So you want to talk value, do you? Well okay: let's talk. Bank Note is my number one, absolute go-to recommendation when people ask me what I think is the best price-to-quality ratio in the world of scotch whisky. Full stop.
In fact, there's so many delightful qualities that I will often pour myself some of this not simply to space out my single malts, but because I like the taste of Bank Note. It's a blend, sure, but it tastes good and requires no degree of hand-waving for me to have a supremely enjoyable tasting experience even when it's flanked by vastly more expensive bottles on my shelf.
Still, let's run down what's pretty great about this stuff when it absolutely doesn't have to be for a sub-$20 bottle. First, the five-year age statement. To me, that's a sign of pride and quality control. There's also clearly some sherry maturation, which indicates again a level of complexity and hands-on interaction with cask management. It's 43% ABV rather than the usual 40% you'd expect in a blend, giving you additional flavor enhancement. And lastly, there's the impressive amount of single malt in comparison to grain whisky in the blend—a 40-60 ratio, to be specific.
So here's how Bank Note tastes, because all of the above are nice bona-fides but don't mean much if they don't produce some positive effect in the glass. First, Bank Note is remarkably soft on the palate for being composed of fairly young grain whisky. It has a buttery mouthfeel that finishes without too much harsh spirit aggressiveness—again, all the more impressive given the marginally higher proof.
However, the clarity of taste is really something to behold. Bank Note hints of blood orange and cherry cordials on the nose, but these flavors are huge in the glass. On the development, there's also a tremendous amount of vanilla that steps forward at a moment where you're already impressed. There's a wisp of smoke on the finish that reminds you you're drinking a scotch, but again, it goes down gently and primes you for another sip.
Bank Note is masculine but juicy. It's sophisticated enough for a blend, but entirely approachable. And again, it's less than $20 for a bottle. Like, for a one-liter bottle. I don't know who over at A.D. Rattray made a satanic pact or what manner of animal / person was sacrificed in order to offer something this good at so low of a price, but I'm willing to turn a blind eye no matter what the sordid details are.
Would I recommend this to a first-time scotch drinker? No. I think there are gentler introductions. Would I recommend this to a jaded scotch drinker looking for something to excite when something like Talisker 18 no longer lights their fire? No. I think you have to be tolerant of grain whisky to enjoy Bank Note on this level, and some vilify grain whisky in whatever form it takes.
However, I do recommend Bank Note unequivocally to people who already like scotch whisky and want to find an affordable blend that offers tremendous drinkability. Most of my whisky-loving friends and family now have a bottle in their homes, and whenever it comes out we continue to gush about how good of a blend it is.
I defy you to find a better scotch at this price point.