Scottish Whisky Regions
Scotch Malt Whisky is produced all over Scotland and can be broken down into six regions, Lowlands, Speyside, Highland, Islands, Islay and Campbeltown. Scotch is similar to wine in the way the location of where it's produced makes a big difference to how it tastes, looks and smells even though it's produced in the same country. Scotland is a small nation, but the differences in location when comparing Whisky taste are phenomenal.
The Lowlands : Light and Smooth
Located in Southern Scotland, THE LOWLANDS is the second-biggest whisky region in Scotland. There are currently 11 working distilleries in the region, but more are in development. Traditionally triple-distilled, lowland malts tend to be light, gentle and unpeated with little salinity. Lowland malts are a perfect starting point for someone unaccustomed to the amber nectar, and would like to start to explore the wonderful world of Scotch malt whisky. Typical flavours that can be expected are cream, toffee, ginger, cinnamon and grass.
Famous Lowland Distilleries include : Auchentoshan, Glenkinichie, Bladnoch and Glasgow.
Highland : The Wonder of Variety
The HIGHLANDS is Scotland's largest whisky-producing area, offering a truly epic range of different flavours and styles. The north is well known for sweet, rich, full-bodied malts. In contrast, those in the southeast tends to be a little lighter and more fragrant, while the west coast malts often have peatier, more maritime characteristics. The Highlands of Scotland are world famous for their outstanding beauty and wild majestic landscapes, and are home to more than 40 distilleries.. Wherever your Highland malt is from, be sure to expect complexity and elegance in every drop. Well known Highland whiskies include : Glenmorangie, Dalmore, Glendronach and Oban.
Islay : Whisky Island
The rugged island of ISLAY (pronounced eye-luh) can be found to the west of the mainland, and despite being the smallest Whisky region, its importance cannot be underestimated. It is thought that the art of whisky distillation came to Scotland from Ireland via Islay in the 13th century. Tending to be pungent and heavily peated, these full-bodied beasts are loaded with smoke and salinity, and not for the faint-hearted! However, don't let that put you off, as they are greatly loved the world over. An acquired taste, but a life-changing experience. Islay is currently home to 8 distilleries, 3 of which are World famous : Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin.
Speyside : The Heart of Scotch
Although a sub-region of the Highlands, SPEYSIDE is the most densely populated whisky region in the world. Located in the northeast and hosting more than 60 distilleries, 60% of Scotland's single malt production comes from this picturesque region surrounding the river Spey. These whiskies are often fruity, sweet and nutty, featuring notes of apple, honey, vanilla, and spice, thanks to the widespread use of sherry casks. Among the whiskies from this region are some of the world's most famous names : The Macallan, Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet, The Balvenie, Glenfarclas and Glenallachie.
Island : Spirit of the Sea
THE ISLANDS, although theoretically a subdivision of the Highlands, also offer diversity, but balanced with some consistency of style. Most offer a peaty, salty style (albeit milder than their island cousin Islay), while some branch into the realms of herbs, honey, nuts and heather. All share a distinctly coastal style, for obvious reasons. There are close to 800 islands off of Scotland’s coastline, despite only a modest number being inhabited. Of the inhabited islands, Orkney has two whisky distilleries, Scapa and Highland Park, whereas Lewis & Harris is home to Abhainn Dearg. Talisker (the largest island distillery) is located on Skye, Tobermory on Mull with Jura and Arran located on their namesake islands.
Campbeltown : Tradition and Excellence
A tiny region (which is also a town) at the tip of a peninsula between Arran, Islay and Northern Ireland. At one time CAMPBELTOWN was home to 35 distilleries and known as the “Whisky Capital of the World”. Currently, it is home to only three producers, Springbank (incorporating Hazelburn and Longrow), Glen Scotia and Glengyle. Springbank is heavier and a slightly smokier, Longrow is much more peaty, while Hazleburn is triple distilled and often sherried. The newer Glengyle is salty and citrusy, w Glen Scotia is lighter and grassier. Campbeltown distilleries are small, independent and maintain traditional methods.