Aberlour - just one brand of Scotch whisky

what are the best scotch whisky brands

single malt Scotch brands

Scotch malt whisky brands and labels

So, what do the names on a whisky label mean?

If you are looking for a malt whisky related brand that isn't listed on this
page, you can use the Google screen at the left. If we ever wrote something
about the brand (or about another phrase in the whisky world for that matter) on
Malt Madness or Malt Maniacs you should be able to find the relevant page on MM this way.
If you don't receive any meaningful results from your Google search, chances are that the brand
you're looking for isn't actually a single malt - but most likely a blended whisky. (You can find out
more about various types of Scotch whisky (blends, grains, etc.) - in the Deviant Drams section.

So, let's say you spot a bottle of 'Aberlour' single malt whisky somewhere...
You probably know that it means the whisky was distilled at the Aberlour distillery.
So what? What does that tell you? Quite a lot, actually - if you've tried some earlier
'batches' or other expressions from this distillery, at least. Or if you know a little bit
about how this particular malt whisky was produced. For example, some distilleries
use peated barley which gives the malt whisky a characteristic phenolic character.

The amount of data on the label of a bottle of single malt whisky can be
overwhelming - especially for relative novices in the wild whisky world.
The 'brand' name on a bottle of single malt whisky is usually the name
of the distillery where the whisky was produced. In that sense, single
malt whiskies are different from blended whiskies like Johnnie Walker
or J&B. The naming conventions for so-called 'vatted malts' (blends of
malt whiskies from various distilleries) and 'bastard malts' (single malts
that were distilled at an undisclosed distillery) are notably less strict.

Scotch malt whisky brandsInteractive whisky distillery mapScotland - whisky distillery informationScotch whisky bottlersScotch malt whisky brandsNew distillery projects

Scotch malt whisky brands

Scotch whisky labels

The type(s) of casks that were used for maturation also play a significant role...
Most malt whiskies are aged in ex-bourbon casks that were used in the USA,
but sometimes European ex-sherry casks are used. Sometimes whisky ages
in more exotic casks that used to contain wine, madeira, port or rum. 

I'd like to point you to the Beginner's Guide if you want to know
more about maturation. There usually is quite a lot of other
information on the whisky label as well. For example, it tells
you which expression it is. In the 1990's many distilleries only
released one or two 'standard' versions of their malt whisky.
Those expressions are often identified by an age statement
but some distilleries pick a more romantic name instead, for
example Aberlour's A'bunadh or Ardbeg's Supernova.

Overview of malt whisky brand names
Overview of Scotch malt whisky distilleries

Aberfeldy is a malt whisky distillery in the 'Midlands', not far from Edradour and Blair Athol.
The Aberlour distillery (in the heart of Speyside), was founded in 1879 by James Fleming.
The brand new Abhainn Dearg distillery was constructed recently on the isle of Lewis.
The company 'Adelphi Distillery Ltd' is actually an independent bottler, not a distillery.
Ailsa Bay distillery was founded in 2007 by William Grant & Sons (Balvenie & Glenfiddich).
Pernod Ricard closed Allt A' Bhainne when they bought it in 2002. It re-opened in 2005.
An Cnoc is the name that was used in the 1990's for the OB's from the Knockdhu distillery.
The Angus Dundee company owns the Glencadam and Tomintoul distilleries.
The Ardbeg distillery is located on Islay. The owners claim Ardbeg was founded in 1815.
The current Ardmore distillery in the Grampian mountains was founded by Adam Teacher.
Arran distillery is located on the island 'Arran', just East of Islay and Campbeltown.
The Auchentoshan distillery is one of the very few remaining Lowland distilleries.
Bottles of the Auchroisk single malt whisky were sold as 'Singleton' in the 1990's.
Aultmore started producing whisky in 1897, but was forced to close shortly afterwards.

Balblair distillery was founded in 1790, making it one of the oldest operating distilleries.
The Ballantruan single malt is a more heavily peated variety from the Tomintoul distillery.
The name Ballechin is used for peated whisky produced at Edradour in the Midlands.

