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10 Best Whiskies under £50

I’ve compiled a list of the 12 Best Whiskies you can buy for less than £50.

Kilkerran 12

NoseMarzipan, pineapple, vanilla, dates
PalateVanilla, toffee, honey, orange
FinishHoney, orange, ginger
Alcohol content46% ABV
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toSpringbank 10, Talisker 10

Kilkerran is aged for a dozen years using a combination of 70% bourbon and 30% sherry casks and crafted in its Campbeltown distillery that reopened in 2004.

This malt is free of artificial caramel-coloring and not chill-filtered ticking two boxes that are quite important for some aficionados.

The nose brings marzipan at first, followed by a rich pineapple note, along vanilla, dates and a very light hint of smoke.

On the palate, Kilkerran 12 provides a lovely oily mouthfeel. Flavor brings notes of vanilla, toffee, honey, a touch of orange and just a tiny whiff of smoke.

The finish is satisfyingly warm, with notes of honey, orange, a subtle touch of ginger and a dash of black pepper.

Adding water brings more toffee and oak making it more enjoyable.

This a solid easy drinker, one of the best 12 year single malts and the best whisky you can buy for less than 50 quid in Britain.

Talisker 10

NoseSmoke, pear, apple
PalateSmoke, dried fruit, mineral notes
FinishLong and pleasantly peppery
Alcohol content45% ABV
How to drinkNeat or add water
Similar toTalisker 18, Port Charlotte 10

There is a fair amount of smoke on the nose at first, followed by hints of pear, apple and a bit of iodine.

On the palate, the Talisker 10 displays a creamy texture.

Flavor offers a moderate hit of smoke at first, that quickly mellows out into rich dried fruit sweetness, with hints of cereal, black pepper and a mineral note.

The finish is long, with a satisfying warming peppery note and mineral finish with a bit of oak spice and caramel.

Adding a dash of water tunes-down the pepper, while releasing sweet notes, making it easier to sip.

Talisker 10 is a creamy and full flavored whisky. This is a peaty whisky but not as heavy as some of the Islay malts as it does not overpowers other flavors.

Talisker strikes a nice balance between smoke, salinity, peppery notes and honey-like sweetness.

Overall, Talisker 10 is not an entry-level single malt but it makes a solid option for true whisky aficionados that like peat in moderate amounts in their drams.

I’ve included this bottle in the list of the best 10 year old whiskies that you can buy today!

Laphroaig 10

NoseSmoke, caramel, oak, coffee
PalateCharred oak, smoke, chocolate, honey, iodine
FinishSmoke, caramel
Alcohol content43% ABV
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toLaphroaig Cask Strength, Highland Park 12

Laphroaig 10 is an Islay Whisky, these whiskies are famous for their fiery smoky character that you either love or hate.

This whisky does not smell nice as it offers a burnt rubber note up-front along seaweed. There are also hints of smoke, caramel, oak and espresso coffee.

On the palate, you get a blast of smoke and oak char up-front. As you let it develop, it becomes remarkably sweet, rich in vanilla, caramel and chocolate.

Finish is long, smoky and mostly sweet with a rich mineral note to it and something that reminds of seaweed.

This single malt is a flavorful and intense whisky with a smoky character and some unique tasting notes that might be a bit intimidating for someone new to this type of whisky.

Laphroaig 10 is really good, but don’t expect to like it on the first date. It’s a bit demanding requiring at persistent drinker to fully appreciate it.

Once you get acquainted with it it’s unlikely you will ever enjoy a lesser dram.

Lagavulin 8

NosePopcorn, roasted nuts, wood, burnt sugar
Palate Smoke, oak, caramel, herrings
FinishSmoke, ash, apples, almonds
Alcohol content48% ABV
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toTalisker 8, Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin 8 is not the best whisky for beginners as it’s going to hit you hard with smoke, peat and meaty notes.

