Blended Scotch whisky doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. If blended Scotch whisky was a comedian, it would definitely be Rodney Dangerfield. Much of the reason why is because blends are often overshadowed by single malt Scotch.
Whereas single malts get the press, acclaim from whisky geeks, and the designation of being a respectable spirit to sip slowly, blended Scotch is referenced as something only to mix into cocktails. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Myriad high-quality and nuanced blended Scotches are perfect for slow sipping any time of year.
Blended Scotch whisky is a term used to refer to a blend of either single malt whiskies, single grain whiskies, or both. The two or more whiskies (sometimes a dozen or more) used in the blend are more than likely from different distilleries that are owned by the same company (and from distilleries that also release their own single malts in many cases). Single malt whisky, on the other hand, is produced by a single distillery using only malted barley.
Blending whisky batch after batch to create the same desired flavor profile from barrels that vary year by year is a true art form. Master blenders are highly respected in the industry for what they’re able to accomplish. To dismiss these blends as simply something to mix into a cocktail is to miss out on a world of carefully balanced flavors and nuances you can’t often find in a single malt.
Big Peat Islay Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
This whisky is definitely not for the peat newbie. Fans of robust peat-smoked whiskies will love this expression from Douglas Laing. A must-try for Islay single malt fans, this small batch blend is a mix of single malts from Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Bowmore, Port Ellen, and more. This non-chill filtered expression is known for its flavors of salted caramel, campfire smoke, vanilla, and lightly spicy, warming finish. It’s the kind of blended Scotch whisky you’ll want to sip slowly on a cool evening.
Johnnie Walker Green Label Blended Scotch Whisky
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of the blended Scotch whiskies from Johnnie Walker. The brand sources from a wide range of distilleries that parent company Diageo owns across Scotland. When it comes to value-to-quality ratio, however, there’s no better expression than Johnnie Walker Green Label. While the brand keeps the whiskies included a secret, it is known to be a blend of Speyside, Highland, Lowland, and Scottish island-produced single malts—all of which are at least 15 years old. This tour of Scotland in the form of Scotch whiskies gives drinkers flavors like chocolate, walnuts, vanilla, and gentle smoke.
Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Blended Scotch Whisky
If you only try one blended Scotch whisky on this list, make it Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition. Crafted to pay homage to famed Prohibition-era rum runner Captain William McCoy (who also has a rum brand named in his honor), this blend is a potent 100 proof. It begins with a nose of salted caramel and candied orange peels and works its way into a palate of chocolate, sticky toffee pudding, vanilla, and a gentle, nutty sweetness. The finish is warming, spicy, and really opens up with a splash or two of water.
Ballantine’s 17-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky
Blended whisky fans know all about the bargain that is Ballantine’s. If you’re willing to spend a little more than the original blended whisky, you can grab a bottle of the 17-year-old expression. It’s known for its complex, well-balanced flavor profile featuring notes of rich smoke, dried fruits, vanilla beans, rich oak, and peppery spice. One sip and this award-winning expression will make you rethink blended whiskies completely.
Chivas Regal Mizunara Blended Scotch Whisky
Chivas Regal is another big name in the blended Scotch whisky world. And while you can’t go wrong with a blend like Chivas Regal 12, 18, or any of the other staples, it’s tough to beat the appeal of Chivas Regal Mizunara. First released solely in the Japanese market, this version of Chivas Regal came from a trip that master blender Colin Scott took to the country. A portion of the blend was aged in Mizunara oak barrels. The result is a nutty, vanilla, and lightly fruity whisky filled with gentle spices. It’s sweet, spicy, and highly sippable.
Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whisky
Monkey Shoulder came on the scene back in 2003. This vatted malt whisky was crafted to be a blend that bartenders and home mixologist would enjoy using in cocktails. But this expression, a blend of multiple whiskies including beloved Speyside single malts from The Balvenie and Glenfiddich, is so much more than simply a mixing whisky. Before your first sip, you’re treated to aromas of tropical fruits, candied orange peel, vanilla, and chocolate. The palate continues this trend with flavors like toasted vanilla beans, rich oak, orange peels, ginger candy, and gentle spices. You might buy it to mix with, but you’ll end up enjoying it neat.
Sheep Dip Blended Malt Whisky
Don’t let the silly name turn you off. This is a great blend. It’s made up of more than 12 single malt Scotch whiskies. Each has been matured for at least five years in a combination of first-fill bourbon barrels, refill oak casks, and first-fill sherry butts. This diverse selection of whiskies gives the expression a nose of salted caramel, honey, and vanilla and a palate of candied orange peels, toasted vanilla beans, caramel, and light wintry spices. It’s a complex, sweet, pleasantly spicy sipping whisky.
Compass Box The Peat Monster Blended Scotch Whisky
With a name like Peat Monster, you should have a pretty decent idea about what you’re in for with this blended whisky. Created by master blender John Glaser, this epic expression is a blend of peat-smoked single malt whiskies from Islay. It all begins with a nose of smoky peat and salty, briny toffee. Drinking it reveals hints of dried fruits, smoked bacon, campfire smoke, caramel candy, and just a hint of rich oak. The finish is sweet, peaty, spicy, and warming.
Dewar’s Aged 15 Years Blended Scotch Whisky
Dewar’s is yet another big name in the blended whisky marketplace. No matter which Dewar’s expression you purchase, you’ll likely be happy. But one of the best is its 15-year-old version. Also known as ‘The Monarch”, this expression is a blend of Dewar’s range (including Aberfeldy) that’s been mature for at least fifteen years in ex-bourbon and sherry casks. It’s known for its flavors of sherried sweetness, candied walnuts, dried orange peels, toffee, and vanilla beans.
The Famous Grouse Smoky Black Blended Scotch Whisky
If you grab the original Famous Grouse, you’ll spend very little money for a superior bottle. It’s a complex and very well-balanced expression. If you live on the smokier side of the flavor spectrum, you might opt for The Famous Grouse Smoky Black. This no-age-statement whisky is made up of single malts from various big-name distillers, including The Macallan, The Glenrothes, and Highand Park. It’s peaty, smoky, yet still manages to have a great deal of dried fruit, vanilla, and toffee sweetness.