10 delicious whiskies around the $200 mark and that we feel are equally at home in the whisky glasses of beginners and old dogs alike and represent a particularly good value right now.
For most of us, $200 is no small amount of money to spend on a bottle of the good stuff. But if you know what's good (and what you like), there are plenty of great options out there for whisky that is well worth the money in this price range! Here are a few of our favourites that quite easily make the cut!
GlenDronach 18 Allardice - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The GlenDronach (Glen-dron-ack) is the 'little' Highland distillery that could (when it comes to delivering sherry bombs) and would feature very highly in most sherry bomb whisky drinkers’ hearts by our reckoning. Having enjoyed much success and acclaim since its resurrection and direction under Billy Walker and its subsequent acquisition by Brown-Forman, The GlenDronach appears to be going from strength to strength under the guidance of its current Master Blender Rachael Barrie.
The GlenDronach 18 Allardice is named for the founder of the distillery, James Allardice and is aged for 18 years exclusively in Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 46% ABV. First released in 2009. Mid 2018 bottling tasted (current Australian stock as of time of writing).
Nose: Pretty much the gold standard for a modern sherried whisky 'done right'. Juicy sultanas, butter cake, dark dark chocolate, strong cappuccino, dark dried cherries.
Palate: Cinnamon and five spice, plump rich dark sultanas, a decent amount of rich wood tannins, sour dark cherries and honey. Finish brings rum notes and blackberry jam.
Spring Bay Bourbon Cask - Australian Single Malt Whisky
A relative newcomer on the Australian whisky scene, Spring Bay was established in 2015 but is already making a name for itself with some cracking releases. Situated on the picturesque east coast of Tasmania (to be fair what part of Tasmania isn't stunning?) right next to the ocean, and using a 1200 litre Knapp Lewer still, we like to think the combination of Tasmanian barley, the terroir and the care that owner distillers Cam and Suzy put into crafting the spirit are what makes this whisky unique.
The bourbon cask matured expression (Batch 1) we are trying today has been bottled at 46%, 700ml and has no colouring added and has not been chill filtered. Matured in smaller 20L Makers Mark casks.
Nose: The bourbon cask influence imparts notes of vanilla and light toffee with some gentle cinnamon and pepper, which is joined by a delicate nectarine/peach flesh scent and a hint of mint.
Palate: The fruit notes take the fore in the palate, cut by a sublime hint of salt (like salted peaches), joined by a delicate honey flavour, then opening up to show some nutmeg, cinnamon and white pepper before becoming more caramelised toffee apple.
Glenmorangie Signet - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
One of the most well-known and storied Highland distilleries, Glenmorangie (Glen-moran-gee) are renowned for producing some of the most iconic expressions with the Glenmorangie 10 being cited frequently as an industry standard.
The Glenmorangie Signet is a unique expression from Glenmorangie, featuring malt spirit produced using two uncommon variations of malted barley (for a Scotch at least) being malted chocolate barley (more commonly found in darker beers) and Cadboll barley (said to impart a creaminess into the spirit and from a single estate). The spirit has then been matured in a combination of Oloroso and virgin American Oak. Also has one of the coolest (and heaviest) stoppers I've seen.
Nose: Cadbury chocolate coated sultanas, pancakes smothered in butter and gold syrup. Sugar coated dried orange peel, gentle barley and spiced pears.
Palate: Dusty tobacco leaves, cocoa powder, roasted coffee beans, dry dusty malt, Jaffas, Old Fashioned (sugar syrup, orange zest and bitters). Some more subtle fruit influence, prunes and salted peaches.
Bakery Hill Classic Cask Strength (500ml) - Australian Single Malt Whisky
One thing we carry on about a lot here at The Whisky List - particularly in regards to Australian whisky, is consistency. For whatever reason, a lot of Australian distilleries struggle to put out two back to back bottlings that maintain consistency, quality and price. Whether it's due to lack of supply, or a not entirely reasonable belief that single cask is king or some other factor, we can only guess. Bakery Hill in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne definitely buck this trend, in the best of ways. Having conducted multiple quality assurance audits over the years it’s clear that David and Andrew Bakers rigorous adherence to process and passion for making good, affordable, consistent Australian bourbon barrel matured whisky is definitely working.
Nose: Quite similar to its non cask strength sibling, with freshly cut Granny Smith apple, honeycomb, lavender, freshly boiled bagels(!) and a hint of cinnamon sugar and cardamom. More honeycomb this time around.
Palate: The honeycomb and malt are the stars of the show this time around backed up by apples and cinnamon promised in the nose. Finish is decently long and slightly drying with the final flavours left behind being of warm oak spice and a deep rich malted biscuit.
Michter's U.S. 1 Barrel Strength Rye - American Straight Rye Whisky
Michter's have two distilleries in Kentucky the home of Kentucky bourbon and make a variety of different Rye and Bourbon's utilising various cask wood treatments, mash bills and a technique called 'heat cycling' (basically heating and cooling the barrels artificially to encourage the spirit to enter and exit the wood more often to increase wood influence, and speed up maturation).
Michter's U.S. 1 Barrel Strength Rye is bottled as a single cask at cask strength which varies from barrel to barrel meaning ABV and yield varies from one release to the next. Distilled from a mash bill containing a minimum of 51% rye and barrelled at 103 proof (51.5% ABV - much lower than a typical American whiskey, rye or otherwise) in virgin American white oak. This particular bottling at 54%.
