Buchanan’s 12-year-old DeLuxe scotch is a venerable blended scotch with a low profile, though it scores rather high in the quality department. Notes of baked bread, vanilla and light medicinal notes harmoniously weave together to create a long, lightly sweet finish.
Classification blended scotch
Still Type pot and column
Released 1884; ongoing
Proof 80 (40% ABV)
Aged at least 12 years
Awards Double Gold Medal, 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition; 9-time Gold Medal winner, San Francisco World Spirits Competition
Most low-to-mid-priced blended scotches are used for mixing nowadays, but Buchanan’s 12-year-old is a versatile dram that makes a top-notch sipper, as well.
Buchanan’s huge global sales belie a relatively low profile in the States, which makes it an affordable mainstream whisky that also has a cool under-the-radar vibe to appeal to whiskyphiles.
The brand’s low price and relatively low profile can cause scotch buyers to overlook it and go for flashier and more recognizable brands like Johnnie Walker.
Color: Light yellow-gold—many of Diageo’s whiskies contain caramel coloring, but given how relatively light this is, it would be surprising if it were artificially colored.
Nose: This is the way a good old-fashioned blended scotch is supposed to smell: rather medicinal at first (similar to Dewar’s), with light vanilla and freshly baked bread coming to the fore as the whisky interacts with the air around it.
Palate: It’s rounded and gentle (some might say “smooth”) but quite flavorful. Vanilla, apricot and melon are the stars of the show upfront, with lightly medicinal notes bringing up the rear. The malt and grain flavors gradually increase in intensity as the whisky moves to the back of the palate.
Finish: Long, lightly sweet and a touch medicinal, with malty notes lingering long after the final sip
Buchanan’s isn’t quite a household name in the U.S., but the venerable brand has been around since 1884, when James Buchanan, a London merchant and entrepreneur, produced his own blended scotch to sell in the underserved British market. Since then, it has survived and thrived, with a largely overlooked presence stateside but a global fanbase that makes it one of the best-selling blended scotches in the world.
It’s popular for a reason. This is a terrific old-school blended scotch, the kind of whisky your grandfather drank. Back in Gramps’ day, Buchanan’s was a high-end top-shelf brand. Today, it’s migrated downward, joining other blends like Dewar’s or Cutty Sark. With its medicinal notes, Buchanan’s bears some similarity to Dewar’s White Label, but Buchanan’s is more balanced, with a beautifully rounded, nuanced sweetness and maltiness.
Buchanan’s 12-year-old is the rare beast that’s both affordable and delicious. It’s easy to drink, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple or one-dimensional. Those who pay attention will be rewarded with unfolding layers of flavor, though it’s also great for social drinking-without-thinking imbibing. There’s really no wrong way to drink this versatile dram. It’s stellar when taken neat or on the rocks. The brand’s website lists a host of cocktails in which it can be included, many of them with a surprising Tiki bent, but a simple Highball or Rob Roy is a fine place to start. That said, the price is right for experimentation. This isn’t a whisky to save for special occasions.