We are rapidly approaching the 31 of October, on an express train of spookiness and laments for summer nights; the advent of the end of October means one thing: Christmas is around the corner. You have completed an hours of circuit training in Lush shopping for mum, you picked up Nana’s favourite brandy, Dad has his new universal remote – now it’s time to make sure Grandad isn’t left out.

A scotch single malt has been a failsafe Grandad present for generations, let’s not rock the boat. But he's not the only one that can enjoy this tipple. For those not familiar with the ancient art of scotch whisky, we have compiled a list of this year’s best buys, covering everything from Speyside on a budget to Islay with a blank cheque.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. ​

Talisker 18 Year Old, 45.8%: £89, The Whisky Shop

An iconic whisky from an iconic brand – the Talisker 18 took home the title of Best in the World at the 2007 World Whisky Awards. The nose is complete with a perfect balance of fruit, spices and smoke. The palate is full and intimidating, rounded by smoke and spice but peppered with citrus to maintain balance. The finish is satisfying, lingering and gives way to a full bodied oak.

Buy now

Glen Marnoch Speyside, 40%: £17.49, Aldi

This gold medal winning offering by Aldi is the most accessible whisky to make the list this year. The nose is packed full of fruit, cream and the aromas of fairground confectionery, the palate follows through with this, dominated by toffee and vanilla with subtle barley notes. The finish is sharp and punchy with a suggestion of spice.

Buy now

Lagavulin 16 Year Old, 43%: £49, Amazon

The only whisky to reappear from our 2017 Single Malt Scotch roundup is the colossal Lagavulin 16. This Islay whisky has a loyal following around the world, actor Nick Offerman is such a fan that his love for the bottle became a trait of his character Ron Swanson in the TV show Parks and Recreation.

The nose is at once creamy and rich whilst also packed with punchy baking spices and bonfire. The palate plays up to the peat content with a smokiness sitting atop a basket of fruit. The finish is long, satisfying and dominated by a peaty smokiness. This is best enjoyed with a drop of water to open up the complex flavours.

Buy now

Glen Scotia 18 Year Old, 46%: £85.95, Amazon

This Campbeltown bottle is courtesy of revered distillery Glen Scotia. This pour spends 18 years in bourbon casks and comes out all the better for it. The nose is peppery and packed with fruit, the palate runs away with the sweetness promised by the nose, foregrounding citrus and cinnamon notes which are kept in check by a sharp, spiced oak finish.

Buy now

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 Year Old, 46%: £47.95, Master of Malt

This decadent expression from Glenmorangie spends 10 years in American white oak casks before spending two years in handpicked Portuguese port casks. The nose is smooth and fronted by dark fruits and wood with port notes lingering behind. The palate is dense, sweet with caramel and fruit cake notes, the finish does not shy away from this and is long and satisfying, thick with berries and sugar. This is a perfect after dinner whisky, expertly treading the line between indulgent and saccharine.

Buy now

Ardbeg An Oa, 46.6%: £50, Amazon

Another inclusion for the mighty Islay region, this Ardbeg is complex and satisfying. The nose is led by liquorice and caramel with a smooth blend of candied fruit and leather in the background. The palate is dominated by smoke, a suggestion of mint and a gloopy sweetness that gives way to a long syrupy finish. This is an impressively balanced and accessible whisky given its complexity.

Buy now

The Balvenie 12 Year Old Triple Cask, 40%: £71.90, The Whisky World

This expression is part of The Balvenie’s travel retail range and has proved extremely popular since its launch. The nose is sweet and approachable with a vanilla presence. The palate is light and appley and features shadows of mint. The finish follows through with the garden fruits and introduces a nuttiness for balance.

Buy now

Aerstone Land Cask 10 Year Old, 40%: £30, Tesco

This Tesco exclusive whisky is a rich and smoky twin to the much sweeter Sea Cask edition from Aerstone. The nose is fruit forward and rounded by vanilla. The palate is a sumptuous marriage of peat, citrus and liquorice. The finish is made up of delicate citrus notes over a bed of oak.

Buy now

Glenfiddich Experimental Series - IPA Cask Finish, 43%: £40, Amazon

An incredibly interesting inclusion comes courtesy of rulebreakers Glenfiddich. The Speyside distillery had an IPA specially brewed and then finished this whisky in the IPA casks. The nose isn’t shy about the IPA influence with ground given to hops and malty notes, joined by notions of garden fruits. The hops follow through to the palate along with citrus and vanilla notes, with a sweet and hoppy finish.

Buy now

Loch Lomond 12 Year Old, 46%: £38.49, Amazon

The Loch Lomond 12 won double gold in the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and was one of only nine to pick up the accolade in its category. This nose is full of home baking aromas, with a palate built of fruits and spices, underpinned by an inescapable sugariness. The finish is crisp and full of vanilla.

Buy now

The Verdict: Best single malt scotch whiskies

Who are we to argue with the experts? The Talisker 18 is a fantastically balanced whisky, at once complex and accessible – it would make a fantastic gift for a seasoned connoisseur or a budding enthusiast. As with all Islay whiskies, this is a tipple that demands to be tested both with and without water. The Glen Marnoch Speyside expression is a formidable alternative for a fraction of the price.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

Black Friday 2019 is nearly here. Find out how to get the best deals here