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These $30 Bottles of Scotch Are the Best in the World, According to Experts

Budget scotches Deanston Virgin Oak and Tomatin's Dualchas American Oak earned obscenely high scores from the judges of IWSC.

bourbon
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At the end of March, the esteemed and rigorous International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) announced the medal winners for its 2022 event, and among the competition's top winners were two relatively unknown (and oddly similar) scotch whiskes called Deanston Virgin Oak Single Malt Whisky and Tomatin Legacy Single Malt Whisky.

Both Deanston's Virgin Oak and Tomatin's Legacy — branded as Tomatin Dualchas in the US — expressions mature first in ex-bourbon barrels and are finished in new oak barrels. Neither bears an age statement, and both are available stateside.

The judging committee described them in typically glowing terms, using words like "sumptuous," and "stunning" and "harmonious." Translated from tasting notes to modern english, each spirit has a lot of scotch whisky's calling cards, and each has an extra-long finish.

If you're unfamiliar with spirits judging competitions, the gist is a room full of spirits experts sip, takes notes on and ultimately place thousands of spirits across numerous categories. Cynics will point out that many of these competitions — and there are many of them — are ploys to sell medal-clad tags to booze makers, or essentially licensing opportunities masquerading as prestigious awards. But when a pair of $30-something single malts earns spots at the top end of the award sheet, it's worth taking notice.

The two bottles were part of a five-bottle collective of scotches judged to the competition's maximum score of 99, and were easily the most affordable. The judging process is double-blind, rigorous and lengthy — judging apparently takes places over a two-week period.

Bottles of Tomatin's Dualchas and Deanston's Virgin Oak are available in most U.S. liquor markets for around $30.

Deanston Virgin Oak Single Malt
Deanston totalwine.com
$38.99
Tomatin Dualchas Single Malt Whisky
drizly.com
$29.99
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