Yes, You Can Buy a Good Scotch Whisky for Under $50
As counterintuitive as the words "cheap Scotch" may seem, there is a whole world of excellent value-driven Scotch whisky out there for you to consume if you know where to look. Luckily, we've gone ahead and done the hard part for you and found a dozen excellent choices that won't enfeeble your financial health.
So ready your whisky snifter and put on your drinking slacks, and let's get to it.
Speyside is known for its delicate, honey-driven single malts, and BenRiach’s celebrated 10 Year Old expression is case and point. A lemony floral nose kicks off a medley of crisp green apple, peach, and banana, kept in check by sweet malt, earthy, vanilia-tinged oak and slightly peppery baking spices that linger long after you’ve drained your snifter.
For two Andrew Jackson-faced bills, you’re looking at a fine sherry cask-aged single malt boasting honey-kissed, lightly toasted bread on nose, stone fruit, vanilla, and smoked wood chips on the palate and a dry, spiced licorice finish. Bonus: It comes encased in an extra slick jet black bottle inspired by distillery founder Magnus Eunson’s Viking bootlegger ancestry.
Kirkland Signature Highland 18 year old Sherry Cask Finish
How did Costco brand hooch make it onto this list? Because not only is it delicious, but you’re never, ever (ever) going to find a better deal on a genuine 18-year-old sherry-finished Scotch whisky. The trade-off, of course, is that they keep the exact distillery of origin a mystery (that and the whole having to get a Costco membership thing). But when it tastes this good -- fragrant leather, tree bark, and tobacco followed by figgy pudding, hazelnuts, boozy sherry, and what only can be described as those Christmas chocolate oranges that break into cute little slices when you smash them -- you don’t ask questions.
Dubbed the world’s most-awarded single malt, you really can’t go wrong pouring a dram of this Speyside original. It’s the perfect entry whisky -- great for both selfless gifting and solo guzzling, especially for fans of orchard-fresh pears and apples, oatmeal raisin cookies, warm fruit cobbler, and whipped butterscotch mousse. So yeah, basically everyone.
Whisky Advocate rates this a 92. It's also been World Whisky of the Year, so everyone respects the resume of this particular member of the Islay family, which has peat for days, as well as tobacco and coffee notes. And with a long smokey finish that's incredibly balanced, Ardberg remains one of the best all-around Scotch whisky values on the planet.
Out of Orkney, Scotland, Highland Park basically tastes like the scent of a winter night in Spain -- Seville oranges, nutmeg, honey, and dried fruits. Aged in oak casks, it is smoky, rich, and lauded, especially after it won a Gold Medal at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. A great choice for those looking to stay out of the world of heavy peat.