HOME > Chowhound > Spirits >
What have you made lately? Tell us about it

Scotch Blends

alphanumeric Oct 29, 2012 11:50 AM

Tell me about your favourite Scotch blends. Or, rather, rank these blends, peppering in other noteworthies as you see fit:
Teacher's; Famous Grouse; Black Grouse; Johnnie Walker Black; Johnnie Walker Double Black; Black Bottle; White Horse; Monkey Shoulder.

I see these most frequently cited as the best (in the price range), with specific mention made most frequently of Teacher's, Black Bottle, and White Horse. I've got a bottle of JW Red Label and Monkey Shoulder right now and am curious about those mentioned.

  1. d
    DrinkinLife Nov 13, 2012 09:13 PM

    Please try Hankey-Bannister if you can find it, as it pretty much cannot be beat from a value standpoint for you low end blended scotch. Multiple sources site Winston Churchill and King George V as fans so it will make great repartee for your cocktail conversations. Costs about $13-15 and tastes like twice the money.

    1. z
      zin1953 Nov 3, 2012 08:34 AM

      Just to chime in, albeit late . . .

      Part of my problem is that many of the Scotch whisky blends are shadows of their former selves, and as I remember what they used to be like . . . sigh. For example, Johnnie Walker Red -- and Dewar's and White Horse, Famous Grouse, etc. were all at one time Eight Year Old blends. No longer.

      That said, when it comes to blends of malt and grain whiskies, I'm a fan of Johnnie Walker Black 12 year old (neat, over very little ice), and of Famous Grouse (a little ice, splash of water). I also use Famous Grouse as my "house pour."

      Johnnie Walker Green is a vatted malt. As has been pointed out already, it is a blend of several different malt whiskies, but there are no grain whiskies used in composing the blend. That said, I, too, would rank Johnnie Walker Gold and Green above the others on your list.

      1 Reply
      1. re: zin1953
        ncyankee101 Nov 3, 2012 12:36 PM

        i meant to mention in my comments to my list above - I had a bottle of Famous Grouse, and though it was decent it is a good bit pricier than the others at $23 here in NC - Teacher's and White Horse are both $15-16, and I prefer them. That is why I wouldn't rebuy FG.

      2. n
        ncyankee101 Nov 1, 2012 01:28 PM

        I wanted to add - I picked up another bottle of a blend I had a while back, Glen Salen - which is an inexpensive vatted malt, on sale this month for $18.

        it is not bad but not distinctive in any way. no off flavors, not as sweet as most bargain blends but nothing that stands out either. Just a solid malty blended Scotch, and not bad at all for the price.

        I would likely rate it above Famous Grouse in my original list but maybe not as interesting as Black Bottle. Teacher's or White Horse. if you're looking for a good neutral mixing Scotch this would work very well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ncyankee101
          Tom34 Nov 1, 2012 02:24 PM

          I saw Ralfy's review on Black Bottle and have bought 3 bottles of it over the past couple years. While I will say it has a lot of flavor for about $20.00, I have never found it to have that strong peat smoke that Ralfy spoke of. I know it is a "terribly unfair" comparison but I was hoping it would be a little closer to my Isle favorite "Laph 10" in terms of the peat smoke.

        2. t
          The Big Crunch Oct 30, 2012 12:54 PM

          Black and White is cheap and tasty. I haven't tried it, but supposedly Compass Box's Great King Street is a phenomenally good blend.

          4 Replies
          1. re: The Big Crunch
            historikerstreit Oct 30, 2012 05:01 PM

            Do people have an opinion on Grant's which is another whiskey I've heard good reports about? Like some of the others here, not often seen here in Massachusetts. (I see Teacher's in New York but not here.) I'm particularly interested in scotch for cocktail-making.

            1. re: historikerstreit
              ncyankee101 Oct 31, 2012 12:53 AM

              I haven't tried it myself, but here is a review by my favorite Scotch blogger (which is a big part of why I have skipped it).


              1. re: historikerstreit
                The Big Crunch Oct 31, 2012 05:47 AM

                Unless you're looking for a specific flavor in your Scotch cocktails that can only be found in a specific Scotch, then Famous Grouse or (for a bit more) JW Black should suffice in most traditional Scotch cocktails. I use JW Black as my mixing Scotch in my home bar, but once it runs out, I may just switch over to Famous Grouse or Black and White and save $10.

                1. re: The Big Crunch
                  Tom34 Nov 1, 2012 02:13 PM

                  I don't do much scotch mixing but it seems to me any of the brands in the $25.00 to $30.00 1.75 L size would be adequate. JW Black & Chivas are the most expensive blends I would buy and I think they are great neat , little water or ice. Any more $$$ and I go single malt.

            2. d
              DavidT Oct 29, 2012 03:53 PM

              Check out Ralfy's youtube video of 5 blended Scotch whiskies:


              2 Replies
              1. re: DavidT
                DavidT Oct 30, 2012 03:35 PM

                Ralfy reviews 5 more blended Scotch whiskies:


                1. re: DavidT
                  ncyankee101 Oct 31, 2012 01:05 AM

                  Funny how much that review resembles my list above - though I haven't seen Monkey Shoulder, I will likely buy it when I do.

                  I did have a bottle of Isle of Skye 8 yr a while back, and though it was decent I thought it was overpriced at ~$27 I paid for it. Not really any better than Black Bottle, Teacher's and White Horse which I can get for less than $20.

              2. d
                DavidT Oct 29, 2012 03:50 PM

                Baillie Nicol Jarvie (BNJ) is an excellent blended Scotch produced by Glenmorangie. I am not sure it is available in the U.S., but check with your favorite bottle shop to see if they can get it for you. It is probably more expensive than Johnny Red but cheaper than Johnny Black.


                1. n
                  ncyankee101 Oct 29, 2012 12:31 PM

                  My rankings, with ones not on your list in parentheses - note that I consider the Teacher's, White Horse, Black Bottle all very comparable. Black Grouse is decent but anything below that I probably wouldn't buy again. Of course, I like smoky peaty Scotches and the ones lower are just sweet and bland, but JB rare and Ballantine's were the only ones I found really objectionable.

                  (JW Gold)
                  (JW Green)
                  JW Black
                  Black Bottle
                  White Horse
                  Black Grouse
                  Famous Grouse
                  (Cutty sark)
                  (JB Rare)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ncyankee101
                    alphanumeric Oct 29, 2012 12:53 PM

                    Thanks! Just the sort of response I was hoping for.

                    I only just found out about JW Green getting discontinued. It's a shame because it was on my list of 'Things to Get' but not high enough for me to now run out and buy a bottle before it vanishes. (Unless someone would like to correct me). I just can't justify parting with a chunk of change that could get me two bottles that rank higher on my list.

                    1. re: alphanumeric
                      ncyankee101 Oct 29, 2012 01:02 PM

                      Just keep in mind that unlike the others, JW Green is a blend of 15 yr malts, no grain whisky. I consider the green and gold a substantial step up from the others on the list, but of course they are also substantially pricier.

                      1. re: ncyankee101
                        alphanumeric Nov 5, 2012 01:46 PM

                        Yes. Monkey Shoulder is a blended malt as well. Have you tried it, perchance?

                        Edit: Just read your comment below.

                      2. re: alphanumeric
                        ncyankee101 Nov 14, 2012 01:04 AM

                        Just to add - I just found out the JW Gold label 18 yr is being discontinued, to be replaced by a cheaper no-age-statement Gold Reserve, about which I just saw a very disappointing review. They will also be making a much pricier ($100+) Platinum label 18 yr to "bridge the gap" to the Blue label. Harrumph.

                    Show Hidden Posts