Black Grouse Scotch Whiskey Mixture of What

We Blind Tested Blended Scotches In The $ 40 Range And A Clear Winner Emerged

Compared to single malt whiskey, blended scotches don’t really get the respect they deserve. But we represent for blended scotch around here (almost) as hard as we hold it down for single malts. So much so that we decided to put eight classic expressions to the test via a blind tasting.

Why blind? If you're not busy glaring at the label that says Johnnie Walker or Famous Grouse, you're probably going to spend more time actually nosing, tasting, and valuing the whiskey in your glass. In doing so, you're going to have to identify what each whiskey tastes like, without any preconceived notions. Which is a fun way to enjoy whiskey, if nothing else.

While the eight blended Scotch whiskey we're tasting today aren't made by the same distillery, they're all around the same $ 40 price point and are also all household names in the whiskey world. Meaning they're easy to find at your local liquor store or bottle shop. If that errand sounds like a hassle but you find yourself thirsty, click on the linked prices to order online.

Part 1: The Taste

I selected eight blended Scotch whiskeys for this blind tasting. They’re definitely not bargain-basement bottles but aren’t overly expensive either. They’re all decent sipping and mixing expressions:

  • Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition
  • Dewar’s White Label
  • Chivas Regal Extra
  • Copper Dog
  • Johnnie Walker Black
  • The Naked Grouse
  • Compass Box Glasgow Blend
  • Monkey shoulder

Let's get started!

Key 1:

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to nose this whiskey before taking a sip and you'll find notes of toasted vanilla beans, citrus beef, nutmeg, and butterscotch. Sipping this whiskey reveals a surprising amount of character, with hints of clover honey, dried cherries, buttery caramel, and sweet malts. The finish is long, warming, and ends with a nice mixture of caramel and spicy cinnamon.

Key 2:

Tasting Notes:

Breathe in the scents of buttercream frosting, dried apricots, subtle cinnamon sugar, and sherry sweetness. On the palate, you'll find ripe berries, buttery caramel, vanilla beans, and dried cherries. It all ends with a nice mixture of toffee and sherry.

Button 3:

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, I knew that there’s some juice from Islay in this blend, with a hint of peat smoke up front. Following close behind were sweet, dried fruits and caramel malts. The palate swirls with dried orange peels, prunes, caramelized sugar, and subtle spices.

The finish offered a great combination of peat smoke and tropical fruit flavors.

Key 4:

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, I got a whole lot of candied orange peels, sweet cream, cinnamon, and rich oak. The palate delivered hints of bitter chocolate, citrus zest, rich caramel candy, and subtle pepper. The finish was very warming and full of sweet caramel and subtle spice.

Key 5:

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, I got aromas of dried fruits, vanilla beans, and subtle spice. The sip itself brought up creamy caramel candy, cinnamon, and a subtle hint of smoke. It all ended in a mellow haze of caramel and smoke.

Key 6:

Tasting Notes:

Even for a blended whiskey, the nose was pretty lackluster here. The only aromas found were those of dried wood, honey, and vanilla. Sipping this whiskey offered a little more… but not tons. Flavors of buttery caramel, milk chocolate, heather surfaced while the woody notes grew pronounced.

The finish was medium, fairly warm, and ended with more honey.

Key 7:

Tasting Notes:

The scents of caramel apples, honey, and sweet malts started the dram. All in all, the aromas were pretty light, though. The palate was equally light, with hints of almonds, candied orange peels, cinnamon, and slight vanilla. As for the finish, I got a mouthful of honey and caramel and not a ton else.

Key 8:

Tasting Notes:

The nose gave me aromas of cooking spices, ripe cherries, orange zest, and vanilla beans. Sipping the whiskey revealed hints of raisins, dark chocolate, butterscotch, and subtle sherry sweetness. The finish was long, filled with pleasing heat, and ended with a nice subtle ripe fruit sweetness.

Part 2: The Ranking

A blind taste test can really prove eye-opening and this one definitely was. From the final rankings below, it's obvious that higher-proof whiskey appeals to my palate.

8) Dewar’s White Label (key 6)

ABV: 40%

Average Price:$ 33 for a liter

The whiskey:

Dewar’s White Label is one of the most well-known blended whiskeys for a reason. It's always bargain-priced, it's been around for more than a century, and it's masterfully blended to feature an astonishing 40 or so whiskies by Dewar’s Master Blender Stephanie Macleod.

Bottom Line:

Honestly, I expected more from one of the most well-known blended whiskeys. It's not bad by any degree. But the flavors were a little more muted than I like when sipping whiskey.

7) Copper Dog (key 7)

ABV: 40%

Average Price:$34

The whiskey:

A copper dog is another name for the "whiskey thief," the metal instrument used to sample still aging whiskey through the bunghole. This blended malt whiskey is an homage to the tool. It's a blend of single malt whiskeys from eight Speyside distilleries. It was created to have enough flavor and balance to be both a valuable sipper and a great mixer.

Bottom Line:

This was my first introduction to Copper Dog, and it tasted exactly as I expected it to - standard. All of these whiskies proved serviceable, but Copper Dog was a little lower in the flavor department than I hoped.

6) Johnnie Walker Black (key 5)

ABV: 40%

Average Price:$40

The whiskey:

The name Johnnie Walker means quality. Even if you're grabbing a bottle of the cheapest expression from the brand, you can be pretty sure you're getting a good product. Johnnie Walker Black Label is a blended malt and grain whiskey that is made up of around 40 different whiskey with a minimum age of 12 years.

Bottom Line:

This expression was smoky, sweet, and mellow. It's a tremendous sipper, but the price also makes it okay to try as a mixing whiskey. It fell lower on this list than expected, but it's still a solid dram.

5) Chivas Regal Extra (key 8)

ABV: 40%

Average Price:$40

The whiskey:

Like Johnnie Walker, Dewar’s, and Famous Grouse, Chivas is known for its blended whiskies. You can spend the rest of your life sampling the various blends in its full-line, or you can crack open a bottle of Chivas Regal Extra and saves some cash in the process.

This blended Scotch gets an added kick from the addition of whiskey that were aged in Oloroso sherry casks.

Bottom Line:

If you're a fan of sherried whiskey like Aberlour A’Bunadh or GlenDronach 12, this is the budget blended whiskey for you. It deserves a permanent spot on your home bar cart.

4) Compass Box Glasgow Blend (key 3)

ABV: 43%

Average Price: