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The 9 best cheap scotches to drink in 2021



The 9 best cheap scotches to drink in 2021

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Our selection

Best overall result: Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 year old at Drizly

The world’s best-selling scotch whiskey, first created by grocer John Walker in the 1820s, is our number one choice because of its taste and value.

Best for cocktails: Bowmore 12 year old single malt at Drizly

This scotch with its wonderfully balanced flavors goes particularly well with a classic cocktail that is not too fussy.

Best single malt: The 12 year old Balvenie DoubleWood in Drizly

This 12-year-old entry-level scotch speaks to the heart and soul of his distillery,

Best of all smoky: Laphroaig 10 year old Islay single malt at Drizly

While smoke is in the foreground, it isn’t overwhelming, and that is what makes this scotch so good.

Best Speyside: Glenfiddich 12 year old single malt from Drizly

It’s beautiful and approachable as a good Speyside should be, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking momentum.

Best island: Ardbeg 10 year old single malt at Drizly

This scotch captures all the aromas of the island: the menthol notes of the peat, the brine of the ocean and the smoke that unites it all.

Best for sipping: Speyburn Bradan Orach Single Malt at Total Wine

It is aged in ex-bourbon casks, so it doesn’t have the overly sweet sherry profile of many of its neighbors and is therefore easy to slurp.

Best mixed: Mossburn Speyside at Drizly

This blend of mature scotches, which have been filled into former Oloroso sherry and American bourbon barrels, has a luxurious texture from a further 9 to 18 months of oak aging.

Best reserve: The Glenlivet Founders Reserve in Drizly

Soft and creamy with a fruity sweetness and a hint of spicy citrus fruits, this special reserve bottle pays tribute to the founder of 1822.

You don’t have to dig deep into your pocket for a lovable whiskey, says Flavien Desoblin, owner of the New York Brandy Library and Cooper & Oak. “Sipping used to be raised at a much higher price, but distillers have realized they need to offer affordable entry-level scotches.” There are so many good-quality scotches out there these days that bottles of lower ages – scotches aged 12, 10, or even less – “are good even though they are young,” he says. Scotches like these, which typically cost around $ 50, are great for mixing and drinking neat, on the rocks, with a little water or soda, or whatever you want. At these prices, such drams are “the perfect new standard for every day,” says Desoblin.

What should you look for in a great everyday scotch? Multi-layered nuances, says Crystal Chasse, Beverage Director of the New York Talk Story Rooftop: “The beginning, the middle of the palate and the end all have their own expression and take you on a kind of journey.”

Here is our expert pick of the best cheap scotches to drink right now.

Final verdict

If peat is your jam, you can’t get much smokier than Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Single Malt (view at Drizly). It embodies the moor-and-sea Islay style. But if you’re more of a fruity Highlands-style fan, Glenfiddich 12-Year-Old Single Malt (view at Drizly) is an excellent choice.

What to look for in a cheap scotch


When you hear “cheap scotch” you are probably thinking of something that stings your throat. But that’s not the case with a well-made scotch. It may be young, but it will go down with a silky, non-harsh texture.


One of the great charms of scotch is its complexity and depth of flavor. This is true regardless of whether the whiskey is a smoky, salty island style; a flowery, fruity Highland bottle; or a vanilla and citrus mixture. The layers unfold as you sip. If the scotch seems like a note to you, go ahead.


Most inexpensive Scottish whiskeys won’t be very old. But a good one should be at least 10 years old. This maturation time gives the whiskey time to develop its complexity. In addition, a distillery should make its aging transparent.

frequently asked Questions

What is the difference between Scotch and other whiskeys?

Simply put, scotch is whiskey made in Scotland. Nowadays, with the variety of styles of Scotch produced and the many single malt whiskeys on the market from other regions, its national origins are the main difference between Scotch and other whiskeys.

Is cheaper scotch made differently? What makes it less expensive?

A good, inexpensive scotch is not necessarily different from other scotchs, but it could be younger. Barrel aging is an expensive process. The distiller has to tie up space in his rickhouse or storage house (the building where he stores the whiskey) for years to make the scotch that makes the highest dollar.

Do I get more hangovers with cheaper scotch than more expensive?

You won’t get a worse hangover from any of the scotches in this article. They are well made, pure expressions of the mind. Of course, the higher the vol, the stronger the alcohol in the bottle. And as with any spirit, drink in moderation.

Why trust

Betsy Andrews has been writing about wine and spirits for two decades. She has a thing for Speyside Scotches in sherry casks, but she’s not beyond a smoky Islay. The most intriguing scotch she’s ever had was a vertical tasting of Macallans from the 1940s. Usually dried with a wood fire, Macallan’s malt from the 1940s was peated as wood was scarce during World War II. It was a real taste of history.

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