When it comes to cheap(er) but still great Scotch whisky, you really start to hit a stride around $50 to $60 per bottle. Though, to be completely fair, we’re still mostly talking about whiskies that you’d largely use for mixing up a killer cocktail or highball. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that you’re going to see the clouds part and the sun shine through like a revelation at this price point. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t good-tasting whisky to be had either — there certainly is.
For this list, I pulled 10 bottles of really good Scotch whisky that you can buy for just south of $60. These are all good whiskies, sure, but some do have that little something special about them. So I’ve also ranked these entries, according to how tasty they are.
Lastly, these bottles are all priced according to either Total Wine or Reservar Bar delivery in Kentucky. Your local prices may vary depending on a laundry list of factors. Let’s dive in and find you a great Scotch whisky to stock on your bar cart right now!
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10. Glenrothes Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky 12 Years Old
Average Price: $58
This Speyside whisky is all about Spanish wood and Scottish malts. The whisky is matured exclusively in sherry casks for 12 years before vatting and proofing without any additives or coloring.
Nose: There’s a soft sense of blackened bananas next to vanilla beans, a hint of lemon oils, and a whisper of dried roses on the nose.
Palate: The palate marries that lemon and banana into a banana bread with plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg with a touch of vanilla next to a savory melon vibe.
Finish: That savory fruit drives the mid-palate towards a finish with almost a lemon cream pie feel next to a hint more of spice and soft vanilla rounding things out.
This is a solid unpeated malt that really leans into citrus and sweet baked goods with a fruity vibe. I like this nice highball with good fizzy water and a twist of orange or grapefruit peel.
9. Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky 10 Years
Average Price: $56
Glengoyne uses unpeated Highland barley that they airdry themselves before fermentation. The uniqueness of this whisky doesn’t end there. They also season their own American and European oak barrels with sherry for six years before filling them with their juice. After ten years of maturation, those barrels are vatted, proofed, and bottled for this expression.
Nose: This starts off fairly familiar for a sweet Highland malt with notes of apple candies, butter toffee, and a few chocolate-covered almonds.
Palate: The taste leans back into the apple but it’s more tart and juicy now as minor notes of anise and wet cedar bark lead to a little bit of warm cream sitting on top of a shot of espresso and a hint more of those almonds.
Finish: The finish lets the malts sweeten with a hint of orange marmalade on toast rounding things out.
This is another unpeated whisky that’s really going to make your highball shine. It works well in a Scotch old fashioned too.
8. Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Select
Average Price: $56
Master Distiller John Campbell created this whisky to highlight the diversity of the casking process behind Laphroaig’s classic expressions. The juice is a blend of four casks. Their quarter, Pedro Ximénez, triple wood, and ten-year-old casks are married to create a deeply satisfying bottle of whisky.
Nose: The whisky draws you in with hints of red fruit, plums, nuts, and a bit of peated maltiness.
Palate: The fruit leads the way on the palate while the wood leans mildly spicy with a bit of alcohol warmth, Ace bandages, smoked salts, and more of that malt.
Finish: The end lingers as the fruit and wood come together with an ever-so-distant wisp of smoke and Band-Aid.
This is an acquired taste that really grew on me. I tend to like this in a penicillin or highball, but it does work as an on the rocks sipper too.
7. Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky 12
Average Price: $52
This is an entry whisky to Speyside and single malts in general. The juice is aged in a combination of used American and European oak before it’s married, rested, proofed with Speyside’s iconic water, and bottled.
Nose: This dram is creamy like a vanilla pudding with a bright pear orchard vibe, some mild toffee, and hints of sweetgrass next to mild oak.
Palate: That leads towards a very easy and soft woodiness with a touch of candied pear and more vanilla cream before hints of soft cinnamon spice poke up in the background with those soft malts.
Finish: By the end, it’s clear how light and approachable this whisky is as that pear, vanilla cream, and mild spice slowly fade away, leaving you with a silken mouthfeel and just enough malts and toffee.
This is purely quintessential Speyside unpeated malt. The fruit orchards, honey, and vanilla all combine to make a very classic albeit light sip of whisky. Since it is so light, use it to build a great cocktail or highball.
6. Arran Single Malt Scotch Whisky Barrel Reserve
Average Price: $58
This Island’s whisky is all about reaching over the pond. The 100% malted barley juice is aged exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels (for an undisclosed amount of time) before it’s vatted, proofed, and bottled as-is to highlight that barrel.
