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Scotch Whisky

10 Best Scotch Whiskies Under $40, Ranked

Yes, there are good Scotch whiskies that only cost around $30 to $40. Hell, I’ll even go so far as to say that a good $35 Scotch whisky isn’t all that rare. The thing is, there’s a lot of hot garbage on those lower Scotch whisky shelves too. Sometimes you need a primer to separate the wheat from the chaff.

That’s where I come in with my list of 10 great Scotch whiskies that all cost between $30 and $40.

For this list, I pulled in 10 Scotch whiskies — both single malts and blended whiskies — that taste pretty good at this price point. Scotch does tend to lean a lot more expensive than your average American whiskey. That’s especially true if you’re looking for an “experience” with the juice from Scotland. That makes it worth knowing where to reach when it comes to cheaper bottles.

For the ranking, I’m going on taste alone. These are all good in their own way but not all of them are equal. Some have a bit more depth and just hit the palate in a subtler and deeper way than others. It should be noted, however, that we’re still 100% talking about mixing whiskies below. Yes, you can drink these on the rocks if you want (I’ll mention which below), but these whiskies really shine best when mixed. That’s a reality of the price point.

Let’s dive in!

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Scotch Whisky Posts of The Last Six Months

10. Grangestone 12 Highland Single Malt

Grangestone Single Malt 12
Quality Spirits International

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $35

The Whisky:

Grangestone is an offshoot of William Grant & Sons and is primarily a blender/bottler. That means this whisky comes from an undisclosed Highland distillery (or distilleries really) within the William Grant & Sons stable. The whisky is aged 12 years. But beyond that, there’s not much more information.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Milled oats mix with a lightly spiced malt (think clove, cinnamon, and orange zest) next to a touch of prunes, dark chocolate powder, and a hint of vanilla extract on the nose.

Palate: The palate builds on the orange and vanilla towards what feels like a banana cream pie with a cup of sweet black tea on the side and a hint of toffee in the background.

Finish: The finish holds onto the bitterness of the tea and marries to the dark chocolate as a light walnut shell arrives and dries out the short end with a light sweet woodiness.

Bottom Line:

This is fine a perfectly suitable highball whisky for either nice mineral water with a citrus twist or some ginger ale.

9. Buchanan’s DeLuxe Aged 12 Years

Diageo

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $33

The Whisky:

Buchanan’s is making a big comeback. Part of that is due to this expression snagging a Double Gold from San Francisco World Spirit Competiton in 2020; another part is the quality Diageo whiskies in the blend.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The whiskey opens with a real sense of dark chocolate married to bright orange zest.

Palate: The palate builds on that adding hints of vanilla pudding and dark spices next to a cedar woodiness and a little bit of spicy/ chewy tobacco.

Finish: A whisper of peat arrives late and far in the background as the chocolate orange throughline lasts the longest on the fade.

Bottom Line:

This whisky has a long history as a classic “on the rocks” whisky. I don’t think it quite hits that mark. It does, however, perfectly suit cocktail or highball mixing with good resonance.

8. Johnnie Walker Black Label

Diageo

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $34

The Whisky:

Johnnie Walker is the best-selling whisk(e)y in the world. That means that there’s no getting away from this brand. The classic Black Label is a blend of over 40 whiskies from three dozen distilleries in the Diageo stable, including powerhouses like Talisker and Lagavulin.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Citrus meets spicy Christmas cake and a bit of powdery white pepper on the nose.

Palate: Those wintery spices carry on through the taste as creamy maltiness, caramel sweetness, and dry herbs bounce on your tongue.

Finish: The oak comes in late with a dose of peaty smoke that’s cut by an orange zest flourish on the quick end.

Bottom Line:

This is the first step up the Johnnie Walker ladder from Red Label. This is built as their entry-point “sipping” whisky. I still think this works better in highballs and cocktails than on the rocks, but I’m certainly not going to stop you from drinking it that way. It is a classic after all.

7. Old Parr 12-Year-Old Blended Scotch

Diageo

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $33

The Whisky:

This old-school blend is built around Cragganmore and Glendullan single malts. The whiskies mellow for 12 years before they’re vatted and proofed for this bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: There are cinnamon apple cookies on the nose with a touch of honey, nuts, and dry malt.

Palate: The taste is very malty with a touch of cedar, tobacco spice, and more honey/apple/cinnamon.

Finish: The end is warm, malty, and slightly sweet thanks to the honey.

Bottom Line:

This is just nice and easygoing scotch. It definitely benefits best from fizzy water or cocktail applications though.

6. Monkey Shoulder

William Grant & Sons

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $32

The Whisky:

This Speyside blend is crafted as a workhorse whisky. The juice is drawn from the William Grant & Sons distilleries, focusing on Kininvie, Glenfiddich, and The Balvenie. The juice is then rested for up to six months after blending to let it mellow even more before proofing and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: There’s a nice welcoming note of creamy vanilla that almost becomes cream soda, next to hints of zesty orange marmalade, malts, and dark spices.

