What is the smoothest Scotch whisky? There are varying opinions on what the smoothest Scotch whisky out there is. If you’re looking for an undebatable smooth Scotch experience, then your best bet is to go with Ardbeg Uigeadail, Glenmorangie Vintage 1997, or Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old.
Table of Content:
- What is Smooth Scotch Whisky?
- Which Is Smoother, Scotch or Whisky?
- What is the Smoothest Scotch Whisky? Single Malt or Blended?
- What Is the Smoothest Scotch Whisky to Drink Straight?
- What is the Smoothest Scotch Whisky to Drink on a Budget?
As examples, there are a few Scotch whiskies, in particular, that stand out as most popular among the whisky boffs and experts alike. Ardbeg Uigeadail, Glenmorangie Vintage 1997, and Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old are the smoothest Scotch whiskies to drink. Not only did these three whiskies win awards for being the best and smoothest Scotches, but they got the top spots for the best whiskies in the world as voted by the International Whisky Competition. They were up against some of the world’s best Irish whiskies, Bourbons, Japanese whiskies, and other favorites from around the world.
When it comes to assessing the smoothness of a whisky, most people look for lightness and flavor on the palate. A whisky with as little alcoholic “bite” as possible is considered to be smooth. Therefore, the best way to tell whether or not a Scotch is smooth or not is to test to see if you can taste or smell the alcohol in it.
Smoothness is also a trait in Scotch whisky that is commonly associated with how good the quality of the brew is. Therefore it’s common to think that the best Scotch whiskies in the world are also the smoothest. We’ll explore why the three Scotch whiskies mentioned above are easily the smoothest Scotches to drink and what makes them so special.
In general, Scotch, and any other whisky, pick up smooth qualities during their aging process. Smoothness largely depends on the amount of time it ages in casks and barrels. As a general rule, the longer a Scotch remains in the barrel, the smoother it will be when you drink it.
It also depends on what types of casks or barrels distillers choose to age their whisky in. Barrels are typically reused sherry or wine barrels. The type of barrel determines the notes one will experience on the nose and palate, as well as the Scotch’s smoothness.
If you’re asking yourself, “what is the smoothest Scotch whisky to drink?”, you need to keep reading this post for some helpful tips on how to identify the smooth qualities in a Scotch you’ve been looking for.
If you hear whisky or Scotch described as smooth, the term generally refers to the texture of the whisky. But Scotch is liquid, surely that’s its texture? Scotch whisky is considered to be smooth if there is a minimal alcoholic bite to the drink itself. In a nutshell, this means that the drink will not make your eyes water when you have the first sip of it.
You may still pick up some alcohol on the nose. Smelling your glass of whisky before taking a sip of it is an integral part of the tasting process. For really smooth whiskies, you’ll notice the fruity and spicy undertones when you first nose it. The notes you pick up heavily depend on the type of casks and barrels used during aging the Scotch. But, we’ll get back to how later on in this post.
Experts describe a whisky as smooth when they can get the fundamental flavors of the drink and when they can sip on it easily. Whisky is not for everyone, but a truly smooth Scotch is something anyone can enjoy, even if it is only occasionally.
Scotch whiskies are notorious for being some of the smoothest whiskies out there. The Scottish people have embedded much of their socioeconomic history into the crafting and production of whisky.
The distillers of our mentioned favorites, Ardbeg Uigeadail, Glenmorangie Vintage 1997, and Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old know their stuff! Their qualities are great examples of what is the smoothest Scotch whisky.
Some of the smoothest Scotch whiskies in the world, also tend to be older vintages. A more aged whisky has less of an alcoholic bite than those that have only been in the barrel for less than 5 years. More time with contact on the wooden barrel and more time for the flavors to come out generally makes for a smoother Scotch.
Get to know our Top 6 of the Best Single Malt Whisky Expressions
A popular belief is that the smoothest whisky has to be single malt. We’ll talk more about what single malt whisky is later on in this post. However, there are plenty of Scotch whiskies that achieve their smoothness through the blending process. An example of a very smooth blend is the Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old.
There are controversial thoughts on blended whisky, especially Scotch! Scotch purists believe that it should never be blended and that Scotch needs to be crafted as one single spirit. However, there are some fantastic blends out there that can give even the smoothest single malt Scotch whiskies a run for their money.
The World Whisky Awards named Dewar’s Double Double 21 Years Old as the best blend globally, and this is also a Scotch. The point is that smoothness can be achieved in several different ways. A lot of it has to do with the aging process in which barrels the Scotch sits.
The short answer is if your eyes water on the first sip, the whisky you’re drinking may not be particularly smooth. However, many whiskies have a smooth finish. This means they’ll be quite fiery and intense on the palate to start with, but then leave an aftertaste that is more fruity and well-balanced.
If you trust your eyes, nose, and mouth, you’ll soon be able to tell anyone the answer to the ultimate question, what is the smoothest Scotch whisky to drink?
