Best Scotch for Beginners – The Ultimate Guide

best scotch for beginners guide

If you are just a newbie in whisky world who wants to find out more about the best Scotch whisky for begginers, then you can give Johnnie Walker Black, Monkey Shoulder, the 12-year-old Chivas Regal, and the 12-year-old Bowmore a try.

Do you feel a bit intimidated by the wide range of options, challenging terms, and annoying whisky-snobs? Don’t worry! We have got you covered. Here is our list of best scotch for beginners that will help you feel a bit more comfortable and welcomed in the wonderful world of whisky.

Quick Best Scotch for Beginners Vocabulary

We have included two types of scotch in today’s list to give you a bit of a variety.

  • Blended scotch is a combination of malt and grain whiskies.
  • Single malt scotch is made by using only one type of malted barley.


Best Scotch for Beginners – The Top 11

Johnnie Walker Black

Starting with the world’s biggest-selling Scotch whisky might be the most obvious decision. Johnnie Walker Black is a smooth blend with a big personality. Perfect for those who are not quite ready for single malts.

Of course, Johnnie Walker has plenty of blends to choose from. Red Label, for example, is a great entry-level option that is well-suited for cocktails. However, if you want to learn to drink plain scotch, then you should go for Johnnie Walker Black.

Even though the taste is rich and rather complex, it is smooth, which makes it the perfect choice for beginners. The finish of this blend is rich, so prepare for different notes to keep on coming.

Tasting notes: bonfire smoke, vanilla, oak, dried mixed citrus peel, caramel, winter spices.

Price: around $40 for a 750ml bottle.

The Johnnie Walker Black Label is one of the best scotch whisky for beginners


Aberfeldy 12-Year-Old

Aberfeldy 12 offers a distinct single-malt taste that will help you feel the difference between an American, Irish, and Scottish whisky.

This is one of the best scotch for beginners because it is not overpowering. Moreover, it is one out of not so many options that give you the freedom of trying scotch in different ways. Whether you decide to drink the whisky alone or mix it in a cocktail, the result will be equally fantastic.

Tasting notes: dark honey, vanilla, elegant pineapple.

Price: around $44 for a 750ml bottle.

Region: Highlands

Aberfeldy 12 is not an overpowering expression, making it perfect for beginners


Glenmorangie Original 10-Year-Old

A beautiful old-school dram that is a great choice for the newbies who don’t like the flavor of smoke that a lot of whiskies possess. This single malt is made in a distillery with the tallest copper pot still in Scotland. Even though it has a wide range of flavors, none of those is too aggressive.

It’s practically impossible to find a whisky enthusiast who wouldn’t like the flavor of this smooth single malt. Even the beginners will find it easy and pleasant to sip this scotch on the rocks.


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Tasting notes: pear drops, candied apples, toffee, a little spice, nuances of petals.

Price: around $45 for a 750ml bottle.

Region: Highlands

Hand holding a glenmorangie original 10 year old expression


Monkey Shoulder

This scotch has great potential in mixology and if you feel like you want to explore this area, then Monkey Shoulder should become your go-to whisky. This smooth and rich blended malt can elevate plenty of cocktails.

It is made out of Glenfiddich, Kininvie, and Balvenie – three Speyside single malts.

However, you can also choose to drink Monkey Shoulder neat or on the rocks. If you find the taste a bit too complex, you can always mix the Scotch with soda, for example, and not feel guilty about it.

Tasting notes: smoke, spice, vanilla.

Price: around $36 for a 750ml bottle.

Bottle of Monkey Shoulder on top of an oak barrel


Highland Park 12-Year-Old

For those looking for an easy peated best scotch for beginners, there is the Highland Park that has been aged for 12 years in the most northern distillery in Scotland.

You are going to feel that smoke aroma, but this option is certainly more approachable than the majority of smoked whiskies. The fact that the scotch was partly matured in sherry casks makes the smoke a bit more floral rather than seaweedy and iodiny.

Tasting notes: smoke, vanilla, dried fruit (citrus and green notes).

Price: around $59 for a 750ml bottle.

Region: Islands

Highland Park 12 years is one of the best scotch for beginners


Auchentoshan 12-Year-Old

If you want to try single malts, but don’t know exactly where to start, then Auchentoshan 12 should become your fighter of choice. This is one of the best scotch for beginners, and bourbon and rum lovers.

For bourbon lovers, this particular scotch has a lot of flavors of the American-style whisky. And, if you love rum, you might become a fan of Auchentoshan.

The little distillery is based just outside of Glasgow. This whisky is triple-distilled which makes it one of the smoothest single malts.

Tasting notes: orange, green apples, vanilla, baking spices, the smell of pineapple and mango.

Price: around $58 for a 750ml bottle.

Region: Lowland

A bottle of Auchentoshan 12 years


Aberlour 10-Year-Old

Just about anyone would be able to enjoy this scotch that goes down, perhaps, a bit too easy.

Aberlour is matured in a mix of sherry and bourbon casks which gives the single malt almost a dessert-like flavor and this is exactly what makes this option the best scotch for beginners.

Tasting notes: dried fruits (raisins, dates), nuts, spice, caramel, milk chocolate.

Price: around $43 for a 750ml bottle.

Region: Speyside

Aberlour 12 years is one of the candidates for best scotch for beginners


Macallan Double Cask 12-Year-Old

A perfect introduction to this iconic distillery. Even though the brand is associated with luxury, this particular scotch is sold at an affordable price which makes it suitable for beginners. The heavily sherried whisky has a rich, balanced sweetness to it and will most definitely become your home bar’s staple.

Tasting notes: smoke, honey, ginger, cocoa.

Price: around $57 for a 750ml bottle.

Region: Speyside

Macallan is a great brand, even for beginners


Chivas Regal 12-Year-Old

‘A Scotch blend for grown-ups’ that doesn’t have a stingy alcohol taste. Chivas Regal 12 years is a more approachable blend that offers a beautiful variety of flavors.

Tip: add a bit of water, if your scotch has a strong alcoholic taste. You won’t feel any smoke and this whisky is very sweet on the nose.

Tasting notes: spice, nuts, barley malt, banana chips.

Price: around $54 for a 750ml bottle.

Bottle of Chivas Regal 12 years with light effects


Bowmore 12-Year-Old

For those looking to introduce a bit of smoke to their taste buds, Bowmore 12 is a great option. It has a punchy and bold flavor that might make you fall in love with smoke and peat.

This scotch is also filled with iodine flavors but with the help of a little hint of tropical fruits, the distillery made their Bowmore 12 suitable even for beginners.

Tasting notes: smoke, tropical fruit.

Price: around $45 for a 750ml bottle.

Region: Islay

Glass of whisky and a bottle of Bowmore 12 laid down in wood


Glenlivet 12-Year-Old

The best-selling single malt in the world was born in the most popular scotch region, Speyside. Glenlivet 12 will take you to the lush green hills where you’ll get to enjoy grassy, floral, and fruity notes.

This scotch is beautiful on its own, but you can also try mixing it with some soda and lemon.

Tasting notes: green apples, honey, pineapple, vanilla, citrus.

Price: around $45 for a 750ml bottle.

Region: Speyside

Glenlivet is one of the options for best scotch for beginners.


To Sum Up

This was our list of best scotch for beginners. As you can see, there are quite a few stunning options to choose from, so start exploring at your own pace.

The most important rule is quite simple – drink scotch only if you do enjoy the process. Otherwise, even the smoothest blend would fail to impress you.

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