Ratings: 10 Top-Rated Single-Malt Whiskeys That Aren't Scotch | Wine Enthusiast
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10 Top-Rated Single-Malt Whiskeys That Aren’t Scotch

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Last week, the World Drinks Awards announced the winners of its 2023 World Whiskies Awards category. Among the winners, a pair of single malts stood out. First was a bottle dubbed World’s Best Single Malt, M&H Elements Sherry Cask, an Israeli whiskey noted for aging its spirits at low altitudes, which creates an intense, woody flavor. The second, named World’s Best Single Malt Small Cask, was JJ Corry The Flintlock No. 3, an Irish whiskey.

While Scotland’s native whisky redeemed itself with a win for the World’s Best for Single Cask Single Malt category—Glen Scotia First Fill Bourbon Cask No. 372—that’s two out of three accolades for non-Scotch single malts.

Purists might be shocked. After all, conventional wisdom is that “single malt” is synonymous with “Scotch.” But increasingly, whiskey lovers know that’s not always true. Single malt—defined as whiskey made from malted barley, originating from a single distillery—is made all around the globe, including the burgeoning American Single Malt category. These global single malts include plenty of striking drams worth a pour.

“The root of all good whiskies, from wherever they are made around the world, is that they celebrate the culture and the place they are made, as well as the ingredients,” says David Vitale, founder of Starward Australian Whisky, which includes single malts among its portfolio.

With that in mind, here’s a collection of single malts from across the world, all scored 90+ by Wine Enthusiast—and not a Scotch among them. (P.S. Can’t bear to part ways with single malt Scotch? That’s O.K., we’ve got you.)

10 Global Single Malts to Try Right Now

Australia: Starward Nova Single Malt

92 Points Wine Enthusiast

This single-malt whiskey is matured for two years in barrels that previously held red wine. The end result is a bright topaz hue and relatively sweet, slightly fruity aroma. The palate opens oaky and drying, showing a rounded cherry note on the midpalate and finishing with soft brushes of vanilla and baking spice. Adding water brings out an unexpected espresso note. —Kara Newman

$50.99 Total Wine & More

England: Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky

France: Bastille 1789 Single Malt Whisky

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

This golden single malt was finished in French oak barrels that previously held Sauternes, red Burgundy and Sherry. The aroma evokes honey and light smoke. The palate opens with lemon and grapefruit peel zing, evolving into honey and smoke. A long and mouthwatering pepper note marks the finish. —K.N.

$41.99 Caskers

India: Rampur Asāva Indian Single Malt Whisky

94 Points Wine Enthusiast

Matured in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in Indian Cabernet Sauvignon casks, this single malt offers a topaz hue and bold dried fruit flavors. Dried date, fig and gingerbread wind into a mocha midpalate and long finish laced with sandalwood, cardamom and allspice. Top 100 Spirits 2022 —K.N.

$109.99 Total Wine & More

Ireland: Limavady Single Malt Whiskey Single Barrel No. 0040

96 Points Wine Enthusiast

The mild, grassy aroma has a tinge of green apple. Meanwhile, the palate leads with brown sugar and caramel. A splash of water pulls a deep-toasted grain note forward, finishing with bitter espresso plus cardamom and black pepper heat. A bit of apple-y freshness returns on the complex exhale. —K.N.

$47.49 Total Wine & More

Italy: Puni Vina Marsala Edition Whiskey

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

This Italian whiskey aged for five years, including in casks that previously held Marsala, Italy’s fortified wine. The end result is an amber hue and raisin aroma, and a sip that fleetingly channels another Italian staple: Luxardo cherries. Especially with a splash of water, dried cherry, prunes in syrup and sticky marmalade slide into long cocoa and dried fig finish. Mix into Manhattans. —K.N.

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Japan: The Akkeshi Single Malt Whisky

95 Points Wine Enthusiast

From Hokkaido’s Akkeshi Distillery, this lightly peated whiskey has a golden hue and mild, toasty aromas of almond and vanilla. The fiery palate opens with citrusy zing and a puff of smoke, fading into a long espresso and vanilla fade. Adding water coaxes more smoke and vanilla forward, and softens the alcohol heat. —K.N.

$99.99 Total Wine & More

Sweden: High Coast Älv Single Malt Whisky

95 Points Wine Enthusiast

Look for a pale straw hue and fresh flower and citrus aromas. The palate opens fruity and mild, with a light, faintly effervescent texture. Lemon mousse and pineapple sweetness are layered with hints of chestnut and vanilla. —K.N.

$62.76 The Whisky Exchange

The Netherlands: Millstone Peated PX Dutch Single Malt Whiskey

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

Aged for 4 years in casks that formerly held Pedro Ximenez sherry. Vanilla and a waft of peat smoke perfume the nose. The palate opens with vanilla and a modest billow of sweet smoke, exiting long and mouthwatering with hints of anise, black licorice, dark chocolate and black pepper, plus a lemony hint. —K.N.

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

USA: Cedar Ridge American Single Malt Whiskey The Quintessential Signature Blend

95 Points Wine Enthusiast

Look for a light gold hue and bright, enticing pineapple, pear and vanilla aromas. The palate echoes those fruit tones, wrapped in a veil of peat smoke, finishing mouthwatering, lively and bright. This American single malt is finished in various sherry, brandy, rum and wine casks, “meticulously married and matured,” the producer says. Top 100 Spirits 2022 —K.N.

$54.99 Total Wine & More

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