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You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
Aberfeldy 12 Year
“It’s a beautiful and well-rounded single malt that has been finished in bourbon casks.”—Christine Wiseman, bar manager at Los Angeles' Broken Shaker
Arran 10 Year
“This scotch is unusual, approachable and a confoundingly generous value. This is great for someone who drinks a lot of single malt and will appreciate something that’s a bit off-the-beaten-path.”—Chaim Dauermann, co-owner at New York City's Stay Gold
“You can't really beat the price point on this everyday sipper that packs a lot of flavor.”—Michael J. Huebner, beverage director at Denver's Zeppelin Station
Bowmore 12 Year
“While I love an iodine-rich peat bomb, I know that style of whisky is an acquired taste. Bowmore 12-year-old has it's fair share of peat and beach bonfire notes, but that's beautifully balanced with heaps of confectionary notes and concentrated waves of orchard and tropical fruits—unbelievable depth and balance for the price.”—Joaquín Simó, partner at New York City's Pouring Ribbons
Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend
“It’s one of the best blended scotches for the money—a touch of every flavor.”—Adam Fortuna, assistant general manager and sommelier at Grand Rapids, Mich.'s Reserve Wine & Food
“For blended scotch, it’s one of your most accessible, light and wildly inoffensive.”—Max Green, owner of and head bartender at New York City's Blue Quarter and Windmill
Dewar's 12 Year
“This whisky delivers in a truly elegant fashion, and I love the retro packaging.”—Hemant Pathak, bartender and bar manager at New York City's Junoon
The Famous Grouse
“It’s great to use in cocktails—a light but sharp finish on the palate.”—Lucinda Sterling, managing partner and bartender at New York City's Middle Branch
Glencadam 10 Year
“It’s soft, delicate, clean and extremely easy to sit down with and enjoy in succession.”—Joshua-Peter Smith, bar director at San Francisco's Mourad
Glenfarclas 12 Year
“It has a ton of fruit in it from the oloroso sherry cask maturation, which also gives it great texture.”—Brian Means, bartender at San Francisco's Pacific Cocktail Haven
Glenfiddich 12 Year
“It’s a standard of what I believe all single malts should be measured against—complex, elegant and round, with a soft creamy finish.”—Pereira
The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve
“This is a very approachable scotch for the beginner scotch drinkers. It’s very smooth and versatile and can be enjoyed every day.”—Wiseman
Glenmorangie The Original
“While Glenmorangie's flagship bottle may be readily available in all markets, it has always been a consistently solid product and great approachable scotch to boot, one I've used many times to convert the few scotch haters in my life.”—Jamie Boudreau, owner of and bartender at Seattle's Canon
Highland Park Magnus
“It’s a super affordable single malt—light subtle smoke and great for sipping in a cocktail.”—Green
Johnnie Walker Red Label
“This is an unpopular opinion among bartenders, but I don't care. At a blind spirits tasting, every bartender rated this as a super-high-level scotch, which is what hundreds of years of spirits blending accomplishes.”—Nathaniel David Smith, bartender at St. Paul, Minn.'s Hodges Bend and ambassador for Teeling Irish whiskey
Laphroaig 10 Year
“It’s such a great standard in the peaty Islay category. We love to make Old Fashioned cocktails with it or by adding a little to a cocktail to add a little smoky taste. Can't get enough.”—Yani Moraitis Frye, owner, operator and head bartender at Detroit's Bad Luck
“A blended scotch made of single malts, this scotch is great for the opposite reason why we love Laphroaig. Monkey Shoulder is a great balanced scotch perfect for mixing up an Old Pal or scotch sour.—Frye
“It’s an excellent blend of juice from Macallan and Highland Park that sees time in a first-fill sherry cask.”—Huebner
“It’s nutty, fruity and balanced and works well with citrus.”—Sterling
The Singleton of Glendullan 12 Year
“Speyside is my go-to category these days, and this is a great introduction for people who want to expand past the Macallan line of drinks.”—Patrick Marran, bartender at New York City's On the Rocks
“It’s a blend scientifically engineered to taste like a malt, with a good story behind it—definitely my home decanter whisky.”—Marran
“If scotch is new to someone and that person wants to learn, I cannot think of a more delicious and approachable one than this brand. Stone fruit appeal with subtle notes of honey and tangerine. Also, it has layers of depth to it. Neat!”—Pereira
Compass Box Great King Street Artist's Blend
“I admire what this distillery consistently puts out in high-quality spirits, although not a big name in terms of consumer appeal. Within the bar community, Compass Box is a gem. Great King Street Artist’s Blend is a beautiful blend of unique flavors of stewed pear and hints of vanilla aged in ex-bourbon barrels. It’s perfect for the holidays neat or laid over a large cube.”—Joseph Pereira, bartender at Las Vegas' Electra
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