Whisky Review: 6 Affordable Blended Scotch Whiskies (+One Expensive)

The first four in our lineup are the baseline, entry-level Ballantine’s Finest, a limited edition age statement upsell, the slightly upmarket Dewar’s 12 Year Old, and a “fancy” Chivas Regal 18 Gold Signature.

Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky — ★½

Tasted neat / 40%

  • Nose: inescapable nail polish, lemony citrus, olive brine — I have an inescapable urge to polish furniture
  • Taste: I swear I can taste the caramel colouring; some sweetness, sliced apple
  • Finish: short, hot grain whisky, maybe the tiniest hint of smoke?

Ballantine’s Blended Scotch Whisky Tribute Release 17 Year Old — ★★★

Tasted neat / 48%

  • Nose: acetone, lemon-vanilla tart, beach campfire, baked apple cobbler; a little muted milk chocolate
  • Taste: fruity green apple, lemon peel, silky sherry undertones, graham cracker, and some grapiness
  • Finish: medium; icing sugar, cream, honeysuckle and oak

Dewar’s Blended Scotch Whisky 12 Year — ★★

Tasted neat / 40%

  • Nose: terps, lilac, salty bacon, and meringue pie
  • Taste: pine sap, pickled ginger, stewed pears, spice; a dash of cream
  • Finish: short; some caramel and spice with honey

Chivas Regal 18 Year Gold Signature — ★½

Tasted neat / 40%

  • Nose: floral, lots of tropical fruits, hermes d’jardin parfume, unripe apple, pineapple
  • Taste: prickly pear, sherry, guava, caramel and chocolate
  • Finish: some cardboard, vanilla, short; a little oak
The next three widely-obtainable blends have some blend cask experiments, with Dewar’s in a Mezcal finish, Johnnie Walker Blue at Cask Strength, and their triple-grain blender’s batch.

Dewar’s 8 Illegal Smooth Mezcal Finish — ★★½

Tasted neat / 40%

  • Nose: smokey; a little vinegar, some burnt plastic, salt, tequila, and caraway seed; behind it all, a hint of chlorine
  • Taste: really rounded, mellow, sherry with some spice and smoke; some bright agave and ice cream
  • Finish: smokey, but short, with prickly tequila again

Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch 10 Year Triple Grain American Oak — ★★

Tasted neat / 41.3%

  • Nose: rye whiskey, spicy chili peppers, corn, and leather
  • Taste: butterscotch and marshmallow, togarashi spice, a little oak, and quaker oats
  • Finish: long but thin, with grainy hot spirit, some hints of sweetness, and licorice

Johnnie Walker Blue Label The Casks Edition — ★½

Tasted neat / 55.8%

  • Nose: musky, heather, alcohol, confused fruit cobbler, lilac? flowers, and peaches
  • Taste: prickly molasses, honey flowers, a fair bit of smoke, a hint of peat; cloying
  • Finish: long and sweet, with a heavy grain undertone, lemon zest and sherry

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Elliott

Elliott

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Personal interests in literature, SF, and whisky/whiskey/scotch, Software Engineer by Trade