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Scotch Single Malt Whisky

Single malt Scotch whisky is Scotland's original whisky. It was traditionally made in the Highlands in the 18th and 19th century only from malted barley. In contrast, Lowland whisky was often made from other grains including oats, wheat, and later maize (corn). Until the Excise Act of 1823, much single malt Scotch whisky would have been made and sold illegally. The passing of this act paved the way for the commercialisation of the industry when famed illicit distilleries like George Smith's Glenlivet went legal.

This led to a boom in distillery building that continued until the 1890s. A series of regions emerged which produced whiskies in a distinct style: Islay, Island, Speyside (previously known as Glenlivet), Campbeltown, Highland and Lowland. Much of this character came from the fuel used for malting the barley. In the case of Islay, it would have been the island's plentiful peat, resulting in a smoky, medicinal taste, whereas Speyside's good railway connections would see it adopting anthracite, a kind of smokeless coal.

By the 1870s, however, most Scotch whisky for export would have been a blend of characterful Highland single malts and Lowland grains. These were pioneered, aged and marketed by shopkeepers like John Walker of Kilmarnock, Chivas Bros of Aberdeen and Arthur Bell & Sons of Perth. These merchants also imported rum, Port, sherry, Madeira and other wines, and had discovered that single malt Scotch whisky did something extraordinary when aged in seasoned wood. In whisky's illicit years, it would have been drunk unaged or even flavoured with herbs and spices but eventually whisky came to be generally regarded as an aged product. Since a court ruling of 1909, Scotch whisky, both malt and grain, has to be aged for a minimum for three years.

Now to be labelled as a single malt Scotch whisky, the spirit has to be made only from malted barley, batch-distilled in copper pot stills (usually twice though there are some triple-distilled single malt Scotch whiskies), aged for a minimum of three years in oak casks in Scotland, and bottled at no less than 40% ABV. The industry is governed by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA). Within these strict parameters, however, each distillery produces a unique style through differences in fermentation techniques, distillation, wood ageing etc. On the whole, the regional styles like Islay or Speyside owe more to tradition than anything intrinsic to where they are made.

While for much of the 20th century, Scotch whisky drinkers would have drunk blends, often mixed with soda water, single malts were highly prized by aficionados, though usually only seen as independent bottling from merchants like Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin. In the 1960s, however, Glenfiddich in Speyside began bottling and marketing its single malt Scotch whisky internationally. Its success led to others making this leap such as Glenfarclas, Macallan and Glenlivet. Single malt Scotch whisky as we know it had arrived.

Many of the distilleries built during the boom years of the 19th century have since closed down but in the 21st century Scotch whisky grew rapidly once more and there are now more than 130 malt distilleries in operation. These range from tiny farm operations to vast factories of whisky. Despite the global fame of single malt Scotch whisky, however, the majority of production is still used for blends which make up around 85% of global sales. The success of single malt Scotch whisky has inspired distillers all over the world with countries such as Taiwan, Japan, Australia and America all making single malts that, while distinctive, owe much to the original.

In the 19th century, characterful malt whiskies would have often been drunk mixed with hot water, honey and spices in the form of toddies. Nowadays, most are drunk neat or with a little water but we're starting to see a return to mixing with certain malt whisky cocktails like the Smokey Cokey, a blend of Lagavulin and Coca-Cola, gaining a cult following.

Ardbeg Hypernova - Committee Release

70cl, 51%
Ardbeg

Originally released exclusively to members of the Ardbeg Committee in 2022, Hypernova lays claim to being "the smokiest dram ever to mature into existence at Ardbeg". Islay whisky fans and peat heads…  More info

Ardbeg Hypernova - Committee Release
£299

Ardbeg Monsters of Smoke Gift Set (3 x 200ml)

60cl, 46.7%
Ardbeg

Monsterously good whisky from Ardbeg here in a snazzy pack! The Monsters of Smoke Gift Set contains three different single malts from the Islay distillery, presented in 200ml bottles. It includes the…  More info

Ardbeg Monsters of Smoke Gift Set (3 x 200ml)
£38.90

Ardbeg Scorch

70cl, 46%
Ardbeg

Islay's Ardbeg Distillery has gone and aged bottled up some excellent single malt which has been matured in its most heavily charred casks, and appropriately dubbed it Ardbeg Scorch! Almost makes you…  More info

