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The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies Under $40

Peaty, smooth, and everything in between.

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Last summer, Eater took a look at the best affordable whiskeys under $35. The list was open to all whiskey categories, and ended up quite bourbon-dominant. Only one Scotch made the original list, The Glenlivet 12.

Here, the focus is entirely on the best affordable Scotch, with a slightly elevated cutoff of $40 based on suggested retail pricing. Even a scant $5 more opens the door to some excellent Scotch bargains, and meanwhile, consumers will typically find the following choices for even less money than the listed suggested retail prices based on shop sales and discounts.

The below list showcases a range of Scotch styles, from blends to single malts, No Age Statements to age-specific releases, peaty and robust to fruity and floral. Here are the top ways to stretch your dollar when shopping for Scotch.

10 Best Affordable Scotch $40 And Under:

10) Speyburn Arranta (SINGLE MALT), $40: A new release in 2015, Speyburn Arranta is exclusive to the United States. "Arranta" is the Scottish Gaelic word for bold or daring, and to match that claim, Speyburn here uses only first-fill ex-bourbon casks to age this expression. The nose offers butterscotch, honey and apples, moving to a more vanilla and oak-centric palate, with honey, apples and chocolate on the finish. Save even more cash and check out Speyburn 10 Year Old ($29), another value find.

9) Glenmorangie The Original 10 Year Old (SINGLE MALT), $40: Known as The Original, Glenmorangie's 10 Year Old single malt is appropriately where their lineup begins. Wonderfully nuanced with more depth than typically expected from a Scotch at this price, or this age, The Original showcases the floral and fruity notes that mark the distillery's signature style, from citrus zest and peaches to vanilla and honey.

Photos courtesy of Speyburn and Glenmorangie.

8) Auchentoshan American Oak (SINGLE MALT), $39.99: Auchentoshan American Oak is a newer permanent addition to Auchentoshan's lineup. The distillery follows a unique production method, utilizing a triple distillation process more commonly found in the world of Irish whiskey. American Oak is aged in first-fill ex-bourbon casks, offering a very bourbon-esque palate, with flavors such as vanilla, coconut and cinnamon.

7) Bowmore Small Batch (SINGLE MALT), $39.99: Bowmore's Small Batch release is a single malt aged in a combination of first-fill and second-fill ex-bourbon casks. The stock from each is then married together. Find a more restrained peaty profile than many Bowmore releases, with the sea and salt of Islay mixing with a rather fruity profile and sweet notes of vanilla, caramel, honey and coconut.

6) Glenfiddich 12 Year Old (SINGLE MALT), $39.99: Glenfiddich 12 Year Old is truly a staple 12-year-old single malt Scotch, especially at this price. The single malt is aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso sherry casks. This is a smooth Speyside sipper with a combination of floral, sweet and fruity profiles, and notes of pears, vanilla, oak and butterscotch.

Photos courtesy of Bowmore and Cutty Shark.

5) Johnnie Walker Black Label (BLENDED), $39.99: Johnnie Walker Black incorporates upwards of three dozen different whiskies into this globally-famous blend. Black Label offers a peaty backbone which doesn't overpower the palate, working with a creamy sweetness, as well as spicy and citrus notes. This bottle is the best entrant point into the Johnnie Walker family.

4) The Black Grouse (BLENDED), $29.99: The peated blend from The Famous Grouse, The Black Grouse offers a mix of sweet and malty flavors, with an overall smoky profile. It's a smooth, rich and distinctive blend that stands up well both on its own or mixed. For the latter, seek out The Smoky Earl tea blend from Owl's Brew, made specifically to pair with this Scotch. For a few bucks less, try the original The Famous Grouse ($24.99), the top selling Scotch in Scotland.

Photo courtesy of Chivas Regal.

3) Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition (BLENDED), $29.99: A riff on the classic Cutty Sark, Prohibition Edition is bottled at 100 proof and therefore offers an extra kick. It's a peated, blended Scotch, with a creamy, somewhat oily mouthfeel and a nose offering baking spices with lighter citrus and fruit notes. The 50 percent ABV makes it a great choice for cocktails as well.

2) Dewar's Scratched Cask (BLENDED), $25.99: A blend of up to 40 different component whiskies, the Scratched Cask release from Dewar's is so named for its unique method of aging, in which the barrels utilized are charred and then scratched, so as to impart deeper flavors in less time. It makes for a smooth, fruity and chocolatey blend. Dewar's can provide more bang for your buck elsewhere, too, including Dewar's 12 Year Old ($29.99).

1) Chivas Regal 12 Year Old (BLENDED), $24.99: Chivas Regal 12 Year Old is the entry point for the Chivas lineup of blended Scotch whiskies. Smooth and versatile, Chivas 12 offers notes ranging from honey and apples, to herbal aromatics and peaty smoke, along with sweet, vanilla flavors. While it's above the suggested retail price limit for this piece, Chivas Regal Extra can also often be found for under $40.

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