Single, Double, and Everything in Between: Your Guide to Good Scotch

Everyone deserves to experience the taste of good scotch. And, yes, that includes women. We all know how it goes in even the most recent Hollywood movies. After a ‘long day’, a man comes home and pours himself a neat glass of brown liquor. This one-dimensional representation of masculinity remains the bane of scotch and whiskey’s existence. Nevertheless, more and more women are indulging in the spirit that was once known as a ‘man’s drink.’ And although it’s not my personal favorite, I will say cheers to that! 

Unfortunately, the Women v.s. Whiskey debate will have to happen another day. Today, I will share all I know about Scotch (which wasn’t much until recently) and how you can experience this drink at its best! Even the most experienced Scotch drinker will say it comes down to personal preference. But, you should at least know the basics before you get started. Read below to learn more. 

Good Scotch: Decanter of whiskey besides two glasses half filled on a round wooden table in a dark room

What is Scotch?

I was quite surprised to learn that, yes, this drink actually does come from Scotland! And, any distiller who wants to call their product ‘scotch’ must produce it in Scotland. Originally made from malted barley (a type of grain), commercial distilleries presently use wheat and rye. The drink is also aged in oak barrels for at least 3 years before being sold. Overall, the most important thing to note is that Scotch is whiskey and mainly comes in 3 types of blends: 

Single Malt

The most passionate Scotch drinkers can be confused by this terminology. But, a ‘Single Malt’ simply means that the Scotch was distilled, matured, and bottled in the same distillery. Numerous Single Malt whiskies can be blended together at the same distillery and still be known as a Single Malt. 

Double Malt

Here’s where things get a little complicated. There’s actually no such thing as a ‘Double Malt.’ Well, at least not legally. You won’t find a ‘Double Malt’ label on a bottle of Scotch. However, what you will find is ‘Blended Whiskey’ or ‘Blended Malt.’ Nevertheless, double malt implies the blend of two single malt whiskies from two different distilleries to create a specific taste. 


What’s the difference between blended and double malt, you ask? Blended Scotch is a blend of various whiskies to create a more consistent flavor. There is no minimum period for aging with blended whiskey, which is why it’s often on the more affordable end of Scotch. 

Scotch Whisky v.s. Whiskey: Why Without the ‘e’? 

First, let me address the age-old question, “what is the difference between whisky and whiskey?” 

It’s quite simple, really (I say living with very little to zero prior whiskey knowledge), ‘whiskey’ is an alcohol made with fermented grains that usually comes from Ireland and the USA. It is often a mixture of wheat, corn, rye, or barley that has been aged in barrels. ‘Whisky,’ without the ‘e,’ is an alcohol made with the same formula, except it is distilled in countries such as Japan, Australia, and, yes, Scotland. 

The Scottish take pride in their scotch whisky. They even have the Scotch Whiskey Regulations that set out rules for producing, bottling, labeling, and even advertising Scotch. This drink may taste quite sharp to an unfamiliar palate. But, those that stick with it learn to love the multitude of oaky, woody, smoky, spicy, buttery, and malty flavors. 

Ranking Good Scotch: Our Top 5 Scotches for Beginners 

Now that we both know a little more about Scotch, we can dabble in the best kinds of Scotch! Have a look at our top 5 scotches that we recommend for anyone starting their scotch whisky journey: 

Johnnie Walker Black Label 

Okay, so even an inexperienced whiskey drinker like myself knows about this famous bottle of Scotch. With a rich flavor profile, offering a balance of citrus and spice, Johnnie Walker Black label will provide what you need to savor the basic taste of Scotch. 

Monkey Shoulder

Monkey Shoulder is an excellent scotch for beginners because it’s the best Scotch to experiment with. This blended malt offers a smooth and rich taste that is perfect for cocktail mixes, which can elevate your scotch experience.  

The Balvenie 14-Year-Old Caribbean Cask  

If you’ve tried Scotch, and claimed you don’t like it, give it one more try with this fruity Caribbean cask. Offering tasting notes of mango, orange, and brown sugar, the Balvenie Caribbean Cask is a great way to start your scotch journey (again).

Auchentoshan 12 Single Malt 

If you’re already a bourbon drinker, Auchentoshan 12 will help you smoothly transition into the scotch drinking club. Many similar elements of American-style whiskey can be found in this bottle. It offers a smooth and almost sweet taste on the palate, making it the perfect entry-level whisky. 

Ardbeg 10

If you wish to start off with Scotch’s deep and earthy tones, Ardbeg 10 is the drink for you. Known as a cult favorite, this drink offers the more powerful tastes of Scotch and will undoubtedly leave an impression on your tastebuds. It’s safe to say this bottle is for the adventurous beginner. 

Three up close glasses of dark liquor in a row

How to Drink Good Scotch:  

There’s an art to drinking scotch. And before I let you graduate from this guide, I have to share it with you: 

Pick A Glass 

Scotch enthusiasts swear by the tulip-shaped glasses, also known as Glencairn glasses. This is because the bulb shape (apparently) traps the aromas near the base. Most bars also serve Scotch in tumbler-shaped glasses. But, between you and I, wine glasses and champagne glasses basically do the same thing. 

Savor the Scent of Your Scotch 

Taking in the aromas will not only make you look like you know what you’re doing, but it’ll also make taking a sip more enjoyable. Give your tastebuds a hint of what’s in store. Is it fruity? Sweet? Salty? Smelling your Scotch is an important part of the experience. 

Adding Water and Ice 

Science shows that adding a little water to your whisky opens up a whole new world of flavors. Alternatively, you can sip on water between drinks to cleanse your palate. 

Many scotch whisky drinkers will advocate drinking it at room temperature, but there’s also nothing wrong with having yours on the rocks.  

Sip on Your Scotch 

Remember that Scotch is a sipping drink. Emptying your glass in one gulp would be a crime. So, take your time with it and savor every sip. The first sip may taste a bit strong, but your tastebuds will eventually acclimatize to the flavor. 

Good Scotch: A glass of scotch over ice being poured on a dark background

Our Favorite Scotch Cocktail

At the beginning of this article, I know I almost went on a rampage about the toxic masculinity surrounding Scotch whisky in movies. But, I’ve also always had an appreciation for irony. That’s why I’m providing a simple recipe for a drink called the Godfather Cocktail. And, it gets better; it only requires two ingredients! 

The Godfather Cocktail Recipe 


  • A glass of any kind of Scotch whisky 
  • A few splashes of Amaretto (a bitter-sweet almond liqueur)  
  • Garnish such as lemon or orange peel.  


There’s no need to get a cocktail shaker dirty! Simply pour your ingredients into a whiskey glass and enjoy! 

Confession time. I have just recently begun to indulge in this drink as I have never tasted whiskey in my life until a few evenings ago. And, all I’ll say for now is that you shouldn’t judge a book (drink) by its cover (stereotypical movie tropes). Writing this article has certainly informed me. My hope is that it will make you feel more excited to start sipping on Scotch! 

You’ve learned a ton about good Scotch. Now what?

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