5 of the most underrated Scottish whiskies you should order next time you want a dram

Next time you are ordering a dram, or buying a bottle to take home, why not give these underrated Scotches some love?

Published 11th Aug 2016
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

Glenfarclas 105

Region: Speyside

Picture: Glenfarclas
Picture: Glenfarclas

One of the most underrated drams from one of the most underrated distilleries in the country. The 105 is a big, uncompromising slap of vanilla and toffee that coats the mouth with moreish flavour and will keep you coming back for more.

Be warned, at 60% abv it's dangerously drinkable - perhaps it's one best kept for an enjoyable night cap or two to avoid ending up leg drunk in your local.

As it's cask strength, try adding a little water to really open it up and explore its depth.

Benriach Curiositas

Region: Speyside

theFrontpage 10th-page-001
Picture: BenRiach

I had hoped to recommend my favourite dram from the BenRiach range, the sadly missed Aromaticus Fumosis, but instead I've gone for its more straight laced stable mate - the Curiositas.

Putting paid to the belief that the only good peated whisky comes from Islay or at the very least the islands, the Curiositas is a fiery Speyside that shows just how good peated whisky from this region can be.

Pull this one out to shock those jaded Islay fans who thing they've tried it all.

Kilchoman Machir Bay

Region: Islay

Picture: Kilchoman

And speaking of Islay, it really surprises me when people (especially peatheads) tell me they haven't tried this cracking little distillery.

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The Machir Bay is probably the easiest to get of their small range and there's a reason for that, and that is that it's really good, and a perfect example of what this small distillery is capable of.

Think liquid charcoal with just a little of that brine that seems to permeate the rest of the distilleries on the island.

If you are a fan of peaty whisky and you haven't tried it, it's time to ask yourself why not.

Monkey Shoulder (Blended Malt)

Region: Speyside 

Picture: MonkeyShoulder.com

Sadly, this whisky has been marketed as a mixer or a cocktail component and it negates from the fact that it's delightfully enjoyable on its own.

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A mix of three different malts (see blended malt) Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie, the Monkey Shoulder is named after a nickname given to a temporary injury some malt men occasionally suffered many years ago as a result of repeatedly bending over whilst turning the malt.

The reason I've picked it is that it's a) great value and b) just a great little dram.

It's widely available too, so you've no excuse not to at least try it.

Springbank 10

Region: Campbelltown

Picture: Springbank
Picture: Springbank

Usually for most whiskies you could use the old two people adage, you know the one that goes "There are two types of people in this world, those who like said item, and those who are wrong".

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Well in the case of Springbank, this would be more suited - "There are two types of people in this world, those who like Springbank 10, and those who haven't tried it yet".

Seriously, as a distillery it's that good, and I've only chosen the 10-year-old as it's the easiest to get, though I've yet to come across a bad Springbank and that includes the excellent Longrow and Hazelburn ranges.

Rich, fruity and with a hint of brine, this is whisky the way it used to be, with complexity and an unashamedly 'pull no punches' character.

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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