Blended scotch gets a bad wrap. A lot of serious scotch drinkers knock it for its lack of “purity” and mix of younger, “lesser” quality scotches that they believe have to be blended because they’re not good enough to drink on their own. But it’s just not the case. There are a lot of exceptional blended scotches on the market that are designed specifically for cocktails—and often, they’re quite sippable straight. If you’re interested in exploring blended scotch whiskies, these nine bottlings are the best to buy now.
Just like its name implies, this blended whisky is housed in a handsome, matte-black bottle, complete with a striking retro label. Inside is one of our favorite scotches—blended or otherwise. Re-branded and re-formulated in 2013 to more closely mimic the original 1879 recipe (and packaging), Black Bottle toned down the Islay scotch and boosted the amount of whisky from Speyside. This gave the whisky less smoke, iodine and salt on the palate, and added more fruity, cereal, honey and nutmeg flavors. Perfectly for cocktails and mixing, this blended scotch is a fixture on our back bar.
Produced by independent bottler A.D. Rattray, this blended whisky is comprised of 40 percent malt whiskies from the Highlands (primarily Speyside) and 60 percent grain whiskies from the Lowlands. All whiskies in the blend are aged for a minimum of five years in oak. Another stellar choice for cocktails, the Bank Note 5 year is big and brassy with lots of vanilla, subtle peat, lemon pith and oak.
Part of Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regional Malts portfolio (which also features the Timorous Beastie Highlands and Scallywag Speyside bottlings), the Rock Oyster blend is composed of malt whiskies from Scotland’s smaller islands—including whiskies from Islay, Arran, Orkney and Jura. Described by the brand as a “maritime whisky,” the Rock Oyster blend is exceptionally briny, especially on the nose. On the palate, there are also notes of honeycomb, damp earth, kelp, campfire ash, black pepper and a soft, lingering smoke. Like its name implies, this blended scotch would be an excellent accompaniment to oysters and a delicious savory topper in a Burnt Martini.
From John Glaser, the whisky-blending wizard responsible for Compass Box Whisky Co., the Great King Street Artist’s Blend is designed to sway wary blended scotch drinkers to its often disregarded charms. Most interesting is the mixture of whiskies used, and the forthright attitude of divulging all the components of the blend. This bottling includes a variety of different whiskies, all aged in distinct, previously used casks: Lowland grain whisky aged in American oak, and Highland malt whiskies and Speyside malt whisky aged in either sherry butts, French oak or ex-bourbon casks. This diverse mix gives the whisky layers of flavor and a big, almost creamy mouthfeel. On the palate, there are flavors of orange creamsicle, fresh baked apple pie (buttery, crumbly crust included), quince, persimmon, rose and white pepper. This stuff is so delicious that it would be a waste to drink it any other way than straight in the glass.
This whisky is off-the-charts yummy. Added to the Famous Grouse line-up in 2015, the Mellow Gold blend is aged in both ex-Spanish sherry casks and ex-bourbon barrels. Just like the name implies, this blend is mellow, golden-hued, light, ethereal and absolutely lovely to drink. On the palate, the whisky has flavors of toasted marshmallow, orange marmalade, butterscotch pudding, cinnamon, nutmeg and buttered biscuits. On the finish is where the sherry-flavors really come through with a tangy acidity, florality and tannic dryness. This is the kind of blended scotch you can drink daily, no matter what time of year.
If your father is a big scotch drinker, this bottling was probably one of the first scotches you tried. Produced since the 1970s, this blended whisky was concocted by third-generation Whyte and Mackay master blender Richard Paterson. A mixture of Speyside, Islay and Lowland malt whiskies (it has a higher malt whisky percentage than most blended scotches), the Pig’s Nose Blend is soft, silky and exceptionally easy to drink. In the glass, the spirit is almost oily, and fruitier flavors dominate the palate. There are notes of honeycomb, peaches, salted almonds, toffee and flourishes of smoke. Use this blended scotch in juicy scotch-tails like the Blood and Sand, or drink it straight with a big rock of ice.
A mix of three different single malts—Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Kininvie—Monkey Shoulder blended scotch was designed specifically for cocktails and as staple spirit for bartenders. Super smooth, rich and flavorful, this blended malt whisky is extremely versatile in stirred and strong sippers like the Rob Roy, or paired with citrus in drinks like the Penicillin.
Discontinued globally in 2012, this blended malt whisky from Johnnie Walker was only available in Asia until recently (worldwide release is still tentative). A favorite of ours, the Green Label blend is the closest a Johnnie Walker label comes to tasting like a Japanese single malt (besides the Platinum 18). In the blend are four single malt whiskies—Talisker from Skye, Linkwood and Cragganmore from Speyside, and Caol Ila from Islay—all of which are a minimum of 15-years-old. On the palate, the whisky is big and layered with flavors of malted milk balls, dates, honeyed pears, cedar, caramelized mushrooms, marzipan and Corn Flakes cereal. While the Green Label is best sipped straight and savored, it’s exceptional in a Japanese-style Highball, if you must mix it in a cocktail.
Nicknamed “The Vintage,” this blended scotch from Dewar’s is a mix of rare vintage single malt and single grain Scotch whiskies that are aged for a minimum of 18 years, then re-aged after mixing (titled “double-aging” on the bottle). Fat in the mouth and extra creamy, this blend is an exceptional bottling. On the palate, this blended whisky is decadent and rich with notes of toffee, tiramisu, brandied cherries (think Luxardo, the original Maraschino), coconut, leather and tobacco. The finish starts oily and viscous, and ends tannic and hot with a lasting flavor. This is a truly delightful spirit worth seeking out, but don’t use it for cocktails like you would with other blended whiskies.