Many things can make something cheap. Sometimes something is cheap because it is downright awful. Store brand peanut butter is an example of something that is cheap because it is inferior in every aspect to its competitors. Sometimes something is cheap because it’s so plentiful – olive oil is a decent example of this.
In the world of Scotch whisky, both of these examples exist. It is simple enough to reason, then, that the best cheap Scotch is the most popular stuff. This is frequently true, but there are a few cheapies that are not popular yet rather excellent.
Keep in mind that my definition of cheap might differ from your definition of cheap. All of the whiskies on this list are available for less than 30 British Pounds. In some areas of the world they may be even cheaper and in others they may be more expensive, depending on whether companies ship to those areas of the world. You could even use this list in reverse format – if you see one of these whiskies for a high price it’s probably not worth it!
The list is divided by region, mostly for the sake of having some sort of organisation than anything else.
- Glenfiddich 12
- Glenlivet 12
- Aberlour 10
- Glen Grant – The Major’s Reserve
- Glenfarclas 10
- Strathisla 12
All of the whiskies on this list that start with ‘Glen’ taste somewhat similar. They are all light and fruity and extremely accessible. The Aberlour 10 has a slightly richer taste due to its sherry finish. The Strathisla is exceedingly smooth and creamy and my pick of the bunch – if you can find it!
The Auchentoshan range is sometimes found cheaply, though I would avoid the disappointing Classic. The Glenkinchie 12 is good but didn’t quite sneak in under 30 pounds.
- Old Pulteney 12
- Glenmorangie 10
The Old Pulteney 12 is just excellent and one of my frequently recommended young malts. The Glenmorangie 10 is a solid effort comparable to Glenlivet and Glenfiddich.
- Highland Park 12
- Isle of Jura 10
- Isle of Jura Superstition
The HP 12 is a well balanced whisky with a huge amount of depth for its age. Difficult to find at a good price, so buy it if you see it. The Isle of Jura 10 is smooth with some grainy notes. The Superstition is a very unique whisky that is heavily peated and oily as well as having strong cereal notes.
- Bowmore 12
- Laphroaig 10
The Bowmore is lightly peated and a nice easy drinker if you like peat but not too much. The Laphroaig 10 is about the most in-your-face peat you can get.
- Johnnie Walker Black Label
- Monkey Shoulder
- Black Bottle
- Teacher’s Highland Cream
Johnnie Walker Black & Teacher’s Highland Cream should be familiar to most people. They are smooth, consistent and interesting blends that can be had for cheap. Monkey Shoulder is emerging as a major contender in the blends market. Black Bottle is a peated blend that is very interesting, though I’m not sure it is as cheap outside of the UK.
If there are any you feel like I’ve left off, feel free to let me know in the comments. I find my whisky online so you may pay more in brick and mortar stores.