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12 Best Smoky Whiskies

Discover my roundup with the best Smoky Smoky Scotch Whiskies (All Single Malts) that you can buy today!

Ranked from great to good!

Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition

lagavulin-distillers-edition
NoseCaramel, smoke, plum
PalateSmoke, ripe fruit, salt
FinishOak, vanilla, baking spice, smoke
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toArdbeg Uigeadail, Lagavulin 16

Let’s cut to the chase, you can stop reading here because this is the best smoky whisky as it’s incredibly good, widely available and a reasonable price in which you don’t have to put a mortgage on your home.

The Distiller’s Edition is the same malt as the 16 YO but finished in casks that were previously used to mature Pedro Ximenez sherry wine.

Commonly referred to as P.X., this wine is remarkably sweet, as the grapes are dried under the sun.

This double-barrelling is what makes Distiller’s Edition sweeter and more fruity than the 16 YO while lowering the smoke a little… but not much.

The nose hits with smoke at first, followed by caramel and a rich note of plum.

On the palate, Distiller’s brings traditional Lagavulin notes such as smoke and brine up front. As you let it develop it becomes incredibly rich in ripe fruit.

Body is thick and creamy, the mouthfeel is quite smooth and the smoke is tuned-down from the 16 YO letting you appreciate the nice fruity flavors better.

The finish is pleasantly long leaving you with a remarkable aftertaste, mostly smoky, rich in baking spice, with a bit of oak spice to it and lingering caramel sweetness.

Did I like it? Yes, one of the nicest and smoothest Islay whiskies I have tried but is not missing any of the key flavors.

Everything is there in perfect harmony making a heck of a dram and one that I should be consuming more often.

Highland Park 18

highland-park-18
NoseSmoke, oak
PalateCitrus, cinnamon, chocolate, honey, smoke
FinishLong, oak spice, smoke
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toMacallan 18, Blue Label

Highland Park 18 was named as ‘Best Spirit in the World’ by F Paul Pacult of the Spirit Journal.

That’s a big bold statement but even though I have several in my personal list ahead of this it’s genuinely a solid Single Malt.

Smoke hits with smoke at first, giving way to a pleasant oak note.

On the palate, the Highland Park feels somewhat thin lacking in body. Flavor has a high citrus note along cinnamon and chocolate, followed by honey and subtle smoke.

The finish is long and pleasantly warm, a bit dry, with some oak spice to it but nothing too severe, a gentle touch of smoke and a moderate bite to remind you that you are drinking whisky.

If you have tried the Highland Park 12 you are going to find many of those tasting notes in the 18 YO just that better in every way

Overall, the Highland Park 18 is a quite good moderately smoky malt but perhaps a bit too dry, oaky and thin to be sublime.

Lagavulin 16

lagavulin-16
NoseSmoke, vanilla, iodine
PalateSmoke, tobacco, seaweed, fresh fruit
FinishSmoke, fig, vanilla
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toTalisker 10, Lagavulin 8

Lagavulin 16 has a strong aroma of smoke and sea salt along sweet notes of vanilla and caramel.

Flavor is rich, with a delicious blast of smoke, caramel, along fruity sweetness. The peatiness is incredibly well balanced against some caramel sweetness, rich, smooth and delicious.

This whisky is creamy and smooth and pleasantly warm.

The finish is long, sweet and pleasantly warm, with more smoke to it.

Lagavulin 16 is a great malt with a strong but still enjoyable peaty profile with delicious sweetness.

The long aging period diminished the smoky notes a bit whilst adding the sweet vanilla from the bourbon barrels in which it was aged. This is one of the best peaty Scotch single malts in the market.

If you find yourself overwhelmed in smoke add a few drops of water, that will open-up the Lagavulin making it sweeter, while tuning-down the peat and will become easier to sip.

This is a Scotch to enjoy neat with a few drops of water to open it up making it more approachable.

