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The Bestselling Scotch Whisky Brands And Which Bottle To Try From Each

We’re willing to bet that the ten best-selling Scotch whisky brands in the world will surprise you. Hell, a lot of these brands surprised us (except for number one, but more on that later). When you look at the actual numbers of cases of alcohol sold globally, many seemingly popular (and unarguably beloved) Scotch whisky brands don’t even register in the top 150, much less crack the top ten scotch whiskies sold.

Though single malts dominate the awards circuit and conversation among aficionados, not one single malt brand breaks into the top ten best-selling scotches. The top-selling single malt is Glenfiddich, which would have ranked 19th on this list (and ranks 133rd overall among spirits sold). The fact of the matter? When it comes to cases produced and purchased, blended Scotch whisky reigns supreme.

For clarity, this list of the top ten best-selling Scotch whisky brands comes from The Spirits Businessannual report of cases sold globally in 2020. When they say “brand,” they mean a specific brand from a company that likely has dozens of whisky distilleries/shingles/brands in their portfolio. Some brands make multiple expressions; others just make one — making this number interesting but certainly not a 1:1 representation of the most purchased bottles on earth.

To go a little deeper than just listing each brand and their sales numbers, we’re also calling out the one expression from that brand we think is most worth trying — though not all of them are and we’ll point out which ones to flat out skip. If any of these bottles interest you, make sure to click on the prices to give them a shot. You never know, you might find a new favorite.

10. J&B (2.3 million cases) — J&B Rare

J&B

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $32

The Whisky:

J&B is a back bar mainstay. This old-school blend became hugely popular in the U.S. after Prohibition and still sits on most American bar shelves to this day, though often just collecting dust. The juice is a mix of 42 single grains and single malts that lean heavily into Speyside whiskies.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is malty with a flourish of orange zest next to cedar bark and sweet, buttery toffee. That sweetness carries and folds in fatty nuts and a bit of red fruit. The oak and spice kick in late as the sip fades fairly quickly while warming you up.

Bottom Line:

Your mind might play a trick on you as this can actually taste dusty sometimes. That being said, this is perfectly fine scotch if you’re looking for a mixer or highball candidate or something to bury in a big bowl of summer punch.

9. Dewar’s (2.6 million cases) — Dewar’s 18

Bacardi

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $76

The Whisky:

The heart of Dewar’s is Aberfeldy whisky. This blend is a testament to Master Blender Stephanie MacLeod’s prowess in bringing good whisky together to make great whisky. The juices are aged for 18 long years in American oak before they’re vatted into a large oak tun and allowed to rest before proofing and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s that signature Aberfeldy honey on the nose with hints of almonds, stone fruits, and red berries. The palate dials all of this in with a marzipan vibe next to more honey, bruised apricot skins, and dark chocolate-covered red berries. The end is soft, silky, and brings a final bite of sweet oak with a slight tobacco chew.

Bottom Line:

This is a truly masterful blend from a classic blending house. This whisky serves as a great neat or on the rocks pour that isn’t overly expensive. It’s also fairly findable in the U.S., both at bars and liquor stores.

8. Label 5 (2.6 million cases) — Label 5 12 Year

La Martiniquaise

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $32

The Whisky:

Label 5 is a bottle of simple whisky you’ll find mostly around continental Europe. It’s a rail bottle (cheap shots, mixer, etc.), so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the best selling in the world. The actual juice focuses on Speyside grain and malt whiskies, each around three years old.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is slightly bourbon-esque with vanilla, spice, and toffee sweetness. The palate is full of very sweet caramel apples with a citrus twist. The citrus helps usher in the quick end with a touch of alcohol warmth.

Bottom Line:

This is a middle-of-the-road mixing whisky in Europe that costs about $15 at retail. I wouldn’t even bother looking for it in the U.S.

7. William Peel (2.8 million cases) — William Peel Finest Old Blended Scotch Whisky

William Peel

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $12

The Whisky:

This is another whisky that’s really popular behind bars in Western Europe, especially France. The whisky is a blend of 18 single grain and single malts.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a typical balance of sweet apple candy with a hint of caramel next to warm and slightly dry malts. The sip is short, sweet, malty, and will leave you with a mild metallic note at the end.

Bottom Line:

This is, again, a bar mixer you’re only going to see in dive bars in France, Germany, Belgium, and a few other spots around Western Europe. Again, don’t bother even looking for this in the U.S. There are tons of perfectly good bottles of blended scotch already on your corner liquor store shelves.

6. Black & White (2.9 million cases) — Black & White Blended Scotch Whisky

Black & White

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $22

The Whisky:

Good ol’ Black & White. This used to be Dean “The King of Cool” Martin’s go-to whiskey — so there’s a bit of panache that still goes with drinking this stuff. The black and white dogs on the label have become damn near synonymous with whisky in the U.K. to this day. The juice leans into Speyside grain whisky more than malt and is pretty damn dialed in.

Tasting Notes:

The bready grains come through with a note of lemon curd and a wisp of smoke. The lemon carries on and is married with a Christmas cake spice and caramel sweetness in the body of the sip. The end is short and sweet both literally and figuratively.

