Are you undecided about which single malt to buy for your whisky-loving friend? Well we've made your life easier by listing our 10 favourite budget single malts under $50. Any one of these bottles would make an excellent gift for both experienced and newbie drinkers.
The Whyte & Mackay 13 Years Old; a small step up from Whyte & Mackay's "Special" label but there's nothing too interesting with this blend.
Kikori Whiskey; a light and delicate Japanese rice "whiskey". If you like light and delicate whiskies, you may enjoy it. We didn't.
The Suntory Toki, a light, fruity and crisp blended whisky. This is a delicate dram; there's not much in terms of richness or boldness and nothing really jumps out at you.
The Macallan Sienna; a very pleasant and fresh single malt. It's balanced very well between sweet notes, sherry notes and spiciness.
The Tamdhu 10 Years Old; a complex and well made sherry-cask-matured whisky. It's very pleasant and mellow but lacks any real character or bite.
The Mackmyra Moment Körsbär; another fantastic and experimental expression from the Swedish masters. Mackmyra is slowly but surely becoming one of our favourite whisky distilleries.
The Hakushu Single Malt Distiller's Reserve; a fresh and fruity single malt with lots of forest notes in both the nose and the palate. A dangerously easy-to-drink single malt.
The Talisker 10 Years Old; a wonderfully strong, intense and characterful single malt. It's almost perfectly balanced between the peat smoke, fruity sweetness and spiciness.
The Chivas Regal Royal Salute 21 Years Old; an exceptional and highly recommended blended Scotch whisky. A worthy tribute to HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
The Balvenie 21 Years Old Madeira Cask; a fruity and subtle whisky that takes quite a bit of time to open up. Recommended for people who enjoy lighter single malts.
The GlenDronach Peated Port Wood; a fruity, complex and superbly balanced single malt. The subtle Highland peat used in this expression elevates it to new heights. Highly recommended ... a real winner from GlenDronach.
The Dewar's 25 Years Old Double Aged; a very special blended Scotch from Dewar's. Complex, rich, smooth and just an overall pleasure to drink.
The Glenrothes Robur Reserve; a light and easy-to-drink single malt from The Glenrothes. Surprisingly (since it's marketed as a heavily sherry cask matured whisky) the sherry notes take a back seat to the bourbon ones.
The AnCnoc Rùdhan; an accomplished mainland peated single malt. The smokiness, both bonfire and medicinal, is present, but doesn't overwhelm the senses.
Tincup American Whiskey; a good, simple and light sipping whiskey. It's not complex or rich in any way but it has its moments, it would actually be a great starter whiskey for newbies.
The Kilchoman Red Wine Cask Matured; a wonderfully unique and complex single malt from the Islay distillery. The higher bottling strength has added structure and intensity to this dram. Highly recommended.
The Highland Park Magnus; an affordable no age statement single malt from Highland Park. For its price, this is a good single malt but don't expect too much from it.
The Macallan Classic Cut; an impressive, but slightly overpriced, sherry-bomb from The Macallan. The high ABV gives it a big impact on arrival and allows the complex and rich flavors to shine.
The Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch 3; heaven in a bottle. One of the best single malts we have ever had the pleasure of reviewing. Go buy it.
Glenfiddich The Original; a limited release inspired by the original Glenfiddich Straight Malt whisky from 1963. It's an impressive whisky, but we felt there wasn't enough happening to warrant such a high price tag.
The Ancnoc 12 Years Old; a light and fruity summertime dram. It didn't really hit the spot for us, but it has still managed to win 7 gold medals (and counting) and some glowing reviews, so give it a shot and see for yourselves.
The Ardbeg Twenty Something; yes, it's ridiculously expensive but it's worth every penny. 23 years of maturation have had a miraculous effect on this whisky, it's rich, complex and that mature, dulled-down smokiness really is something else.
The Four Roses Small Batch; a light but well balanced Bourbon that we felt lacked the richness of flavor and strength to really hold our attention for any significant length of time. This might make a good introductory Bourbon for newbies, but experienced drinkers should look elsewhere.
Glenmorangie The Tarlogan; a very impressive single malt from the Highland distillery. What it lacks in complexity it more than makes up for in the richness and uniqueness of its flavors.
The Bruichladdich 8 Years Old; a great example of the distillery's true essence, one that is not overshadowed by smoky peat notes. For an 8-year-old expression, it's incredibly complex.
The Glenlivet Master Distiller’s Reserve Small Batch; an exciting and complex expression but marred by it's lack of transparency with the cask history.
The Dalmore 21 Years Old; complex, bold, rich and velvety smooth, this is an incredible whisky, the cream of the crop and it's worth every penny.
The Glen Scotia Double Cask; an impressible and affordable expression from Glen Scotia. It's a little rough around the edges but all-in-all a very good single malt.
The Hudson Four Grain Bourbon; a smooth and perfectly balanced whiskey from the New York distillery. Wonderful notes of menthol, vanilla and spiciness. A delightful New York bourbon.