Talisker 18

talisker-18
NoseSmoke, ripe fruit
PalateSmoke, bacon, ripe fruit
FinishLong, smoke, oak spice
Alcohol content92 proof (46% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toTalisker 10, Talisker Distiller’s

This is one of my personal favorites and one I can’t recommend enough, in fact, I consider it the best Talisker whisky.

The nose hits with smoke, followed by a nice fruity note.

On the palate, the Talisker 18 displays a good creamy body. Flavor delivers light smoke up-front, along a meaty note that tastes like smoked bacon, ripe fruit and a bit of brine and oak.

The finish lingers with soft smoke, along a bit of oak spice, salt and very little warmth making a incredibly tasty and satisfying malt.

It has a nice oily texture, is briny, peaty and meaty without overwhelming the fruit and spice accomplishing a good balance.

This whisky drinks nicely neat but if you find it too peaty add a dash of water, that will tune it down a bit while making it sweeter and easier to sip.

Overall, the Talisker 18 is a great Scotch with still moderate peat presence product of the long aging, well balanced against fruity and spicy notes making a great “everyday whisky“.

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Ardbeg-Uigeadail
NoseSmoke, bacon, iodine
PalateSmoke, ash, ripe fruit, chocolate
FinishCaramel, smoke, menthol, pepper
Alcohol content108 proof (54% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toArdbeg An Oa, Ardbeg 10

Uigeadail, pronounced “Oog-a-dal”, was named “Whisky of the Year” by the Whisky Bible in 2009, receiving 97.5 points out of 100.

This is the highest grade ever given by Jim Murray; so you get an idea of how good it is.

The nose is a blast of smoke, with a heavy meaty note that smells like bacon. There’s also a iodine note typical of Islay whiskies.

On the palate, Uigeadail feels creamy providing a nice mouthfeel. Flavor brings heavy smoke and ash up-front, once you get that initial brick you get rewarded with ripe fruit, bitter chocolate and toasted barley.

The finish is long, bringing pleasing warmth, more smoke and pepper, along caramel and menthol.

This whisky is intense, full of smoke, with warm earthy notes, sherry sweetness and rich in minerality. The finish is long and pleasantly warm and peppery; it gets better with every sip.

If you want to tame it a bit and tune down the peaty notes add a few drops of water; that will allow sweetness to come forward.

Overall, Uigeadail is fantastic dram and the best Ardbeg Single Malt reserved for experienced Scotch aficionados that can handle the rich peaty notes, a pleasant bite and the high proof as it was bottled at cask strength, meaning from the barrel and completely unadulterated.

Laphroaig Lore

laphroaig-lore
NoseSmoke, mineral, vanilla
PalateSmoke, ash, brine, chocolate, coffee, vanilla
FinishDried fruit, charred oak, brine
Alcohol content96 proof (48% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toPort Charlotte 10

According to the distillery this is the “richest single malt” they have created using “200 years of knowledge and traditions“. I’m always skeptical when I hear that kinda claims, though.

Lore is a NAS (no age statement) crafted using some whiskies that date back to 1993 and types of casks ranging from first-fill sherry, first-fill bourbon, refill bourbon, and whisky finished in European ex-sherry hogshead casks.

The nose reminds me a bit of the Talisker 10, with notes of smoke, vanilla, along a rich brine note to it.

On the palate, Lore provides a great mouthfeel as it feels creamy.

Flavor brings the Port Charlotte 10 to my mind as it hits with smoke and cigar ash at first, that gives way to chocolate and coffee notes along bourbon-like vanilla sweetness.

The finish lingers with dried fruit, brine and charred oak with the right amount of warmth to remind you that you are drinking whisky.

Saying that Lore is good in an understatement as it’s incredibly good. Sweet, smooth, rich in smoke, yet nicely balanced providing a great experience from end to end.

The black bottle doesn’t make the whisky taste better but looks cool in the cabinet receiving additional points.