Nose: Dark ripe cherry (almost artificial cherry cola-ish), glycerol (Marshmallow), saw dust, McVitties wheat biscuit and butterscotch.
Palate: Rich treacle/burnt brown sugar upfront with spices like nutmeg and white pepper growing more intense with repeated sips. Pleasing warmth, chewy body and sweetness give way to a dry wood finish.
Craigellachie 17 - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Craigellachie (crag-eleck-ie) is a relatively unknown Speyside distillery owned by John Dewars & Sons and is typically used in Dewar's blends. Prior to 2014, official releases of Craigellachie as a single malt were not common, which if this and the 13 are anything to go by is a tragedy. Using 'old school' worm tub condensers (which tend to allow more heavy, sulphurous volatiles through into the spirit receiver) and located in Aberlour, Banffshire, Craigellachie means 'rocky hill' which Scotland certainly seems to have no shortage of.
Craigellachie 17 (alongside 3 other single malt expressions) showed up in 2014 (and we are still thankful today!) in cool retro packaging and straight into our whisky cabinet. Released at 46% ABV (other details surprisingly hard to come by, but the whisky does a pretty good job of speaking for itself).
Nose: Pineapple, guava, vanilla ice cream, clover honey, honey dew melon and the lightest whiff of fresh pine smoke.
Palate: Waxier and smokier than expected from the nose (but by no means a seriously smoky whisky) with the most pineapple I've found in a whisky so far, followed by a (weirdly) complementary BBQ meatiness (pretty much like a Brazilian BBQ/Churrasco main and desert). Custard tart with nutmeg on the finish with a nice vanilla spice and oak tinge rounding out everything nicely.
Balvenie 15 Single Barrel Sherry Cask - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The Balvenie are one of the few holdouts from an older time where most of the aspects of whisky making are still carried out onsite, with an onsite malting floor, coppersmith and cooperage giving complete creative and quality control to the production team. The Balvenie are still family owned and operated to this day by William Grant and Sons and their visitor experience is widely regarded as one of the best in Scotland. Can't wait to see for myself!
The Balvenie 15 Single Barrel Sherry Cask expression was first released in 2014 and newer batches have been released as older ones quickly and inevitably sell out. The current batch available locally is from cask number 4193 and has been bottled at 47.8%. The maturation was a full 15 years in European oak Sherry butt. Each release is drawn from a single cask.
Nose: To be written - got carried away and loved it but didn't write anything down :(
Palate: Ditto :( :(
Glencadam 18 - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
If there is a trend emerging in our favourite Scotch whisky selections, it would surely be the appreciation of unsung single malts that are overlooked or unwittingly consumed as part of a blend. Glencadam certainly fit this trend, with an under the radar single malt presence which pales in comparison to the Ballantine's blended whisky it historically featured in.
Nose: Tropical. Pineapple, banana and passionfruit meet an almost rye whiskey white pepper and cigar tobacco leaf.
Palate: Hints of white chocolate mix with red berries, nutmeg and some of the banana from the nose - kind of like an awesome muffin. Pepper and tobacco end up on the finish with some tart raspberry.
Caol Ila 18 - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Caol Ila (cull-eela) - oh Caol Ila. A very poorly hidden secret here at The Whisky List is that I am a tiny bit enamoured of Diageo's Islay workhorse distillery. Producing in the order of 7 million litres of spirit a year its still amazing to me that there are so few official bottlings. With only a tiny proportion of the hype of most of the Islay distilleries this silent giant produces a spirit which seems to shine no matter how long its been aged, what strength its been bottled at or whether its even peated or not!
The Caol Ila 18 is present at 43% and was made from a mix of refill casks (favouring ex-Bourbon we would wager).
Nose: The smoke is here in spades but is a more gentle, salty, floral smouldering, lingering intensity say vs a young and feisty Laphroaig. Typical (and much enjoyed) notes of Caol Ila lemon zest, minerality and brine/seaweed.
Palate: Much more forward than the nose was suggesting, delivering lemon zest, smoked trout, salted caramel and a Springbank minerality in a decently oily way. The smoke builds over repeated tastings but never becomes overbearing, with the heathery smoke, ash, tar and burnt seaweed flavours slowly infiltrating the back palate and the finish.
Tomatin 18 Oloroso Sherry Cask - Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Whisky has been produced on the current distillery as far back as the 16th century apparently, but only legally and officially since 1897 when the Tomatin Spey Distillery Co Ltd sprang into existence. Tomatin distillery is located in the Tomatin village, in the Highlands region which is roughly 30 minutes south of Inverness.
It is estimated 80% of Tomatin's 5 million litre per year output is used in blends so it is exciting to have an official bottling of such high calibre to try today. The Tomatin 18 Oloroso Sherry Cask is bottled at 46% and is a first fill Oloroso Sherry cask finish whisky (presumably a mix of ex bourbon barrel and oloroso cask maturation prior).
Nose: An enticing mix of fresh and dried fruits (apples, oranges, lemons and grapes) mixed with rich sweet sherry, cloves and cinnamon (like a sherry sangria!)
Palate: Honey and malt take the for here, wonderfully balanced by a backbone of Christmas cake, milk chocolate and gingerbread spice. Spice and wood lend the finish a long, dry and warm oak character.
TWL Top 10
"twl/Top 10 $200"
User Top Rated
"over 5 reviews" "from $175 to $225" "sort by rating descending"