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Top 10 Scotch Brands for Beginners

a glass of scotch for beginners

Scotch whisky is a classic drink enjoyed by many, but it can be an acquired taste for some. For those just starting to explore scotch, a “scotch for beginners” is a great option. These whiskies tend to be lighter and more approachable than some other scotches.

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Beginner scotches are perfect for someone dipping their toe into the world of single malt or wanting to learn more about the different regions and styles. The gentle flavors found in starter whiskies make them less intimidating than more robust or peaty drams. They allow a new drinker to appreciate the taste of scotch without being overwhelmed.

The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year

The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year
Source: themacallan.com

The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year is a great scotch for beginners. This single malt whiskey has a smooth, fruity taste with subtle hints of vanilla. Compared to other types of scotch, the Macallan is smooth and sweet, making it a great starter scotch for folks who don’t always love whiskey’s harsh taste. Self-professed scotch haters may have their minds changed by trying the Macallan Sherry Oak. 


Glenmorangie Original 10 Year

Glenmorangie Original 10 Year
Source: glenmorangie.com

Glenmorangie Original 10 Year is a nice bottle of scotch whiskey to try out if you want to begin introducing spiced whiskeys to your repertoire. This whiskey has a medium body and a moderate amount of spice, enhanced by its ten-year fermentation. The citrus flavors create enough balance for the spice to not overwhelm the drink, but the flavor is still complex enough for someone trying to elevate their taste.


Johnnie Walker Black Label

Johnnie Walker Black Label
Source: johnniewalker.com

Johnnie Walker is a popular brand, and Johnnie Walker Black Label is a fun blended scotch whisky to experiment with if you’re new to the world of scotch. This scotch is made with premium Scottish grains and has an excellent flavor balance. You can drink Johnny Walker straight or on the rocks depending on your preference and interpretation of its flavor profile.

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The Balvenie 14-Year Caribbean Cask

The Balvenie 14-Year Caribbean Cask
Source: thebalvenie.com

The Balvenie 14-Year Caribbean Cask is a bottle of whiskey that has been aged for 14 years in a cask that once held rum. As a result, this scotch has a sweet undercurrent that is accessible to folks who don’t drink scotch. This introductory scotch is excellent for someone who is brand new to the world of alcoholic drinks.


Aberfeldy 12 Year

Aberfeldy 12 Year
Source: aberfeldy.com

Aberfeldy 12 Year is fantastic for drinkers who tend to dislike the smoky nature of most scotch whiskeys. This scotch has a slightly smoky taste but is mostly dominated by a honey and citrus flavor profile. While this whiskey is sweeter, the dry finish and bitter aftertaste can be an easy way to experiment with the harsher flavors of scotch. To get used to the flavor, you can always temper the scotch by mixing it with another liquor.


Glenlivet 12 Year

Glenlivet 12-Year-Old
Source: theglenlivet.com

Glenlivet 12 Year is a sweet scotch, but more sophisticated and complex than some of the lower-brow sugary whiskeys available. Key tasting notes for this single malt scotch include vanilla and marzipan spice. The distillery keeps this scotch in American Oak casks for several years, optimizing the scotch’s sweet vanilla flavor. Additional processes, such as using mineral water, help add to the richness of this scotch’s flavor profile. This scotch is perfect for drinking straight or mixing into a unique cocktail.


Ardbeg 10 Year

Ardbeg 10 Year
Source: ardbeg.com

If you’re ready to try a smoky scotch, Ardbeg 10 Year is an excellent option. This scotch is smoky and decadent but is less extreme with the peaty flavors. Instead, the Ardbeg 10 Year gets some organic sweetness from the malt, which offsets the smokiness and creates a satisfying beverage. 

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Chivas Regal 12 Year

Chivas Regal 12 Year
Source: chivas.com

Chivas Regal 12 Year is a bit creamier than other scotch brands, making it a nice choice if you’re in a position where you need to order scotch but don’t want any drinks that will make your throat burn. In addition to the creamy mouthfeel, the Chivas Regal 12 Year also has a delightful bouquet of orchard fruits and herbal flavors.


Dalwhinnie 15 Year

Dalwhinnie 15 Year

Dalwhinnie 15 Year is a well-aged scotch that has plenty of light and fruity flavors. This scotch is excellent for both drinking straight and incorporating into a cocktail. Some of the interesting tasting notes in this scotch include pear, honey, and toffee. This sweetness is cut by the herbal flavor of heather, which gently introduces the drinker to the peaty aspects of the beverage.


Auchentoshan 12 Year

Auchentoshan 12 Year
Source: auchentoshan.com

Auchentoshan 12 Year is a scotch that gets distilled three times for a crisp, fresh taste. This scotch has a slightly citrus taste and a dry finish with a hint of ginger. With its nutty and spicy flavor profile, Auchentoshan 12 Year is a fantastic scotch whiskey to pull out during the holiday season.


Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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