The Top 10 Blended Scotch Whiskies to Try in 2021
While single malt scotch whisky gets the headlines, the biggest selling whisky brands worldwide are blended.
Generally speaking, blended whisky offers better affordability and a greater range of smoother, more versatile tastes for spirit lovers to enjoy on the rocks or in mixed drinks.
The following list of top 10 blended scotches to try in 2020 showcases a range of drams that can go toe to toe with any of the more ballyhooed single malt whiskies.
From quality smoke filled Islay blended malts, to spirits putting all parts of Scotland into a bottle, or even the tremendous Japanese whisky expressions, there’s a top quality whisky for everyone.
1. Nikka Whisky From The Barrel
The Nikka Whisky From The Barrel blend packs a bold punch at 51.4% ABV.
The blend combines both single malt and grain whiskies from the Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries.
After the whiskies are married, they are re-introduced for barrel finishing in a huge variety of casks, including bourbon barrels, sherry casks and refill hogsheads.
The resultant blended malt is a fine bottle (500ml) possessing distinct individuality. It’s full flavor is characterized by solidity, depth of taste and the characteristic aroma of Japanese fruits and spices.
Nikka Whisky From the Barrel is firmly on the top shelf of Japanese whisky expressions, and would impress even the grumpiest scotch drinker with it’s fluidity.
2. Chivas Regal 18 Year Old
The Chivas Regal 18 Year Old was personally created by Master Blender Colin Scott and includes over 20 single malts from around Scotland.
Chivas Regal 12 and 18 year old whiskies are triple blended. First of all, the selected single malts are blended together. The second stage sees the selected single grains blended together, and then thirdly, the vatted malts and the vatted grains are brought together and married via oak cask for a smooth, woody taste.
The results are aromas of buttery toffee, dark chocolate and dried fruit. Traces of spices and smoke combine to produce a long, warm finish.
Chivas Regal 18 year old is a premium blended scotch whisky meant for sipping neat, but if you feel the urge to upgrade an old fashioned you’ll be hard pressed outdo this reliable scotch whisky brand.
3. The Antiquary 12 Year Old
The Antiquary 12 year old comes in a distinctive diamond shaped bottle and is produced by the Tomatin distillery.
The Antiquary (a novel by Scots legend Walter Scitt) profiles a very high malt to grain ratio of the finest malts from Speyside and Highland distilleries balanced by a large portion of Lowland malt, which adds gentleness to the flavor.
The balanced tasting notes feature fruit peel and malted barley aromas which reflect the Speyside influence in this blend. The palate contains a hint of apples and honey, while the finish is smooth and clean with oak touches.
While often hard to get the Antiquary is a fantastic deluxe blended scotch suited to sipping or mixed with a few drops of water to furnish the flavor of malt.
4. Jameson Black Barrel
This small batch whiskey (note the spelling!) is the only one in the Jameson portfolio containing triple distilled sweet grain whiskey blended with select single Irish pot still whiskey.
It’s named black barrel for the aging the irish whiskey undergoes in double charred first fill bourbon casks.
The bottled result is a strong bodied and rich whiskey typical of the Jameson character. This irish whiskey is fruity on the nose, with a full creamy palate tasting of dates and walnuts, finished with a notable cinnamon and nutmeg flavor.
5. Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old Islay Origin
Released as part of the Johnnie Walker Black Label Origin series this expression marries a blend of Islay malts, including favorites such as Caol Ila and Lagavulin.
Each Scotch in the Black Label Origin collection are crafted only using whiskies from a particular region to capture the primary flavor characteristics of that area: the fruity flavors of Speyside whisky, the rich characteristics of Highlands scotch, the sweet notes of the Lowland region whiskies and the smoky finish of Islay malts.
The Islay is my preferred option and a great choice for whiskey drinkers who often enjoy a tipple of single malt. It’s peppery and sweetish with dried fruit, fresh red fruits and honey, and carries a hint of toffee at the finish.
The characteristic smoke of Islay lingers on the tongue but doesn’t dominate like it can some of the aged single malt whiskies.
6. Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky
Famous Grouse features malt whisky from Glenrothes, Highland Park and The Macallan. The Grouse has been Scotland’s most popular blend since 1980 (counts for a lot in my book!) and rivals Mr. Walker for worldwide popularity.
Famous Grouse is popular for its versatility of flavor and affordable pricing.
While it won’t suit the heavy smoked peat single malt enthusiasts, the malted barley in Famous Grouse is light and crisp, allowing the flavor to nestle nicely on the tongue with biscuity caramel and just a little smoke.
Famous Grouse smooth and well rounded – suiting the neat whiskey drinker, the cocktail lover, and the new scotch drinker alike without emptying your pockets.
