Scotch Whisky Regions

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Here is a guide to the Scotch Whisky regions - Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside. Each offers a different take on Scotch Whisky.

By Jonathan Goldie

Speyside

The most densely populated Whisky region in the world and technically a subregion of the Highlands; distilleries in this region can use either term on their labels. famous for fertile glens and, of course, the River Spey. Speyside whiskies are known for being light with the peat and full of fruit and nutty characteristics with some light spice have their part to play and are commonly matured in Sherry casks. A great place to start if you're just beginning your whiskey adventure.

Famous distilleries: The Balvenie, Glenfiddich, The Macallan, The Glenlivet

Highland

The often overlooked to Speyside—despite encompassing it—the Highlands are often seen as less refined. The largest region by area, it technically also includes the islands (apart from Islay). Ideas of Highland style are the most varied as there is not one particular style that truly defines the region. From lighter whiskies all the way through salty coastal malts, the Highlands offers a Scotch for all palates.

Famous distilleries: Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Oban

Islands

The 'Islands' are officially treated as a subcategory of the Highlands, but the flavours of the island Whiskies partly differ significantly from the Whiskies of the mainland. Most of these whiskies are tinged by the salinity of the sea, but beyond that, their flavour profiles vary wildly from island to island. An intensely smoky Talisker from Skye is a far cry from the powerful heather and honey notes of a scotch-like Highland Park from Orkney. Other distilleries offer a nutty, malty middle-ground between sweetness and smoke.

Famous distilleries: Talisker, Highland Park and Jura.

Lowland

In the past, Lowland Single Malts were usually triple distilled, giving them a lighter character. Even today, Lowlanders are therefore still related to Irish Whiskey in terms of production and taste. Soft and smooth malts are characteristic of this region, offering a gentle, elegant palette reminiscent of grass, honeysuckle, cream, ginger, toffee, toast and cinnamon. The whiskies are often lighter in character and perfect as an aperitif.

Famous distilleries: Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie

Campbeltown

The capital of the Kintyre Peninsula in southwestern Scotland gave the Campbeltown region its name. Once a powerhouse of distilling whose malts were widely used in blending, though just three distilleries operate in the area today. Campbeltown whiskies are varied and full of flavour. Hints of salt, smoke, fruit, vanilla, caramel and toffee mingle in whiskies of robust and rich character.

Famous distilleries: Springbank, Glen Scotia, Glengyle

Islay

Islay (pronounced ‘eye-luh’) is a magical island where the majority of its population are involved in whisky production. Characterized by peat smoke and the fresh sea air and refined by sweet as well as floral elements of heather. Many also describe the aroma as 'medicinal', showing notes of iodine, salt and seaweed. Many have described a dram from this region as sticking your head in a fireplace as the warmth and smoke rush over you.

Famous distilleries: Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore,Bruichladdich,

Scotch Whiskies

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