Paul has been a passionate fan of scotch whisky for over 30 years. Born in the UK, he currently lives in Florida.
My love of whisky goes back over 30 years. Growing up and spending my early adulthood in Cumbria, on the southern side of the Scottish Borders region of the UK, it was always the drink of choice at times of celebration for all around me.
Without a doubt, many modern scotch whisky enthusiasts automatically opt for the fashionable single malts nowadays, often without even thinking of a blended alternative.
While I would never wish to speak negatively of single malts (I am a huge fan of them), I do think that blended scotch whisky does have its own particular appeal, which is equally as complex and tasteful. In my opinion blends and single malts have equal merit but are just different, and I love both.
Over 90 percent of the scotch produced in Scotland is blended whisky. It is made up from malt whisky and grain whisky. Each of the blended scotch whisky brands uses different combinations and recipes (often secret) to create its own distinctive style.
Top 5 Scotch Whisky Blends for Under $50
Here are my best five selections:
- Compass Box Great King Street Artist's Blend: Rich and Fruity Crowd-Pleaser
- Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition: Bold and Spicy With a Caramel Finish
- The Black Grouse Alpha Edition: Earthy, Rich, Warm, and Smokey
- Monkey Shoulder: Smooth, Creamy, and Malty
- Johnnie Walker Double Black: Peat Smoke, Vanilla, and Cereal
I discuss each selection in more detail below.
Compass Box Great King Street Artist's Blend: Rich and Fruity Crowd-Pleaser
An excellent value budget whisky that offers all the complexity and richness of a more expensive bottle for an extremely reasonable price.
Named after Compass Box's Edinburgh offices, this whisky is accessible and makes a good introduction for non-whisky drinkers.
The nose is rich and creamy for me, with some vanilla, dried fruit, and citrus. The palate has more creamy richness, with lemon, apple crumble and raisins. The finish is long, rich and sweet, with delicious spiciness.
Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whisky is barely enough.
— Mark Twain
Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition: Bold and Spicy
Cutty Sark is a range of whisky blends named after the famous clipper ship, which is made in Glasgow. The brand was created in 1923 by the Glenrothes Distillery in the Scottish region of Speyside.
Their Prohibition Edition was launched on the 80th anniversary of prohibition, hence the name and the opaque bottle.
Prohibition is much bolder experience than classic Cutty Sark, with a higher strength expression that measures at 50% ABV.
The nose offers baking spices with lighter citrus and pear for me. The palate has rich toffee with some nutty notes. The finish is malty with caramel.
It's great to drink straight or to put in cocktails, in my experience.
The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learned to like it.
— Winston Churchill
The Black Grouse Alpha Edition: Earthy, Rich, Warm, and Smokey
I just love The Black Grouse Alpha Edition which is an even smokier version of their Black Grouse. The delicious peated malt in its blend adds plenty of sherry notes and makes the whisky the perfect warmer on a cold night.
Famous Grouse was first produced in 1897 by Matthew Gloag, named after his whisky merchant grandfather who had supplied beverages for a Queen Victoria royal banquet in Perth, Scotland, back in 1842. The brand’s classic emblem is a red grouse, which can be seen on the label.
For me, the nose of the Alpha Edition is chocolate and citrus with plenty of peat smoke. The palate brings vanilla, more burnt peat. The finish is smokey.
Whisky is liquid sunshine.
— George Bernard Shaw
Monkey Shoulder: Smooth, Creamy, and Malty
Monkey Shoulder is a truly excellent blend that draws on single malts from three renowned Speyside distilleries, delivering a smooth, creamy, and malty experience. It tastes delicious on the rocks, or in whisky cocktails where it is outstanding I've found.
The nose is sweet and fruity for me, with malt and vanilla and a hint of spice. The palate is rich and malty with fruit and honey. The finish has oak and spice.
All in all a spectacular whisky for a very reasonable price.
I love whisky and haggis. I can't get enough of either.
— Kevin McKidd
Johnnie Walker Double Black: Peat Smoke, Vanilla, and Cereal
Johnnie Walker Double Black provides an interesting new version of their classic Black Label,.providing a bigger emphasis on smoke, while at the same time keeping the classic complexity that we've come to expect from Johnnie Walker.
The nose gives vanilla and malt for me, as well as the smoke. The palate supplies plenty of peat smoke around a delicious malty core. There are notes of wood and cereal too. The finish is more smoke and malt, with subtle hints of pepper.
Drown in a cold vat of whisky? Death, where is thy sting?
— W. C. Fields
© 2014 Paul Goodman
Lee on July 17, 2020:
Monkey Shoulder is my favorite blend. Love that it is a mix of 3 single barley malts as opposed to a mix of grain and barley. A triple malt (although that is no longer an official catagory). Smooth and flavorful. Rivals many single malts I've tried.