A smooth whisky will generally have a deeper color. You can also tell how long a Scotch has been aged by the color. Again, the longer the wood contact a Scotch has, the deeper a color it adopts from the wood.
The color also heavily depends on the type of the barrel the whisky has been aged in. The Glenmorangie Vintage 1997, for example, is aged for an initial 10 years in Bourbon casks before spending an additional 13 years in barrels previously used to house red wine.
Having the barrels previously used for red wine would make the color darker, the longer it remains in the barrel. Other Scotch whiskies are aged in sherry barrels. Most of the barrels that make the top-quality Scotch whiskies are made out of good-quality oak.
Top-quality Scotch whiskies will have deep gold colors. Deep gold is the color description used to describe the appearance of both Ardbeg Uigeadail and Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old. Always look for deep gold sand darker Scotches when asking, “what is the smoothest Scotch whisky?”. This will put you on the right path. They’re also pretty to look at!
Know more about Dewar’s and the history of the brand!
When nosing a Scotch whisky, you can often tell what you are in for by looking for certain characteristics in the smell. Similar to sipping the whisky, if you pick up a lot of alcohol on the nose, the Scotch may not be a smooth experience.
A younger whisky (around 5 years old) will have way more alcohol on the nose than a Scotch that has sat in casks and barrels for more than 10 years. You may feel a slight burning sensation in your nose when smelling a young Scotch whisky. Feeling a slight nasal sting is usually a good indicator that the whisky you are about to drink is relatively young. Usually, young whiskies are not as smooth as older vintages. The nose of Scotch is another reason age and smoothness generally go hand in hand.
There are some exceptions as we have mentioned, for example, with blends. Here, smoothness depends largely on the combination of flavors and vintages. Fundamentally though, the individual components of the blend need to be crafted in such a way that smoothness is achieved.
Let’s take the Ardbeg Uigeadail as an example of a great Scotch to nose. The distillery describes the aromas of this Scotch whisky as heady and smokey. The scents that come through are comparable to wood burning on a fire, dark mulled fruit, coffee, and a hint of sweetness such as that of a warm pudding.
Ardbeg Uigeadail is aged in casks previously used for aging sherry. We can probably guess that the sweet fruity undertones come from the sherry that was previously stored in the barrels. Smokiness usually comes from the wood of the barrels which is usually top-quality oak.
You’ll notice the description does not mention heavy aromas of alcohol. A smooth Scotch will have clearly identifiable scents on the nose. You should be able to pick these up despite the alcohol content.
So, what is the smoothest Scotch whisky? Any Scotch that smells simply delectable and doesn’t burn your nose when you breathe in.
If whisky is not what the experts call smooth, you will certainly know about it. A strong young whisky may make some people gag or cough. For a Scotch to be smooth, it literally has to go down the hatch smoothly and be a genuinely enjoyable experience.
Basically, if you ever feel like you’re knocking back cheap shooters at a bar when drinking Scotch, the chances are you don’t have a very smooth whisky. A smooth Scotch should never have a heavy taste or smell of alcohol.
A great example of a wonderfully smooth Scotch is the Glenmorangie Vintage 1997. When you taste this vintage you’ll immediately pick up the notes of spice and red berries. We know it’s on the high side of most people’s budget, but it’s also ranked as one of the smoothest Scotch whiskies in the world.
The distillers of Glenmorangie Vintage 1997 again emphasize the fruity, sweet, and spicy flavors your palate will experience when enjoying a swig of this masterpiece. You’ll especially experience its complex flavors when holding the Scotch in your mouth and swirling it around.
After you swallow your sip of Scotch, take a deep breath in through your mouth. This will give you an idea of the finish. The finish is the aftertaste that gets left in your mouth after you take a sip. Again, the finish should not be intensely alcoholic if the Scotch is smooth.
The one that tastes like pure heaven is the answer to “what is the smoothest Scotch whisky”.
Scotch is actually the same as whisky. The difference is that Scotch is made in Scotland and whisky can be made anywhere. Bourbon is another style, but this is typically made in the United States of America.
The three top whiskies we’re using as examples here are all Scotch whiskies. As we’ve mentioned, a lot of Scottish identity is embedded in the creation of beautiful Scotch. Many distilleries have been handed down through generations of Scottish families.
Scottish distillers have spent years perfecting their craft and the quality of their Scotch. For this reason, many whisky enthusiasts will argue that Scotch is the smoothest whisky to drink and it is a world favorite.
Just like you, readers, the Scottish were probably asking themselves “what is the smoothest Scotch whisky we could possibly create?”. As a result, years of perfecting the art of distilling came to be.
However, any good connoisseur will tell you that your own preference will give you the best experience of whisky or Scotch that you could ask for. Many people enjoy different aspects of whisky. Some may like lighter blends, and some may like single malt bold flavors.
So when asking “which is smoother, Scotch or whisky?” The short answer is that its up to you! Don’t be afraid to experiment and try out loads of different Scotches and whiskies to work out which qualities you prefer.