7. The Black Bottle 10 Year Old
The malts that constitute Black Bottle are derived from seven different Islay distilleries, incorporated at 10 years old, when their smokiness is most intense. T
The tastes of Islay single malt scotch distilleries such as Laphroaig and Ardberg in particular can be traced in the flavor, especially for the Islay single malt drinker with a nose for different expressions.
The Islay whisky focus of the blend has changed since 2013, when master blender Ian MacMillan declared that ‘Black Bottle lost itself in Islay.’ Owner Burn Stewart Distillers decided there was a need for the blend to ‘return its north-east roots’ (scotchwhisky.com).
It’s now moving back towards a slightly lighter and more rounded flavor of fruit amongst the peat before finishing with hints of vanilla, yet remains a blend on the cusp of single malt whisky.
8. Hibiki Japanese Harmony
Hibiki means resonance in Japanese and is a premier blended offering.
Malt whiskies from Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries are combined with grain whisky from the Chita distillery.
The whiskies used to create Harmony are drawn from 5 different types of cask before bottling, including American white oak casks, Sherry casks and Mizunara oak casks.
It’s simply balanced; honey, orange, and herbs are clearly noticeable, finished off with the oaken sheen.
Underrating Japanese whisky is doing your tastebuds a disservice.
9. Big Peat
It may surprise you, but Big Peat is all about the smoky flavors from Islay. It comprises malt whisky from Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg and Port Ellen in the vatting.
The bottle tells you what you’re getting; a quintessential scotch whisky with strong, smoky flavors of peat and hits of brine. There’s just enough sweetness within the mox of malt whisky to let you off the hook.
If you’re an Islay lover looking for something to drink with regularity, you could do much worse than Big Peat’s flavors, and it’s a great gift idea with the memorable bloke on the label.
10. Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
“Some say it tastes just like riding bareback on the wild moors of Scotland with a flame haired maiden on Christmas morning. Others agree it tastes like 007 wearing a tuxedo wetsuit.” The Monkey Shoulder website is bang on!
The single malt scotch whisky used to make Monkey Shoulder once included William Grant’s three Speyside whisky distilleries: famous whisky brands Balvenie, Glenfiddich and Kininvie. However, according to scotchwhisky.com it now features “an undisclosed combination of ‘different’ Speyside single malts.
Sprinkles of winter spice are noticeable in the aroma along with aniseed, while on the palate Monkey Shoulder is creamy and rich. It finishes with spicy oak and peppermint.
Good on the sip, but even stronger in cocktails, Monkey Shoulder is worth a spot in any whisky lovers’ home bar.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
With cellphones so ubiquitous, your watch choice can be less about telling time and more about personal style. However, a watch is not ‘just’ a watch. For example, the vast majority are made for right-handed people, but a select few cater to the lefties among us. There is a wide range in functionality and size.
The wristwatch is also one of the few socially acceptable accessories for men, so why not have a small selection? If you’re not cashing a CEO’s paycheck just yet, here are the top 28 most handsome watches for men that retail for under $500.
Got a bigger budget? Then check out our guide to the best men’s watches under $1000 instead.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
1. Tommy Hilfiger Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
If you like the feel of a pliable, non-metal band but aren’t comfortable with genuine leather, this watch comes equipped with a handsome synthetic band. At 46mm in diameter, this watch is perfect for men of smaller stature, as it will not overpower your hand or make it look like you’re wearing your father’s watch. With bold Arabic numerals, a stainless steel case, and classic styling, this watch is an outstanding choice for an everyday watch and the man on a budget.
2. Nordgreen Pioneer – Black Dial
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Not everyone has an endless amount of cash to drop on a luxury timepiece. If you’re money-conscious but want something high-end, then why not consider the Nordgreen Pioneer.
An inspired take on a classic Chronograph, Nordgreen celebrates the Danish with what they call a timepiece “that captures the sustainable future.” Available in various dial colors from blue, black, and white. There’s even the choice of three case colors – gunmetal, silver, and rose gold. A perfect addition to the collection of any watch enthusiast.
3. Fossil Grant Brown Leather Watch
This lovely offering by Fossil features slim Roman numeral hour markers and delicate cut-out hands. The casing is stainless steel and is water-resistant to 165 feet, making it a great dive watch. The band is made of supple, soft calfskin leather and uses a buckle closure.
Of course, this timepiece also comes with the generous 11-year warranty and it’s own fun tin. This watch oozes class and is great for nearly every occasion in your life.
4. Citizen Sport Stainless Steel Men’s Watch With Brown Leather Band
If you don’t want to deal with changing out a battery in a digital watch, this watch is powered by either natural or indoor lighting. The mineral crystal face and stainless steel case make this watch water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for swimmers and snorkelers.
