Scotch Whisky Regions

Words by Simon Diffford

Scotch Whisky Regions image 1

Single Malt Scotch whiskies are grouped by region, each embracing certain characteristics. These are: Highlands (inc. & Speyside), Lowlands, Islands, Islay and Campbeltown.

Highlands

By far the biggest region with wide variations in style, The Highlands officially encompass the islands of Arran, Jura, Lewis, Mull, Orkney, Shetland and Skye, but many, including us group these under the heading 'Island' (see below).

The Western part of the Highlands, at least on the mainland, has only a few distilleries and due to their scattered nature it is difficult to make generalisations over their character. However, the whiskies tend to be rounded, firm and dry with some peatiness.

The north of the region has several whiskies with a heathery, spicy character, partly due to their coastal location and heather in the peat. The more sheltered East Highlands and the Midlands of Scotland tend to produce fruity malts.

Speyside, the main Highland distillation area, lies between the cities of Inverness and Aberdeen. Speyside malts are noted in general for their elegance and complexity and often have a refined smokiness. Speyside boasts so many distilleries that, like 'Islands', that malts produced here are categorised under the distinct Speyside heading, rather than the more general Highlands.

Lowlands

This region is defined by a line following old county boundaries and runs from the Clyde estuary to the river Tay. The lowlands tend to produce whiskies in which the softness of the malt itself is more evident, unaffected by Highland peatiness or coastal salt and seaweed.

Island

Of the nearly 800 islands scattered off Scotland's coast malt whisky distilleries lie on the islands of Arran, Jura, Lewis, Mull, Orkney, Shetland, Skye and Islay. So many distilleries lie on Islay that the island is categorised separately while the other islands are technically part of the Highland designation. The whiskies produced at these far flung distilleries varies greatly, hence the 'Island' categorisation should be considered one purely denoting location rather than style.

Islay

Eight distilleries huddle on Islay, a windswept island lying off the West Coast of Scotland, the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides. Pronounced 'Eye-La', the island is 25 miles long and is populated by a little over 3,000 people. Its climate and rich peaty soil contributes to malts that are noted for their seaweedy, iodine-like character.

Campbeltown

Situated on the peninsula called the Mull of Kintyre in Argyllshire, the fishing port of Campbeltown was once home to over thirty distilleries hence it being considered a distinct region. But during American Prohibition, many bootleg malts were labelled as coming from Campbeltown. The town's reputation plummeted, and today there are only two distilleries left. Campbeltown malts are distinguished by their briny, seaside character.

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Highland Park 1978 Vintage image

Highland Park 1978 Vintage

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 47.8

Highland Park 18 Year Old image

Highland Park 18 Year Old

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 43

Talisker 25 Year Old image

Talisker 25 Year Old

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 54.8

Highland Park Orcadian 1970 Vintage image

Highland Park Orcadian 1970 Vintage

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 48

Highland Park Orcadian 1971 Vintage (40yo) image

Highland Park Orcadian 1971 Vintage (40yo)

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 47.6

Highland Park 1973 image

Highland Park 1973

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 50.6

Jura 1977 image

Jura 1977

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 46

The Arran The Devil's Punchbowl Chapter II image

The Arran The Devil's Punchbowl Chapter II

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 53.1

Glen Garioch Virgin Oak image

Glen Garioch Virgin Oak

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 48

Highland Park Linn 40 Year Old Limited Edition image

Highland Park Linn 40 Year Old Limited Edition

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 48.3

Highland Park Odin 16 year old image

Highland Park Odin 16 year old

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 55.8

Highland Park Earl Haakon image

Highland Park Earl Haakon

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 54.9

Talisker 30 Year Old image

Talisker 30 Year Old

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 53.1

Highland Park 40 Year Old image

Highland Park 40 Year Old

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 48.3

Jura Prophecy image

Jura Prophecy

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 46

Jura 1976 Feith A’ Chaorainn image

Jura 1976 Feith A’ Chaorainn

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 46

Highland Park Orcadian 1976 Vintage (35yo) image

Highland Park Orcadian 1976 Vintage (35yo)

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 49.1

Scapa 12 year old image

Scapa 12 year old

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 40

The Arran Amarone Cask Finish image

The Arran Amarone Cask Finish

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 50

Highland Park 15 Year Old image

Highland Park 15 Year Old

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 15

Talisker 57° North image

Talisker 57° North

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 57

Highland Park Loki image

Highland Park Loki

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 48.7

T.S.M.W.S. Gentle & Reserved Cask 121.63 image

T.S.M.W.S. Gentle & Reserved Cask 121.63

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 50.4

Highland Park Freya image

Highland Park Freya

Category: Spirits
Sub category: Whisk(e)y
alc./vol: 51.2

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