Ardbeg Scorch
2
£199

Ardbeg Smoketrails - Manzanilla Edition (1L)

100cl, 46%
Ardbeg

Originally a Duty Free and distillery exclusive, Ardbeg's Smoketrails explores the influence of different casks from around the world on the classic Islay single malt. This edition sees a helping of…  More info

Ardbeg Smoketrails - Manzanilla Edition (1L)
£199

Ardbeg Still Young

70cl, 56.2%
Ardbeg

Part of a range from Ardbeg exhibiting the affects of age on their wonderful single malt whisky. Still Young represents the second stage, aged for 8 years. Please Note: This bottle has a few nicks…  More info

Ardbeg Still Young
1
£450

Ardbeg Supernova 2015 (SN2015) - Committee Release

70cl, 54.3%
Ardbeg

Ardbeg, in case you didn't know, sent some maturing spirit into space. Or, more accurately, tubes of "Ardbeg-crafted molecules" that also contained sticks of charred oak. The idea was to compare…  More info

Ardbeg Supernova 2015 (SN2015) - Committee Release
7
£499

Ardbeg Supernova 2019 (SN2019) - Committee Release

70cl, 53.8%
Ardbeg

To celebrate Ardbeg sending some whisky molecules into space back in 2011, the Supernova expression was born! At 100PPM (rather than 55PPM), it's the peatiest expression from the Islay distillery…  More info

Ardbeg Supernova 2019 (SN2019) - Committee Release
1
£499

Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old - Batch 1

70cl, 46.2%
Ardbeg

Released in 2019, Ardbeg's Traigh Bhan is a 19 year old expression named after the local Traigh Bhan beach on Islay, sometimes known as the Singing Sands. The first core expression from Ardbeg in 20…  More info

Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old - Batch 1
2
£650

Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old - Batch 2

70cl, 46.2%
Ardbeg

It's the second batch of Ardbeg's Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old single malt! Like the first batch, this excellent Islay whisky was drawn from a combo of American oak and Oloroso sherry casks, though with a…  More info

Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old - Batch 2
£399

Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old - Batch 3

70cl, 46.2%
Ardbeg

Ardbeg has gone and made a third batch of its Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old single malt Scotch whisky, and again, it's a marvellous expression showing just how well the distillery's whisky does after a…  More info

Ardbeg Traigh Bhan 19 Year Old - Batch 3
£399

Ardbeg Uigeadail

70cl, 54.2%
Ardbeg

This stunning expression from Islay's Ardbeg distillery on the Kildalton Coast is named after a nearby loch (pronounced "Oog-a-dal"). It's the perfect example of how sweet and savoury notes can work…  More info

Ardbeg Uigeadail
283
£62.95

Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 Year Old

70cl, 47%
Ardbeg

Ardbeg's Wee Beastie is a youthful single malt drawn from a combination of ex-bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks, bottled up at five years of age. Peaty notes sit at the fore for this one, with oak…  More info

Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 Year Old
50
£36.45

Ardbog (Ardbeg)

70cl, 52.1%
Ardbeg

A limited edition Ardbeg released during the Fèis Ìle whisky festival. Aged in a combination of bourbon as well as some Manzanilla sherry casks, it was produced for 'Ardbog Day', which was celebrated…  More info

Ardbog (Ardbeg)
15
£399

Ardlair 11 Year Old 2011 (cask 900032) - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

70cl, 62.5%
Ardmore

Ardlair is the unpeated whisky coming out the doors of Ardmore distillery, which normally produces heavily peated whiskies. This Highland single malt was distilled in 2011 and matured for 11 years in…  More info

Ardlair 11 Year Old 2011 (cask 900032) - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)
£67.13

Ardlair 12 Year Old 2011 (cask 900030) - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)

70cl, 63.1%
Ardmore

The Ardmore distillery is best known for its peated whiskies, but there are also unpeated offerings to be found, carrying the name Ardlair. This 12-year-old unpeated single malt was distilled in…  More info

Ardlair 12 Year Old 2011 (cask 900030) - Cask Strength Collection (Signatory)
£64.95