Handsome and utilitarian, this is a great watch for everyday wear. It’s one of the best watches for men who are always on the go.
5. Fossil Men’s Machine Chronograph Silicone Watch
This watch was designed with the active man in mind. The knurled silicone band stands up to sweat and oils without issue, and the timepiece itself is water-resistant to 165 feet.
The patterned bezel and quality craftsmanship of the black dial is excellent, as is to be expected from a Fossil watch. It even comes in the iconic and collectible tin!
6. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Watch
This men’s watch features Japanese quartz movement that charges itself indoors or out when exposed to light, making it a great choice for those who don’t want to change out the battery too often. The stitched canvas strap is soft against your skin and will wick away moisture, while the mineral crystal face stands up to the rigors of your everyday life.
Water-resistant to 330 feet, this dive watch is a classic and simple design you’ll be proud of for years to come.
7. Invicta Pro Diver Chronograph Men’s Watch
Another gorgeous offering by Invicta, this watch features a bold design with a slightly nautical feel to it. It will look at home whether you’re wearing a business suit or are going for a dive of less than 660 feet. This piece is also covered by a one-year warranty as a matter of course. The luminosity feature and magnified date window make it a great choice if you work or play in low light.
If you want something that looks like a Tag Heuer but without the luxury watch brand price tag, this is a good option!
8. Casio Edifice Multi-Function Men’s Watch
This watch has three sub-dials for 12 hour, 60 minute and 60-second displays, in addition to the standard time. It also features a fold-over, push-down clasp on the stainless strap, keeping it secure throughout your activities. If you’re looking for a classy timepiece that shrieks sophistication, this is a great choice.
9. Fossil Machine Three Hand Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This quality watch is a chameleon piece. It looks at home as a dress watch riding below the cuff of your best suit, and it also looks great paired with jeans and a t-shirt. Backed by Fossil’s 11-year warranty as a matter of course and beautifully crafted, this smoke-colored piece is guaranteed to become the go-to accessory for nearly every occasion.
10. MVMT Watches Black Face Men’s Watch
If you like the look of a simple watch, this minimalist offering from MVMT is right up your alley. With just a plain black face, tick marks to denote the hours and a single date window, there is nothing overdone or extravagant about this design. The is understated and suited to the simple design. It’s definitely a classy, low-key piece for the budget-conscious.
11. Timex Weekender Watch
If you’re looking for a fun watch to pair with casual outfits, this is a great option. The band is blue and yellow woven nylon, and the face features both civilian and military timekeeping. An Indiglo night light is also included. This watch is water-resistant to 99 feet, meaning it can withstand splashes of water or exposure to rain but you won’t want to submerge it.
12. PUMA Ultrasize Black Sport Men’s Watch
Boasting a 50mm diameter, this piece is perfect for the large-framed man or one who likes to wear his accessories oversized. A true fashion statement, this sports watch comes in eight different colors schemes to match your favorite hues.
Do be aware, however, that the dial knob is configure for left-handed men!
13. Timex Easy Reader Men’s Watch
Another dress watch designed with the older gentleman in mind, this watch features a white dial with generously sized numerals that do not appear comical to the casual observer.
It’s also an excellent choice if you take your contacts out at night and still want to be able to check the time. With classic lines and a simple white face, the watch would not be out of place at any casual gathering. It comes with Timex’s one-year warranty at no additional charge.
14. Fossil Nate Men’s Chronograph Watch
For men who like a more gritty, industrial feel to their accessories, this Fossil watch is right on point. The bezel is gear-edged and the face is utilitarian black and gray. Water-resistant to 165 feet, this watch is a great choice if you like your adornments to be understated yet add visual interest.
It’s definitely a stand-out piece, for those who would take notice!
15. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Men’s Watch
Featuring an indigo night light, tachymeter, a date window and a buckle closure, this watch is perfect for men who like to work or play outdoors. It is also water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for snorkeling or swimming.
You won’t want to wear it for diving, however. With classic, black styling and a genuine crystal face, this is a timepiece that will stand the test of time in both form and function.
16. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This Seiko automatic watch has all the bells and whistles you need, but presents it all in a plain and strikingly attractive manner. It features a date window in either English or Spanish, sword-shaped hands, a sweeping second hand and a mineral dial window. This is a great option for the man on the go. The canvas strap can be removed and hand-washed if sweat or other odors become an issue.
This watch is not water-resistant, so you’ll only want to wear it when you won’t be popping by the pool for a swim!
