Single malt scotch is a vast category of whisky, covering five legislated regions and a broad spectrum of flavors. Many factors contribute to these differences in flavor—climate, region, finishing casks, use of peat, and more. One important factor is age. Age doesn’t necessarily reflect on a whisky’s quality, but it can still give clues about what to expect in the glass. A 5 year old single malt will taste different from a 25 year old single malt, and though not all single malts bear age statements, many of them do.
Whisky Advocate’s Fall 2020 Buying Guide includes an array of single malt scotches bearing age statements, from 5 to 25 years old. They span the different regions of Scotland, and as you’ll see in the reviews, each packs its own unique flavors. Whether you’re seeking a bottle with a specific age statement to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, or just looking to try new, high-scoring scotch, these whiskies are all winners. For even more scotch reviews, check out the full Fall 2020 Buying Guide!
6 AGE-STATEMENT SINGLE MALTS FROM THE FALL 2020 BUYING GUIDE
Ardbeg 5 year old Wee Beastie—92 points, $47
Full-on Ardbeg on the nose! Hot tar, lemon juice, charcuterie, thick peat smoke, ginger, and a hint of Jaffa oranges. The palate is oily and well-integrated, with black pepper, coal tar soap, cloves, vanilla, and orchard fruits. Spicy in the lengthy finish, with more tar, peat, and salty oak. —Gavin Smith
Glenallachie 10 year old Cask Strength (Batch 2)—89 points, $90
Mellow on the nose, even at cask strength, with vanilla, lemon curd, honey, and warm ginger cookies. Strawberry jam notes emerge in time. An initial flavor of berry on the palate, then malt, honey, and slightly bitter oak. The finish features black pepper, more ginger, and jam-like notes. (2,400 bottles for U.S) —Gavin Smith
Glenlivet 12 year old Double Oak—88 points, $45
The nose yields orange and lime, canned pineapple, and light caramel notes. Elegant, with some substance on the palate, with vanilla and brittle toffee underpinned by vibrant orchard fruits, honey, and milk chocolate. The finish features more milk chocolate, gentle oak, and ginger. Best Value —Gavin Smith
Balblair 15 year old—90 points, $120
Initially aged in bourbon casks, this then spent an unspecified period of time in first-fill European oak butts. Rich fruit notes on the nose, marzipan, and light sherry. Sweet floral notes in time, with fondant cream and vanilla pods. Viscous palate delivery, with sweet sherry, cinnamon, baked apple, figs, caramel, and hot chocolate. Orange and allspice on the nutty finish. —Gavin Smith
Macallan 18 year old Double Cask—92 points, $330
Deep notes of wood polish on the floral nose, with toffee and a whiff of cloves. The palate is slick, with Christmas pudding, orange, caramel, oak, and dark chocolate. Black coffee, citrus fruit, ginger, and black pepper in the lengthy finish. —Gavin Smith
Tomintoul 25 year old—90 points, $500
A 2015 addition to the Tomintoul range of single malts carrying age statements, this expression was matured in bourbon casks like the rest of the lineup, but has a slighter higher ABV than most. Toffee, peaches, and newly polished furniture on the nose. Pleasing rounded mouthfeel, with Jaffa orange, honey, malt, black pepper, and developing tannins. The finish yields more malt, lively spices, green apples, black tea, and nutty oak. —Gavin Smith