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I've just recently begun drinking Scotch, and I find it absolutely delicious. However, most brands I see in the store are quite expensive. So far the best Scotch I've tried is Aberlour single malt, and although it's not prohibitively expensive, it's not exactly cheap either.

What are some good brands of Scotch that won't break the bank?

  • Find a good shop and go to some tastings to find some whiskeys you like. – Reinstate Monica - M. Schröder Jun 2 '17 at 21:29
  • Jon - the problem with "good" is that it is entirely subjective. Some people love a Macallan. Others cannot even taste it. Some love a Laphraoig, but others cannot stand the surgical taste. Similarly for peat or smoke. Whisky is entirely an opinion industry - just try ones in your price range. – Rory Alsop Jul 20 '18 at 14:19
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So, I am answering assuming you want to stick with single malts rather than go blended. Also because people live in different parts of the world, prices may vary.

I would recommend Glenfiddich 12-y as a standard go to single malt and usually a bit cheaper than the rest.

Other good brands include Dalwhinnie and Dalmore(this one being my personal favorite) but these prices will range around the same as your Aberlour.

Lastly, I've once thought about getting cheaper single malts but I have never tasted a good cheap single malt. Were they decent? A few, most were not the greatest and I would not buy again. This has been my personal experience.

Hope that helps.

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    Yes, looking to stick with single malts. I should have specified. Thanks for the recommendations! – Jon Letko May 31 '17 at 15:09
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If you like Aberlour you will probably enjoy other Speysides, some well know brands are:

  • Glenfiddich
  • Glenmorangie
  • Glenfarclas
  • The Balvenie
  • Dalwhinnie
  • The Glenlivet
  • Glen Moray

They vary in price and each brand has different years which will obviusly effect the price. Of the above the Glenlivet Founders Reserve and Glen Maray Classic tend to be on the cheaper end of the scale.

You can also pick up some really great whisky that isn't from a well known brand, for example here in the UK we have a discount chain Lidl which does a really great Speyside that is really cheap: Lidl Ben Bracken Speyside Review

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Are you looking for a single malt? Those may be a little more expensive. A blend like The Famous Grouse will include good scotches from the region including Glenturret. If you are looking for something a bit smokier, I am a fan of Talisker Storm.

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The problem you have is implied in the question: 'affordable' and 'good' Scotch don't really go hand in hand, depending on what you mean by affordable. It's not a matter of brands, it's a matter of the average entry-point for a quality product, which is surprisingly consistent. If a distillery produces a good whisky, they are going to price it according to it's quality.

In Canada, you can typically expect any bottle that costs over about 65 CDN to be what I'd call a good, drinkable Scotch. A good metric to go by is the price of a Glenmorangie Original, or Aberlour 12. These are two starter Scotches, and most bottles at or above their price point will be what I'd call a decent whisky.

Once you get under the prices of those two bottles you'll start seeing a hit in quality, and if you get significantly lower, like 30-40 you're talking an entire tier down.

That said one recommendation to look into is 'McClelland's'. It's most certainly not a premium Scotch, but it does perform well above it's price point.

Another recommendation I'd make is if entry-level and above Scotches are too expensive for you then check out some bourbon and Irish whiskies. Black Bush, Writer's Tears, and Bulleit Bourbon or Rye are quite drinkable whiskies for a much better price.

FWIW, I'd also hazard against the Glenfiddich 12 recommendation above, it is affordable but is a notoriously weak Scotch.

  • The only way to viably do this is to find a distillery that has its own established brand, but also provides whiskey to a superstore under the superstores brand. – ChrisFletcher Jun 1 '17 at 15:31
  • Not sure I understand. The store or geographical area where you buy the bottle acts as the baseline, and understanding the quality of other bottles can be done with the two mentioned above as a reference point. In the U.S. I'd assume price is much more variable so you'd have to do it by store, in Ontario liquor exclusively comes from the LCBO, so it's much easier. – Canadian Coder Jun 2 '17 at 19:39
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    In the UK you could buy an Aberlour for a store for say £30, but Tesco or Walmart also have their own Whiskey, eg Walmart Whiskey for £20. Walmart don't actually make whiskey, it can be just Aberlour's lower quality whiskey with a Walmart badge. Often these whiskeys (and beer, etc) can be much better than their price would suggest, but people often shy away from own brand alcohol. – ChrisFletcher Jun 2 '17 at 19:53
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    Price is a really bad way to measure the quality of most things, Scotch included. They are some very mediocre yet very expensive Scotches available, and some fabulous very inexpensive ones. See Aldi's £18 whisky has been ranked one of the best in the world for one example of the latter. – Xander Jul 20 '18 at 13:41
  • I disagree, you need to normalize by age statements. A very good 12 is usually better than a more expensive, but mediocre 18. But a very good 12 will usually be more expensive than a mediocre 12. And sometimes whiskies are branded with the chivas regal effect, which distorts things a bit. – Canadian Coder Jul 20 '18 at 23:36
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If you're looking for affordable single-malts, I can recommend:

Deanston, Cardhu 12, Glenfarclas Heritage and some of the Glenfiddich's whiskeys.

Another great Whiskey that I can recommend is "Jameson Black barrel". This is an Irish whiskey but it tastes different from most traditional Irish whiskeys.

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