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5 Unique Scotch Whiskies You Need In Your Whisky Collection

Single malt scotch whisky is made from just three ingredients: malted barley, yeast, and water. So, how many different types of whisky can possibly be produced from just these three ingredients? The answer: a lot. 

Whether there is variation in the cask types used for maturation, differences in the grain types used, or even a distillery departing from its usual house style, there are thousands of different single malts out there for you to try. 

The five scotches below represent some of the most unique and unusual scotch whiskies on the secondary market. From mystery malts to strangely-shaped decanters, if you would like to get your hands on a unique scotch whisky, look no further. 

1. Laphroaig 1981 27 Year Old Sherry Casks

BUY NOW: $6,752 

The first unique scotch whisky on our list is a single malt that departed from the distillery’s usual style: a Laphroaig 1981 27 Year Old Sherry Casks. 

Laphroaig Distillery on Islay is known for its smoky, medicinal whisky. So medicinal, in fact, that Ian Hunter was able to convince US authorities to keep importing Laphroaig whisky during prohibition for medical use. His argument being that nobody would drink something that smells so medicinal for pleasure. Touché, Hunter.

Laphroaig whisky has long been characteristically peaty and medicinal and matured mostly in ex-bourbon. 

So, when this Laphroaig whisky matured exclusively in Oloroso sherry casks hit the shelves in 2008, it was something of a novelty. However, the whisky proved to be a huge hit with connoisseurs and was even the recipient of a Malt Maniacs Gold Medal. Sweet, rich, smoky, and fruity, this is Laphroaig as it had never been tasted before. 

This release pre-dated the now-growing fascination with vintage and high-age-statement whiskies. Only 736 of these stunning bottles were produced, making them extremely rare on the secondary market. 

2. Glen Sloy 25 Year Old 

BUY NOW: $254 

If you are feeling adventurous, then this Glen Sloy 25 Year Old might be the scotch for you. This unusual dram is something of a mystery malt. 

The story goes that a single cask of whisky was discovered maturing in the depths of a warehouse at Tullibardine in the 1970s. The assumption was that this was a cask of Tullibardine whisky that had been forgotten about. However, the cask was not labeled as Tullibardine, so we cannot be sure where exactly the whisky came from. 

The cask was purchased by F. Bucher & Co, a Leith-based wine & spirits merchant, who bottled it under the name ‘Glen Sloy’.

Although other companies have since bottled single malts under the name ‘Glen Sloy’, the 25 Year Old is unique. Only one cask was found maturing in the warehouse, and so only one cask was bottled. As such, the Glen Sloy 25 Year Old is the only such whisky in the world. 

The whisky was first tasted by members of The Gillies Club at the home of David Daiches in Edinburgh, after which he commented: “An extremely fine malt. I shall enter it in my tasting book”. 

3. Macallan David Donaldson 

BUY NOW: $6,008 

This bottling from Macallan is extremely rare, having sold just once (yes, once) at auction in the UK. The whisky was bottled in celebration of the long and illustrious career of David Donaldson. Donaldson was the Edrington Group Director of Supply Chain. 

To mark his retirement, this NAS whisky was bottled at 40%. The label was designed by another Macallan collaborator, Colin Rizza, who had previously helped design the labels for bottlings such as Nicol’s Nectar and the Macallan 18 Year Olds. 

There are almost no tasting notes to speak of online, making this whisky another mystery dram. 

Whether you plan to drink it or not, there is something to be said for owning a Macallan whisky that was never intended to be a public release. 

4. Bunnahabhain 20 Year Old Centenary 

BUY NOW: $2,040 

This strange, rounded decanter may contain a very rare opportunity, and that is the chance to try old, peated Bunnahabhain. 

Although Bunnahabhain Distillery is located on Islay, a scotch whisky region known for its peaty whiskies, Bunnahabhain whisky is not usually peated. At least, not anymore.

When the distillery experienced a rise in demand in 1963, two additional stills were installed to increase the production capacity. At the same time, Bunnahabhain ceased using peat smoke to dry the barley. 

This 20 Year Old Bunnahabhain was bottled in 1983 to celebrate the distillery’s centenary. As such, there is a chance that this decanter contains exceedingly rare peated Bunnahabhain whisky. 

In addition to this exciting prospect, this whisky was bottled at a time when Bunnahabhain was mothballed. The Whisky Loch of the 1980s saw the closure of many beloved scotch whisky distilleries. Thankfully, Bunnahabhain’s closure lasted just two years, from 1982-1984. However, this did mean that the distillery was closed during the year of its bicentenary. 

For a while, then, it seemed that this 20 Year Old single malt (one of Bunnahabhain’s first) would be the distillery’s last. 

5. Ardbeg 1967 30 Year Old Signatory Vintage 

BUY NOW: $9,356 

Ardbeg Distillery on Islay claims to produce the most heavily peated single malt in the world. This is a claim that Bruichladdich’s Octomore challenges. However, it is safe to say that Ardbeg prides itself on its use of peat. 

As such, when Signatory Vintage bottled and released some impressive vintage and high-age-statement Ardbegs, it represented an opportunity for whisky lovers to explore a different side of the distillery. 

This Ardbeg 1967 30 Year Old was matured in a dark Oloroso sherry butt before bottling. The unusual Ardbeg bottling received high praise from whisky connoisseurs. Serge Valentin of WhiskyFun awarded this expression 93 points. 

Since the release of this bottle in the late 1990s, Ardbeg has begun to experiment more with sherry casks for limited expressions. However, at the time that this whisky was distilled, Ardbeg was working overtime to meet the growing demand for peated whisky. Therefore, this expression is a true rarity, a forgotten sherry cask amongst all of the peat.

Beth Squires

Beth joined Mark Littler Ltd full-time in October 2020 following the completion of her university degree. Since then she has gained wide-ranging knowledge of all things whisk(e)y, and has written extensively for both company and external publications. Beth is passionate about industry innovation, marketing, and sustainability. With a particular affinity for independently bottled rare scotch, Beth is also a whisky bottle investment specialist.

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