Everyone needs a good workhorse whisky. Something you can depend on, stock up on cheaply and bring out whenever the fancy takes you. Since being in Coronavirus lockdown, we’ve been thinking a lot about what our ideal everyday, affordable drams would be.
A good staple whisky should be several things: sessionable, not overly complicated but with great flavours; flexible, in case you feel like mixing it up into a cocktail; and most importantly, affordable. So, we’ve put together this list of some great everyday all-rounders we think are worth adding to your own whisky stables. Most of these whiskies are around the £25-£30 mark, but we’ve also included a couple of great options if you’d like to step it up a bit.
Known for their excellent, award-winning blends, Compass Box pays homage to the original whisky blender’s art with their two Great King Street releases. The Artist’s Blend is lighter and softer, without any peat, whereas the Glasgow Blend contains a decent whack of peated Islay whisky. A large portion of the single malt in the blend comes from sherry butts, so it’s rich, fruity, smoky and spicy, and definitely very moreish.
Master of Malt £29.85*
Glen Moray’s Sherry Cask expression is one of the best bang-for-your-buck sherried single malts around. Highly prized and very expensive, sherry casks add rich dried fruit flavours, body and sweetness to whisky, and therefore most sherry-aged or sherry-finished whiskies command higher price tags. This release from Speyside’s Glen Moray is very affordable yet ticks all the right boxes, with notes of caramel, honey, cinnamon, dried fruit and orange.
Want to know more about sherry cask whisky? We wrote a great guide – check out everything you need to know about sherry whisky.
You might also like to look back on one of our boxes that featured them in this blog post, A very Sherry Whiskymas! Our 2019 limited festive edition.
Master of Malt £26.95*
Buffalo Trace Distillery is home to some of the world’s most sought-after bourbons and rye whiskeys. Their eponymous bourbon is made with the same mashbill that award-winning Eagle Rare and George T. Stagg use, so it’s no wonder this whiskey is the go-to of many American whiskey drinkers. Spicy yet sweet, with notes of brown sugar and baking spice, it has a long finish and is excellent value-for-money. And it makes a killer Old Fashioned!
Two Fold is a blend of much loved Melbourne-based distillery Starward’s single malt and a wheat-based grain whisky, aged in Victoria red wine casks. It’s creamy and nutty with bright red fruit notes, but with a bit more biscuity character than their single malt, Nova. This is a great everyday whisky because it makes for great cocktails. Drink on the rocks or in a Manhattan, as the vermouth plays well with the fruitiness of the whisky.
Amazon, £35, Master of Malt £35.95*
Laphroaig’s infamous iodine-y, briney smoke is present in this non-age statement single malt, but it’s softer and a little sweeter than their 10YO release. The extra ABV (48% versus the standard 40%) also adds additional complexity, which is why we think it makes an excellent workhorse Islay peated whisky. Usually priced around £33, it’s often on offer on Amazon, so keep an eye out.
Thanks to its simple, honest branding, bold flavours, and wallet-friendly price point, relative Scotch newcomer Kilkerran has been acquiring many fans in the whisky world since the launch of its core 12-Year-Old released in 2016. Coming from the sister distillery of the much more well-known Springbank, also in Campbeltown, this is lightly peated and non-chill filtered. At 46% ABV, there’s a lovely ashy smokiness, with flavours of stone fruit, golden syrup and green apples. Wonderfully punchy yet well-balanced, this is a must-try if you like your whisky a little on the smoky side.
The Whisky Exchange, £37.95 *
It was really tough making this list, as there are so many great affordable whiskies out there that deserve a spot! In fact, it inspired us to write a whole series of reviews featuring whisky that’s priced under £50. If you’ve got a favourite go-to whisky that’s not on here, we’d love to hear about it.
And if not, maybe you’ll find one in one of our tasting boxes soon. Here at the Dram Team, we send our members six fantastic whiskies to try every month. If you like whisky, join the club!
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*All prices current at the time of writing