is divided into six whisky-producing regions; Speyside,
Lowlands, Highlands, Campbeltown, Islands and Islay.
Although each whisky is unique, the malts produced in each region have
characteristics which separate them from whiskies from
other regions. These differences are the
result of several factors as for example the use of
different raw materials, climate variations and
different production techniques.
Islay is a small island west of the Scottish mainland
and is the home of many well-known malt whiskies.
Although a few milder versions exits, Islay whisky in
general is smoky, peaty and salty and has quite a bit of
tang and tar thrown into the mix. The island once had 23
distilleries operating at the same time but the number
of active distilleries is now down to seven. They will soon become
eight however; a brand new distillery is being built
which will be named
Kilchoman. If all goes according to plan Kilchoman
will open in 2005.
As the name suggests, the Lowlands is a flat region
without mountains. It is also the southernmost part of
Scotland. Whisky from the Lowlands is smooth and slightly
fiery. It is also very light in salt, peat and smoke as
opposed to many other whiskies. Any Lowland whisky is a fine aperitif.
Speyside is the undisputed centre for whisky in Scotland
when it comes to the number of distilleries. The region
has received its name from the river Spey which cuts
through the area. Many of the distilleries use water
straight from the river Spey in their production
Speyside is geographically part of the Highlands but
is considered a separate region because of its size and
the different characteristics of Speyside whisky as
opposed to other Highland whisky. If you wish to introduce a friend to the
world of whisky, a Speyside is a good choice with its
rich flavour, complexity and relatively mild character. The town of
Elgin is the centre of the region.
The Highlands is the largest of the whisky producing
regions in Scotland. The whisky is often powerful, has a
rich flavour and is quite smoky although slightly less
so than whisky from the Islands. Compared to the Lowlands,
Highland whiskies often taste very different from each
other. This is partly due to the size of the region
which allows for greater differences in the microclimate,
but variations in raw materials and productions
techniques also play an important part. The word ‘glen’
is commonly used in the name of both Highland and
Speyside distilleries and means ‘valley’.
The region Campbeltown was once a flourishing whisky
region and the city of Campbeltown was considered to be
the whisky capital of Scotland. In 1886 there were no
less than 21 distilleries in and surrounding the city.
Today only three distilleries remain. Campbeltown is still referred
to as a separate whisky producing region, but today the
reason is mostly historical.
It is not uncommon for this region to be confused with
Islay but Islands is in fact a separate production
region which consists of the islands Mull, Orkney, Jura,
Arran, Shetlands and Skye. It is a source of constant
debate whether Orkney belongs to the Islands or in fact
should be counted as part of the Highlands region.
Whisky from the Islands may be described as a milder
version of Islay whisky and is often appreciated by
those who have enjoyed whisky for a few years. The
Talisker is produced on the beautiful Island of
Skye. The Blackwood Distillery is the most recent
addition to Scotland’s family of distilleries and is
currently being built on one of the Shetland Islands.
Island Distilleries >>