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Scottish Whisky Regions Guide


Scotch Whisky is produced all over Scotland and it can be broken down into 6 regions, Lowlands, Speyside, Highlands, Campbeltown, Islay and Islands. Scotch is like Wine in that 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. Coastal distilleries will produce whisky that tastes nothing like an inland whisky and a single malt from one of the islands distilleries will be different from one from the heavily condensed area of Speyside.

Scottish whisky is world renowned so it's important to distinguish the difference, every region has a whisky powerhouse that can be found in most bars around the World. 

Scottish Whisky Regions Guide Map

Lowlands WhiskyLowlands Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Lowlands Whisky: Auchentoshan
  • Number of distilleries: Under 5
  • Typical Lowland flavours: Grass, Honeysuckle, Cream, Toffee, Toast and Cinnamon

Lowlands is the second biggest whisky region in terms of the area it covers, but it's currently only home to just four distilleries. The Lowlands region covers the south of Scotland up to the north of Glasgow and Edinburgh where it meets the border on the Highlands.

Lowlands whiskies tend to be light and gentle with no peatiness, unlike any other region however they are triple distilled and due to the inland location of the distilleries, there is little salinity within the Whisky.

Speyside WhiskySpeyside Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Speyside Whisky: Dalwhinnie, Glenlivet and Glenfiddich
  • Number of distilleries: Over 60
  • Typical Speyside flavours: Apple, Vanilla, Oak, Malt, Nutmeg and Dried Fruit

The region of Speyside is located in the north east of Scotland surrounding the River Spey, it's seen to be more of a sub-region to the neighbouring Highlands because of the high density of distilleries in the area. It's home to highest number of distilleries in Scotland with well over 60 at present.

Speyside is known for its sweet single malts with either very little peat or absolutely no peat present at all. Some of the World's most famous whiskies are produced in Speyside, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant and The Macallan are world renowned scotch whiskies.

Highlands WhiskyHighlands Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Highlands Whisky: Dalmore and Glenmorangie
  • Number of distilleries: Over 25
  • Typical Highland flavours: Fruit Cake, Malt, Oak, Heather, Dried Fruit and Smoke

The Highlands is Scotland's largest whisky producing area, covering to the north of Glasgow all the way to Thurso in the north, not to mention the east and west regions excluding Speyside. Due to the large area, whisky in the Highlands is very diverse and offer a vast amount of different flavours so it's hard to put a certain style on Whisky from this region.

Highland distilleries do however make up to 25% of all Whisky produced in Scotland, if you the region of Speyside into this then the figure rises to as much as 85%.

Campbeltown WhiskyCampbeltown Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Campbeltown Whisky: Glengyle and Springbank
  • Number of distilleries: Under 5
  • Typical Campbeltown flavours: Brine, Smoke, Dried Fruit, Vanilla and Toffee

Campbeltown is part of mainland Scotland but it's found at the foot of the Mull of Kintyre and was once a thriving whisky hotspot with over 34 distilleries, but now it's home to just 3. A Campbeltown Whisky is known for its dryness and sometimes pungency taste because of its location, it sticks out of the mainland and is actually closer to neighbouring islands Arran and Islay than any other mainland producer.

Although a small region, the distilleries produce very different whiskies, Springbank is robust and heavily smoky whereas Glen Scotia now produces typically light and grassy whiskies.

Islay WhiskyIslay Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Islay Whisky: Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin
  • Number of distilleries: Under 10
  • Typical Islay flavours: Seaweed, Brine, Carbolic Soap, Apple, Smoke and Kippers

The Scottish island of Islay is located to the west of the mainland and is the smallest Whisky region in terms of area in Scotland. Even though it's a relatively small island, Islay is currently home to 8 distilleries, 3 of which are World famous, Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin.

The region is known for its peaty single malts and it's believed that whisky distillation reached Scotland from Ireland via Islay in the 13th century, hence the high number of past and present distilleries on the island.

Islands WhiskyIslands Scotch Whisky

  • Most famous Islands Whisky: Talisker
  • Number of distilleries: Under 10
  • Typical Island flavours: Smoke, Brine, Oil, Black Pepper and Honey

Scotch produced on the islands surrounding the mainland of Scotland offer a very diverse and different taste, they're not however recognised by the Scotch Whisky Association but are easily grouped together for geographic reasons as one as they're all islands.

Orkney has 2 whisky distilleries, Scapa and Highland Park, Lewis & Harris is home to Abhainn Dearg, Talisker is located on Skye, Tobermory on Mull with Jura and Arran located on thier namesake islands. Although diverse in flavours, peat and salinity are found in all of the Islands whiskies, the latter because of the vicinity to the sea.

Click here to view our vast selection of whisky glasses which are perfect for Scotch Whisky. We also have a great collection of whisky decanters that are ideal for not only scotch whisky, but other spirits such as cognac, brandy, port and more!

To purchase some of these fantastic whiskies, check out our friends at Hennings Wine Merchants, as well as The Whisky Exchange and Masters of Malt.

Images courtesy of Hennings Wine Merchants.

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