Single Malt Scotch 10-15

Best Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 10-15 Years Old

The earliest known reference of spirits distilling in Scotland is 1494, but it can be assumed that it was practiced there much earlier. Scotland now has over 100 malt distilleries producing malts that can be called “Scotch”. To bear that appellation, a whisky must be distilled and matured in oak barrels for at least three years in Scotland. The term “Scotch” is proprietary – but the term “Single-Malt Whisky” can be applied to malt whiskies produced in other countries. Single malt scotch is produced entirely by distillations from one producer or distillery, using only malted barley as the grain, and distilled in copper pot stills.

You want to make scotch whisky? (Simpified, of course.)
- First you've got to be in Scotland.
- Then you harvest the barley.
- Soak the barley in tanks filled with local spring water for 2-3 days.
- Spread out the wet barley on the floor to germinate for 6-7 days, turning regularly by shoveling.
- Germination is stopped by drying out the barley in large kilns fueled by peat (in various proportions). This is called 'malting'. Smoke from the fire drifts upwards to dry out the barley. This is when you get the distinctive smoky, peaty flavor characteristic of many Scottish malts.
- Grind the malted barley into 'grist' in a 'grist mill'.
- Soak the grist in a large vat of heated local spring water, converting the starches into sugary sweet liquid known as 'wort'.
- Transfer the wort to a fermenting vat, add yeast, and fermentation begins to convert the wort to alcohol, referred to as 'wash'.
At this point the process is very similar to beer brewing.
- The wash is distilled twice in swan-necked copper pot stills, which separates the alcohol from the wash.
- The fermented liquid is heated and the alcohol vaporizes, rising up through the swan neck, passing over the head of the still, and routed through condensers to revert back to liquid.
- The liquid is tranferred to another still and the process is repeated for the second distillation.
- This is where the art comes into play, when only the "middle cut" of the spirit that achieves the required standard is collected. The rest goes through the process again.
- The colorless liquid proof is then either sold to whisky blenders, or matured in sherry casks to produce (after a number of years) single malt scotch whisky.

The wide range of subtleties and complexities can be attributed to the different regions in Scotland where the whiskies are produced. The result is a richly flavored whisky, highly individualistic in nature and diverse in taste. Speyside, situated on—or near—the Spey River boasts about half of Scotland’s distilleries, produces malts that are sweet, mellowed and fruity. Highlands whiskies tend to be quite varied, spicier with hints of smoke and peat. To the south, the Scottish Lowlands produce softer, lighter, maltier whiskies. Campbeltown malts tend to be briny, salty and lightly peated. Whiskies from the Scottish coastlines, Islay and the islands are often briny, heavily peated and smoky.

Although most single malt whiskies are in fact blends, the difference between single malt and blended scotch is that blends are a combination of barrel-aged malt (often sourced from different distilleries) and grain whiskies. Although blended scotch is still dominant in volume, the increasing popularity of single malt scotch has seen rapid growth in recent years.


The Fifty Best Single Malt Scotch 10-15 yo Tasting 2018


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 9 single malt scotch whiskies aged 10-15 years, with a panel of 18 judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the single malts were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at room temperature. Only ice water, unsalted crackers and plain, unsalted bar snacks were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold and Gold medals were awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no silver or bronze medals awarded in this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated notes eliminated. The regions of origin are identified for each brand.



Aged 10 Years

Matured in sherry casks. (Speyside)

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, buttery, dark chocolate, chocolate, brown sugar, treacle, maple, vanilla, honey, marmalade, tangerine, orange peel, pineapple, apricot, dried mango, fresh flowers, floral, straw, almond, nutmeg, wheat, dried grains, light peat, Bourbon barrel, oaky, savory.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, cream, dark sugar, treacle, maple, vanilla, honey, orange, orange peel, pineapple, raisin, golden raisin, cereal, toasted candied pecans, pecans, nutty, cinnamon, briny, smoke, Bourbon cask, sweet oak, nice balance, smooth, savory.
Finish: Caramel, chocolate, dark chocolate, vanilla, honey, candied yams, dark cherry, barley, malty, almond, nutty, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, spearmint, allspice, smoke, cedar, smooth, soft, mouth-filling, complete.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

