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Blended Whiskey

The Best Blended Scotch to Buy

Blended scotch is the Rodney Dangerfield of the whisky world—it just doesn’t get much respect among “serious” whisky drinkers, despite the fact that it dominates the game in terms of actual sales (blends also tend to be much cheaper). To use another dated analogy, blends are the Garfunkle to single malts’ Simon. Or how about this—blends are the Hawkeye to single malts’ Captain America… except we’re talking about Scotland here, but you get the point. Blended scotch is often viewed as inferior, and sometimes for good reason. But there are some truly excellent malts that make up the backbone of many blends that are worth knowing about.

First, let’s get the terminology straight, blended scotch is composed of malt and grain whisky that is produced at different distilleries, as opposed to a single malt which is made from 100 percent malted barley at one distillery. Both must be aged for a minimum of three years. There are also blended malts which omit the grain whisky component, and less commonly blended grain whiskies which omit the malt.

One scotch blend that is made up of some truly fantastic single malts is Dewar’s, and we recently had a chance to get an inside look at some of the core distilleries that make the component whiskies that go into this well-known brand–specifically Aberfeldy, Craigellachie and Royal Brackla. All of these distilleries have been making whisky since the 1800s, but only relatively recently have they gotten the recognition they deserve for their single malts. Bacardi, the parent company of Dewar’s, owns these distilleries along with Aultmore and The Deveron, and has recently been shining a spotlight on their single malts by releasing new expressions and revamped lineups.

aberfly scotch



Aberfeldy, which is nicknamed “the golden dram,” is the heart of the Dewar’s blend. The core lineup consists of single malts aged for 12, 16, and 21 years, but there are some fabulous wine cask-finished special releases, created by Dewar’s master blender Stephanie Mcleod, that are worth checking out. The latest is an 18-year-old whisky finished in Tuscan red wine casks from Bolgheri, a delicious dram with spice, sweetness, and lovely dried fruit notes.

Shop Aberfeldy

craigellachie scotch



Craigellachie has been another backbone of the Dewar’s blend for well over a century, but in 2014 the distillery started releasing its own single malts. The distillery describes the “muscular” flavor of the whisky as being influenced by the unusual worm tub condensers, a series of pipes that cool the spirit and allow extended contact time with copper. The core lineup consists of 13, 17, and 23-year-old single malts, but there have been some fantastic ultra-aged releases as well. The newest whisky is the 13-year-old Armagnac Cask Finish, which made its way into the 2022 Esquire Spirit Awards.

Shop Craigellachie

royal brackla


Royal Brackla

Finally, Royal Brackla is an often overlooked distillery, which in 1833 became the first to obtain a Royal Warrant for whisky and is focused on sherry cask finishing. The lineup was recently reintroduced to the world with each expression highlighting a specific secondary maturation. The 12 is finished in oloroso sherry casks, the 18 in palo cortado sherry casks (less common in the whisky world), and the 21 in a combination of oloroso, palo cortado, and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. Fans of The Macallan and The Glendronach should definitely check these out.

Shop Royal Brackla

Of course there are many other malt and grain whiskies included in a bottle of Dewar’s, but knowing what some of the core components are in this or any blended scotch can help you to understand its character a little better. Here are some other excellent blends to consider trying now as well, each with some key single malts in the mix that make them stand out

dewer's 18


Dewar’s 18

This whisky is far superior to the White Label expression, an 18-year-old blend that is up there with any similarly aged single malt in terms of flavor. As mentioned before, Aberfeldy is the heart of this blend, and all the component whiskies are aged a minimum of 18 years and then blended together and allowed to mature for a secondary period of time–hence the brand’s use of the term “double aged.” Dewar’s has been around since the mid-1800s, and continues to be extremely popular today.

Shop Dewar’s 18

orchard house


Compass Box Orchard House

Compass Box is a company based in London that sources and blends whisky from all around Scotland, and is as transparent as they are legally allowed to be about it (when not bound by NDAs, that is). The Orchard House expression is a lovely fruit-forward blended malt (no grain whisky here), featuring liquid from Linkwood, Clynelish and others that was aged in a variety of cask types.

Shop Compass Box Orchard House

monkey shoulder


Monkey Shoulder

This is another blended malt, brought to you by William Grant and Sons, the company that owns distilleries like The Balvenie and Glenfiddich. Of course, those whiskies are included in the mix here, as well as many others. This is geared towards bartenders for mixing, and indeed has become a favorite. Try this in any classic whisky cocktail to see how it transforms your Old Fashioned or Manhattan.

Shop Monkey Shoulder

johnnie walker black


Johnnie Walker Black

Is there anyone in the world who is unfamiliar with the Johnnie Walker brand at this point? Probably not, and this whisky has been a favorite of politicians and plebeians alike for centuries. There are expensive, delicious expressions like Blue Label, but let’s bring it back to the classic–Black Label. This is a 12-year-old blend with a nice touch of smoke on the palate, a good introduction to peated whisky for those who are unfamiliar. Parent company Diageo owns many different distilleries, so there are malts from Cardhu, Lagavulin, and Talisker in the blend, along with some grain whiskies.

Shop Johnnie Walker Black

chivas regal mizunara


Chivas Regal Mizunara

Chivas is another scotch brand name you’ve certainly seen before, with a long history of blending malt and grain whiskies. This expression came out a few years ago, and highlights the growing trend of using mizunara casks to finish whisky. This type of Japanese oak is notoriously difficult to work with, but imparts the liquid with excellent notes of toast, coconut, and incense. A portion of the whisky in this blend was finished in mizunara, giving it a subtle but evident burst of flavor.

Shop Chivas Regal Mizunara

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