Lagavulin Offerman Edition 11 Year

lagavulin-11-offerman-edition
NoseSmoke, vanilla, brine
PalateSmoke, peat, caramel, bacon
FinishLong, smoke, brine, earth
Alcohol content92 proof (46% ABV)
How to drinkNeat, rocks
Similar toLagavulin 8, Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin Offerman Edition honors American actor Nick Offerman who has appeared in fantastic ads for Lagavulin; they are something well worth watching on YouTube!

Personally, I’m always reluctant to taste celebrity sponsored liquors as they tend to be underwhelming, overpriced and super sweet. But the Offerman drinks like a real whisky providing a good experience.

The nose brings a campfire heat off the gate, followed by vanilla and the smell of brine.

On the palate, Lagavulin 11 feels creamy providing a good mouthfeel. Smoke and peat hit first, followed by a meaty bacon-like note with caramel and vanilla coming late to the party.

The finish is long, with a warming note, bringing more smoke, along an earthy note to it and a touch of brine.

Lagavulin 11 is smoky, it hits harder with the smoke than the Lagavulin 16 as you might expect from a younger spirit; remember that aging lessens the smoke-level while raising oak.

If you are fond of the Ardbeg 10 you are going to love the Offerman Edition; if not I recommend sticking to the 16 YO or look for less smoky options such as the Talisker 10.

Overall, Offerman Edition is a good option for smoke lovers and it might be just a bit overpriced but still within reasonable limits.

Talisker Distiller’s Edition

talisker-distillers-edition
NoseSmoke, brine, raspberry
PalateRipe fruit, sherry, bacon, pepper
FinishMedium, caramel, brine
Alcohol content92 proof (46% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toTalisker 10

I was quite interested about this dram because it is the product of finishing one of my favorite malts, the Talisker 10, in Amoroso casks.

Amoroso is Spanish dessert wine renowned for its delicious nutty taste.

The nose hits with smoke at first, followed by the signature brine note of Talisker whiskies, along a note of raspberry.

On the palate, the Talisker hits with a pleasant warming note up-front, that develops into a rich fruity note, with bacon-like hints coming behind, along sherry and the typical peppery note of Talisker.

The finish as a medium length, with hints of caramel, brine, a touch of smoke and the right amount of warmth to remind you that are drinking Scotch.

This malt is an excellent example of sherry finishing and good smoky whisky. Pretty great mix between the smoky peat, a pinch of sea salt and caramel.

Overall, the Talisker Distiller’s Edition achieves sherry depth along Talisker signature flavor delivering an excellent dram.

Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition

caol-ila-distillers-edition
NoseRipe fruit, honey, smoke
PalateRaisin, coconut, smoke, fig, chocolate
FinishLong, fig, almond, salt, smoke
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toCaol Ila 12

The Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition is the same Scotch as the regular 12 YO but finished in Moscatel Sherry casks.

The Moscatel casks not only add a rich fruity note that is present on the nose but as the vineyards are close to the beach in sandy soils they add a subtle mineral note to the whisky.

The nose is rich in ripe fruit with note of pineapple and mango. There is also the scent of honey along a whiff of smoke.

On the palate, the Caol Ila Distiller’s hits with a smooth and sweet taste of raisins at first, followed by coconut, fig and a bit of chocolate. Smoke is present but is just a note and not the main driver.

The finish lingers with pleasing warmth on the way down, with fig, almond, a rich salty note and gentle smoke.

An incredibly satisfying whisky and an improvement over the much beloved Caol Ila 12.

Port Charlotte 10

port-charlotte-10
NoseSmoke, brine, ripe fruit, caramel, vanilla
PalateSmoke, honey, vanilla, apple, oak
FinishLong, black pepper, charcoal, honey
Alcohol content100 proof (50% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toArdbeg 10, Lagavulin 16

Port Charlotte 10 has a fruity nose, rich in smoke that reminds of mesquite, along brine, caramel and vanilla.

The body is a thick layer of peaty smoke and once you get through you find sweetness on the middle and hints of apple and vanilla.

