Let’s continue learning about the background of the drink we have been enjoying together over the last few weeks by exploring where the stuff is produced.
Scotch comes from all over Scotland. However, clusters of distilleries exist in close proximity to fresh water, since much water is used in its production. The major regions for Scotch production are:
Campbeltown also produces some whisky as well as the several of the outlying islands. Here’s an interesting map of the regions and their respective distilleries.
Speyside is the major whisky producing region in Scotland. There are many distilleries based here, and just as many varieties of whisky. The cluster is East of Inverness and Loch Ness and is home to the likes of Macallan, Benriach, Glen Elgin, Balvenie, Glenfidditch (reviewed 12, 15, 18), Glenlivet (reviewed 12), and Aberlour (reviewed 16) to name a few. The flavours are diverse, ranging from fruity to spicy to floral to malty, and just about any iteration in between. However, I believe none are quite smoky or peaty. Further reviews and research may confirm my assessment of the production from this region.
The Highlands cover most of Scotland. Anything roughly North of Glasgow on the mainland, except for Speyside, is considered the Highlands. Here again, one finds a vast array of flavours across the regions, though each sub-region within the Highlands may share some similar characteristics. You’ll find some excellent smoky and peaty whiskies here as well as some fruity, nutty flavours, and then just about anything else you can think of the describe the flavours you will experience during your journey through this part of the country. The area is home to the likes of Clynelish (reviewed), Ardmore, Glengoyne (reviewed cask strength 12), Dalwhinnie, Old Pulteney, and Tomatin to name a few.
The Lowlands cover the area South of the Highlands right up to England. Here, some high volume producing distilleries may be found and the area is a major blending hub. However, only a few distilleries exist, such as Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie. The whisky produced is mostly light in flavour, easy to drink stuff that can be consumed in large volumes I imagine.
Islay is an island to the West of the Lowlands, or to the East of Newfoundland if you prefer. Islay is known for its distinctive peat, a natural feature of the region and a major flavour component of the whisky produced there. It is home to Lagavulin (reviewed 16), Laphroaig, Bowmore (reviewed 12), Bunnahabhain (reviewed Cruach Mhona), and Ardbeg to name some.
The Orkney Islands sit north of the Highlands and are home to a couple of famous distilleries, Highland Park and Scapa. Each has its own flavour, with Highland Park preferring to produce smokier malts and Scapa looking at more fruity products.
Finally, there’s Campbeltown. Home to one of my favourites, Springbank (reviewed cask strength 12) and a couple of others, the product is usually smoky, but can be fruity as well depending on the distiller’s preference and maturing process.
So there you have a brief description of where the stuff comes from and which distilleries are located where. This is by no means an exhaustive list of distillers, but most of the well known brands are mentioned here.
I usually mention the location of the whisky distillery in my reviews, but if I forget, please refer back here or send me a comment to remind me.