If you love collecting whisky then chances are you’re on the lookout for the finest Scotch whisky you can get your hands on. But if you’re just getting started and want to know the top distilleries in Scotland known for producing collectible and highly regarded whiskies, then we’ve got you covered. These are the kind of whiskies that collectors dream of finding a dusty old bottle of in the attic.
When collecting whiskies from these distilleries, look for limited editions, single cask releases, older age statements, and cask strength versions, as these often have the highest collectible value. Remember, whisky collecting can be subjective, and what matters most is finding bottles that you personally find intriguing and enjoyable.
Here are some of the top distilleries to collect from in Scotland.
First up is the obvious one, the big swinging bottle at most auctions. Located in the Speyside region, The Macallan is renowned for its rich, full-bodied whiskies, with a particular penchant for fine sherried oak casks. It’s the whisky that sponsors James Bond and in recent years the releases and packaging have gotten more and more luxurious. With the prices making headlines regularly at auction (the most expensive Scotch ever sold is The Macallan 1926), it’s a firm favourite among collectors.
No Scotch whisky distillery has been described as a cult producer more than Campbeltown’s Springbank. Fiercely independent, detached from modern marketing and social media, and committed to traditional production methods, fans have flocked to the distillery’s brand of complex, unique whisky. But there’s not lots of it and when stock is available, it doesn’t come cheap. Springbank’s market is almost all collectors these days.
Ardbeg broke records when it sold a 46-year-old cask of single malt for £16 million. Situated on the Isle of Islay, Ardbeg makes intensely peaty and smoky whiskies that are in enough demand the brand runs a Committee where subscribers get the opportunity to snap up limited editions. Just take a look at our site, the old bottles go for a pretty penny, and collectors love them.
The Daftmill Distillery in Fife is young, having only been distilling since 2005. But it’s a family-owned operation that has truly stuck it to guns. The first release wasn’t until 2018, meaning it waited a remarkable 13 years before bottling its own whisky. The distillery only uses grain from its own farm and distils solely during the quieter periods of mid-summer and winter, just like whisky used to be. It produces as few as 100 casks a year, meaning demand has far exceeded supply. Every time a new release hits the market, collectors flood to it.
Islay’s oldest distillery, Bowmore balances peat smoke with fruity and floral notes. Over the years it has produced some sublime whisky that has gone on to attain legendary status, such as the Black Bowmore bottlings, which are now discussed in whisky circles the way regular people talk about El Dorado or Charizard cards. A bottle of Bowmore whisky has sold for more than £500,000 at auction. This is a distillery collectors look out for.
Balvenie Distillery in Speyside frequently releases limited edition and rare bottlings which are highly sought after by collectors, like the Balvenie Sixty Years edition launched in 2022. It’s one of the few distilleries in Scotland that still maintains a traditional process, growing its own barley, using traditional floor maltings, having its coppersmiths to maintain the stills, and a team of coopers to care for the casks. Along with its innovation in cask finishing and the work of the esteemed malt master David C. Stewart MBE, The Balvenie has established a serious reputation which means its whiskies are high in demand.
Located in the Orkney Islands, Highland Park’s whiskies are often characterized by a gentle smokiness, rich sweetness, and complexity. The distillery has often been showered in awards and frequently releases limited edition expressions that catch the attention of collectors, particularly very old whisky. The distillery’s oldest and rarest release to date is a 54 Year Old bottling that retails for £39,000.
With its distinctive, heavily peated flavor profile full of rich smoky, and medicinal characteristics, Laphroaig whisky is a firm favourite among whisky enthusiasts. The distillery frequently releases limited edition whiskies, including series like Cairdeas, Elements, and the Hunter Story Book range. Significant age statements, historical significance, investment potential, and a genuinely unique spirit character have made Laphroaig an ideal go-to for collectors.
One of the few remaining family-owned and operated distilleries in Scotland, with a history dating back to 1836, Glenfarclas is another distinguished name in the Scotch whisky world, known for its commitment to traditional Speyside single malt whisky production and exclusive use of sherry casks for maturation. The brand’s strong reputation, along with its wide range of very old and rare expressions such as the Glenfarclas 40, 50, or even the Family Cask series (which includes vintage single casks from every year from 1952 onwards) means that its whiskies are highly prized by collectors.