The finish is long, peaty with a peppery hint and lingering sweetness making it quite pleasant.

This whisky is incredibly smooth for something at 100 proof (50% ABV) and extremely well balanced for those who appreciate a powerful dose of peat smoke in their Scotch.

Overall, Port Charlotte 10 is absolutely delicious, smooth, peaty and creamy and ranks quite high among its very competitive category.

If you feel it warm and too peaty add a dash of water, just a few drops are enough to make the Port Charlotte more fruity and sweeter and easier to sip. Pair it with a big Cuban cigar to enjoy it to the fullest.

Talisker 10

talisker-10
NoseSmoke, pear, apple
PalateSmoke, dried fruit, mineral notes
FinishLong and pleasantly peppery
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkNeat or add water
Similar toArdbeg 10, Laphroaig 10

There is a fair amount of smoke on the nose at first, followed by hints of pear, apple and a bit of iodine.

On the palate, the Talisker 10 displays a creamy texture.

Flavor offers a moderate hit of smoke at first, that quickly mellows out into rich dried fruit sweetness, with hints of cereal, black pepper and a mineral note.

The finish is long, with a satisfying warming peppery note and mineral finish with a bit of oak spice and caramel.

Adding a dash of water tunes-down the pepper, while releasing sweet notes, making it easier to sip.

Talisker 10 is a creamy and full flavored whisky. This is a peaty whisky but not as heavy as some of the Islay malts as it does not overpowers other flavors.

Talisker strikes a nice balance between smoke, salinity, peppery notes and honey-like sweetness.

Overall, Talisker 10 is not an entry-level single malt but it makes a solid option for true whisky aficionados that like peat in moderate amounts in their drams.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

laphroaig-quarter-cask
NoseSmoke, ash, malt
PalateSmoke, oak, coal, bacon, chocolate
FinishLong, caramel, smoke
Alcohol content96 proof (48% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toLaphroaig 10, Talisker Storm

This whisky is aged twice, first using bourbon barrels and the second aging takes place in small casks ”quarter casks” allowing the whisky to enter in more contact with wood; hence, the strong oak note.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask does not have an age statement; this whisky is a blend of 5 and 11 year single malts.

The Quarter Cask takes the smoke level a few notches higher than the 10 YO. In fact, this is like smoking peat through a bong.

The nose welcomes you with smoke and ash followed by a malty aroma.

On the palate, the higher proof provides a better mouthfeel as it feels more bodied.

First sip is a blast of smoke and peat, but once you get past the smoke the palate is full of oak and vanilla and chocolate striking a great balance of sweetness and smokiness.

The finish is long and incredibly rewarding and it almost feels like you can chew it. It’s also remarkably smooth for a malt bottled at 96 proof (48% ABV) making it quite good.

Overall, the Laphroaig Quarter Cask has a lot of peatiness but it’s also sweet and flavorful with nice tasting notes and quite robust.

This is a whisky that drinks beautifully neat but a dash of water makes it even better as it becomes sweeter and a somewhat less smoky.

Best Smoky Whiskies: Buying Guide

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskyPriceSmoke Level (5 Highest)
Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition$1354
Highland Park 18$1952
Lagavulin 16$754
Talisker 18$1702
Ardbeg Uigeadail$885
Laphroaig Lore$1353
Lagavulin Offerman Edition 11 Year$964
Talisker Distiller’s Edition$1152
Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition$883
Port Charlotte 10$775
Talisker 10$703
Laphroaig Quarter Cask$595

Which Whisky is the most smoky?

Ardbeg Uigeadail, Port Charlotte 10 and Laphroaig Quarter Cask are the smokiest whiskies in this roundup.

They hit very hard with the smoke so if you are newbie to this type whisky you will find yourself overwhelmed as if you were smoking through a bong.

If you are new to smoky whisky try something easier such as the Oban 14 or the Bowmore 12 that are better suited for you.