes of gooseberry, vanilla, and ginger flavor. This Scotch has an ABV of 46.7 percent.
#13. Oban 14 Year
The Oban distillery is famous for making single malt scotch. It is situated on the west coast of Scotland. This distillery is 200 years old, and yet its distillers have maintained the same original production processes.
The Oban 14 Year is quite smoky at the nose. One can feel notes of apple, toffee, and pear in the first sip.
#14. Tamdhu 10 Year
The Tamdhu distillery is well known for producing single malt scotch. The Tamdhu 10 Year is aged for ten years in a sherry oak barrel.
#15. Springbank 10 Year
The Springbank 10 Year is aged in ex-bourbon casks and then in sherry casks. Consequently, it results in a smoky flavor with notes of vanilla and caramel.
#16. Isle Of Jura Seven Wood
This Scotch whiskey matures in seven different casks, which results in a fantastic flavor. The American barrel and French barrel give a unique taste to this particular Scotch whiskey. The nose produces an aroma of different nuts and strawberries. You will taste a vanilla flavor in your first sip. This nice scotch can be had within $100.
#17. Craigellachie 13 Year
The Craigellachie is aged 13 years. One can feel a slightly fruity note in the first sip of this particular whiskey.
Scotch whiskey is quite famous all over the globe for its outstanding aroma. The taste may differ from one Scotch to another because it depends on various factors like aging, the water used for distillation, barley used, and numerous other elements.
I have listed various Scotch whiskeys within $100 to choose from according to your taste, and hope this will help in your buying decision. Please share your comments and suggestions below, as I would love to read them.