Looking for a Crowd-Pleasing House Scotch

I very much enjoy Scotch, especially a good Scotch, but I know very little about it. I’d like to learn more. In the interim, however, I’d like to spend $50 - $125 on a bottle for the bar that (1) is very good, (2) is generally a crowd-pleaser, (3) is likely to be available in Texas, and (4) isn’t something ubiquitous, i.e., Macallan, Johnny Walker, Glenfiddich, etc. I plan to do some real exploring (any good book recs?), but for now I just want something delicious and somewhat interesting that I can drink and serve to guests. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

I like the Aberlour line for crowd pleasers. The 12 yo is $35-40 and the A’bunadh (cask strength age in sherry butts) is $65-70 in CA.

Aberlour 10 is what came to my mind immediately (and it falls on the lower end of your price range). Same goes for Highland Park 12, Cragganmore 12, and Clynelish 14. Mortlach 16 is pretty good, but it is finished in sherry casks (if that’s a deal-breaker for you), and should also be in your price range.

I’m coming to your house if the every day stuff goes up to 125. Do you prefer the salty, peaty style or the floral Highland profile? I like most…

I think the balvenie line has a number if crowd pleasers that fit your price range. The 14yr Caribbean cask, 17yr doublewood, 17 Madeira cask, 17yr peated cask and 21yr portwood.

I always found the best readily available was Lagavulin. Smokey, peaty, floral and complex. Many fancier labels out there. This seems to be pretty easy to get, and it is a quality dram.

Lagavulin is way too peaty to be a “crowd pleaser.”

Glenrothes is my house scotch, and is a crowd pleaser. Not peaty. Smooth and delicious.


I’d stay away from the overly peaty scotches if you want a true crowd pleaser

On this boards rec I got some highland park 15 for $70, and I think it would fit this bill. It’s not overly smoky or peaty, and is quite mild given it is 15 years old. Not the most distinctive but definetly gets the job done.

My usual recommendation for a crowd pleaser is Auchentoshan Three Wood

Ha. I rarely drink the hard stuff, so a bottle of Scotch lasts me a long time. And I figure if I drink $30+ bottles of wine regularly, which are consumed in a night, I can swing $100+ Scotch, which takes many nights to drink.

(And thank you for all the suggestions! Keep them coming. I will bring the list to the liquor store and see what I get, and I will let you know what I think.)

Lagavulin is pretty polarizing. Definitely NOT a crowd pleaser.

On the up side, a bottle should last a long time. Good to have contrasting styles and it won’t break the bank.

I’m still nursing my bottle of Aberlour Cask Strength I received as a birthday gift last May. It only comes out for special occasions…

The A’bundah is awesome. My favorite of all those mentioned.

Aberlour is too weak and tastes like a blend to me. I really like Lagavulin but it’s clearly not a “crowd pleaser.”

My candidate for that would be Dalwhinnie…

Their 21 year old is reasonably priced for the quality and could be a crowd pleaser to those who like higher end scotch, and is around the high end of your price range. But if we are talking “house Scotch” are we talking neat, on the rocks, or with water/soda water?

In reality, when it comes to crowd pleasing, it depends on the crowd. With all the single malts there are in the house, the only thing I’m constantly replacing is Dewars. If the crowd were Scotch freaks it might be different, but I find the majority of MY Scotch drinking friends/visitors prefer a blended Scotch. I used to keep Passport as a backup. I have some 30 year old single malt Scotch that is now 60 years old.


My favorites are the Isla malts but they are not to everyone’s taste.
If they like smoky peaty, Lagavulin (12 cask is the best to me), Ardbeg 10 and others, Caol Ila, Laphroaig… these are the best to me.

Most like the Speyside malts however. Glenlivet is the standard here but my favorites are Highland Park, Balvenie and a few others more obscure.

You should easily find one that fits your budget. I do not like Glenfiddich however. Personal preference.

The A’bunadh is very nice. Look around however. There are a ton of great Speyside producers. Aberlour is but one.