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The Best Scotch Whiskies Under $30, Ranked

Finding good cheap Scotch whisky is… a fair bit harder than finding good cheap bourbon. The biggest reason, of course, is that Scotch whisky is an import that comes with extra tariffs, transport fees, and so forth. It’s naturally going to be more expensive — the costs are just higher all around.

But not necessarily exorbitantly more expensive. Good cheap scotch might be harder to come by but it is out there and available on many shelves around the country. Yes, we’re talking about both single malts (whisky blended only with whiskies made from malted barley at one distillery) and blended whisky (grain and malted barley whiskies blended from various distilleries).

Below, we’re ranking ten Scotch whiskies we think you’ll enjoy, all under $30 (these prices will vary slightly depending on your state’s taxes). Naturally, there’s a quality barrier at play. Without a ton of time spent in the barrel, these are mostly whiskies you’re going to want to use for mixing a highball or whisky cocktail. That being said, you could throw a few of these on the rocks and enjoy them as sippers too.

Let’s dive in!

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Scotch Whisky Posts of 2021

10. Glen Ness Aged 12 Years

Glen Ness 12
Glen Ness

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $28

The Whisky:

This is sort of like a beginner’s whisky that utilizes malt whisky from the Highlands. The whisky is built to highlight the sweeter side of whiskies from the region.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a touch of sweet honey that leads towards a hint of lemon peels, mild oak, and dried tobacco leaves with an echo of vanilla. The taste has this nutty and honey vibe that’s kind of like Honey Nut Cheerios with the malt creating a backbone for the sip, as very mild hints of spice chime in. The finish is pretty short, warm, and sweet thanks to that honey but, ultimately, slightly watery.

Bottom Line:

Some say there’s a peat note at the end of this and I’ve never been able to find it. That aside, this is a simple whisky at a low price. Mix it into a highball or cocktail and you’ll be fine.

9. Teacher’s Highland Cream

Beam Suntory

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $18

The Whisky:

This blend has a high concentration of single malts with Ardmore whisky at its core. The whisky is advertised as using Ardmore’s peated malts in the blend to add subtle smokiness and deeper whisky flavors.

Tasting Notes:

The nose opens with slight hints of peated malt countered by mild cherry candies and a note of vanilla extract. The palate follows those lines with a slight mineral water vibe next to buttery butterscotch that sweetens as the taste races towards the finish. The end is sweet, slightly malty, and maybe has a very distant whisper of cherry smoke.

Bottom Line:

That cherry note saves this one from feeling like nothing at all. It’s super easy drinking and works really well in a highball. But that’s really all.

8. Grant’s Triple Wood

William Grant & Sons

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $18

The Whisky:

Willam Grant & Sons has a deep bench of whisky distilleries to draw their malt and grain whiskies from for this expression, which includes The Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Girvan (Scotland’s largest producer of grain whisky). The ripple with this blend is the triple barreling with new oak, American oak, and re-fill American oak, the latter two both being ex-bourbon casks.

Tasting Notes:

The sip opens with clear butterscotch next to an almost tin can vibe with a hint of spicy and honeyed malts. The palate is slightly fruity with apple core and stem notes next to more of that spiced malt and butterscotch with a soft mineral water note. The end is malty but only just barely as the apple core, honey, and butterscotch fade away pretty quickly.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid highball whisky. Add some really good fizzy water or ginger ale and you’re all set.

7. Dewar’s Portuguese Smooth Port Cask Finish

Dewar's Portuguese
Bacardi

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $23

The Whisky:

This eight-year-old blended scotch is all about the finishing. In this case, classic Dewar’s is moved into Ruby port casks for final maturation. The whisky is then vatted and cut down to a very accessible 80 proof for bottling

Tasting Notes:

This is all about the fruit and honey on the nose with a blackcurrant vibe next to an almost savory white melon with a dose of fresh honey tying it all together. The palate holds onto the berries and adds in a slightly spiced apricot jam with a soft buttery base and a touch more of that honey, but now it’s more floral to go along with the sweet. The end is short and leans into the apricot and berries while the honey fades pretty quickly.

Bottom Line:

This is an easy-drinking highball whisky that’s easy to track down and affordable. It definitely leans more towards the sweet-tooth whisky drinkers, so be warned.

6. The Famous Grouse

Famous Grouse

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $20

The Whisky:

The Famous Grouse is an old-school blend that got its start in a Scottish grocery store where grocers often blended their own whiskies to sell. The juice is now a mix of single malts and single grains with a focus on parent company partners Highland Park and The Macallan.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a Christmas cake nose that’s spicy, fruity, and malty and supported by a note of citrus. The palate keeps those notes rolling with an additional whisper of oak. The end is short and creamy with a distant wisp of smoke.

