Alongside the best blended whisky UK brands that have been pleasing lovers of the spirit for years comes a new influx of distilleries making subtle differences to switch things up. These whisky brands are introducing unique flavour profiles, unusual ageing methods, and thinking up new tricks as time passes to keep the drink at the forefront of our minds.
And when it comes to whisky, the cliché is true: there really is something for everyone.
Take a glance through amber-tinted glasses to explore a huge range of our favourite drams, from the peaty Laphroaigs to the smooth Balvenies and the unconventional Teelings.
Top 10 Best Blended Whisky UK In 2021
1. Highland Park 12 year old 40%
With a greater northerliness than even Wolfburn, Highland Park comes from Orkney and claims a history dating back to 1798. They still have their own floor malting (a traditional process where the grain germinates on a concrete floor) and use local peat, which gives their whiskies part of the character for which they’re famous.
The 12-year-old is the mainstay of their range, and the nose is balanced and medium bodied. There’s an apple note redolent of calvados, with raisins, a suggestion of leather and vanilla-led spices filling it out. Light smokiness and a hint of briney air intermingle.
To drink, it continues balanced, dryish with the smoke and brine covering a malt sweetness that emerges at the end, and a slight nuttiness under the bonfire notes on the short finish. Beautifully balanced and a great introduction to peat Scotch, this is tremendous whisky, even before you get to the price.
2. The Glenrothes 12YO Speyside Single Malt Scotch
With a 22% saving, we reckon this is the best whisky deal around right now. This is an award winning whisky; fruity, with a long, sweet finish, and beautifully presented. Here you’ll find a wide range of options spanning the globe. Not all whisky is a mouthful of smoke so if that’s not your thing, there are smooth Scotches and sweet bourbons to satisfy your tastebuds. Vote for your favourite below.
3. Clubman Single Grain Scotch Whisky
It’s claimed that John Haig, the founder of the Cameronbridge distillery in 1824, pioneered the art of producing grain whisky. Whether this legend is true or not, his legacy has certainly lived on in the form of Haig Club’s Clubman Single Grain Scotch Whisky.
The stylish signature blue bottle lets you know this is part of a new modern era of Scotch whisky. Sweet, with hints of vanilla and smooth with a clean finish, try a single Clubman with cola and ice. The reason this is a whisky best suited to mixed drinks, though, is because it’s somewhat lacking in depth and complexity.
4. 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Talisker 10 Year Old is a smoky maritime malt from the Isle of Skye. It’s a rugged and salty peated whisky rounded out with tasting undertones of sweet dried fruit, apple peel and spicy black pepper.
It’s produced in the oldest distillery on the coast of the Isle of Skye, where water is drawn from underground springs to bring briny flavours into the mix. It won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re feeling run down, add a drop of Talisker to your hot toddy to clear a runny nose and feel instantly warmed.
5. Benromach 10 year old
Mothballed for long stretches by one of Diageo’s precursors, before being revived by independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail and reopened in 1998, Benromach has expanded in the last twenty years from just two distillers to a small team today. It currently pitches itself as reviving the authentic taste of Speyside by bringing a light, and supposedly historically accurate, peat note to the refined spirits of the region.
A slightly buttery malt nose, with toffee, touches of green apple and liquorice and an light waft of smoke. The Benromach 10 drinks deceptively easily, with spicy pepper, light sweet malt and more toffee notes, the bonfire air restrained and entwined with cardamom.
The higher peat levels are a joyous union with Speyside refinement. If you’re looking for extra oomph, the Benromach 100° Proof has a ‘more is more’ approach, which, interestingly, brings the smoke notes down in the mix.
6. Ardbeg 10 year old (46% ABV)
While Ardbeg is another distillery that’s seen a few ups and downs in its 200-year-old history, it seems nearly impossible that this was closed as recently as the 90s. Along with Highland Park, this is an iconic Scotch whisky, and the Ardbeg 10 year old is a great, if bracing, introduction to the distinctive peat and sea air characteristics of Islay whiskies.
A peat nose that verges towards coal smoke, with softening vanilla and some citrus. Pepper and even soap tuck in amongst them. To drink, the body is rich and smooth, a soft, light caramel malt sweetness before that peat barrels along. The vanilla adds a counterpoint, and keeps it from pure liquid smoke, even as the soft malt reveals layers of coffee, liquorice root and pepper. A rich mouthfeel contributes to long finish, with more of that savoury smoke and a hint of toasted sugar.
7. The Original Single Malt Scotch Whisky
10 year old is the flagship single malt whisky from the Glenmorangie distillery. A Scottish bestseller, it’s considered a classic go-to by many a whisky enthusiast, and it comes at a very reasonable price.
Matured in American white oak casks, it has a thick, creamy malted taste undercut by flavours of peach, lemon and vanilla. An approachable drink, we suggest a dram of Glenmorangie 10-year-old as an alternative to sherry as your aperitif of choice.
8. 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
This gorgeous 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Arran is presented with real integrity by this new, upcoming distillery. Distilled and matured in Lockranza it is non-chill-filtered and delightfully balanced, and perfect for both newbies and connoisseurs alike.
On the nose, there is an initial rush of sweetness, which gives way to oak, honey and butterscotch tones. A touch of cinnamon adds a spicy, malty edge to the soft texture on the palate, and the finish is clean, fresh with a hint of creaminess.
