Top Five Scotch Whiskies For Beginners

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My top five Scotch whiskies for people starting their whisky journey. When beginning your whisky journey quality should be the first thing you seek. Price is important because single malt scotch whisky can be expensive. I think a lot of times beginners will opt for that $30 bottles of whisky when spending an extra $10-$20 can really make a huge difference in their overall view of whisky. It’s always important to remember that whisky is very individualistic and views are subjective. Everyone has their own personal tastes and just because I love a whisky doesn’t mean the next guy will. I hope to make some suggestions which offer quality for the price and give my reasons for suggesting them. Here is my top five – in no particular order.

Glenmorangie 10 (The Original)Click for my review.

Glenmorangie 10 is a very light, sweet and delicate whisky. It is a simple whisky but also very enjoyable. No smoke or peat. Nothing off putting to scare people off. It is priced well (I think it is still $30 here).

GlenDronach 12

This should be your first venture into the sherried scotch whisky realm. This was my first and all since have been judged against it. Very sweet and fruity. An excellent expression and introduction to sherry cask matured whisky. It can be had for around $40-$50 here.

Caol Ila 12

Caol Ila 12 is my suggestion for an introduction to the smokey & peaty whiskies. I am a Laphroaig guy but Laphroaig has a very strong and particular taste which can be off putting to people. Caol Ila 12 offers a more balanced expression of smoke & peat with a soft, light fruitiness. The only bad part is the price – around $60 here.

Springbank 10

This is my #1 suggestion for a challenging whisky. I wouldn’t start with this but maybe as a 4th or 5th bottle. Intense flavors which will make you wonder how they do it. Sweet, smokey and characterful. $45 to $50 here.

 Highland Park 12 –  Click here for my review!

Called the great all rounder. Highland Park offers sweet fruit, sherry and smoke all in one bottle. It’s a wild ride which is great throughout. It can be challenging so I wouldn’t start here but this would be a great introduction to smoke. The smoke isn’t overpowering and I don’t consider it peaty but it offers a nice component to the overall experience.

If a friend came to me wanting to get into scotch whisky I would suggest they start with Glenmorangie 10. From that point if they wanted something smokey I’d grab some Highland Park 12. If they didn’t want the smoke yet then go with GlenDronach 12 and then go to Highland Park 12. If they enjoyed Highland Park then I’d say either go to the flavor bomb that is Springbank 10 or just go all in with the smokey/peaty Caol Ila 12.

Hope that helps.

***Honorable Mention***

Ardbeg 10- Click here for my review! Another good introduction to peat/smoke.

Tomatin 12 – Click here for my review!  –  Sherry finished whisky – usually inexpensive  and simple.

Laphroaig 10 – It may change your life or you may hate it.

Balvenie 12 DoubleWood – Click here for my review!Many people suggest this – I hated it.

Old Pulteney 12 – Click here for my review!Many people suggest it – I found it to be quite boring.

Bunnahabhain 12 – Click here for my review!Nutty and sherried – very nice.


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