Lagavulin: the best scotch for $100.

Lagavulin: the best scotch for $100.

I’m a human – so part of my remit is to call out ignorance, and to shame the perpetrator.

At a bar in KL, sharing a drink for the AFL grand final, a fellow punter bought a bottle of Suntory Old Whisky – and spruiked that it was “the best whisky for under $100” (sic). Of course, this statement is ridiculous. I chortled heartily, then realised he was serious. Sweet tears of laughter soured to pity. The blood drew from my face. “Mate, we’re gonna have a little chat”. Truth torpedoes, incoming, off the starboard bow.

The right answer is, of course, Lagavulin 16 years. But in the interest of transparency, let’s start with some criteria. A winning scotch should be complex, drinkable, and have an iconic flavour. It is best served neat, but won’t drown in a cocktail. And finally, it should be both popular and widely served.

So it’s check, check, check, and check! Lagavulin is, if nothing else, a well-balanced scotch whisky. It’s an Islay dram, with smoke that hints at campfires and cloistered winter pubs. The nautical saltiness is true to its terroir, and a succulent dryness lingers on the finish. Each sip evokes their clean white distillery, sitting sentinel above a frigid kelp bay. And, hey, you can’t argue with Ron Swanson.

But, unfortunately, there’s a catch. You need to be canny to find it under $100. For example, Dan Murphy’s has it listed at $108, and The Whisky Barrel for $104. Now, let’s suppose you can’t find a good price, what then? The closest match would be the Caol Ila 12 year-old, which is similar but a little subtler. Or if you’re not big on peat – try a Dalwhinney 15 year-old, or an anCnoc 16 year-old, in that order.

So, there you have it. Lagavulin is the best scotch for under $100. Suntory Old Whisky, pfft! Your ignorance brings shame.