Best Brands of Cheap Blended Scotch
Scotch whisky has a reputation for being expensive, snobby, and out of the reach of the average person. In fact, a bottle of decent scotch doesn’t have to be any more expensive than rum, vodka, or a quality liqueur. And inexpensive doesn’t have to mean cheap. Here are some drinkable scotches that will tickle your taste buds without draining your wallet.
Best value for money: Johnnie Walker Red Label
Because it’s one of the “prestige” brands of blended scotch, almost everyone has heard of Johnnie Walker. For many, it’s the benchmark scotch, to which all others are compared. There’s a good reason for this: Johnnie Walker scotch is blended for smoothness, versatility, and all around appeal. But don’t let the classy-looking label fool you-if you buy the Red Label, and keep an eye out for sales, you can drink Johnnie Walker for $20 or less per 750 mL bottle-no more than that bottle of Stoli in the cupboard.
And don’t worry that it’s a compromise to buy Red Label instead of the higher-priced Johnnie Walker Black Label. Johnnie Walker Black Label is a stronger, peatier blend, intended for the more advanced (or, in some cases, the more snobby) palate. Many scotch fans prefer Red Label. Since Black Label can be twice as expensive as Red Label, unless you’re already a fan, it’s probably not worth laying out the extra dough.
The least expensive: Clan MacGregor
To most people, nothing says “cheap” like a plastic handle. Usually, liquor that comes in a plastic handle is the worst of the worst, especially with a complex, flavorful liquor like scotch. But Clan MacGregor is the exception to the rule. It’s quite drinkable, and at around $10-$15 for a fifth, and $25 or less for a handle, Clan MacGregor it’s also a very good buy.
Without the bite often found in cheap whiskey or scotch, (even at 80 proof, it has little alcohol flavor), Clan MacGregor has both sweet and peaty flavors, and a balanced profile. It may not be the kind of scotch you want to sip after dinner, but it’s great in a Rob Roy http://wiki.webtender.com/wiki/Rob_Roy or with a few ounces of club soda and a twist of lemon. If what you want is a good mixing scotch that’s just as easy on the wallet as it is on the palate, Clan MacGregor is your best option.
A stronger-flavored option: Cutty Sark
Just as respectable as Johnnie Walker, but less well-known, Cutty Sark is in the same price range as Johnnie Walker Red Label, but has a slightly stronger flavor. With a little more bite, a little more peat, and a little more snob appeal, Cutty Sark is good on the rocks.
Cutty Sark is also a better choice for drinking with cigars than Johnnie Walker Red Label. The stronger flavor is less likely to be overwhelmed by the tobacco. Like Johnnie Walker, Cutty Sark rarely costs more than $25 for a 750 mL bottle.
Sweet and sipping-friendly: Teacher’s Highland Cream
While all of the previously mentioned scotches are bottled in America, Teacher’s Highland Cream isn’t just made in Scotland, it’s also bottled there. Because it’s imported, it has a claim to authenticity that whisky bottled in America lacks. But at a manageable $20 or less per fifth, you’re getting the prestige of an import without the price.
Teacher’s Highland Cream also has a flavor profile that may be unfamiliar to scotch drinkers in the U.S. It’s sweeter and, as the name suggests, “creamier” than many other scotches, including both Johnnie Walker Red Label and Johnnie Walker Black Label. (Creamy, in this case, means that it’s smooth, with a long aftertaste). Think of the sweet, almost vanilla-like overtones often found in Irish whiskeys like Jameson’s, and you’ll have an idea of what makes Teacher’s Highland Cream a unique and valuable addition to the scotch drinker’s liquor cabinet.
The absolute best option: whichever brand you like best
What’s expensive and what isn’t is always a relative term. Buying what you love is never a waste of money, and the scotch you prefer drinking will always be the best scotch, no matter what anyone else says. If you can afford to spend $40 on a bottle of scotch, and you prefer the $40 scotch to the $20 scotch, go for it. But don’t be ashamed if you like the $20 bottle better. Chances are, you aren’t alone.
But be careful. Scotch is not as pricey as it’s made out to be, but just like any other beverage, you do get what you pay for. Steer clear of really cheap scotches like McCormick and Potter’s. Remember, if you spend $15 on a bottle of scotch, but hate it so much you can only drink one glass, you didn’t really get a bargain: you paid $15 for that one glass.
Above all, don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t give up your favorites either. Finding new drinks you enjoy is great, but an old favorite is worth its weight in gold.
1. Best – Top 10 Blended Scotch Whiskies | Gayot
2. 10 Best Scotch Whiskies Under $100 – Gear Patrol