Nose: This has a nose full of ripe apples and pears with stems and cores alongside soft and damp cedar and chewy vanilla-laced toffee.
Palate: The palate counters with grapefruit pith, silken vanilla cream, and apple butter brimming with dark spice.
Finish: The finish comes about with a singed cedar bark feel next to soft powdery spices, orange oils, and a very light vanilla ice cream scoop.
This is the bottle you want to buy if you’re looking for a bourbon bridge to Scotland. It works nicely as a sipper over some rocks or in an old fashioned cocktail.
5. Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley Unpeated Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $56
Bruichladdich’s philosophy on whisky making is pretty unique. Each batch highlights local, unpeated Scottish barley that’s fermented and distilled. That juice then goes into some combination of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, and ex-wine casks for a varied amount of time. That means each batch is unique. Bruichladdich then provides a code on their bottles so that you can go to their website and find out what makes the bottle in your hand special.
Nose: Wildflowers and granola bars draw you in on the nose as a hint of brine and salted caramel linger on the back end with orange oils and softwood.
Palate: That brine becomes a full rush of seaspray as tart apples lead towards a Caro syrup mid-palate sweetness.
Finish: That sweetness fades into a spicy malt as sea salt and sweet oak dominated the finish.
This is a nice seaside unpeated malt. That salinity makes this a great candidate for simple whisky cockatiels or highballs, but it’s also perfectly suited to easy sipping over a glass full of ice.
4. Compass Box Orchard House Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Average Price: $59
The blended malt leans into apples as a predominant flavor note of sweet Scotch whisky. The whisky in the bottle is a blend of 39% Linkwood single malt that aged in ex-bourbon barrels, 20% Clynelish single malt also aged in ex-bourbon barrels, and Benrinnes single malt from ex-bourbon barrels. The next 8% is a single malt from a distillery in the town of Aberlour (not the distillery) that is aged in ex-sherry butts with 2% from a Highland malt blend that is aged in custom-built and toasted French oak barrels, and the final 2% from a peated malt from Caol Ila that matured in ex-bourbon casks.
Nose: Naturally, apples burst forth on the nose with tart, sweet, and juicy notes next to a soft pear vibe, lemon and lime zest, a touch of sweet pineapple, and a soft echo of dry but fragrant Earl Grey tea leaves.
Palate: The palate leans into fresh ginger soaking in a pot of floral honey next to minor notes of fresh strawberry shortcake with a soft vanilla sponge cake, fresh berries, and a dollop of vanilla-laced whipped cream.
Finish: The finish leans into a light white floral note while the pear and apple return with a ripeness that feels like they’re fresh off the vine and a final note of lightly spiced malts with a whisper of applewood smoke.
This is just good, especially if you’re looking for a very fruit-forward whisky for highballs, cocktails, or your rocks glass.
3. Glenfarclas Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 12 Years
Average Price: $54
Glenfarclas is a bit of an outlier. The whisky is distilled with old-school fire-heated stills (most stills use steam) to this day, imbuing a hint of smokiness to the juice. The whisky is then aged exclusively in ex-sherry casks for 12 long years.
Nose: There’s a rumminess to the nose that touches on molasses, prunes, nuts, and jam that’s all just touched with a thin line of smoke, kind of like an old sweater after a backyard campfire.
Palate: The taste holds onto that vibe to the point of having an almost spiced rum sweetness and clear notes of holiday spices, plenty of dried fruit, and a roasted almond element.
Finish: The end is long and spicy, leaving you with a warming Speyside hug that hints at smoked plums and apricots with a dash of old honey sweetness.
This is a nice and very subtle whisky. It’s deep though, which makes it a fun sipper over some rocks or to play with in a cocktail.
2. Mortlach Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 12 Years
Average Price: $52
This single malt hails from a tiny yet beloved Speyside distillery. The actual whisky is also made on their smallest still, nicknamed “Wee Witchie.” That juice then goes into ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for 12 years. Finally, those whiskies are married, proofed, and bottled.
Nose: This is subtle yet engaging, with a nose of almost burnt toffee next to bright red berries, mild spice, hints of oak, and a bit of cedar.
Palate: The palate leans into the berries by becoming jammy with more of that toffee and a mild sense of spicy tobacco arriving late.
Finish: The end is long-ish with a plummy chew next to that tobacco and malty spice.
This is a damn fine whisky. I like it over some rocks but also put it into very simple whisky cocktails from time to time.