Any whisky critic will tell you that a single malt whisky has a reputation for being a higher quality than blends or other styles of whisky. Single malt Scotch whiskies tend to be smoother than blends because of the pride taken in their craftsmanship.
The flavor and balance of single malt Scotch whisky is also easier for distillers to control from one single malt. Famous distillers will often have single malt Scotches at their flagship whisky – one that speaks to the skill and professionalism executed by the distillers in their process.
There are, however, loads of blends out there are equally as smooth as single malts. Our favorite example of a top of the range blend is Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old. Blends are often a result of great creativity to achieve incredibly smooth textures. They are quickly becoming more popular among whisky experts.
In short, single malt Scotch is not necessarily your overall answer to the burning question, “what is the smoothest Scotch whisky?” A well blended Scotch will offer you just as great a smooth-drinking experience.
Distillers of single malt Scotch whisky simply produce brews made only with malt from their distillery. They do not add any other grains to the malt. The distilling process also has to happen in good quality oak barrels for a Scotch to be labelled “single malt”.
Single malt Scotch whisky is also not blended with other vintages or other whiskies from different casks or barrels. However, it’s become heavily debated that, in fact, all whiskies are a combination of others in one way or another. Well-aged barrels will have flavors of previous Scotch brews, therefore certain qualities of previous vintages will influence the flavor, texture and aroma of the vintage being produced for bottling.
Distillers of Scotch are famous for undergoing the most labor intensive styles of distilling. This is why they are usually more expensive. There’s a misconception that more expensive Scotch is also smoother. This is not always the case as the higher price may just mean it cost more to make in the first place.
Single malt Scotch whisky is distilled in one cask or barrel and then bottled. Scotch Blends are made from a range of different malts from different distilleries, a combination of grains and vintages, distilled in different cask and barrel types.
Distillers will then bring them all together in a separate barrel before bottling. In Scotch blends, a distiller will achieve smoothness by harnessing desirable qualities from varying grains and vintages. Using other grains on top of the classic malt will also reduce production costs.
All smooth Scotch whiskies should be easy to drink straight. Adding water to any whisky can make it a smoother experience when sipping on them. A great quality Scotch will be easy to nose and swallow, without being overly alcoholic.
As world champions in the Scotch whisky game, Ardbeg Uigeadail, Glenmorangie Vintage 1997, and Dewar’s Double Double 32 Year Old are great examples of what the best Scotch whiskies to drink straight are.
First and foremost, you’re looking for the qualities in a Scotch that make it smooth. As we’ve talked about it, you’ll know what to look for on the nose, in the color and on the palate when sampling a smooth Scotch.
Most of the top quality, smoothest Scotch whiskies are relatively expensive owing to the awards they’ve received from whisky experts all over the world. However, if you know what to look for, you’ll be able to identify what makes any Scotch smooth.
As a general rule, any Scotch that you’re sipping happily without reaching for the ice tray will be smooth. If a Scotch blows your head off because it tastes or smells too alcoholic, it’s probably not a good quality, smooth Scotch whisky.
So, what is the smoothest Scotch whisky to drink when you don’t want to break the bank? A classic Johnnie Walker Black Label 12-Year-Old blended Scotch is a stunning, smooth Scotch to drink straight or on the rocks.
You can pick up a bottle of this great find for about $30.00 per 750ml bottle. It’s also relatively easy to come by, as you can get it at any major supermarket. It will give you a great introduction into what to look for when you want to know what a smooth Scotch whisky should taste like.
It has a dark amber color when you look at it. As we know, this is one of the things to look for when you want a good quality Scotch whisky. On the nose, you’ll pick up toffee which gives you the sweetness you need for a smooth Scotch whisky.
Other aromas include red berries, spice and smoke. Check, check and check again! These aromas are echoed on a beautiful palate. If you’re a fan of the sweetness aspect in Scotch, you can add water or ice to enhance the sweetness even more.
And finally, the finish. As in classic smooth Scotch whiskies, the finish of this budget friendly bombshell is elongated with hints of citrus and vanilla. A final peppery bite at the end will warm you up from head to toe.
What is the smoothest Scotch whisky? Although we’ve used the best examples of Ardbeg Uigeadail, Glenmorangie Vintage 1997, and Dewar’s Double Double 32-Year-Old, you’ll be able to find super smooth Scotch whiskies by using your eyes, nose, and of course mouth.
A smooth Scotch whisky will not taste or smell too much of alcohol and will leave a beautiful fruit finish in your mouth. Perfecting Scotch has taken years of practice and families of distillers have been perfecting their methods through generations.
Many believe that single malts are the smoothest scotch whiskies, but there are loads of fantastic blends out there too. Blends equality demonstrate great skill and craftsmanship, and also achieve high levels of smoothness.
The length of time a Scotch has had barrel or casks contact will also determine how smooth it is. The older the Scotch the smoother it is. So, the older Scotch whiskies will be good answers to “what is the smoothest Scotch whisky?”