7 Scotch whiskies perfect for beginners, according to the experts

Every whisky has its own unique qualities
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


Whisky is Scotland's national drink and something many Scots - and others across the globe - enjoy supping. It can be an acquired taste and, of course, each whisky has its own characteristics.

If you're looking to take a step into the world of the water of life (the translation of the Gaelic uisge-beatha), then it can be a bit intimidating. Deciding which bottle of Scotch to choose to start your journey is not straightforward.

So who better to ask than the experts? We have spoken to some whisky afficionados to get their views on which spirits are good for those people new to a dram. Read on below and take your pick, then you can start enjoying a wee drappie with your pals.

The basics

Some people can be quite strict about the dos and don'ts of drinking whisky, but as long as you're savouring the flavour, feel free to add a splash of water, ice, or even soda water. Make sure to experiment and discover what tickles your fancy.

Ice will tone down the stronger tastes, while a drop or two of water can often enhance a whisky's profile. Using a light mixer, such as soda water, to top up your dram can make it a more refreshing drink.

When starting out, be sure to keep a glass of water handy to sip alongside your whisky; it'll keep your throat moist and prevent that burning sensation that high alcohol content can cause.

The recommendations

Glen Scotia Double Cask (Chosen by Justine Hazelhurst, founder of Kask Whisky)

Glen Scotia Double Cask
Glen Scotia Double Cask -Credit:Whisky Exchange

Whisky writer Justine said: "A great example of a non-age statement whisky, bottled at a slightly higher than minimum strength, which won't break the bank!

"This shows how finishing in different cask types (in this case, PX sherry) can have an effect on the spirit's flavour without overwhelming it."

GlenDronach 12 (Matthew McFadyen, The Good Spirits Co.)

GlenDronach 12
GlenDronach 12 -Credit:Good Spirits Co.

Selected by Matthew McFadyen from The Good Spirits Co.

Matthew said: "We have been huge fans of GlenDronach ever since we opened the shop, the whiskies are rich and sherried with those classic christmas cake aromas. This 12yo is a great place to discover the range and style."

Compass Box Hedonism (Felipe Schrieberg, whisky writer)

Compass Box Hedonism
Compass Box Hedonism -Credit:Whisky Exchange

"Grain whisky tends to be sweet, creamy, and harsh. Great grain whiskies manage to tame that harshness or even remove it entirely.

"This blended grain, which is an unusual category of whisky to encounter in the wild, manages to do just that."

Aberfeldy 12 (Andy Flatt, Amateur Drammer)

Aberfeldy 12
Aberfeldy 12 -Credit:Whisky Exchange

Andy said: "This Aberfeldy is a perfect introduction to the softer side of whisky - honeyed, fruity and massively approachable."

Benromach 10 (Blair Bowman, whisky consultant and author)

Benromach 10
Benromach 10 -Credit:Whisky Exchange

Blair said: "Benromach 10yo is a fantastic whisky to start with if you are new to whisky. It is juicy and fruity and has just a tiny hint of smoke to it.

"Starting off in whisky can be intimidating and slightly daunting. Benromach 10 is a whisky that will welcome you with open arms and say 'pull up a chair, relax and take your time to enjoy the flavours and aromas.

"Don't get too hung up if you can't name the exact flavours and aroma, just enjoy the experience."

Balvenie Caribbean Cask (Becky Paskin, whisky writer)

Balvenie Caribbean Cask
Balvenie Caribbean Cask -Credit:Whisky Exchange

Becky said: "Everyone's palate is different, so there's no one single whisky that's suitable for every beginner.

"However, the rum cask influenced Balvenie Caribbean Cask, with its notes of cooked apples, toffee, shortbread and spice can be a good place to start. Reasonably priced and, most importantly, it tastes delicious."

Glen Keith Distillery Edition (Geraldine Murphy, The Pot Still whisky bar in Glasgow)

Glen Keith Distillery Edition
Glen Keith Distillery Edition -Credit:Whisky Exchange

Geraldine said: "A delicious and super smooth place to start - with a great price. Tasty creamy vanilla notes with no burn - even if you're not used to drinking neat whisky."

Hopefully these expert recommendations can help you get started on your Scotch whisky journey. Slàinte!

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond. Sign up to our daily newsletter.