Top 20 single malt whiskies from around the world

Spirit news

Mon 22 Feb 2021

The past decade or so has been kind to the whisky drinker. Up until then, their choice of dram was generally limited to Scotland, Ireland and the USA – and little else. But now the options are vast – whisky is made all around the world, and the results are giving the traditional producers something to think about.

Single malt whisky is the product of one distillery. The ‘malt’ element refers to malted barley – that is, barley that’s been soaked, germinated and dried, which helps converts starches to sugars – and, ultimately, alcohol. No other grains are permitted, so the likes of rye, wheat and maize are not allowed.

It’s important to understand that single malts are not automatically better than blended whiskies or other styles – but what they offer that other whiskies don’t is the perfect snapshot of a distillery’s DNA, because you’re tasting a whisky that’s been made in one location with one set of ingredients to one recipe.

One noticeable trend for single malt whisky is that age statements are becoming less of a factor. Traditionally, drinkers would look for the magic number that declares the age of the whisky, whether that was 10 years, 15, 21 or even higher. But there are some exceptional whiskies that are still in short trousers, such as The Westfalian Peated 6 YO Single Malt Whisky from Germany, winner of the IWSC’s Spirit Gold Outstanding award.

The single malt whisky category offers riches galore – here are 20 of the best available to try from the IWSC’s recent tasting.

The Westfalian Peated 6 YO Single Malt Whisky
Unique Liquids

Incredible aromas of toasty malted milk and vanilla flowers; there is outstanding depth to the palate: warm flapjacks and sweet honeycomb balanced by aged leather and dried tea leaves, and a building crescendo of intense, savoury peat smoke. 54.6%

Distiller's Choice Kulo 7 YO Whiskey
iwsc-top-worldwide-whiskies-2.pngTeerenpeli Panimo & Tislaamo

Well-aged with a rich, decadent palate that highlights the sumptuous cooked fruits and crème brûlée flavours. A welcome bitterness gives a pleasing balance with baking spice depth. Truly amazing for a seven year old. 50.7%

Solist Amontillado Sherry Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whiskyiwsc-top-worldwide-whiskies-3.png
Kavalan Distillery

Opulent and expressive with layered aromas and flavours of dark chocolate, Christmas cake and sweet spice. Dense and rich with chewy mouthfeel and a wonderful, evolving finish of malt, spicy oak, a touch of smoke and a twist of orange peel. Sensational! 57.8%

28 Year Old Single Malt Whiskeyiwsc-top-single-malt-1.png
Teeling Whiskey
Republic of Ireland

Tropical fruit with toasted iced bun, cinnamon and smoky peat aromas on the nose. The complex palate hints winegum and toasted almonds with a savoury undertone of vanilla and oak. Good balance with a guava hint. A long, smooth finish. Superb. 46%

Renaissance 18 YO Single Malt Whiskeyiwsc-top-single-malt-2.png
Teeling Whiskey
Republic of Ireland

Aromas of crisp dried fruit on the nose mingle with the nutty oak leading to a rich, powerful palate. Earthy with baked nuances of apricot. Long, warm, persistent finish, phenomenal flavour and depth. A beautiful single malt. 46%

Rum Cask Finish & Cask Strength Whiskeyiwsc-top-single-malt-3.png
Westward Whiskey
Oregon, USA

Intensely captivating and dense; the complexity of tropical and dark dried fruits complimenting bold undertones of golden rum, spice and vanilla. Integrated tannins and a very dry palate, with dark chocolate and appealing sherry sweetness on the finish. 61%

Sherry Matured Sherry Finished Single Malt Whiskyiwsc-top-worldwide-whiskies-4.png
Lark Distillery

Deliciously extravagant aromas of hot creme brûlée entice you into myriad delectable sherried fruits, rich caramel and toffee. Big wallops of cherry jam draw you willingly into the powerful depths of this liquid Black Forest gateaux. Divine. 50.8%

Library Collection 20:1 Single Malt Whiskyiwsc-top-worldwide-whiskies-5.png
Braunstein Destillery

A delightfully complex yet balanced nose that highlights the savouriness of Leerdammer cheese with the richness of sweet sherry and cherry wood. Delectable Yuletide flavours of figs and dried sultanas sing on the palate. A satisfying length that keeps going. 46%

The Whiskymaker's Reserve No.1iwsc-top-worldwide-whiskies-6.png
The Lakes Distillery Company

A beautifully complex whisky, with lovely aromas of warm clotted cream fudge; on the palate it reveals an unexpected dryness: hints of smoke and dry black walnut perfectly balanced against subtle sweet vanilla and toasted coconut, giving incredible depth. 60.6%

Amaethon Single Maltiwsc-top-worldwide-whiskies-7.png Whisky

Truly unique; this whisky is youthful and expressive in character, offering notes of juicy mandarin and young orange blossom, pairing beautifully with vanilla ice cream and subtle nutmeg spice; a balanced interplay heightened by the liquid's brilliant intensity of flavour. 45%

Fusion Single Malt Whiskyiwsc-top-worldwide-whiskies-8.png
Amrut Distilleries

Complex and attractive nose with vanilla, fudge and hints of peat smoke. Opens up beautifully on palate with flavours of dried apple and apricot, toffee and gingerbread. Waxy mouthfeel and long, spicy finish. 50%

Gulliver's 47 Single Malt English Whiskyiwsc-top-worldwide-whiskey-3.png
Samuel Gulliver

A powerful blast of peat smoke on the nose, alongside subtler notes of light vanilla and floral heather; that characterful peat remains intense but is layered in fantastic balance with succulent tropical pineapple, building to a warming, peppery finish. 47%


The Westfalian 5 YO Single Malt Whiskyiwsc-top-worldwide-whiskey-7.png
Unique Liquids

Fantastic nose of indulgent espresso coffee and rich manuka honey; then freshly baked banana bread and buttery vanilla fudge notes are carried by a backbone of leathery oak and warm allspice. Hints of wintry bonfire smoke give it real character. 53.4%

Peated Cask Single Malt Whiskyiwsc-top-worldwide-whiskey-8.png
Cotswolds Distillery

Inviting nose of ripe winter pears; juicy texture with notes of butterscotch, caramelised apple and freshly baked tarte tatin, with a restrained finish of delicate peat smoke. 59.3%

Gulliver's 47 10 YO Single Malt English Whiskyiwsc-top-worldwide-whiskey-9.png
Samuel Gulliver

A deliciously intense whisky that packs in a lot of flavour: fresh apples and ripe apricots, rich toasted oak with a background of sweet pungent peat smoke. 47%

Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskeyiwsc-top-single-malt-4.png
Hinch Distillery
Republic of Ireland

Saline quality on the nose with essences of seaweed and brine. Smoked peat and orchard flavours occupy the palate. A sweet caramel kick to finish - think just baked pastry. 43%

Grace O'Malley 18 YO Single Malt Irish Whiskeyiwsc-top-single-malt-5.png
Inis Tine Uisce Teoranta
Republic of Ireland

Berry fruit on the nose with hints of apple and sultana. Light, elegant and youthful on the palate. The finish has a soft spice flavour lifting the oak. 45%


Penderyn Single Cask PT266 Single Malt Welsh Whiskyiwsc-top-worldwide-whiskey-10.png
The Welsh Whisky Company

Rich and expressive with distinct red apple and cherry notes; beautiful deep port character comes through on the palate alongside spicy gingerbread, dark toffee and sweet cinnamon. 60.5%