17. Invicta Pro Diver Collection Silver-Tone Men’s Watch
For those who prefer an all-metal timepiece, the stainless steel Invicta fits the bill nicely. It has a similar aesthetic to a Tag Heuer watch, but at a more affordable price. Equipped with a unilateral bezel and removable links, the band can be customized to fit your wrist perfectly. The face is flame fusion crystal and features a magnifier to highlight the date window.
It’s also water-resistant to 660 feet. If you’re looking for a gorgeous watch that stands up to an active lifestyle, this is an excellent choice.
18. Seiko Men’s Adventure-Solar Classic Casual Watch
This Seiko watch derives its power from either natural or indoor light and can withstand water depths of up to 330 feet. The supple brown leather strap and timeless brushed steel give this piece an attractive look, and the alarm chronograph is easy to set.
If you’re looking for a watch that can serve as a backup for your wake-up call while traveling, stand up to the elements and look awesome, this casual wrist watch is a winner.
19. Nautica Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Blue Resin Band
Featuring a plethora of options and a smart, snappy style, this a great casual watch with a eye-catching blue dial. The hardy resin band is adjustable, and the face is protected by a mineral window. Whether for work or play, this bold blue design is handsome and substantial on the wrist. It comes with Nautica’s five-year warranty at no additional charge.
20. Citizen Sport Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Black Leather Band
The black, red and white face of this piece eschews the traditional two-tone color scheme so often employed in other watches, and the contrasting stitching on the band adds creative flair. It comes backed by Citizen’s five-year warranty and will compliment any casual outfit.
21. Alessi Tic15 Analog Display Analog Quartz Black Men’s Watch
Another not-quite-round offering on our list, the curved square casing of this piece gives it instant visual appeal. Sleek and clean, this unfussy design will be a compliment to almost any occasion. It has quartz movement and is water-resistant to 99 feet, making it a great choice for everyday wear.
22. Invicta 1517 I Force Collection Watch
Another on our list designed for left-handed men, this watch is something special. Water-resistant to 330 feet and featuring oversize stenciled numbers and a sub dial, this watch is great for any casual outfit. The cloth band is extremely durable and stands up to dirt, sweat and grime.
If you lead an active lifestyle, this watch will be right at home in your collection.
23. TRIWA Blue Steel Nevil Canvas Watch
This watch comes in a whopping 14 color variations, all of them beautiful. You may decide to add more than one to your collection!
Designed in Sweden, this watch features Japanese quartz movement, a stainless steel casing and a strap made from Tärnsjö organic leather. TRIWA, which stands for Transforming the Industry of Watches, believes in the artistry of fine jewelry and it shows in their product.
24. Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Watch
Another fine dress watch from the makers of the Swiss Army knife, this watch is emblazoned with the internally recognized cross and shield emblem. It has no sub-dials, tachymeter or other add-ons to detract from its simple and appealing style.
This watch will be at home with all but the most formal of outfits and carries a two-year warranty.
25. Ingersoll Automatic Stainless Steel Bull Run Watch
Again, Ingersoll remakes the classics and brings them into the present day. With a highly polished stainless steel casing, two sub-dials, a date aperture and arrow-shaped hands, this quartz watch is beautiful.
The band features contrasting stitching on the fine-grain leather, adding depth and detail to the workmanship. This watch will compliment any casual occasion and can be relied upon for years to come.
26. Tissot Quickster Chronograph Black Leather Men’s Watch
Made with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and Swiss automatic movement, this watch is a smart and utilitarian choice. If you’re looking for a solid Swiss watch that isn’t flashy, this is an excellent option. It’s also guaranteed for two years.
27. Seiko Sport Solar Men’s Beige Watch
Are you getting tired of squinting down at your watch or holding it closer and closer to your face? Don’t worry, we all get a bit nearsighted with age, especially over the age of 40.
If you’re not quite ready for reading glasses or a comically huge watch, this is a great choice from Seiko. The numerals, indices and luminous hands stand out in stark white against a black background, and the numerals are generous in size. It’s a perfect casual watch for the older gentleman.
28. Seiko Men’s 5 Watch Blue Canvas Band
This simple and affordable watch has a clean, crisp aesthetic to it and doesn’t bog down its design with a ton of bells and whistles. It’s time and date, end of.
If you want a watch for casual wear, this Seiko is a shoo-in. The band is forgiving and comfortable against your wrist, and it’s blue color will likely compliment your existing wardrobe. The price is also extremely affordable.
29. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Stainless Steel Watch With Brown Leather Band
Featuring the Hilfiger logo at the three o’clock position, this wrist watch is a statement piece. It is a bright, shiny stainless steel work of art that you’ll be proud to wear at all but the most stuffy of workplaces. The calfskin leather band uses a buckle closure and the date window is beside the logo at three o’clock.
If you’re a fan of Tommy clothing, cologne or luggage, you can complete your look with this stunning accessory.