Bottom Line:

While this is a throwback, it does have its charms. It’s super easy drinking, has two cute dogs on the label (our hearts aren’t made of stone), and, while it feels like it’s from a different era, it’s still a solid sipper in a highball.

5. Chivas Regal (3.2 million cases) — Chivas Regal 18

Pernod Ricard

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $83

The Whisky:

Chivas 18 is the brand’s signature high-end blend. The juice is built around a specially made Strathisla 18 single malt. That juice is supported by 20 other single malts from around Scotland with various casking processes.

Tasting Notes:

Imagine a bar of bespoke dark chocolate from a really fancy-schmancy shop that’s been bespeckled with dried berries — blackberry, blueberry, raspberry — on the nose, plus a rich and very buttery toffee that draws you in closer. The palate holds onto that chocolate bar while adding in dry rose pedals with a slight singe, creating a whisper of sweet and fragrant smoke. The end builds on that floral and bitter chocolate note as it very slowly fades away while warming your soul.

Bottom Line:

You should already have a bottle of this on your bar cart. This is an excellent whisky that’s blended to really shine on the rocks inside of your favorite whisky glass.

4. William Lawson’s (3.3 million cases) — William Lawson’s Blended Scotch Whisky

William Lawson

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $10

The Whisky:

This scotch is hugely popular in the Central and South American markets. Bacardi has especially been pushing the stuff in Mexico for years now and it’s clearly paying off.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a fair amount of caramel on the nose with old wood and malty burn. The palate stays surprisingly soft as vanilla and caramel blend with a mild yet tart apple note. The end is short and sweetish with that apple and wood lasting the longest but leaving you with a mild malty burn.

Bottom Line:

I got my hands on a flask of this recently and was… mildly surprised. Not wowed, mind you, but it’s fine for what it is. It’ll burn going down but there is something at least under that burn. Still, there’s no real point in seeking this out in the U.S.

3. Grant’s (3.6 million cases) — Grant’s Triple Wood

Grant

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $21

The Whisky:

Willam Grant & Sons has a deep bench of whisky distilleries to draw their malts and grains from for this expression. The ripple with this blend is the triple barreling with new oak, American oak, and re-fill American oak, hence the name.

Tasting Notes:

This is tinny yet soft. There’s a mild tobacco spice that’s cut by an apple-esque bridge between tart and sweet. The end builds with a green woodiness that helps keep the sip very easy and, again, soft. It’s super simple and straightforward to sip.

Bottom Line:

This always surprises me. It’s just a really solid workhorse scotch. There are no bells or whistles but it doesn’t need them. The flavor notes really shine in a highball or cocktail. And this is a fine (and cheap) on the rocks contender that you should be able to get at any liquor store.

2. Ballentine’s (7 million cases) — Ballantine’s Aged 17 Years

Pernod Ricard

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $105

The Whisky:

Ballentine’s is another old-school brand. The difference is that Ballentine’s is in the process of reinventing its line with great older expressions to compete with the Chivas, Dewar’s, and Walkers of the world. Case in point, their 17-year expression is a blend of single malt and grain whiskies that have aged at least 17 years before they’re folded into this blend. The results are an award-winning sipper worthy of your bar cart.

Tasting Notes:

There’s this note of smoke on the nose that feels like the inside of a vanilla-forward bourbon barrel that’s been warmed up next to a fire. The palate holds onto the vanilla and wood and then veers into a full-on honey/orchard fruit/spice vibe that ends up with a hint of anise or maybe black licorice (depending on how many drops of water you add). The light touch of dark spice holds on as the sip slowly fades through the fruit and honey towards a final, woody, and warm malty note.

Bottom Line:

This is just really easy to drink. It’s deep without being too complex. It’s easy to sip neat but shines brightly on the rocks. It also makes a mean cocktail.

1. Johnnie Walker (14.1 million cases) — Johnnie Walker Green Label

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $66

The Whisky:

The blend is a “pure malt” blended whisky, meaning that it’s made only with single malts (usually blended scotch is made with both grain and malt whisky). In this case, the juice is pulled from all over Scotland with a focus on Speyside, Highland, Lowland, and Island malts, including a minimum of 15-year-old Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore, and Linkwood.

Tasting Notes:

This sip draws you in with the smells of an old, soft cedar box that’s held black pepper, sweet fruits, and oily vanilla pods next to a hint of green grass. The taste really holds onto the cedar as the fruits lean tropical with a hint of dried roses pinging in the background. The end builds on that by adding a note of spicy tobacco, a splash of sea spray, and a distant billow of campfire smoke.

Bottom Line:

Johnnie Walker is the fifth best-selling whisky on the planet (the top four are all from India). Those sales also make it the best-selling scotch whisky globally. It’s not hard to see why, this whisky is everywhere booze is legally sold. That also means there’s a lot of it out there. It’s 100 percent worth going beyond the Red and Black Label versions. Red is made for mixing specifically. Black is made for on the rocks and highballs.

This, on the other hand, is made to be savored, sipped, and loved. Johnnie Walker Green is a masterpiece when it comes to blending already iconic single malts. This remains our favorite Johnnie Walker and one of our most recommended Scotch whiskies on the market.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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