1. Ardbeg Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Ten
Average Price: $56
This is Ardbeg’s signature bottle and a true gateway to the peaty style of single malt scotches. The real highlight of this expression is the peat smokiness filtered through sherry casking. The phenol count tends to be on the higher end with this expression, so you’ll know you’re drinking a smoky whisky from the first nose. But it won’t absolutely floor you.
Nose: The nose is classic Ardbeg with hints of BBQ smoker ash full of fat, tart red berries, lemon pepper, and a touch of creamy dark chocolate.
Palate: The palate follows the nose’s lead while layering in sea-salt brined pork fat, hints of bourbon vanilla, and an echo of Nutella.
Finish: The finish has that deep salted black licorice vibe leading to a slow fade through the peppery smoked fat, charcoal ash, chocolate nuttiness, and finally smoked red berries with a sweet/tart edge.
This is bold and fun whisky that’s perfect served over a single large rock in a big ol’ rocks glass. That said, it also works nicely in a cocktail. But if you want to get the full thrust of the Islay peatiness with that seaside smoker vibe, then stick with the big cube of ice.
Johnnie Walker blended scotch is the global best selling whisky brand by sales and market share, accounting for almost one in every five bottles of whisky sold worldwide.What is the number one scotch in Scotland? ›
along with a small pitcher of water they use to cut to taste. These are the go-tos: (1) The Famous Grouse, aka The Low Flying Bird It's the top selling blend in Scotland.What is a good scotch to order? ›
Balvenie Double Wood 12 Year is an expression I always suggest. This scotch has great notes of honey and vanilla that make it a very comfortable sipping whisky. Slightly more 'oomph' than something like The Macallan but not super peaty like Laphroaig and Lagavulin.What is the largest selling scotch in the world? ›
The world's best-selling Scotch and Diageo's flagship brand Johnnie Walker keeps going from strength to strength, with sales rising from 14.1m to 19.1m in 2021, a massive rise of over 35% keeping it in the top spot.
A fine bottle of Scotch whisky costs roughly around $300, maybe even run you under $50.What is a decent scotch? ›
The 15 Best Whiskeys to Drink in 2023. Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Review. Johnnie Walker Double Black Scotch Whisky Review. The Glenlivet 12 Year Scotch Review. Macallan 12 Year Sherry Oak Cask Single Malt Scotch Review.What water is best with scotch? ›
“Unlike tap water, distilled water is highly filtered and completely neutral,” Farrell says. With no minerals or additives, distilled water is ideal for adding to whiskey because it enhances whiskey without introducing any new flavors.What are the 4 types of scotch? ›
There are five Scotch Whisky regions - Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside.What is the best selling whisky in the world? ›
In 2021, some 30.1 million 9 liter cases of McDowell's No. 1 whiskey were sold worldwide. Imperial Blue was number two that year, selling about 24.1 million cases. Johnnie Walker and Jack Daniel's stood in fifth and sixth place, respectively.Is scotch smoother than bourbon? ›
Bourbon tends to have sweeter, more mellow characteristics, with vanilla, oak, caramel, grain, nutmeg, and cinnamon notes. Scotch has a sharp, distinct flavor that's more of an acquired taste than bourbon. You'll find that blended Scotch is smoother and maltier with a spicy finish.
Glenfiddich is smoother than Glenlivet because its flavors are softer and more subtle, making it easier to drink. However, if your personal preference is Speyside whiskies with more taste of oak and stronger aroma and flavors, Glenlivet might be the best choice for you.Who drinks the most scotch in the world? ›
In 2021, France consumed 176 million bottles — almost the same as in 2019 and 2020. As such, France has remained at the top of the Scotch whisky-consuming countries for the last three years.What kind of scotch does Costco sell? ›
Currently, there are five Scotch whisky expressions in the Kirkland Signature Range: a 3 YO blended Scotch whisky (although it doesn't carry an age statement on the bottle), a 12 YO blended Scotch whisky, a 19 YO, and a 2o YO Speyside, Oloroso Sherry Cask Finished Single Malt, and a No Age Statement (NAS) Islay Single ...What is a true scotch? ›
Back to Encyclopedia Britannica: Scotch is a whisky (no e) that gets its distinctive smoky flavor from the process in which it is made: the grain, primarily barley, is malted and then heated over a peat fire. A whisky cannot be called Scotch unless it is entirely produced and bottled in Scotland.What whiskey does Matthew McConaughey? ›
AND WILD TURKEY BOURBON WHISKEY. A genuine bond formed when Matthew first met the Russells. It was only natural that, together, they'd tell the story of making bourbon their own way.