9. Caol Ila 12 year old (43% ABV)
Caol Ila has spent a large part of its history largely producing fodder for blending, though owners Diageo spotted an opportunity and started releasing bottle under its own name in 2002. Although measurable peat quantities are as high as Lagavulin, it has a reputation as an easier-going Islay, one to help you get your head around all that smoke and salt that aficionados so enjoy.
A sniff reveals both full and delicate peat smoke, with sweetness and a light element of brine, possibly even samphire. There’s an oiliness too, and this follows along when drunk. There’s a lovely full, clean mouthfeel, guiding the sweetness along and the peat smoke follows after, filling out the space.
Fruity notes with a melon juiciness gives variety to the sweetness, and that strangely easy, oily, body fades into a long smoky finish and longer sweet edge. An Islay that doesn’t overwhelm may seem like faint praise, but not everyone is after a bruiser, and when the elements are as well arranged as this, why deny its appeal?
10. Ailsa Bay – Sweet Smoke
As the name suggests, this whisky perfectly balances the profile of a sweeter Scotch with smokiness, making it perfect for those wanting to find a middle ground between mainland and Islay.
This is the first distillery to have precision methods so Ailsa Bay is made to an exact 022 peaty parts and 019 sweet parts per million. It is also the only whiskey to be ‘micro matured’ in small Hudson Baby Bourbon casks for six to nine months before moving to American Oak.
How to choose the best blended whisky UK in 2021
When it comes to Scotch whisky you’ll quickly find yourself spoilt for choice. Here are some tips on how to differentiate between bottles, to have you sitting down with a fine Scotch in no time!
Malt, Grain, Single or Blend? Learn the Lingo to Narrow Down Your Choice
Whisky terminology can sometimes get a bit confusing, especially if you’re just starting out in the world of Scotch. Understanding the lingo will help you narrow down your choices when searching for a Scotch whisky online.
Single Scotch Whiskies Are a Top Choice for Whisky Tasters to Sample
The two main types of Scotch whisky are single malt and single grain. To be considered a ‘single’ whisky, it must be fully produced and matured at a single distillery.
Single malt whisky is one of the most popular Scotch whiskies worldwide. It’s made using 100% malted barley, which is why it has a maltier taste than other Scottish whiskies. Single grain whiskies, however, use a base of malted barley alongside other cereals. These can be a variety of other grains such as wheat, oat, rye, maize or corn, which provide more variation in terms of the flavour profile.
If you’re interested in whisky tasting, a single whisky is the perfect way to sample the unique flavours of a specific distillery.
Whether Blended With Single Malt or Grain, Blended Whiskies Offer a Wider Flavour Variation
Blended whiskies combine different batches of single whiskies, sometimes from two or more distilleries, to achieve a specific flavour profile. There are three main categories of blended whisky that pertain to the specific blending technique used: blended scotch, blended malt scotch, and blended grain scotch.
Blended scotch is made by blending together one or more single malt whiskies with a single grain. Less commonly found, blended malt scotch or ‘pure malt’ whisky blends two or more single malt scotch whiskies from at least two different distilleries.
And lastly, blended grain scotch, which utilises a similar method to a blended malt. The only difference is that single grain whiskies are used instead of single malts. The artistry behind blending is knowing how to select and combine complementary whiskies. Different blenders have their own individual methods, but looking out for these blends will provide the widest range of flavour variation of Scotch varieties.
Consider the Region Your Whisky Comes From and How it Influences Its Flavour
Scotland’s topography has a big influence on its whisky production, so the region your scotch comes from can be a good indicator of the particular flavours you can expect from the final product. Of course, a great way to discover which you prefer is to sample several, but the following advice should help you whittle it down.
Choose West Coast and Island Distilleries for Strong Peaty Flavours and Smokey Tones
If you’re a fan of earthy, aromatic ‘peated’ whiskies, look out for those hailing from the West Coast and the Scottish Isles. These include Laphroaig, Talisker and Highland Park among many others. They’re not for everyone but certainly have many a follower.
Whisky produced by distilleries along the West coast of Scotland, the Orkney Islands and the Inner Hebridean islands also have salty and smoky flavour profiles. This is partly because of the peat bogs along the Northern and Western coasts, which gives the water a higher peat content.
Go a bit further south and you’ll find a mighty Scotch hailing from Islay. These whiskies are often a bit oily and the most heavily peated, providing some seriously strong peated flavours.
Highland, Speyside and Lowland Whiskies Are Lighter and More Approachable for Newbies
Peated whiskies can be an acquired taste, so we recommend beginners start out by sampling lighter Scotch varieties, such as those from the Highlands, Lowlands and Speyside. Whiskies from the Highlands are considered medium-bodied. The abundance of pure mountain water gives them a lighter taste with subtle floral notes.
More than half of Scotland’s malt whiskey production comes from distilleries located in the valley of the River Spey. Some famous Speyside distilleries to check out are Dalwhinnie, Johnnie Walker and Glenfiddich. Speyside whiskies have many similar characteristics to Highland whisky but with a spicier, fruitier character.
Lowland whiskies are typically the lightest. Lowland distilleries, such as Cameronbridge and Great Northern, produce whiskies with little to no peat for delicate, grassy flavours.
You may be looking for a drink to keep you dancing all night, or simply something to help you wind down after a long day, either way, there’s a Scotch whisky for every occasion. With a such a wide selection to choose from and armed with our guide, take your time to sample the best of what Scotland has to offer! Hope Best Blended Whisky UK In 2021 will help you choose true.