How to recognize a top quality scotch

Drinking scotch is neither a casual activity for teenagers on their spring break nor the best way of taking shots. Scotch is a refined, sophisticated drink made to be savored. However, not many people understand the art of picking a scotch bottle or even if they do come across a fine blend they don’t know how to drink it. These days, one can find dozens of types of scotch in supermarkets or in specialized liquor stores, but choosing the best one can become quite a challenge for someone who is not an expert. To avoid unpleasant experiences, here is what you need to know about the good and the bad types of scotch.


How can you know if this particular bottle of scotch is a good one or just a poor quality liquor that will give you headaches? Well, you can start by looking at the price tag. If it costs $10, then you can be sure that’s not a good drink because it’s either made with questionable ingredients or it’s not distilled properly. Scotch is not the right drink for getting tipsy on a budget. In fact, one of the reasons why so many people don’t like scotch is because they only tried a cheap variety. If you want to get a taste a real, good whisky, then spending more is really worth it. That is not to say that all expensive scotch is exquisite or that you can’t find some hidden gems at a lower price point but, in general, you get what you pay for.


Scotch purists, the ones who prefer buying top quality scotch online as opposed to buying it from a supermarket, say that age is the distinguishing trait of a good scotch. The older the scotch is, the better it will taste. Although there is a huge appeal to a bottle of 12 years distilled scotch, you shouldn’t be too strict about this, because it’s all a matter of personal preference. If you love the taste, then the bottle is worth the investment.


The region where the scotch was distilled is very important, but not in the same way as winemaking depends on the geographical location. Good scotch making doesn’t need a certain type of soil or climate, but it does need a history and culture. The liquor made in Scotland can have some names that are difficult to pronounce, so choose based on the place of origin instead: Lowland, Highland, Speyside, Campbeltown and Islay. The manufacturers in each region have their own methods and traditions, so the scotch will have a unique personality. For example, scotch from the Highlands has a spicier taste, whereas scotch from Lowland is sweeter. So, if you’re not used to drinking scotch, this could be the region to start with.

For a novice, reading about the notes of scotch can be a bit confusing because terms like dry, salty and peat might not mean much. In this case, a great option is to order a few 50ml samples from each type of scotch. This way, you’ll find out what you like and purchase the big bottle afterwards.