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$40 Scotch


I've got a colleague, a Scot, who will be retiring soon. I'd like to get him a decent bottle of Scotch around $40 which is not the typical stuff you can find in the States. Luckily, I've got access to an excellent store with an massive and varied number of different Scotch.

Ideas? I'm not a Scotch drinker.


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  1. Not quite $40 in my area (47.99) in fact, but I'd rec. The Black Grouse.

    5 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      Black grouse is $48 in your area? I hope you're referring to a 1.75 ltr bottle.

        1. re: pinehurst

          Most people refer to 750's in threads like this. Buying someone a huge bottle of something they might or might not like is a risky proposition.

          Also, if you are trying to get someone a bottle of something more or less special, you would be better to buy a smaller bottle of a decent single malt than a blend like Black grouse - which IMO is decent but nothing special, I prefer Black Bottle which is cheaper.

          1. re: ncyankee101

            If he's a true Scot he'll appreciate your good taste and thriftiness when you buy him two bottles of Black Bottle for less than your budget for a single bottle.

            1. re: kagemusha49

              But Black Bottle is pretty peaty stuff. Just because he's Scottish does not mean he's automatically a fan of peated Scotch.

    2. I recommend Bunnahabhain

      1. It would be helpful to know what type of scotch he prefers and what bottles are available to you. Otherwise you are likely to get recommendations of scotch that he might not fancy or that you can't find.

        That said, for $50 (okay, 25% over your budget, I know), you might be able to find Michel Couvreur. It's rather interesting as it's distilled in Scotland (by definition), but then aged in France in sherry casks. It is not well-known, so there is a chance it might be new to him. It is in the smokey/peaty Islay style, but not hugely so.


        I should note that I have not had this vatted expression, but based upon others that I have had, I bet it's great.

        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

        1. You can find almost everything in the States now, but I'm assuming you're thinking "Not Chivas, Not Johnnie Walker, and probably not Glenfiddich." It's hard to judge what type of Scotch he likes -- I know die hard peat fans, and then there was my dad (an honorary Scot -- whisky ran in his veins instead of blood, based on the amount of it he drank) was a die hard Macallan fan. Good single malts in that price range to check out would be, IMO - the Balvenie, Glenmorangie, and Dalmore. None are super premium or rare, but all are good drinking single malts and worthy of a gift.

          1. Here is a similar thread from not too long ago:


            If you have an excellent store nearby, I would certainly go in there and ask the staff for their recommendations. Unfortunately, $40 does not buy anything special these days. You certainly cannot go wrong with a bottle of Highland Park (or Macallan) 12-year old.

            If you go to the upper right-hand corner of this page and do searches for "single malt" and/or "scotch whisky", you will find other helpful past discussions on this topic.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DavidT

              Here is a link to the Scotch whiskies that BevMo sells from $30 to $50:


              In addition to the Highland Park and Macallan 12-year single-malts, I would consider the 12-year old single-malts from Bowmore and Glenfarclas

            2. Second on the Balvenie 12. Aberlour 12 is another nice sherried malt in your price range that is a bit less common over here (not advertised all over the place like Balvenie is). Glenfarclas 10 would be another sherried option.

              Highland Park 12 is well known among Scotch fans, but also well-liked. Bruichladdich "Laddie Ten" was another one I tasted and liked a lot, you may be able to find it in the $40s, and it is on the newer side.

              For something different you may also want to take a look at the Compass Box offerings. Oak Cross and Asyla should be around $40 and were blended by an American, so a bit different than your typical Scotch, but still on the light side.

              Then for the peatier stuff, you can sometimes find Laphroaig 10 for around $40, and you may be able to find Ardbeg 10 in that price range as well.

              2 Replies
              1. re: nickls

                I was going to respond, but basically, nickls said everything I would have said.

                The problem you're going to run into is that in that price range, you're really not dealing with any rare Scotch. Most good single malts start around $35-$40.

                I will say this...even folks I know who don't usually care for Scotch enjoy Balvenie 12 and Laddie Ten.

                If he's planning on retiring back to Scotland, habe you thought about picking up a really nice bourbon? Lots of great bourbon under $40 and you won't find nearly the selection in Scotland that we have here in the US of our native spirit.

                1. re: The Big Crunch

                  He's actually a long time Angeleno and will stay put in the Golden State during his golden years. But good idea.

              2. As Dan said, it would be useful to know what type of Scotch your friend likes - and it would also help to know where you are located, as Scotch prices vary a lot in different parts of the country. If you could tell us specifically what store you will be using, maybe they have their inventory online.

                The most unusual bottle I have purchased for under $40 is probably jura Superstition, it's a nice Highland with some smoke in the profile, which is not normal for a Highland. It runs $50 or more in some areas but I was able to find it for around $38.

                Glenmorangie Quinta Rubin is also excellent and has an unusual flavor profile, though not particularly hard to find.

                1. All,

                  Great input. Thank you. Here is the link to the store in my neighborhood, the Wine House in Los Angeles (Westside). Amazing selection. If I need to get up to $50 to get the right bottle, so be it.

