Bank Note Blended Scotch

Arguably, times are bad. The economy is still in the dumps, unemployment is high, and the whisky industry is having a field day with rampant price increases. In the midst of this less-than-favorable market, there are still a few good ways to get a deal. Bank Note blended scotch from the Morrison family (owners of celebrated independent bottler A.D. Rattray) is 1 liter of blended scotch for $20. That’s cheaper than… well, just about everything else. Given the current market conditions, at that price, it -should- taste like garbage. It doesn’t. If you want something to lower your average yearly spend on scotch without having to buy Red Label, stop reading this now and go buy some of this. I have no idea how long the Morrisons can maintain stock at this price, but I can’t imagine they’ve got an unlimited supply; either quality or price will have to give as the market continues to balloon.

Bank Note is a blend of 40% single malts to 60% scotch grain whisky. That’s WAY higher than most blends, even though one must assume the malts aren’t worthy of bottling as single-cask products (or A.D. Rattray most certainly would have done so). At 43% ABV and 5 years of age (minimum), and a bonus 250ml due to the larger bottle, it’s hard to justify buying any other low-end blend as long as this is available. It’s no SIA or Great King Street, but it’s eminently drinkable, mixable, and at this price I swear I can taste the money I’m saving. Seriously, I should include ‘VALUE’ in the tasting notes!

Nose: Peach (indicating mild sherry), some brash young grain. Somewhat lemony, but otherwise standard cereal notes. Light and inoffensive.

Palate: Mid-creamy body. Nougat. Lemon gummy candies. Cocoa nibs. Very mild tongue burn.

Finish: On the short side. Caramel and freshly-baked bread. The lemon notes turn a little bitter – like lemon pith.

With Water: Reveals some vanilla in the nose, thins the body, and washes out some of the more interesting flavors. Perhaps more citrus on the finish, but I wouldn’t bother.

Overall: It’s certainly not bad. Compared to every other $20/liter blended scotch, it stands far above the competition. It lacks a substantial aroma, but presents a pleasantly sweet array of notes on the tongue, and does not reveal any of the off-flavors I usually get with young grain. The finish is, like the nose, unremarkable. I would still prefer Great King Street if I had only one blend, which is altogether more elegant and more balanced, but it’s also more than twice the price. I recommend this over Johnnie Walker Black Label, Chivas, Dewars, or any other sub-$40 blend. If this product remains available for this price, it will become my standard cheap blend. A rare example, these days, of whisky sold for a price below its value. If you need something cheap to get your wallet through the price increases we’re seeing lately, look no further.

Note: The “Must Try” rating reflects the quality-to-value ratio of this bottle. If you’re not looking for an alternative cheap blend, then this is not “must”-anything for you.

Bank Note Blended Scotch
43% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $20 PER 1 LITER (1000 ml)
Acquired: (bottle) K&L Wine Merchants, Redwood City, CA. $20.
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21 Comments

21 Responses to Bank Note Blended Scotch

  1. This one definitely deserves the great press you’re giving it. It’s become a new favourite since I’ve been trying to save cash this year.

  2. politicalidiot says:

    I’m gonna have to give this one a try. Other than Black Bottle, I have had little luck enjoying sub $20 Scotch.

  3. martini says:

    A surprising review! At a duty free, I saw a bottle which I believed was called King of Clubs or King of Spades scotch. If I recall correctly it was 1140 ml and it was $8. Scary. I cannot find it anywhere online but curious to know if anyone reviewed it.

  4. Peter t says:

    Hello Noob. First time commenter here…woop woop! Anyways, it sounds like a pretty good whisky but am I correct in assuming that you bumped the rating of it up a notch because of it being such a goos value? Cheers.

    • Hi Peter,

      Yes, all of my ratings include a subjective analysis of the “worth” of a whisky, which includes its “bang for the buck”. If Bank Note retailed for $100 a bottle, I would give it an “Avoid” rating. Similarly, if a whisky I wasn’t crazy about, like Yamazaki 12 year retailed for $27, it would warrant a hearty recommendation. It’s not a perfect system, but it actually causes less confusion than a number-point scale… “How can Talisker 10 be rated 95 and Talisker 18 is only 92?!?!”

