Five Scotch Whiskies Under £50: Part 1 The Lowlands

by Matt Chambers
at Whisky for Everyone

Best value whiskies

This is the first part of a series about Scotch whiskies under £50. This price point is where most distilleries and brands place their first bottling or two in the core range, and where they sell the most whisky.

Within the series we will look at some of the best value for money whiskies from the six different whisky making regions of Scotland. We kick off with The Lowlands.


The Lowlands region

This often-overlooked region is located south of The Highland Line, running diagonally from the mouths of the River Clyde in the west to the River Tay in the east. It covers Scotland’s two largest cities – Edinburgh and Glasgow – plus rural areas such as Ayrshire, The Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, and The Kingdom of Fife.

Scotch whiskies here are traditionally known for their light, elegant and delicate style with fruity, floral, and grassy notes. However, this is changing with the development of the craft distilling movement in Scotland, of which The Lowlands is a particular hotbed.

Auchentoshan | Three Wood

The distillery of Auchentoshan sits to the northwest of Glasgow and is the only single malt in Scotland that is triple distilled 100% of the time. This practice is more associated with Irish whiskey and is believed to have been introduced by Irish immigrants who worked at the distillery in the early days. Founded in 1823, Auchentoshan has a large core range.

While much of Auchentoshan’s range hits traditional flavour markers, the Three Wood goes in a different direction. It is a cult classic amongst whisky drinkers. The name refers to the three cask types that are used. Initial maturation is in ex-bourbon barrels, before finishing in ex-Oloroso sherry then ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry.

Expect rich notes of caramel, treacle, and dark dried fruits such as raisin and prune, married with milk chocolate and hints of orange peel and toasted hazelnut.

Cost = £45

Glenkinchie | 12 years old

For much of recent history, Glenkinchie was the closest distillery to Edinburgh. The craft movement has seen several built within the city itself now, but Glenkinchie remains a popular tourist destination. Founded in 1837 in the East Lothian hills, its single malt is an important component of the Johnnie Walker blended whisky range.

This is recognised at the distillery, which is one of the Johnnie Walker Four Corners of Scotland centres – the others being Caol Ila on Islay, Cardhu in Speyside, and Clynelish in the Highlands.

This is a classic Lowland-style single malt. Elegant notes of honey and vanilla mingle with a distinct malty characteristic and some floral and grassy elements. The whisky forms part of Diageo’s Classic Malts range and is its Lowland representative. Maturation is in ex-bourbon casks. This malt is often overlooked and much underrated.

Cost = £47

Holyrood | New Make

OK, so this is not technically a whisky. This new make spirit has come straight off the still and had no maturation in cask. New make is a great way to discover the true ‘house style’ and character of a distillery’s spirit without any influence of oak.

Holyrood was the first whisky distillery to open in Edinburgh for almost a century when founded in 2019. It is located right in the city centre, close to the Scottish Parliament building, and is home to a popular visitor centre. The distillery’s experimental outlook has already started turning heads in the industry.

Holyrood New Make is bottled at 60% ABV and part of an innovative series showcasing the different styles of spirit they are producing. Notes of white pepper, dark chocolate, malty cereals, and crisp green orchard fruit dominate.

Cost = £35

Kingsbarns | Balcomie

The Kingdom of Fife has become home to several new distilleries during the last decade. Kingsbarns, near the town of St. Andrews and its famous golf course, was one of the pioneers. It was founded in 2014 and led the Scottish craft whisky movement from the front.

The owners, the Wemyss family, are also renowned independent bottlers of small batch blended malts and single cask single malts. Kingsbarns single malts are malty, fruity and have an effortless elegance. Balcomie, named after another well-known links golf course in the local area, has spent 100% of its time in ex-Oloroso sherry butts.

Expect aromas and notes of Christmas cask, milk chocolate and dried apricot. These characteristics are accentuated by further notes of candied citrus, sultana, and cinnamon.

Cost = £49

Lochlea | Our Barley

The Lochlea distillery is one of only two true field-to-bottle single malt distilleries in Scotland. All barley needed for its annual whisky production of around 600 tonnes is grown on Lochlea Farm in rural Ayrshire where the distillery is located. Founded in 2015, Lochlea is one of the leading Scottish craft distilleries.

Our Barley is Lochlea’s first permanent core product. It joins several award-winning limited editions that celebrate the farming year – Fallow Edition, Sowing Edition, Harvest Edition etc. Maturation is in ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and STR (shaved, toasted and recharred) casks.

This whisky is soft and fruity with plenty of green apple and pear evident, plus golden syrup and brown sugar and an underlying hint of cocoa powder and gingerbread. A superb whisky that points to a bright future for the brand.

Cost = £45


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