The nose is high on smoke, with a hint that reminds of popcorn, roasted nuts, oak and burnt sugar.

The palate offers a nice creamy feel making it chewy.

Flavor is strong on the smoke, but once you get through that initial layer of smoke there is rich caramel sweetness, along a note that brings herrings.

The finish is long, pleasantly warm, bringing more smoke, along cigar ash, along apple and almond.

This malt is incredibly well balanced. Strong smoky notes but enough caramel to make it sweet and supremely rewarding.

This is a rich, complex and flavorful whisky that displays some of the mineral notes characteristic of Islay whiskies, along sweetness behind a thick layer of smoke.

Drink it neat and if you find it too smoky tune it down with a splash of water, just a few drops are enough to tame this whisky … a bit.

Ardbeg 10

NoseSmoke, ash, coal, caramel
PalateSmoke, tobacco, caramel, bacon
FinishLong, caramel, smoke
Alcohol content46.3% ABV
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toAberfeldy 12, Highland Park 12

Nose is full of smoke, ash and coal but mellows out into a rich caramel scent as you let it develop in the glass.

On the palate, this malt provides a thick creamy body. Flavor brings a blast of smoke, along notes of tobacco, espresso coffee and a meaty bacon note.

Everything is nicely balanced against caramel notes making it remarkably good.

The finish is long and warming, with smoke, sweet caramel and a dash of black pepper.

Ardbeg 10 is a whisky made for seasoned peat and smoke lovers.

This whisky is complex and delicioussmooth and well-rounded, rich in caramel and smoke, along mineral and sweet notes. This is one of the best malts for smoke enthusiasts.

Few whiskies are as full and rich in peat and smoke than the Ardbeg 10. If you are new to this type of whisky you might find it overwhelming hence don’t expect to like it as much as I do on the first date.

If you feel overwhelmed by the Ardbeg add a few drops of water releasing sweet and floral notes making it easier to drink.

Glenallachie 12

NoseBanana, almond, oak
PalateBanana, caramel, raisins, chocolate
FinishMedium, oak, chocolate
Alcohol content46% ABV
How to drinkNeat
Similar toGlendronach 12, Macallan Sherry Oak

Glenallachie 12 is absolutely gorgeous, complex, full-bodied, sweet, rich and smooth despite a high 92 proof.

The nose pleasantly hits with notes of banana, almond and subtle oak.

On the palate, Glenallachie feels creamy and honeyed, with more banana, along caramel, raisins and chocolate.

The finish is medium to long, smooth, with very little heat, leaving an aftertaste of gentle oak spice and chocolate.

The delicious flavors of caramel, chocolate and oak shine through with a moderately spicy finish that lingers nicely; it gets better by adding a few drops of water making it more complex and sweeter.

Glenallachie was aged in Pedro Ximénez sherry, oloroso sherry, and virgin oak casks that provided those sweet tasting notes making a tasty and smooth Single Malt.

This malt is remarkably good, quite flavorful yet smooth making one the best sherried whiskies you can buy today.

GlenDronach 12

NoseCaramel, honey, apple
PalateVanilla, caramel dried fruit
FinishOak, dried fruit, sherry
Alcohol content43% ABV
How to drinkNeat
Similar toGlenmorangie, Macallan 12

The nose is quite aromatic, rich in toffee and honey, along a touch of apple.

On the palate, the GlenDronach has a creamy feel as the body feels thick. Flavor delivers caramel and vanilla up-front, followed by a rich dried fruit note.

The finish is long with very little warmth to it, leaving an aftertaste of oak, dried fruit and sherry behind.

GlenDronach 12 drinks beautifully making one of the top 12 year single malts. No harshness or off-putting notes and a tasty profile makes it entirely satisfying.

No need to add water or ice, it’s perfect as it is.

The GlenDronach ages for a dozen using in a combination of Oloroso, a variety of fortified wine, and Pedro Ximenez, a velvety and sweet sherry wine from Spain, casks.