Ballindalloch is the name of a part of Speyside and 'bastard' bottlings of Glenfarclas.
The Balmenach distillery (1824) was also known as 'Balminoch' and 'Cromdale'.
Balvenie distillery started out using second hand stills from Glen Albyn and Lagavulin.
The Banff distillery (located in Banffshire) was actually the second distillery by this name.
Ben Nevis was built as a malt whisky distillery in 1825, but they also had a Coffey still.
The Benriach distillery was fairly obscure, but the new owners built a fine reputation.
Benrinnes distillery (Diageo), also producing the 'Stronachie' bastard malt whisky.
Gordon & MacPhail bought Benromach distillery in 1992 and took six years to rebuild it.
The Ben Wyvis distillery is very 'obscure'; it operated between 1965 and 1977.
Berry Brothers is an esteemed name in the whisky industry with centuries of history.
Independent bottler Blackadder carries several brands, including Clydesdale.
Blackwood is the name of an ambitious 'project' that seems to have crumbled.
Bladnoch is one of a few surviving distilleries in the Lowlands (once a premier area).
I visited the Blair Athol distillery near the charming town of Pitlochry in the Midlands.
Bowmore is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, supposedly founded in 1779.
The Brackla distillery (a.k.a Royal Brackla) is one of only three 'royal' distilleries.
Braes of Glenlivet is the old name of Braeval (re-opened in 2008 by Chivas Brothers.)
The Braeval distillery was re-opened in 2008, after Pernod Ricard mothballed it in 2002.
Brechin is an alternative name for the North Port distillery in the Eastern Highlands.
Why did they close the Brora distillery? Just like Port Ellen, it built a large fan-base.
The Bruichladdich distillery on Islay was reopened in 2001 and quickly became a hit.
The reputation of Bunnahabhain has improved steadily since Burn Stewart took over.
The name Burnside is used for a vatted malt of a lot of Balvenie and a little Glenfiddich.
In 2009 Burn Stewart owned 3 distilleries; Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory.

The list below contains the names of all (active and recently closed) malt whisky distilleries in Scotland, as
well as a number of alternative names and 'makes'. I've also included the names of some of the significant
independent bottlers. I've been expanding this list over the years, but it's entirely feasible that I missed a
few important whisky brands. If so, please don't hesitate and let me know so I can correct the omission.

Cadenhead's (owned by Springbank) is one of the oldest independent Scotch bottlers.
The Caol Ila distillery is named after the canal between Islay & Jura; 'Sound of Islay'.
Caperdonich started its life as 'Glen Grant #2' at the end of the 19th century.
The mundane Cardhu single malt became famous when Diageo made it a vatted malt.
The Celtic Whisky Company ('Celtique Connection') is an independent bottler from France.
Chieftain's (formerly known as Chieftain's Choice) is brand from Ian Macleod & Co. Ltd.
Chivas Brothers is a subsidiary of industry giant Pernod Ricard, owner of Glenlivet.

The Clan Denny wasn't an actual distillery. It's a sub-brand from bottlers Douglas Laing.
The name Clynelish is much older than the current distillery - it was the name of Brora.
The Coleburn distillery was founded during the 'whisky boom' of the late 19th century.
Technically speaking, Compass Box is more of a 'boutique blender' than a 'bottler.
Convalmore was closed in 1985, but a few years ago Diageo release a wonderful OB.
The Cragganmore malt whisky that was part of Diageo's original six 'Classic Malts'.
Craigduff was a 'bastard malt' from Signatory Vintage. Some claim it was Glen Keith.
The name Craigellachie means 'rocky hill'. It's located near the 'Speyside Cooperage'.
Craiglodge is the name of one of the many brands from the Loch Lomond distillery.
The heavily peated Croftengea was the first Loch Lomond whisky that became popular.

The Daftmill distillery is a 'micro distillery'; the annual capacity is 20,000 liters of alcohol.
Dailuaine bottled only 2% of its output as a single malt whisky around 2005.
When the Dallas Dhu distillery was built in 1899, the whisky bubble started to burst.
I used to love Dalmore in the 1990's, but they pay more attention to PR these days.
The Dalwhinnie distillery is on the border between Speyside and Western Highlands.
Deanston used to be a cotton mill until 1966. I can't say I often enjoy their single malts.
Dewar Rattray had to change their name to A. D. Rattray after a lawsuit from Dewar's.
Although Diageo owns over two dozen distilleries, they release great malts now & then.
Douglas Laing released a bunch of affordable beauties around the year 2000.

They used the name Drumguish for a young bottling from the Speyside distillery.
Dufftown used to be one of Diageo's most obscure distilleries, but now it's a 'Singleton'.
The Dun Bheagan range is one of the brands from Ian Macleod & Co. Ltd.
Independent bottler Duncan Taylor built a business & reputation on a private collection.
The name Dun Eideann is used for IB's by Andrew Symington and / or Antonino Donato.
Dunglass (unpeated) and Dumbuck (heavily peated) were made at Littlemill distillery.