Palate: The taste delivers on those notes by amping the spices up to Christmas cake territory with a slight tart berry edge next to that cream soda sweetness.

Finish: The end is short and sweet with a nice lightness that really makes this very drinkable.

Bottom Line:

This is the best mixing whisky on the list. It’s built as a mixer, so use it that way.

5. Chivas Regal Extra Aged 13 Years

Chivas Regal Extra 13
Pernod Ricard

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $35

The Whisky:

This expression from Chivas is all about single-barrel aging. The hot juice goes into Oloroso sherry casks for 13 long years. Once those barrels hit the right flavor profile, they’re batched, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose opens with a nice mix of vanilla, caramel, and fresh pear with a thin line of dried apricot and maybe some old vanilla pods.

Palate: The palate stews those pears in very sweet syrup while the malts lean into sharp cinnamon with a hint of roasted almond and maybe even some toasted coconut.

Finish: The end amps up the pear vibes as vanilla and cinnamon combine on a pretty short end.

Bottom Line:

Chivas is the quintessential “on the rocks” whisky and a good place to start that level of the ranking. Still, this has a sweeter edge that speaks to subtle cocktail mixing a bit more than sipping. But again, no one is going to stop you from enjoying this over a glass full of ice cubes.

4. Compass Box Artist Blend Scotch Whisky

Compass Box

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $35

The Whiskey:

The lion’s share of this blend — 45% — comes from a single grain whisky aged in ex-bourbon from Cameronbridge Distillery. 22% is a single malt aged in ex-bourbon that comes from Linkwood Distillery. The rest is a mix of French oak and ex-bourbon single malts and blended malts from the Highlands, Clyneilish, Linkwood, and Balmenach. Those whiskies are vatted and then proofed down before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: This opens with a very clear and concise note of apple candy with a hint of salted caramel ice cream cut with a touch of eggnog spices.

Palate: There’s a nice maltiness that leans into a creamy vanilla, soft holiday spice mix, butter toffee, and a hint of milk chocolate near the end.

Finish: The finish is warming with a whisper of tobacco next to a woody apple, spice candies (maybe ginger), and a final hint of cocoa and caramel.

Bottom Line:

This is a great cocktail base, especially for a citrus-forward cocktail. It also works really well on the rocks as an every day, table scotch.

3. Old Pulteney 12

InterBev

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $39

The Whisky:

Old Pulteney is all about sea vibes. Their entry-point spirit is aged for 12 years in second-fill bourbon casks before it’s batched, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: There’s a clear sense of creamed honey with a touch of sea spray on the nose.

Palate: The taste really holds onto that creamy honey while notes of wildflowers and oaky spice mingle with malts.

Finish: The end is fairly short and leaves you with a sense of that creamed honey and a touch of spicy warmth.

Bottom Line:

This is a pretty solid and unique single malt that blended sweet honey with seaside vibes, which feels very Scotland. It’s perfectly fine on the rocks but really shines in cocktails more.

2. Aberfeldy 12

Bacardi

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $39

The Whisky:

This Highland malt is the cornerstone of the much-beloved Dewar’s Blended Scotch. This whisky is a very accessible single malt that spends 12 years resting in various casks before it’s married and proofed down and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The heart of the nose is in the mingling of pear and honey with a hint of Christmas spice, especially nutmeg.

Palate: The palate expands on that with a lush maltiness, creamy vanilla, mild spice, and more of that honey and orchard fruit.

Finish: The end gets slightly nutty and bitter with a little water as the honey, fruit, and spice linger on the senses.

Bottom Line:

If you’re making a penicillin, use this. If not, pour this over some rocks and enjoy an easy sipping experience.

1. Glenmorangie The Original 10-Year

Glenmorangie
Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $36

The Whisky:

The Glenmorangie is a classic Highlands single malt. The juice is created on the tallest stills in Scotland, which allows more spirit creation along the way as it’s boiled. The whisky then spends ten years mellowing in ex-bourbon barrels. Finally, the whiskey is vatted, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: The nose opens with soft grains next to a rush of dried fruits and supple leather with a floral hint that leans toward dry hibiscus and fresh woodruff.

Palate: The palate is gentle with hints of wet malts next to powdered dark spices, fresh honeycombs, and a thin line of vanilla oils just touched with orange zest and maybe a twinge of grapefruit.

Finish: The end arrives with a soft honeyed sweetness that feels like it’s drizzled over an orange cake with a hint of malted cracker graininess next to an echo of old apple chips.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid single malt that really does shine on its own. Yes, you can mix a mean cocktail with it, but you can also 100% enjoy this over a rock or two and feel like you’re drinking a really good Scotch whisky.

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