This combination of casks is what gives the GlenDronach the strong Sherry wine presence and the nutty and sweet flavor.

Johnnie Walker Green Label

NoseCoffee, smoke, chocolate, oak
PalateDates, walnuts, barley, coffee
FinishLong, caramel, spice, oak
Alcohol content43% ABV
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toMacallan 15, JW Platinum

The Johnnie Walker Green Label is not a Single Malt but a blend of single malt whiskies crafted at a vast array of distilleries owned by Diageo.

You can’t call it a Single Malt Whisky according to the laws that govern Scotch whisky but let’s call it an “unofficial single malt”.

The nose has an espresso coffee aroma, along chocolate, oak and a tad of smoke and iodine, making it quite pleasant.

On the palate, the Green Label has a medium body. First taste is sweet and smooth, rich in dates, walnuts, malt, more coffee to it and a mineral note.

The finish is long and mostly sweet, light on the smoke and just a bit of oak spice..

The JW Green Label is one of my favorites as it delivers a smooth and interesting taste at a good price.

It is smooth and mellow with a bit of smoke on the palate, and spice on the finish, and then the hint of peat comes back right at the end. Nice balance in body, alcohol and peat.

Overall, the Green Label is a delicious dram with great combination of smokiness, sweetness and flavor, neither a peat monster nor a sherry bomb and much less a fruity dessert dram. 

In my opinion the best Johnny Walker whisky for the money. Green Label is what I call the “insider pick” and the best Johnnie Walker for the money.

Balvenie 12 DoubleWood

NoseHoney, toffee, vanilla, pear
PalateCaramel, apple, citrus
FinishSpicy oak, roasted nuts
Alcohol content43% ABV
How to drinkNeat or add water
Similar toGlenlivet 15, Aberfeldy 12

Balvenie 12 is quite aromatic as it delivers a strong scent rich in ripe fruit, sherry, along vanilla and honey.

On the palate, it provides a good mouthfeel as the body feels creamy. Flavor is has a hint of mixed nuts, along citrus peel, vanilla, a touch of cinnamon and sherry.

The finish has a good length, hitting with a bit of oak spice but nothing but nothing terrible, along vanilla.

Balvenie 12 has a nice nose, feels velvety, neither too sweet nor a sherry bomb, quite friendly and approachable.

It lacks complexity, yet provides good balance between sweet and spice along a satisfying finish with no alcohol burst.

This is the kind of whisky you drink neat although a splash of water will bring more oak and highlight the sweetness.

Overall, the Balvenie 12 is an unbelievably smooth dram and a pleasant experience for those who privilege smoothness and a not overly sweet taste.

Auchentoshan Three Wood

NoseFruitcake, dry fruit, plum, sherry
PalateTobacco, red fruit, oak, vanilla
FinishMedium, oak, red fruit
Alcohol content43% ABV
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toSpringbank 10

The Three Wood has no age statement but is matured for ten years in bourbon casks, up to two years in Oloroso butts and around two years in Pedro Ximénez butts.

The nose is fantastic as it hits with a heavy fruitcake aroma, rich in dried fruit, plum and sherry.

The palate brings notes of tobacco, red fruit, oak, vanilla and a bit of barrel spice but nothing terrible or off-putting.

The finish has a decent length with little to no heat, with oak and red fruit.

Adding water brings more oak.

This is a sweet easy drinker with a wonderful aroma that does not follow on the palate but quite enjoyable nonetheless as it drinks quite nicely.

Best Whiskies under £50: Buying Guide

Prices are approximate and stated in Sterling:

Kilkerran 12£4846%
Talisker 10£4045%
Laphroaig 10£3343%
Lagavulin 8£4548%
Ardbeg 10£4746%
Glenallachie 12£4846%
GlenDronach 12£4943%
Johnnie Walker Green Label£4543%
Balvenie 12£4743%
Auchentoshan Three Wood£4543%