Edrington Group
Fortune Brands

Since Andrew Symington bought Edradour, they have launched specialties like 'Ballechin'.
The Edrington Group owns (part of) the Macallan and Highland Park distilleries.
The Fettercairn distillery was known as the "Old Fettercairn" distillery in the old days.
Finlaggan is the name of a 'bastard malt' (distillery identity not revealed) from Islay.
Fortune Brands is the name of the large corporation behind Ardmore and Laphroaig.

The Garnheath grain distillery was located in the 'Moffat' complex, East of Glasgow.
Glen Albyn is a Highland distillery, but writer Michael Jackson considered it a Speysider.
The Glenallachie distillery in Banffshire (est. 1967) is one of the youngest in Scotland.
Glen Avon is a brand of malt whisky; bottled by Gordon & MacPhail for Samaroli.
According to the Scotch Whisky Association, Glen Breton pretends to be Scotch.

Glenburgie was also known as Glenburgie-Glenlivet, Glen Burgie, Glenburry and Kilnflat.
The Glencadam malt whisky was hard to find in the 1990's, but now it's readily available.
Glencraig was the name of the 'Lomond' whisky distilled at the Glenburgie distillery.
The name Glen Deveron was used for the MacDuff distillery and some of its malts.
Why did Glendronach ever close? Well, they're open again - and working better than ever!
The Glendullan distillery is Diageo's second largest whisky distillery.
Production at Glen Elgin distillery started officially on May 1, 1900.
Glenmorangie-15-AGlenesk is an alternative name for the Hillside distillery from 1897.
Half of the Glenfarclas distillery was once owned by the Pattisons.
The Glenfiddich distillery has the largest (malt) capacity in Scotland.
Glen Flagler in the Lowlands was also known as Killyloch.
In the past Glen Garioch has also been known as 'Old Meldrum'.
The Glenglassaugh distillery has been silent for most of its life.
Ian MacLeod revitalised Glengoyne when they bought it in 2003.
Glen Grant distillery in Speyside is named after one of its founders.
Is Glengyle actually a seperate distillery from Springbank, I wonder?
Glenisla was a peated whisky that was made at Glen Keith distillery.
Glen Keith operated for only 3 decades; between 1960 & 1999.
Diageo considered Glenkinchie the quintessential Lowland distillery.
These days Glenlivet matches Glenfiddich's massive capacity.
The Glenlochy distillery was closed, but the buildings remained.
At the Glenlossie warehouses some 200,000 casks are stored.
Glen Mhor was one of several distilleries located in Inverness.
The Glenmorangie distillery was the first to market finished malts.
After Glen Moray got a new owner in 2008 we've heard very little.
The Glen Ord brand is now a secondary brand to 'The Singleton'.
I've visited the Glenrothes distillery in 2003 - and enjoyed it a lot.
Glen Scotia was one of the few surviving Campbeltown distilleries.
Both spirit stills at Glen Spey have purifiers for greater reflux.
The Glen Talloch brand of whisky is only available in Holland.
Glentauchers distillery has an annual capacity of 3,400.000 litres.
The name Glentromie was used for some crappy Speyside bottlings.
The people of Glenturret falsely claim it's Scotland's oldest distillery.
The Glenugie distillery is fairly obscure, but it still has many loyal fans.
When Glenury Royal was founded in 1825, they were true whisky pioneers.
Gordon & MacPhail could very well be the oldest whisky blender & bottler in scotland.

But enough about the names and additional information on the whisky label.
In the list of whisky brands below you can find an overview of the various 'brands'
that can be found in the Scotch malt whisky world; the names of various distilleries
(and some alternative names like Port Charlotte, Octomore, Ledaig and Longrow),
as well as names of some of the independent bottlers and their premier 'series'.
Please note that this list focuses on Scotch single malt whisky brands. You can
find more information about blended whisky, grain whisky, vatted malt whiskies
and 'bastard malts' in the Deviant Drams section. That's also the place to look for
more details about 'world whiskies' from countries like Ireland, Japan and India.

