When someone asks us “what is the best cheap scotch?” we feel the question is relative. If you don’t have a lot of money but still want to enjoy the finer things in life, you should dip your toe into the cheap Scotch waters. Not only do many cheap Scotch whiskies taste expensive, you’ll feel distinguished as you sip on this distinctive, elegant drink.
There are plenty of stores, outlets, and shops where you can buy cheap yet delicious Scotch, but you have to know what brand you’re looking for when you get there. Otherwise, you will be faced with a wall of options and no clue about where to start.
Don’t close your eyes and reach for a random bottle, hoping for the best. Instead, scope out these brands and make choosing a good, cheap whiskey easy on yourself. Nothing on this list is priced above $40, so you won’t have to shell out half of your paycheck to get a decent Scotch experience.
Best Cheap Blended Scotch
Cutty Sark Prohibition
This Scotch is a blend of grain whiskey and single malt, which gives it a more robust flavor than its counterparts. It’s a good entry-level blended Scotch, and at $30, you can’t go wrong.
Teacher’s Highland Cream
This blended Scotch is another combination of grain whiskey with single malts. It’s perfectly palatable for sipping, and even Scotch enthusiasts will appreciate its smokiness. This is a truly cheap Scotch, too, as it costs only about $24.
Johnnie Walker Black Label
A blend of over 30 whiskies from around Scotland, this Johnnie Walker is both nuanced and affordable. It costs $40 for a bottle of a veritable tour of Scotland’s whiskey flavors.
Best Cheap Single Malt Scotch
Speyburn 10-Year Single Malt
As compared to other 10-year-old single malt Scotches, this Speyburn variety is approximately half the price ($30 is all it will set you back). This may cause some purists to turn up their noses and move on, but the open-minded should stop and sample. This is a good whiskey with a medium body and lots of flavor, including sweet fruit and peat smoke.
Glenmorangie The Original 10-Year-Old
Glenmorangie is a standard Scotch brand for a reason. Their Original 10-Year-Old will run you about $40, but this is a whiskey that’s full of a depth that would be more typical in a bottle twice its age. Flowery notes balance with fruitier ones, like peaches and citrus zest, not to mention a smooth blend of honey and vanilla.
The Best Bars to Get the Best Cheap Scotch Whiskey
America does whiskey bars well. The best of them have hundreds of bottles to choose from, most from all over the world, including Scotch from Scotland.
Highlands, New York City, NY
Scotch is the star in this West Village bar in NYC. Highlands has over 250 bottles to choose from. They also make pub food that’s better than pub food, such as pork chops smoked in a whiskey barrel.
The Whisky Bar, Seattle, WA
The best cheap Scotch whisky can be found here (note the difference in spelling), along with over 300 other varieties of whiskey from around the globe. They also serve English pub fare in surroundings that look like a whiskey library.
Barrel Proof, New Orleans, LA
Offering over 260 whiskies with a heavy emphasis on Scotch and bourbon, this bar has more far-flung varieties, too. Try a new whiskey neat or enjoy one of the many whiskey cocktails.
Rackhouse Pub, Denver, CO
Go here to drink some local Colorado whiskey along with a good array of single malt Scotch. The venue also boasts access to some rare local whiskies that sell out within days of release.
Why Cheap Scotch isn’t Like Other Cheap Alcohol
The best cheap Scotch isn’t like other “cheap” liquor. Scotch is still Scotch, after all – a finer drink with more nuanced flavors due to care and production methods.
Even if you have a bottle of blended Scotch whiskey that cost 20 dollars and some change, you still shouldn’t throw it back. Instead, Scotch is meant to be sipped and experienced. You’re supposed to try to discern the layers of flavor and smell the complicated “nose.” Some purists might even recommend drinking out of a special glass, no matter the price of the whiskey you’re consuming.
In fact, Scotch is much more like wine than any other spirit. Both are made for slow mouthfuls and an evening spent in front of a fire with a faceted glass in one hand, a book in the other.