Taste Test: Blended Scotch Whiskies - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Single malt scotches have long basked in the spotlight (rightfully so), but blended Scotch whiskies—containing both malt and grain whiskies, and often featuring a mix of spirits from distilleries across the country—outsell their single-malt cousins while delivering an engaging (and affordable) spectrum of flavor all their own. Consider these blends for your next sipping session.

Black Bull 12 Year Old Bottled with a precise 50/50 blend of Highland and Speyside malt whiskies and Lowland grain whiskies, Black Bull 12 Year Old has a heavy body and spiced toffee flavor. Aged in sherry butts and bourbon barrels, and bottled at 100 proof, the whisky features notes of vanilla and warming spices like cinnamon, followed by lingering fruit. $51.99, totalwine.com

Buchanan’s Master Seizing upon an unrealized English market for bottled Scotch whisky in 1879, former shipping clerk James Buchanan made his own—creating blends that even ranked favorably with British royalty. Today, master blender Keith Law selects mature whiskies from every region in Scotland for the brand’s well-balanced Master blend. With the aroma of leather offset by hints of citrus, Buchanan’s blend is supremely smooth with an oaky, vanilla sweetness followed by a pleasing peaty bite. $39.99, drizly.com

Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Produced at the Straithisla Distillery in Speyside, Chivas Regal helped define the category of luxury Scotch whisky. The blend doesn’t hold back with the malt character, featuring malt whiskies from its home distillery, along with those including Longmorn, Braeval, and Glenlivet, resulting in an aroma of butterscotch, honey, and orange peel, and creamy flavors of toasted hazelnuts, orchard fruit, and wildflower honey. $22.99, hitimewine.net 

Compass Box Glasgow Blend Highland and Islay single malts come together with Lowland single-grain whisky for Compass Box’s smoky Glasgow Blend. Compass Box was founded in 2000 in the kitchen of American transplant John Glaser, and the Glasgow Blend—the second permanent addition to their Great King St. range—is matured in Missouri-made and French oak casks. The full-bodied whisky is non-chill filtered and has an almost campfire-like earthiness with a meaty smokiness on the finish. $38.99, caskers.com

Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Produced in commemoration of a stealthy smuggler who ferried Cutty Sark whisky stateside during Prohibition, the longstanding brand’s special Prohibition Edition packs the heat. Largely utilizing Speyside malts, the blend is bottled at 100 proof and isn’t chill filtered. It has a richly sweet aroma with hints of pepper and caramel that follow through in the glass, making it well-suited to cocktails. $36.99, caskers.com

Johnnie Walker Black Label From the maker of the most ubiquitous and best-selling blended Scotch whiskies, Johnnie Walker Black Label is created from a mixture of nearly 40 whiskies sourced from across Scotland. Aged in sherry oak casks and carrying an age statement of 12 years, this mainstay is buttery smooth, with bright flavors of fruit and a complementary whiff of smoke. $45, reservebar.com

The Famous Grouse The biggest-selling whisky brand in Scotland, The Famous Grouse draws upon single malts from distilleries including Highland Park and The Macallan. Honeyed, malty, and herbaceous, the whisky offers a surprising roundness for a blend, a faint spark of spice, and an intriguing whiff of smoke. Robust in a highball, this blend also works admirably in a cocktail shaker. $29.99, astorwines.com

The Street Pumas Blended Scotch Whisky This release from PM Spirits’ line of affordable, small-production, comic book–themed spirits, The Street Pumas Blended Scotch Whisky features a mix of 60 percent grain and 40 percent malt whiskies. Produced without coloring or other additives, the barely amber blend is bottled at 80 proof and has an unctuous texture. With a dry, fruity flavor and subtle hints of wood smoke, this is a unique offering. $31.46, astorwines.com

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