   Tamdhu 10 Single Malt Scotch

10 Years Old

Non-Chill Filtered. (Islay)

Nose: Roasted peanuts, peach, peat, briny, aged raw steak, char, intense smoke, smoky briny oak, hickory, dark wood, oak.
Palate: Caramel, creamy, vanilla, honey, citrus, raisins, ginger, cinnamon, clove, heavy spice, coffee, peaty, sea salt, salty, maritime, briny, BBQ bacon, cured ham, three-alarm fire, smoke, buttery oak, oak, nicely balanced, smooth, rich, savory, delicious.
Finish: Dark chocolate, vanilla, dried apple, citrus, spice, salty, iodine, fresh tobacco, earth, peaty, smoke, smooth, even, endless finish.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Ardbeg 10 Single Malt Scotch

Glenmorangie – The Quinta Ruban
Aged 12 Years

Non-Chill Filtered. Matured in ruby port casks. (Highland)

Nose: Toffee, molasses, maple, cocoa powder, vanilla, honey, fruitcake, yellow stone fruits, cherry, papaya, raisins, stewed prunes, stewed dates, stewed figs, orange peel, cereal, slight floral, faint heather, wine, dry oloroso sherry, cedar.
Palate: Toffee, treacle, creamy, dark chocolate, light milk chocolate, vanilla, stewed cherry, stewed prunes, stewed raisins, raisins, berries, sweet cherry, orange, citrus, tawny grapes, peach, floral, violet, coffee, mocha, almond, nutty, cinnamon, spice, peppery, sherry, smoky, wood, dark wood, oak, smooth.
Finish: Vanilla, honey, golden honey, peach, ginger, orange peel, candied citrus peel, raisins, juniper, anise, cinnamon, clove, spice, pepper, nutty, barley, tobacco, peat, sherry, smoky, dry oak, oaky, smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Glenmorangie The Quinta Ruban Single Malt Scotch


Glenmorangie – Nectar D’Or
Aged 12 Years

Matured in bourbon casks, then extra matured in Sauternes casks. (Highland)

Nose: Toffee, butterscotch, caramel, chocolate-covered raisins, white chocolate, vanilla, honey, peach, green apple, citrus, rose petals, floral, perfume, heather, almond, filbert, sherry-like, iodine, mist, light peat, ash, woody, cedar.
Palate: Caramel, marzipan, creamy, vanilla, honey, orange blossom honey, orange peel, cherry, citrus, white grape, bergamot, raisins, dark raisins, dried pear, mint, eucalyptus, bay leaf, cannabis, hazelnut, almond, malt, cinnamon, spicy, nutmeg, clove, coffee grounds, peat, iodine, PX sherry, wood, cedar, heavy oak barrel, oak, savory.
Finish: Caramel, creamy, nougat, honey, figs, orange peel, coconut water, grain, barley, almonds, nutty, clove, hot cinnamon, lightly spicy, peppery, oloroso sherry, briny, smoky, wood, oak, balanced, soft, mellow.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or Single Malt Scotch

Highland Park – Viking Honour
12 Year Old

Hand cut local peat. Hand turned floor maltings. (Orkney)

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, clotted cream, honey apple juice, apple, apricot, citrus, lemon, dried orange peel, dried cherry, sweet raisins, cereal grains, wheat, nutty, clove, nutmeg, spice, iodine, briny, earthy, smoky, cedar.
Palate: Toffee, butterscotch, buttery, vanilla, honey, apricot, citrus, orange peel, lemon peel, raisins, ginger, pepper, almonds, roasted nuts, cinnamon, clove, dried mint, spice, cereal grain, heathery peat, sherry-like, elegant smoke, char, oaky, smooth, balanced.
Finish: Burnt vanilla, subtle layers of honey, orange, citrus, ginger, raisins, grain, toasty, peppery, spicy, light minerality, brine, peaty, lifting peat, smoke, cedar, even, balanced, smooth, delicate.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Highland Park Viking Honour Single Malt Scotch

