Single malt Scotch whisky is more well-liked than ever worldwide, despite the fact that blends dominate the market in terms of sales volume. But which liqueurs from Scottish distilleries are the most well-known?

Malt whiskey is in its heyday right now, at least in terms of sales and interest on a global scale. More people than ever before are drinking malt Scotch, with well over 100 million bottles consumed in only 2017 alone.

Malts are still dominated by mixes, which sell about 1 billion bottles annually, but they are expanding quickly from the US to China and are very slowly beginning to penetrate into the market share of brands like Johnnie Walker and Ballantine’s.

The fact that there are currently two “millionaire” malts on the market – Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet, each sell more than 1 million nine-liter cases of whisky annually and that Macallan may soon join them, is the best example of this phenomena.

No one in the remaining top 10 has the same position as they did in 2016, yet only two of the next three spots are clearly in the top three.

Glenmorangie and Aberlour experienced a decline in sales last year.

The biggest mover last year was a blended malt called Monkey Shoulder, which experienced phenomenal growth of more than 30%. The availability of all of William Grant & Sons’ distilleries helps to offset the present supply limitations that are plaguing many single malts.

It’s crucial to note that Diageo’s Singleton brand encompasses not one, but three malt distilleries: Dufftown, Glen Ord, and Glendullan. This brand is another one that is becoming more popular. 

Our list is based on 2017 volume figures, published by the top data source and pundit for the beverages industry, The IWSR Magazine, and assessed in terms of sales of nine-litre cases, just like our recent list of the world’s best-selling mixes.




Sales in 2017: 1.22m cases
Versus 2016: +2.9%
2016 Ranking: 2016: 1
Popularity: Duty free, US, UK
Owner: William Grant & Sons

The manager of the Mortlach distillery in Dufftown made the decision to strike out on his own in 1886, spending his entire life savings and exerting a great deal of physical labor to construct his own facility by the banks of the Fiddich river.

Since Glenfiddich was completely introduced as a single malt in the 1960s, more than 1 million nine-liter cases are sold annually worldwide, and the already enormous distillery is undergoing further growth. William Grant would find it hard to believe what has occurred.


Glenfiddich’s range has expanded and diversified over the years, now focusing on a strong offering of age-stated variants and being supported by a long list of one-off and limited releases, including four (to date) entries in its Experimental Series. The brand was founded on a new make style that is notably light and estery.




2017 sales: 1.07m cases
Versus 2016: +2.4%
Ranking in 2016: 2
Popularity: US, duty free, Taiwan, Canada
Owner: Chivas Brothers/Pernod Ricard


Annual sales of The Glenlivet in the US peaked at 1 million cases in 2017, with the US accounting for around 40% of that total. Annual sales were fewer than 700 cases when Bill Smith Grant first started to seriously promote The Glenlivet in the US in the 1950s.


The goal has been to make The Glenlivet the best-selling single malt in the world since Pernod Ricard, a French beverage company, acquired it in 2001. It momentarily succeeded in this goal in 2014, but primary rival Glenfiddich soon overtook it once more.


Modern times are characterized by a growing distilleries attempting to meet demand: The 12-year-old age-stated product from The Glenlivet was taken off the market in most markets in 2015 in favor of the NAS expression Founder’s Reserve, but it should be available again by 2020.




2017 sales: 907,000 cases
Versus 2016: +8.7%
Ranking in 2016: 3
Popularity: US, duty free, Taiwan
Owner: Edrington


Loved by collectors and a new generation of whisky investors, Macallan rules the rare whisky auction scene, which benefits what has grown to be the most profitable single malt whisky in the world.


Only four Scotch whisky brands, the large mixes of Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, and Grant’s, beat Macallan’s annual revenues if this top 10 were determined by dollar sales rather than case volumes.

The enigma of Macallan? Small stills, a strong new-make flavor that is given its richest and most nuanced expression through extended aging in ex-Sherry wood, and, more pragmatically, a persistent, single-minded concentration on securing the position of luxury brands, particularly in the US and the Far East.


In stark contrast to the modest origins of one of Speyside’searliest, early 19th-century farm distilleries, Macallan’s recently-opened, staggering £140 million new distillery intends to accomplish considerably more than simply increase its production.




2017 sales: 518,000 cases
Versus 2016: +4.0%
Ranking in 2016: 5
Popularity: Taiwan, duty free
Owner: Diageo


In an effort to develop a brand vehicle that could compete with the power of Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet, owner Diageo created Singleton in the current, 21st-century age of single malt.


How can you catch up? Bring together the three malt distilleries of Dufftown, Glen Ord, and Glendullan under a single umbrella brand. Historically, each (Europe, Asia, and North America, respectively) had a regional focus, but this is changing in favor of a more global perspective.

A 40-year-old Singleton of Glendullan release in February of this year is the oldest yet, however 12-year-old whiskies still make up the majority of age-stated and NAS expressions.




2017 sales: 508,000 cases
Versus 2016: -0.5%
Ranking in 2016: 4
Popularity: US, duty free, UK, Taiwan
Owner: Moët Hennessy/LVMH


Glenmorangie, one of the forerunners of the modern malt boom, is currently commemorating the 175th anniversary of its founding in the Highland town of Tain. However, it was already promoting itself as a single malt back in the Victorian era.

A light, fruit-forward spirit owes its personality to some renown tall stills, which were later joined by Dr. Bill Lumsden’s progressive cask maturation policy and the financial clout of its owner since 2004, French luxury goods giant LVMH.

During that time, the Glenmorangie range underwent a complete overhaul around Original and a condensed list of finishes, in addition to regular high-end and limited releases, such the yearly Private Edition bottlings.

The distillery will have grown even further by 2020 thanks to the present construction of a new stillhouse that will house two more stills.




2017 sales: 335,500 cases
Versus 2016: +11.2%
Ranking in 2016: 8
Popularity: US, Taiwan, duty free
Owner: William Grant & Sons


William Grant’s second-tier single malt is still expanding quickly, with a double-digit volume sales gain in 2017 supported by high demand in the US, the Far East, and duty-free markets.

David Stewart MBE, one of the pioneers of “finishing” or extra-maturation, has been in charge of Balvenie’s liquor since it started out as a single malt in the middle of the 1970s. He was especially influential in the development of the well-known DoubleWood expression 25 years ago.

The DCS Compendium concept, a series of five yearly releases of premium single cask single malts grouped thematically and selected by Stewart himself, honors Stewart’s enormous contribution.

Other limited editions include the peated single malt BalveniePeat Week, which was introduced last year, and BalvenieFifty, a series of batch releases under the Balvenie Tun 1509 label.

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