Bottom Line:

This whisky has no business costing only $20 per bottle (and being on pretty every liquor store shelf). It’s refined enough to sip on the rocks in a pinch but really shines as a great mixer for cocktails and highballs.

5. John Barr Reserve Blend

John Barr Reserve Blend
John Barr Whisky

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $25

The Whisky:

This whisky was created back in the 1970s when Johnnie Walker discontinued Johnnie Red for a spell. The juice is a blend of 40 Highland and Speyside whiskies that are up to 15 years old with a mild peat backbone.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a nose full of apple hand pies with plenty of cinnamon spice, brown sugar syrup, and buttery pie crust next to a hint of light chocolate powder. The taste leans more into a gingersnap warmth with an echo of Nutella that’s more hazelnut than chocolate and a slight touch of smoked apricots. The finish leans into that smoked stone fruit but then sweetens towards a maple syrup note that’s short but impactful.

Bottom Line:

This is built as a mixing whisky and it hits it out of the park in that regard. Pour this in your next highball, you won’t be disappointed.

4. Copper Dog Blended Malt

Diageo

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $25

The Whisky:

This is a new-ish release from Diageo that utilizes a lot of Speyside whiskies. Eight single malts are chosen for this blend to specifically highlight the small region within the Scottish Highlands.

Tasting Notes:

This is classic Speyside from nose to finish with apple and honey dominating the whole way through. The palate adds a warm oaty malt and spice next to a very slight nuttiness and maybe a touch of orange marmalade. Imagine an oatmeal-walnut scone with a dollop of that jam on top and you’ll be there. The end is short, spicy warm, and slightly honeyed.

Bottom Line:

There’s a simplicity at play here that’s very enticing. This whisky won’t blow your socks off, but it will truly be a satisfying sip on the rocks or in a highball (with good fizzy water).

3. Glenmorangie X

Glenmorangie X
Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $29

The Whisky:

This new single malt from the famed Highland distillery, Glenmorangie, is built to be the ultimate single malt mixing whisky. They don’t release much else about the blend beside it being a mix of their iconic single malts “made for mixers.”

Tasting Notes:

The nose is full of grapefruit pith next to ripe pears and vanilla pods, all in equal measure, next to a hint of orange oils and maybe a little wildflower. The palate builds on that orange towards a bright orange sherbert, a vanilla pudding creaminess, burnt sugars, light and sweet marzipan, and a touch of dark chocolate infused with red chili flakes. The finish really leans into the spicy chocolate and gets slightly bitter as the spice mellows towards mulled wine spices and a touch more sweetness.

Bottom Line:

Overall, you can definitely sip this on the rocks and be fine. That being said, this is made for mixing, so mix with it. It’ll stand up nicely in bold cocktails and fizzy highballs alike.

2. Dewar’s 12

Bacardi

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $27

The Whisky:

Dewar’s blends malt and grain whiskies from over 40 distilleries with the famed Aberfeldy at its core. The juice is blended and then aged for an additional six months in oak to marry all the flavors before proofing and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a matrix of vanilla, oak, and caramel up top that leads towards malts and Christmas spices with an emphasis on nutmeg. That vanilla gets very creamy and a sweet, almost nut brittle edge arrives with a little dried fruit. The mid-palate holds onto that sweetness as the maltiness and warmth come back for a fairly quick fade towards the finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a really solid “on the rocks” whisky for this price point. Again, this isn’t going to wow anyone. But it will satisfy as a well-built whisky that’s clearly nuanced.

1. Chivas Regal

Chivas Regal

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $29

The Whiskey:

Chivas Regal is one of the biggest whiskies in the world, but that’s mostly outside of the U.S. The juice is a classic blend that is specifically built to be in a glass filled with rocks and maybe a splash of water.

Tasting Notes:

Cedar with hints of citrus, anise, banana, and salted caramel greet you. Creamy vanilla marries mild nutty notes as the nose carries on through the palate with hints of black pepper and malt. The finish is mellow, spicy, and creamy, albeit short.

Bottom Line:

This might be the best “cheap” whisky on the planet. This is very drinkable on the rocks — and kind of helped define that drink (as simple as a “scotch on the rocks” is). Overall, this whisky is damn fine, especially at this price. You really can’t go wrong with having this on your bar cart.

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