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Oct 29, 2012 11:50 AM

Scotch Blends

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.

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  1. 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

      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

        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

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

          Edit: Just read your comment below.

        2. re: alphanumeric

          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.

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

          2 Replies
            1. re: DavidT

              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.

          1. 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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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. 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

                  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.