Glenmorangie – Lasanta
Aged 12 Years

Matured in bourbon casks, then extra matured in Oloroso and PX sherry casks. (Highland)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, buttery, vanilla, brown sugar, mocha, honey, clover honey, gingerbread, cereal grain, sultana, lychee, peach, orange, floral, light heather, hazelnut, spice, malty, peat, smoky, oak.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, cream, dark sugar, demerara, maple, vanilla, honey, clover honey, candied cherry, raisins, dried citrus, citrus, orange, orange blossom, hazelnut, cloves, smooth spice, white pepper, peppery, briny, sherry-like, smoky, smooth oak, buttery mouthfeel.
Finish: Burnt caramel, dark chocolate, vanilla, honey, apricot, orange peel, grain, dry grains, nutty, spicy, pepper, tobacco, peaty, smoky, oak, even, balanced, nice, soft, smooth.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Glenmorangie Lasanta Single Malt Scotch

Glenmorangie – The Original
10 Year Old

Matured in bourbon casks. (Highland)

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, creamy, vanilla, honey, freshly cut apples, apple, red delicious apple, apple peel, orange, tangerine, Concord grape, white grape, banana, pineapple, peach, dried pear, magnolia, slightly floral, perfume, grain, almond, spice, peppery, salty, peat, smoke, oak, soft, pleasant.
Palate: Dark chocolate, vanilla, honey, orange, tangerine, light citrus, orange peel, citrus peel, mint, cannabis, sweet grains, almond, filbert, clove, nutmeg, spicy, peppery, salty, light peat, woody, oaky, cedar, creamy mouthfeel, smooth.
Finish: Vanilla, honey, tangerine, orange peel, grain, spice, peppery, mineral, salty, briny, smoky, woody, light oak, solid, consistent, smooth, savory.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch

Isle of Skye
Aged 12 Years

Extra matured in oak casks. (Isle of Skye)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, nougat, chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla, honey, clover honey, maple syrup, orange, citrus, citrus peel, orange peel, sultanas, stewed figs, dried apricots, raisins, prunes, dried fruits, mint, sage, clove, nutmeg, malty, salty, briny, earthy, minimal peat, smoke, dark wood.
Palate: Caramel, burnt caramel, dark chocolate, creamy, dark brown sugar, molasses, honey, dried fig, raisins, lavender, toasted vanilla bean, walnut, nutty, clove, spice, pepper, tobacco, peat, heathery peat, oak, sherry, cedar, smoke, mature, balanced, smooth, elegant.
Finish: Chocolate, dark chocolate, cocoa, molasses, orange peel, spice, peppery, red wine, musty, mineral, smoky, oaky, complex, nice, soft, lovely.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Isle of Skye 12 Single Malt Scotch

Glen Moray
Aged 15 Years
Elgin Heritage Collection

Matured in American oak and sherry casks. (Speyside)

Nose: Caramel, whipped cream, vanilla, vanilla cream, powdered sugar, light honey, pear, apricot, pineapple, orange, tangerine, dried fruits, golden raisin, orange peel, perfume, straw, cinnamon, malty, moderate peat, sherry, cedar.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, creamy, chocolate, white chocolate, powdered sugar, vanilla, honey, apple, peach, orange blossom, elderberry, chamomile tea, rose, floral, perfume, dessert wine, grain, toasted cereal, hazelnut, nutty, spicy, peppery, briny, medium peat, woody, cedar, oak, savory.
Finish: Molasses, creamy, vanilla, honey, tropical fruit, citrus, mint, nutty, clove, grain, soft pepper, white pepper, faint tobacco, even, well-balanced, soft, smooth, complex, full of flavor.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Glen Moray 15 Single Malt Scotch




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Fifty Best > Spirits > Single Malt Scotch 10-15
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