Speyside, one of the Highlands’ key subregions, is known for its fertile glens and wide selection of single malt whiskies – particularly sweet-honeyed varieties like Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and The Macallan which can often be found there.
Campbeltown lies to the west on Kintyre’s foot, in a deep bay. While only three distilleries remain now, Campbeltown once had 34. The dry single malts produced here offer both brine and smoke flavors in their profile.
The Highlands is Scotland’s premier whisky region and home to most of its distilleries – from Dalmore and Glenmorangie in the north all the way south to Oban in the west. While its vast geography makes defining one style difficult, expect something heavier, drier with complex flavors from wood and heather through dried fruits, fruitcake, hints of smoke or even floral characteristics.
Speyside, which falls technically within the Highlands (producers can use either region on their labels), is famed for its sparing use of peat and fruity expressions with apple, pears, honey, vanilla and spice flavours from being matured in sherry casks. Many of its whiskies can also be found blended drinks.
Islands such as Orkey, Jura and Skye cover Scotland’s western perimeter, producing full-bodied whiskies with briny salty notes that reflect their respective terroir. Campbeltown lies on Mull of Kintyre peninsula today compared to more than 30 in its 1800s heyday.
The Lowlands are Scotland’s lesser-known whisky region. Situated south of the Highland line and east of Glasgow, they boast six distilleries including Auchentoshan and Bladnoch – and their whiskies often possess mild notes such as grass, honey and vanilla.
These whiskies are typically produced using a pot still rather than a continuous still, meaning their whiskies are less heavily distilled and retain more of the flavorful congeners produced during fermentation.
Lowland distilleries play an integral role in the Scottish Whisky industry despite their small size. Their whiskies are often used in blends and they form much of Scotland’s blended whiskey production. Just as wine’s region can affect taste, so exploring all regions’ whiskies – from Islay smokiness to smooth Lowland smoothness – is vital. No matter your preferred style of whiskey tasting be sure to sample all regions’ finest offerings!
Campbeltown stands out as one of Scotland’s premier whisky regions, boasting no less than 34 distilleries in its heyday (which Alfred Barnard would refer to as an unofficial “whisky metropolis”). Walking through town in those days must have been quite an eye-opener: smoke pouring out of chimneys and buildings blackened by sooty chimneys.
However, during the early 1900s a combination of factors caused demand to fall dramatically and many distilleries closed. Others adjusted production methods accordingly by producing lighter whiskies more suited for blenders.
Today, only three distilleries remain in Campbeltown: Springbank, Glen Scotia and Glengyle. These distilleries have managed to survive the decline of this once-proud whisky region by remaining open and adapting their styles accordingly. Their efforts have paid off; today these distilleries are considered some of the finest in Scotland with single malts produced here often boasting robust yet smoky flavors with subtle hints of salt, fruit and vanilla notes.
Scotland is well known for its smoky, peaty single malt whiskies – yet there are marked variations between Scotland’s six whisky regions that demonstrate unique tastes in flavoring whiskies.
Islay, famous for its fiery and heavily peated whiskies, is the key region within this collection. Home to Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig distilleries – as well as Bowmore and Bruichladdich; more recently Islay has seen an unprecedented boom of new distilleries opening on its shores.
The Highlands region, with its lush green glens and soft, fruity whiskies, is another significant area. Whiskies produced here often matured in sherry casks with notes of apple, pear, vanilla bean toffee spice; home to Scotland’s oldest distillery Glenfiddich; some Highland distillers even do some floor malting and peating of barley themselves such as Bruichladdich Bunnahabhain Kilchoman which all offer tours and tastings!