Ardlair 13 Year Old 2009 Single Cask (Master of Malt)

70cl, 58.9%
Ardmore

Ardlair? What's that? It's an unpeated single malt from the Ardmore distillery, which more commonly works with heavily peated barley. This single malt spent 13 years maturing between 2009 and 2022,…  More info

Ardlair 13 Year Old 2009 Single Cask (Master of Malt)
£44.95

Ardmore 10 Year Old 2009 - Single & Single

70cl, 53.9%
Ardmore

This 2009 vintage Ardmore single malt spent a decade maturing in a single American oak cask. Eventually, indie bottler Single & Single bottled it up in 2019 at cask strength, with the Highlander…  More info

Ardmore 10 Year Old 2009 - Single & Single
1
£83.95

Ardmore 10 Year Old 2012 (cask 16980) - Old Particular (Douglas Laing)

70cl, 48.4%
Ardmore

This single cask Ardmore was distilled in 2012 and matured for a decade in an ex-Laphroaig barrel. The Highland single malt Scotch whisky was bottled in 2022 by Douglas Laing for its Old Particular…  More info

Ardmore 10 Year Old 2012 (cask 16980) - Old Particular (Douglas Laing)
£69.95

Ardmore 10 Year Old - Canmore

70cl, 46%
Ardmore

A terrific single malt from Ardmore, independently bottled by Canmore, and you know what? It's pretty moreish stuff! Matured for a decade in a single cask, which finally yielded 287 bottles of this…  More info

Ardmore 10 Year Old - Canmore
£59.95

Ardmore 11 Year Old 2008 (cask 709235) - Fadandel

70cl, 59.3%
Ardmore

This splendid Ardmore single malt Scotch was released by Danish indie bottler Fadandel after spending 11 years in a cask that previously held Laphroaig whisky! As you might expect, that cask has…  More info

Ardmore 11 Year Old 2008 (cask 709235) - Fadandel
£93.22
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Ardmore 11 Year Old 2011 - Benchmark (Murray McDavid)

70cl, 56.7%
Ardmore

11 year old single malt Scotch from Ardmore, distilled in 2011 and matured in a single oloroso sherry cask. That cask was opened in 2022 by the team at independent bottler Murray McDavid, releasing a…  More info

Ardmore 11 Year Old 2011 - Benchmark (Murray McDavid)
£85
£74.90

Ardmore 12 Year Old 2008 (cask 706110) - Auld Goonsy's Malt

70cl, 50%
Ardmore

A superb single cask bottling, independently released by Auld Goonsy's Malt. This single malt was distilled at Ardmore in July 2008 and left to rest in a peaty Islay whisky barrel! After 12 years of…  More info

Ardmore 12 Year Old 2008 (cask 706110) - Auld Goonsy's Malt
£72.95

Ardmore 12 Year Old 2009 (cask 191340) - Duncan Taylor

70cl, 54.9%
Ardmore

Smoky single malt from Ardmore, distilled back in 2009 and left to mature soundly in a single cask for 12 years. Following that, the Duncan Taylor team came along and bottled it up in 2022 at cask…  More info

Ardmore 12 Year Old 2009 (cask 191340) - Duncan Taylor
£92.59

Ardmore 12 Year Old 2010 (casks 800518, 800527 & 800531) - Un-Chillfiltered Collection (Signatory)

70cl, 46%
Ardmore

This Ardmore single malt was distilled in 2010 and matured in a trio of bourbon barrels for the next 12 years, developing all sorts of creamy, fruity flavours. In 2022 it was bottled by Signatory for…  More info

Ardmore 12 Year Old 2010 (casks 800518, 800527 & 800531) - Un-Chillfiltered Collection (Signatory)
£47.90

Ardmore 12 Year Old Father’s Day Edition – Premier Barrel (Douglas Laing)

70cl, 46%
Ardmore

A single cask bottling of Ardmore single malt Scotch whisky, bottled up by Douglas Laing for a special Father's Day release in the Premier Barrel range. This whisky was given 12 years of maturation…  More info

Ardmore 12 Year Old  Father’s Day Edition – Premier Barrel (Douglas Laing)
1
£72.95

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