                  With 121 different Scotches, I ought to be able to find the right one:


                  12 Replies
                  1. re: EarlyBird

                    Strathisla 12 is pretty rare, which is listed as in stock at your store. I've never tried it, but apparently it is a very old distillery and is considered a classic single malt Scotch. Ledaig 10 is another one you don't see everywhere, gets good reviews and is exactly $40.

                    To get more specific recommendations you would need to know what your colleague's taste in Scotch is.

                    Also, it looks like there is a BevMo just down the road which has lower prices on certain bottles and also has a good Scotch selection. They have a Stronachie 12 which would be another bottle that I haven't seen around.

                    1. re: EarlyBird

                      You really should ask your friend (or find out some other way) if he likes the smokey, peaty single-malts from the west coast of Scotland (and the island of Islay) or the smoother whiskies from in & around the Spey Valley in northeast Scotland. They are really quite distinct in taste.

                      The Highland Park 12 year, which I recommended above, is one whisky that is between these two styles of whisky in taste.

                      1. re: EarlyBird

                        One I would recommend off that list is Johnny Walker Green Label - it's a very good all-malt blend, no grain whiskey mixed in,- and it is no longer being made, so won't be around much longer. It also has a flavor profile that should appeal to most palates.

                        Another one which is very good for the price with an interesting taste is Ardmore for $38. I also see they have the Quinta Rubin for $50, you couldn't go wrong with that one, which has a flavor profile nearly any Scotch lover should like.

                        1. re: EarlyBird

                          While their selection is good, in your price range I'd go to BevMo or Trader Joe's for more bang for your buck. TJ's carries a few nice single malts (I'm a fellow Angeleno) including the Balvenie doublewood for about $15 cheaper than the Wine House.

                          1. re: Savour

                            I like that idea. And I'm in walking distance to two TJ's.

                            1. re: EarlyBird

                              TJ's also usually carries Dalwhinnie single-malt, which is a good one.

                              1. re: DavidT

                                Dalwhinnie is a very mild lowland Scotch, again it would be useful to know what type of Scotch he likes - if he's like me and likes smoky peaty Scotches he will likely be disppointed with Dalwhinnie (though it is one of the best if he likes that style).

                                1. re: ncyankee101

                                  Yes, Dalwhinnie does have a mild (and very good!) taste, but it is not a "lowland" Scotch. In fact, the Dalwhinnie distillery is the highest in Scotland. It is well north of Perth.

                                  1. re: DavidT

                                    My mistake - I guess I have heard it described as "lowland style", because it is so mild . I never really paid that much attention because I never had any interest in purchasing a bottle at the prevailing price of $45+, since I have primarily heard it described as "Scotch for those who don't like Scotch." It is supposed to be very good for what it is, but it is just not a style that interests me, much like any Irish or Canadian whiskey.

                                    1. re: ncyankee101

                                      I'd take a look at the Auchentoshan line of Lowland Scotch offerings. The youngest (and in your price range) is a pale yellow with a hint of peridot and pleasant citrus nose. Very mild on the palate with a light finish.

                                      1. re: ncyankee101

                                        Dalwhinnie was my break through single malt. I wanted to start drinking Scotch and went to a Scotch tasting, and the Dalwhinnie was the one I latched on to first. Couldn't pull the trigger as it was $55 or so when I found it years ago.

                                        The term that someone used it to mock me was calling it "a lady's Scotch." I prefer a gateway Scotch (especially since I was drinking some fiery Bourbons, Fernet Branca, and funky Jamaican rums). Peat/smoke is something you need to ramp up on.


                                        1. re: yarm

                                          That's not always the case though Yarm - my first single malt was a 375 ml bottle of Glenfiddich 12 yr, and I just didn't find it interesting at all so I didn't try any more Scotchfor a year or so. Then a friend told me he had tried and liked Talisker and it sounded interesting to me. I went to Whiskey in Durham, a bar that specializes in single malts (with over 80) and tried some talisker and Laphroaig, and was hooked instantly.

                          2. All,

                            Just thought I'd follow up.

                            First of all, thanks to all of you who pointed out there are roughly two categories of Scotch - the peaty, smoky stuff, and the non-peaty, smoky stuff. Through the grapevine I found out my Scottish friend is partial to Macallan 18, a single malt and which is not the peaty, smoky stuff.

                            That's what I got him, for a bit under $50 a bottle. He's thrilled.


                            4 Replies
                            1. re: EarlyBird

                              Thanks for letting us know. Good to hear your friend enjoyed your gift.

                              1. re: EarlyBird

                                Ok now a question for you - where in the world did you find Macallan 18 yr for under $50 ??? And can you get me some?? That is a ~$130-150 Scotch everywhere I look - even the 12 yr old is usually around $50.

                                1. re: ncyankee101

                                  I was going to ask the same question! This post made me smile though - yesterday would have been my dad's birthday, and he was a die hard scotch drinker, and Macallan was by far his favorite.

                                  1. re: ncyankee101

                                    It's $88.35 here...but only for a 375 ml.

                                2. There are some good middle ground Scotches in that range that offer some peat smoke but it doesn't overwhelm the spice and citrus notes that are from the barley and barrel aging. Some of the Glenrothes work well in that price range. The Balvenie also has decent middle ground Scotches in that price range such as their Double Wood with some port or sherry cask notes giving some extra richness and flavor.