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13 Blended Whiskies That Are Hard To Find in The UK & Why

Updated: Mar 5


hard to find blended whiskies in the UK

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


Blended whiskies come in various types, ranging from big brands and lesser-known, small-batch expressions to those created exclusively for specific supermarket chains. The market is dominated by big names like Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal, and Dewar's, which are widely available. Among these, Johnnie Walker is the most popular.


Blended whiskies account for over 90% of all whisky sales. Many single malt distilleries rely heavily on selling their whiskies to be included in blends and would not survive without them.

In the UK, some well-known blends are difficult to come by. While serving customers at high-end whisky shops, we have observed that specific blends are exceptionally elusive. In this article, we will investigate why this may be the case.



 
  1. Johnnie Walker Red Label

Our first entry on the list might surprise you - it's the Johnnie Walker Red Label. Despite being the cheapest and youngest blend in the Walker range, it's one of the best-selling blends globally. While it can be challenging to find in the UK, it was initially intended for the export market outside the UK. Recently, it has become more accessible, making the search much more manageable.

Johnnie Walker Red Label

Image by Desertcart



 

2. Johnnie Walker Platinum Label 18yo


The Johnnie Walker line-up includes the Platinum Label 18-year-old whiskey, produced between 2010 and 2017. It replaced the Gold Label and the 15-year-old Green Label and was sold alongside the Gold Label Reserve. During the availability of the Platinum, the Green Label took a holiday to Taiwan but returned to the UK market when the Platinum was discontinued and replaced by the Gold 18-year-old.


Since it was discontinued in 2017, the Platinum Label has become increasingly difficult to find.

Johnnie Walker Platinum Label

Image by The Whisky Shop



 

3. Johnnie Walker Swing


We promise this is the final Johnnie Walker on the list. While numerous limited edition Johnnie Walker blends exist, particularly the Blue Labels, the Swing is a unique case. It was first introduced in 1932 specifically for transatlantic voyages, and the bottle was designed to swing without falling over, hence the name. We could not find the exact year when it was discontinued, but our only reference indicated that it was 'long discontinued.' Some bottles are still available at auctions. We last saw a bottle on a store shelf approximately five years ago.

Johnnie Walker Swing

Image by Centaurus International



 

4. Haig Gold Label & Dimple


This article is about the Haig Gold Label, which differs from the widely available Haig Club. The Gold Label is a blend of whiskies from Glenkinchie and Cameronbridge and has been around since the 19th century. Despite its popularity in the past, the sales of Haig and Dimple, its superior version, have declined in the UK, leading to most of the essential blend being exported to other parts of the world. Diageo, the owner of Haig, has focused more on their other blended brands, such as Johnnie Walker and Buchanan's, leaving Haig to disappear from the UK market gradually. You may still be able to find the Dimple, also known as the Pinch, in the UK, but only limited quantities are made available.


Haig Gold Label and Dimple blended whiskies

Image by The Whisky Exchange


 

5. Buchanan's


The Buchanan's blend, another Diageo entry, has been around since the late 1800s but is rare in the UK. Most of the whisky is shipped to Latin America and the US, so it's uncommon to come across it in the market. However, one or two bottles might surface from time to time.


Buchanan's blended whisky

Image by Buchanan's Whisky



 

6. Old Parr


Old Parr whisky is primarily produced for export markets outside the UK and is commonly sold in Japan, Latin America, Mexico, and the US. Although it is rare to find bottles of Old Parr in the UK, it is not impossible. Alternatively, you may want to try Cragganmore whisky, a key ingredient in Old Parr.

Grand old par blended whisky

Image by Vinha



 

7. Shackleton Discovery & Journey


Before the blue-labelled Mackinlay's Shackleton blend, there were two limited edition releases: Shackleton's Discovery and Journey. These were made to commemorate the British Antarctic Expedition of 1907, and each had a production run of around 50,000 bottles. Although a significant number of bottles were produced, it can still be challenging to find these limited releases by Whyte & MacKay.


Shackleton's Journey and Discovery blended whiskies

Image by The Whisky Exchange



 

8. Vat 69


William Sanderson introduced Vat 69 in 1882. It is a blend of around 40 different malts and grain whiskies. Legend has it that he vatted 100 casks and invited a panel of friends to blind taste them, and number 69 emerged as the winner. The blend comprises whiskies from Glen Garioch and North British Grain distillery, among others.


Vat 69 blend was also part of the Shackleton voyage. It gained popularity in India during the 60s, 70s, and 80s when it became the preferred choice of booze for gangsters in Bollywood films. Vat 69 is most prevalent in India, South Africa, Uruguay, and Argentina, and most of the whisky produced is meant for these export markets. It can be challenging to find in the UK.

Vat 69 blended whisky

Image by Amazon UK/ whisky.auction



 

9. Black & White


Diageo owns the Black and White blend, primarily intended for the French market. Although it enjoys great popularity in Venezuela and Brazil, it is unavailable in the UK, according to Diageo. However, some specialised outlets may sell it. Black & White is a reasonably priced and straightforward blend.

Black and White blended whisky

Image by The Whisky Exchange



 

10. White Horse


White Horse blend has existed since 1883 and is renowned for using Lagavulin malt in its mix. The blend comprises 40% malt whiskies and is incredibly popular in the United States. Additionally, most of the whisky produced is sold outside the United Kingdom.


White Horse blended whisky

Image by Aristo Spirits



 

11. Long John


It may seem like the Long John blend has disappeared, but it is still being produced by its owner, Pernod Ricard. However, most of the bottles are sold in the French spirits market, so finding them in the UK could be challenging. The blend contains 48 distinct whiskies.


Long John blended whisky


 

12. Bailie Nicol Jarvie


Unsurprisingly, people are still searching for discontinued high malt-content blended whisky. This whisky had an impressive 60% malt content, with a good amount of Glenmorangie, and was also reasonably priced. Unfortunately, the Glenmorangie Company decided to retire the blend in 2014, making it increasingly difficult to find, regardless of where you live.


Bailie Nicol Jarvie blended whisky

Image by Whiskybase



 

13. House of Lords


The blend is still in production, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to find outside the Parliament Shop in Westminster, London. Occasionally, a few bottles may find their way to other stores, but your best bet is to visit the Parliament Shop if you want to purchase a bottle.


House of Lords blended whisky

Image by Houses of Parliament Shop



 

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