      • Steven says:

        Only way you can do that fairly, is a 2 rating point system. A rating of how good the whiskey is across the whole range of whiskey. And a rating adjusting for value. could even do a rating of, this whiskey came out with a overall rating of 75 compared across the board of whiskey’s. It gaines 20 points for value, giving it a rounded score of 95. then you can look and see, it’s way lower than glenfiddich 30 year aged. But still a really good buy. The advantage to that is, if my budget is $35 for a bottle of scotch, i can get a clearer idea of what I’m gaining relative quality wise, spending the extra $15. Rather than, the somewhat confusing am I better or worse at the higher rated scotch costing $25 than the lower rated $35 dollar scotch. I mean, yeah, it might not be as good a value, but is it actually better?

        • I’ve thought about doing that, but it ends up being somewhat hard to explain to new readers. Also, it’s a lot of work keeping everything consistent – especially when prices inevitably change.

  5. Grant says:

    How would you compare this to Grant’s Family Reserve?

  6. Noobier than You says:

    Looking at my first bottle now. Went in asking for Black Bottle and inquiring about deal they had on something else (2 for $30 or something like that). They recommended the 1 liter Bank Note instead b/c of the value. Decided to buy and vette later. Looking forward to a taste.

  7. Jason says:

    Picked up a bottle of this today. I REALLY like this stuff for the price. Hell, I’d like this stuff for $10 more even.

  8. dc_chicago says:

    Not a big fan. Bitter. Sticking with Teachers, which continues to impress me.

    • Dc_chicago says:

      I want to take back my comments. I actually stuck with this and I really enjoyed it. I think this is a superb value. It does have a little bitterness, but I may have subconsciously been comparing it to Glendronach that I was tasting around the same time. My bad.

  9. Jeff Davis says:

    This is truly a marvelous find and elegant taste to be sure – taste is great, the whisky well crafted and certainly the best buy for the price in years. Definitely beats the spats off Johmmy Walker Black Label.

  10. BoB Mion says:

    Tried my first bottle.very impressed I think itis as good as J&B or Dewars.Trouble is you can’t find it at all stores

  11. Rob C. says:

    Thanks for the review. I tried this a few years ago. I’ve only found the 750ml size. My first bottle was fabulous. Smokey and creamy with delicious flavors. My favorite scotch. “Like mother’s milk!” The next bottle lacked the smoke, but was still creamy and tasty. The bottle I bought a few weeks ago seems to be less creamy, less rich, and harsher with more noticeable bitterness. Disappointing, but still very good. Maybe the Morrison’s don’t have enough “left over” malts on hand to keep the blend consistent.

    • Thanks for the note, Rob. I hadn’t noticed a degrading in the quality of Bank Note, but then I haven’t been drinking it recently (lots of other bottles to get through!). I had always thought that the quality-for-value ratio was higher than expected for this blend, and that it was unlikely that the company would be able to maintain the same consistency… especially considering that rising demand has eviscerated the market for independent barrel resale and filling contracts. It must be getting harder and harder to source decent whisky for a blend like this. I don’t think Bank Note is the only product suffering from the scarcity of good whisky, either. Even companies (like Diageo) that tend to produce all of their own blending stock are finding it hard to meet demand. I’m guessing they are dumping barrels into the marrying tun that would have been marked down and resigned to the secondary market in the past.

  12. Jeff says:

    Good stuff! I’m a peaty blend drinker: Teacher’s, White Horse, Black Bottle, Isle of Skye, JWBL etc. my latest concoction is 4 parts Bank Note and 1 part Laphroig.. It’s stellar! And cost wise Bank Note is so cheap that you only need buy a Laphroig to mix with every 5th bottle. Brilliant. On its own this is a surprisingly tasty, floral complex sweet Speyside/Highland style blend that tastes as good as some cheaper single malts.

  13. Leon Bernsen says:

    Really good blend. Trouble is, my liquor store says they can’t get it, “out of stock.” Is anyone else having this problem? Next time I find it, I will buy a case. Jeff, I want to try your Laphroig ‘concoction. Laphroig is my preferred Sctoch.

    • Jeff says:

      Not having this problem Leon, where do you live? Northern California here. In my opinion Bank Note is a nice blend, but moreso based on value. In other words, you can still make the concoction with any other non smoky blend of good quality. Meaning I am not sure it would work with a grocery store Scotch like JW Red or Cutty ( I wont even drink those) but it might work well with Grant’s or Buchanan’s 12. Those two blends I like and find very similar to Bank Note and are not too expensive. I like Laphroig too!

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