The Ladybank project started off ambitiously, but fizzled out soon afterwards.
Because Ladyburn only operated between 1966 and 1976, bottlings are hard to find.
Lagavulin distillery is the birthplace of the malt that kindled my passion for whisky.
The people at Laphroaig distinguish themselves (partly) by an uneven number of stills.
Ledaig isn't actually a distillery name; it's a peated malt whisky from Tobermory distillery.
When Linkwood was founded, the Excise Act (= lagalisation) hadn't been passed yet.
Linlithgow was the old (or alternative) name for the Saint Magdalene distillery.
The Littlemill distillery was located between Highlands and Lowlands regions.
Loch Dhu is the name of 'black whisky', a single malt produced at Mannochmore distillery.
The people behind Loch Ewe make a big deal about the fact that they have a tiny still.
The name Lochindaal has been used for 'bastard bottlings' of Bruichladdich on Islay.
Loch Lomond is a relatively young distillery with a crew that's not afraid to experiment.
One feature of Lochnagar distillery is the fact that they can use 'Royal' in their name.
The Lochside distillery was rebuilt in 1957. It produced both malt and grain whisky.
Lombard are (I quote) 'suppliers of bulk whisky to the trade in tankers & drums'.
Longmorn was founded in 1895 by John Duff. He built Glenlossie two decades earlier.
The Longrow distillery doesn't actually exist - it is a 'brand' from Springbank distillery.
The abbreviation LVMH means Louis Vuitton / Mot Hennessey, the owners of Ardbeg.

In the 1990's Macallan was a favourite, but my feelings changed after the 'Fine Oak'.
MacDuff is an alternative name for the Glen Deveron distillery and some of its whiskies.
The 'Malt Trust' seems to be a small independent American bottler from Miami.
The Mannochmore distillery was obscure within Diageo, until they released Loch Dhu.
The name 'Master of Malt' may sound a tad pretentious, but some releases are great.
The McKillop's Choice (or MacKillop's Choice) range is a series from Angus Dundee.

Located in Inverness, Millburn was the first of 3 distilleries in the town (founded 1807).
The bottler Milroy's of Soho is an independent bottler AND an on-line whisky shop too.
Miltonduff was established in 1824, shortly after the Excise Act legalised distillation.
The brand Montgomerie's is owned by independent bottler Angus Dundee.
Montrose was a grain whisky distillery that operated at Hillside / Glenesk for a while.
Like many of the top bottlers from the past, Moon Import is from Italy. Bottlings are rare.
When Mortlach was built in 1823, distillation had just become socially acceptable.
Mosstowie was the name of the whisky made with 'Lomond Stills' at Miltonduff distillery.
Independent bottler Murray McDavid is linked with the Bruichladdich distillery on Islay.

The name Hart Brothers was already well established in the 19th century.
The Hazelburn whisky is a triple distilled variety produced at the Springbank distillery.
Helen Arthur wrote books and released a handful of fairly poor independent bottlings.

Highland Park is one of only two distilleries located on Orkney; the other is nearby Scapa.
The name Hillside mis an alternative for 'Glenesk' - an Eastern Highland distillery.
The name Huntly is used for a distillery Duncan Taylor intends to build in... erm... Huntly.
Ian Macleod owns the Glengoyne distillery and brands like Chieftain's and Dun Bheagan.
Imperial distillery was mothballed as recently as 1998, so theoretically it could be revived.
The Inchgower distillery was built in 1871 to replace the Tochineal distillery.
Inchmoan is one of the names used for recent releases from the Loch Lomond distillery.
Inchmurrin is one of the main single malt brands produced at Loch Lomond distillery.
In the past Inverleven was a malt whisky distillery within the Dumbarton distillery complex.
Jura distillery used the name Isle of Jura in the past - like the island of their location.
German bottler Jack Wieber has released a series with great noses but poor palates.
Independent bottler James McArthur was prominent in the 1990's, but not these days.
Jean Boyer is a French independent bottler, founded in 1993 to produce aniseed spirits.

The name Jura is mostly used these days for the distillery that was known as 'Isle of Jura'.

The Kilchoman distillery was founded in 2005 on the isle of Islay by Anthony Wills.
The name Kilkerran is used for the malt whisky that's distilled at Glengyle distillery.
Killyloch was the name of one of the two 'brands' distilled at the Glen Flagler distillery.
The Kinclaith distillery was part of the Strathclyde grain whisky distillery in Glasgow.
The brand Kingsbury is rarely seen on European shelves, most bottles end up in Japan.
Although the Kininvie distillery was active since 1990, a single malt was never marketed.
The Knockando distillery closed 10 months after whisky production started in May 1899.
The whisky that's distilled at the Knockdhu is released under the name 'An Cnoc'.

North Port
Number One
Old Fettercairn
Old Malt Cask
Old Pulteney
Old Rosdhu

The North Port distillery has also been known under the name 'Brechin' in the past.
The Number One Drinks Company is specialised in top notch Japanese malt whiskies.
Oban distillery is located off the beaten track, in a harbor town in the Western Highlands.
They rejuvenated the Old Fettercairn distillery - now it's simply known as 'Fettercairn'.
The Old Malt Cask series from Douglas Laing was introduced in the late 1990's.
The Old Pulteney distillery is the most northerly distillery on the mainland of Scotland.
Old Rosdhu is one of the many different brands produced by the Loch Lomond distillery.
The name Octomore is used for a heavily peated whisky from the Bruichladdich distillery.

