There are some top-tier bottles of single malt to give as holiday gifts this year, and not just from the usual suspect Scotland.

Indeed, some of the best known single malts come from regions across that country like Islay, Speyside, and Highland. But there are also great options from lesser known single malt distilleries around the world, including right here in the USA. Check out these 12 selections, ranging in price from affordable to a reasonable splurge, including some special limited-edition bottles and beautifully redesigned labels and boxes.

Laphroaig Cairdeas Pedro Ximenez Cask Strength

Islay, Scotland
117.8 Proof (58.9%), $100

The annual Cairdeas release from Islay distillery Laphroaig is always a special one, with former distillery manager John Campbell compiling cask-strength whiskies aged in a wide array of barrel types. The 2021 edition was tripled-matured in ex-bourbon barrels, quarter casks, and European oak hogsheads that held PX sherry. The signature iodine and heavy peat notes are complemented by dried fruit, spice, and even some savory flavors, and at nearly 60% ABV this is an assertive single malt that you won’t soon forget.

Benriach Malting Season

Speyside, Scotland
97.4 Proof (48.7% ABV), $149

One of the most interesting but underrecognized Speyside distilleries has to be Benriach, a whisky maker that produces both peated and unpeated whisky aged in nearly every different type of barrel. This new release is a lovely whisky that is made entirely from barley that was malted onsite at the distillery, the first in about a century. It was aged in a combination of bourbon barrels and virgin oak, giving it a creamy texture and notes of honey, vanilla, and nutmeg on the palate.

Bladnoch Vinaya

Lowland, Scotland
93.4 Proof (46.7% ABV), $55

The Lowland region of Scotland is lesser known to many whisky drinkers, but there are some excellent malts to be found, including those from the Bladnoch distillery. The brand is gaining a foothold in the US as it relaunches its core lineup, which is anchored by the NAS Vinaya expression, named after a Sanskrit word that means “respect” and “gratitude.” The whisky was aged in first-fill bourbon barrels and sherry casks, bringing together notes of fruit, vanilla, chocolate, and spice.

Glenmorangie 18 Azuma Makoto Limited Edition

Highland, Scotland
86 Proof (43% ABV), $140

The 18-year-old expression from esteemed distillery Glenmorangie is arguably one of its best, aged for 15 years in bourbon barrels after which a portion is transferred to sherry casks for the final three years and then married together. The result is a palate rich with raisin, fig, and vanilla notes. Now this excellent whisky has been given a facelift with a new bottle and box design from Japanese artist Azuma Makoto, with a beautiful floral motif that will make this a great gift option for the holidays.

The Macallan Harmony Collection Rich Cacao

Speyside, Scotland
88 Proof (44%ABV), $160

The Macallan whisky maker Polly Logan traveled to Spain to find inspiration for this special release, working with pastry chef Jordi Roca to immerse herself in all things cacao. The whisky was aged in European and American oak sherry-seasoned casks that were blended into a single malt that is recognizably Macallan, but does indeed have a pronounced chocolate backbone to complement the spice and dried fruit notes. Also of note, the box is made from cacao pod husks, part of the distillery’s move towards more sustainability.

The ImpEx Collection 25 yo Springbank Cask #94

Campbeltown, Scotland
95 Proof (47.5% ABV), $969

The ImpEx Collection contains some excellent aged whiskies and rums that surpass expectations. One of the highlights is this expensive single-cask limited release from Springbank, a sometimes overlooked distillery in the Campbeltown region. It was distilled in 1993, aged for 25 years, and given a finish in Oloroso sherry casks. Look for notes of sweet spice and honey, vanilla, tropical fruit, and a touch of maple syrup on the palate.

Stranahan’s Sherry Cask

Denver, Colorado
94 Proof (47% ABV), $80

Denver distillery Stranahan’s is one of the pioneers in the up-and-coming American single malt category. The brand-new batch of the Sherry Cask expression was just released, which takes the flagship four-year-old whiskey and finishes it in 500-liter Oloroso sherry butts for a period of time. This adds notes of dried fruit and spice to the palate already rich with vanilla, espresso and fruit flavors. Give this bottle to any fan of sherry cask-matured scotch to see how it compares.

Courage and Conviction Cuvee Single Cask

Virginia, USA
118.4 Proof (59.2% ABV), $149

Another purveyor of American single malts is Virginia Distillery Co., which released its flagship Courage & Conviction expression a few years ago. This is a blend of whiskeys aged in bourbon, sherry, and cuvee casks, which are European red wine barrels that have been shaved, toasted, and recharred. Now a single cask bottling of the cuvee cask component is available in limited numbers, a spicy, fruity, tannic whiskey that will stand up to any older single malt scotch you come across.

Westward American Single Malt Cask Strength

Portland, Oregon, USA
125 Proof (62.5% ABV), $100

If you’re looking for some high-proof whiskey to gift this year, Westward’s new cask-strength single malt is now a permanent addition to the lineup and one worth considering. This is the same whiskey as the core expression, but it isn’t proofed down before bottling, The result is a powerful but not unwieldy dram, with notes of black pepper, caramel, and stone fruit all amplified at this higher ABV. Add a little water if you’d like to tame it a bit, the palate will open up nicely.


96 Proof (48% ABV), $180

Alfred Giraud is a French distillery founded by a family with deep cognac roots. Voyage is the latest release, and part of the Exploratory Blends series. Two single malts were married together, one aged in Sauternes barrels and the other in French Robinia casks, and then put into ex-cognac casks to mature for a secondary period before bottling. Look for notes of grape, honey, custard, and black currant on the palate of this naturally colored and non-chill-filtered whisky. Only five casks were produced, yielding a scant 405 bottles for release here in the US.

Nikka Single Malt Miyagikyo Peated

96 Proof (48% ABV), $275

Age statement bottles of Japanese whisky are hard to find and expensive these days, and this new release from Nikka certainly falls into the latter category. Nevertheless, this is an interesting whisky that essentially flips the signature character of Miyagikyo around by creating a peated expression from this distillery known for lighter, fruitier whiskies. This release is part of the Discovery series, including Yoichi Non-Peated, which will continue over the next three years.

Penderyn Icons of Wales Rhiannon

Wales, UK
92 Proof (46% ABV), $95

Penderyn released this whisky as part of its Icons of Wales series, which is a celebration of Welsh legends, people, and historical events. This new limited-edition bottle is a marriage of whisky matured in Oloroso sherry butts and Bordeaux Grand Cru barrels. Sweet vanilla notes combine with dried fruit, spice, chocolate, and a bit of tannic dryness on the palate. This is a lovely single malt for people looking outside of the familiar whisky regions.

Jonah Flicker is a freelance writer who covers spirits, lifestyle, and travel, with a particular focus on all things whiskey. His work has appeared in outlets including Robb Report, Esquire, USA Today, Maxim,, and many others. Over the years, he has traveled the world visiting distilleries from Kentucky to Scotland to uncover the stories behind the spirits.