Best and Worst Scotch Labels

Best and Worst Scotch Labels

  1. A friend of mine once told me that the best Scotch comes from Scotland. Once I finally stopped laughing, got up off the floor, recovered from an extended bout of snickering and brushed the hay out of my hair (yes, he lives in a barn), I informed him that all Scotch comes from Scotland, otherwise it’s just called whiskey. 

    Granted, this subject is entirely subjective and depends entirely on the pallet of the person sipping (or in some cases gulping) the Scotch in question. With that said, let me begin by naming all of the swill that’s come out of Scotland labeled as Scotch.


     Starting this list is perhaps the most widely sold brand of Scotch on Earth: Johnny Walker. First of all, that name doesn’t even strike me as remotely Scottish. I think old Johnny was an Englishman who, while drunk on his own swill, turned left when he meant to turn right and wound up in Edenborough, thinking he had waddled into London, and set up his distillery as a cruel joke just to make Scots look bad. Of course, to accomplish this, he’d have to create the vilest whiskey in history and label it as Scotch. Bitter does not begin to describe this horrendous brew, whether you’re talking black label, red label, blue label or paisley label (yeah, there’s no such thing, but it would go over well in San Francisco, I’d wager). Have you ever had a shot of Angostura bitters? Well, that stuff goes down smooth when compared to anything produced by the Johnny Walker distillery.


    My favorite author, Dean Koontz, might find this article objectionable should he be bored enough to cruise the internet in search of obscure pieces critiquing various liquors.  His protagonists often enjoy a bubbling glass of Johnny Walker (no, it isn’t supposed to bubble; it’s the acid that does that); and when they aren’t gagging on a tumbler of JW—as Johnny Walker fans would call it, if there were any—they’re sipping on my next least favorite Scotch, Chivas Regal. Just as disgusting as JW, Chivas would best be used as a paint remover. The only Scotch I’ve tried that’s even less drinkable than Chivas or JW is Cutty Sark. Even the name tells you that something is wrong: “cutty” is not an adjective, and what the heck is a “sark”. Sure, this liquor is named after the famous Scottish clipper ship, but my objection over the name stands.




     Now that I’m done ranting, I’ll move on to mediocre but acceptable, and in a word, that would be Dewar’s, the only blended Scotch that I will allow to touch these lips. Because my only experiences with Scotch previously had been with Johnny Walker, Chivas Regal and Cutty Sark, I was more than a little hesitant to try Dewar’s the first time. The past had shown me that Scotch was wretched stuff, after all. Fortunately, Dewar’s set me straight and showed me that Scotch didn’t have to taste like turpentine (but worse). I liked the 5-year Dewar’s fine, then discovered the 7-year and liked it more, and when I got to the 12-year special reserve, I finally realized that Scotch could be a good thing.


     Then I discovered my two favorite brands: Glenlivet and Glenfiddich.  Really, any Scotch that starts with “glen” is okay with me. I realize that there are more illustrious brands of single malt Scotch out there, certainly more expensive labels, but these two satisfy me every time. I have had “peaty” Scotch brands that I found appealing, but would not want to drink more than rarely; I have sampled others that I would admit may be the superior to both Glenlivet or Glenfiddich, but the price tags always left me reeling—not that these two are cheap by any standard. However, even I can afford to buy the occasional bottle (and it does have to be for an occasion when I crack it, though I don’t need any special occurrence to continue draining the remainder).

Leave a Reply