The Pernod Ricard company has grown into one of the biggest whisky producers.
Pittyvaich opened its doors in 1975 as a sister distillery to Dufftown. It closed in 1993.
The name Port Charlotte is a little confusing; it's only a 'brand' of Bruichladdich so far..
There were two Lowland distilleries named Port Dundas; both were closed long ago.

The Port Ellen distillery on Islay was closed, but the maltings still supply many distilleries.
The range McGibbon's Provenance is a series from independent bottler Douglas Laing.
Just like Fettercairn, Pulteney is also known with the suffix 'Old' tagged onto its name.
Rosebank in the Lowlands was mothballed in 1993, leaving just two others in operation.
Roseisle was the first distillery to be built since Allt-a-Bhainne (1975) and Auchroisk (1974).
Royal Brackla is a Northen Highland distillery that's classified as a Speysider by some.
The Royal Lochnagar distillery was one of many founded when the Excise Act was passed.

Saint Magdalene is one of few distilleries pre-dating the Excise Act.
Italian bottler Samaroli was a pioneer and built a solid reputation.
The Scapa distillery on Orkney closed its ownmaltings in the 1960's.
The person who selects Scott's Selection bottlings is Robert Scott.
Italian bottler Sestante stopped in 1990. (Later: 'Silver Seal').
Signatory Vintage is one of the most prolific independent bottlers.
The Silver Seal brand was launched by the people of 'Sestante'.
Single & Single is a fairly exclusive range of single malt whiskies.
The name Singleton is used for Dufftown / Glendullan / Glen Ord.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a bottler and a whisky club.
The founders of Speyburn distillery got production started in 1897.
Names don't come more generic than that of Speyside distillery.
Springbank distillery was built in 1828 in Campbeltown.
The Strathisla distillery is arguably the most picturesque distillery.
Before Strathmill became a distillery, it used to be a corn mill.
Stronachie suggests the whisky is a 'replica' of an old distillery.
The SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) isn't a 'brand', but a lobby.

Talisker on the isle of Skye produces a 10yo expression that is part of the 'Classic Malts'.
The Tamdhu distillery was designed by architect Charles Doig and constructed in 1896.
Tamnavulin produces malts for blends like Mackinlay, Whyte & Mackay and Crawfords.
Until 1962 Teaninich distillery operated on a steam engine and the pair of water wheels.
The name of The Bottlers is misleading - it's actually just a single independent bottler.
The Ileach is the name for a 'bastard' bottling - as well as the local newspaper on Islay.
The Ultimate is a range of independent bottlings by Dutch whisky importer Van Wees.
When Tobermory was founded in 1798 it was under the name 'Ledaig' ('safe haven').
Tomatin distillery has a massive production capacity; 5,000,000 litres of alcohol / year.
In the past Tomintoul mostly produced malt whisky for blends, but not anymore.
The Tormore distillery was founded in 1960, roughly half a mile from the river Spey.
Being built in 1949, Tullibardine was one of the first distilleries of the 20th century.
The Whisky Agency seems to be a successor for German bottler 'The Whisky Fair'
The Whisky Exchange from Sukhinder Singh is both a bottler and an on-line store.
The Whisky Fair (related to 'The Whisky Agency') is a bottler that organises a fair too.

The full name of United Distillers is United Distillers & Vintners (UDV); now part of Diageo.
The name Warhead is used for a vatted malt with a lot of Glenfiddich and a little Balvenie.
Westport isn't a household name; it's Glenmorangie 'polluted' with some Glen Moray.
Independent bottler Wilson & Morgan is located in Italy but sources some great casks.

United Distillers

Wilson & Morgan

Stronachie 12 years old malt whisky
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These were the names of all active and silent malt whisky distilleries in Scotland (as well as alternative names and 'makes') that I know of. Furthermore, you can find the names of the main independent bottlers and a number of other brands on this list. Do you know of any important malt whisky brands that I've missed? Please let me know...

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Abhainn Dearg
Ailsa Bay
Allt A' Bhainne
Ben Nevis
Ben Wyvis
Blair Athol

Caol Ila

Dallas Dhu
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Glen Elgin
Glen Flagler
Glen Garioch
Glen Grant
Glen Keith
Glen Mhor
Glen Moray
Glen Ord
Glen Scotia
Glen Spey
Glenury Royal

Highland Park

Isle of Jura

Loch Ewe
Loch Lomond
North Port
Port Ellen

Royal Brackla
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