The weather is getting warmer, and the days are getting longer. It feels like the time for whiskey is over until at least the late fall. But that idea couldn’t be more wrong. The warmer months are prime time for lighter, sippable whiskeys, especially single malt Scotch whisky. Whether you enjoy it neat, on the rocks, with a dash or two of water, or used as the base for a whisky highball, single malts are absolutely a spring and summer spirit.
That said, going into your local liquor store or barely perusing your favorite online retailer might not lead you to the light whiskies you’re looking for. You might end up with something a little too smoky, robust, or just too heavy for warm-weather sipping.
These single malts are all light enough for spring and summer sipping while remaining flavorful, complex, and highly memorable. These are the kinds of single malt Scotch whiskies you’ll want to stock up on now so you’re ready for the sweltering summer months.
AnCnoc 12 Years Old
AnCnoc is produced at Knocldhu distillery, and uses the AnCnoc name to avoid confusion with its neighboring distillery Knockando. That’s a lot of names that may be hard to pronounce for some, but what really matters is the taste. Matured for at least 12 years in oak barrels, this popular whisky has a honey, floral, and lightly spicy nose and palate of sweet cream, candied orange peels, chocolate, toffee, and wintry spices.
Springbank 10 Year Old
Campbeltown is by far the smallest whisky region in Scotland. It’s home to only three distilleries, including the popular Springbank. This 10-year-old single malt was matured in both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. The result is a unique, sippable whisky with notes of salted caramel, dried cherries, sweet sherry, vanilla, and light spices. The finish is a warming mix of sweetness and spice.
The Glenlivet 12 Years
There are very few Scotch brands more well-known than The Glenlivet. The 12-year-old expression is matured in a combination of American and European oak barrels. It’s well-known for its nose of candied orange peels, dried fruits, and sugar cookies. The palate is filled with toasted vanilla beans, dried fruits, and rich oak. The finish is warming and highly memorable.
Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old
If you’ve never tried any single malts from Dalwhinnie, it’s probably because historically most of its whiskies were used in blends. This expression matures for at least 15 years in ex-bourbon barrels for an elegant, flavorful whisky with notes of candied nuts, sugar cookies, honey, wintry spices, and light smoke. It’s a warming, sweet, lightly smoky whisky that’s well-suited for warm weather sipping.
Caol Ila 12 Year Old
If you plan to drink a peat-smoked single malt whisky from Islay this spring or summer, you have to pick the right one. Some are so aggressively smoky and briny that you’d need a really cool evening to truly enjoy them. Caol Ila works for those days as well, but is equally fitting on the warmer days. This gateway to Islay is matured for at least 12 years and has a light but robust peat smoke, candied orange peels, vanilla candy, oak, and cracked back pepper flavors.
Glenmorangie The Original 10 Year Old
There might be no better entry-level single malt whisky than Glenmorangie The Original. This 10-year-old whisky is also perfect for warm-weather drinking. The distillery’s flagship expression is matured for at least a decade in first and second-fill American oak barrels. It’s known for its nose of orchard fruits, orange peel, and light spices and a palate of vanilla beans, dried fruits, sticky toffee pudding, and honey. The finish is sweet, fruity, and sublimely warming.
Benriach The Original Ten
First released as a new whisky in the brand’s core lineup in 2020, this smooth, light, easy-drinking whisky is matured for at least 10 years in a combination of virgin oak barrels, ex-sherry butts, and ex-bourbon casks. This three-barrel aging process gives this whisky a complex, balanced flavor profile featuring notes of orchard fruits, dried fruits, orange peels, almond cookies, cinnamon, and toffee.
Old Pulteney 12 Years
First released in 2018, Old Pulteney 12-Year-Old spends all of its maturation in casks that formerly held bourbon. This results in a mellow, sweeter sipping single malt Scotch. Add sweet bourbon and dried fruits to flavors like salted caramel, light ocean brine, nutty sweetness, chocolate, and gentle spices. It all makes for a coastal single malt with a nice mix of salty sea air and bourbon sweetness.
Bruichladdich Classic Laddie
If you know the name Bruichladdich, you likely know that the Islay-based distillery is well-known for its over-the-top smoky, peated whiskies like its Port Charlotte and Octomore releases (the latter being the most heavily peated whisky in the world). But it also makes unpeated expressions like the sublimely easy-drinking Bruichladdich Classic Laddie. Made with 100-percent Scottish-grown barley, this unpeated offering is matured in American oak barrels. This imparts flavors like crisp apples, cinnamon sugar, butterscotch, vanilla, and oaky wood.
Glenkinchie 12 Years Old
Glenkinchie 12-Year-Old is the Lowlands distillery’s flagship expression. Matured for at least 12 years in ex-bourbon casks, this flavorful whisky starts with a nose of honey, heather, barley, and a gentle nutty sweetness. The palate continues this mellow trend with notes of honey, dried fruits, orchard fruits, vanilla, toffee, and sweet bourbon. It’s a truly exceptional borderline indulgent sipper for a col spring or summer night.