Reproduce courtesy of the whisky tasting company
In Scotland there are five classified whisky-producing regions which have their own characteristics. Within each of the regions there are many distilleries, each having subtle differences. Of course, there are always exceptions! We created tasting sets which take a selection from each of the regions to enable you to compare the aromas and flavours.
The five main whisky regions in Scotland are:
The Lowland region lies South of an imaginary line that runs from Greenock on the West coast of Scotland to Dundee in the East. Most of the Lowland malts produced in this region end up in blends, but there are a still a few single malts available to try from this region.
Malts from the Lowlands are light in colour and have quite a dry finish. The dryness comes from the malt itself, not from peat as Lowland malts tend to be produced with unpeated malt. You may also find a certain sweet fruitiness to the flavour. Lowland malts are regarded as an excellent aperitif.
Generally speaking, Lowland region whiskies are mellower than whiskies from the Highlands, and are very much appreciated by those new to malt Whisky and experienced malt drinkers alike.
Pronounced ‘Eye-la’, Islay is located in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The island is exposed to sea wind and rain, and these elements have an influence in the whisky produced there. Much of Islay is a flat area and consists largely of peat, which has a huge influence on the flavour of the whisky.
Islay whiskies are the strongest flavoured of all Scotch whiskies and tend to be dry and peaty. They are renowned for their strong peaty smokiness which comes mostly from the peat fuel which they use for drying the malted barley.
Islay malt whiskies are often very smoky and medicinal, salty and sea weedy with a dry finish.
The smoky flavour of Islay malts can be an acquired taste, but if you have a taste for a smoky dry malt then Islay malts are the malts for you.
Over half of all Scotland’s distilleries are located in Speyside. Speyside malts are typically the sweetest of all Scotch Whisky Malts. Although Speyside malts are essentially sweet whiskies, some can have a little peaty character with just a slight whiff of smoke.
|Highland (& Island)
The Highlands covers the largest geographical area of all the whisky producing regions and offers the greatest variations of style. In the Western Highlands there are only a few distilleries. The malts from these distilleries are much less peaty than the malts which are found in the Islay region, although you may detect a slight smokiness.The character of the far North Highland malts are greatly influenced by the local soil and the coastal location of the distilleries. They tend to be lighter whiskies with a spicy character.
Campbeltown lies at the south of the Mull of Kintyre peninsula, on the West Coast of Scotland. Today there are very few distilleries producing whisky here, but in days gone by there were over thirty.
Campbeltown single malts are very distinctive, tending to be full bodied, renowned for their depth of flavour and also for their slightly salty finish. With peat adding a hint of flavour, similar to that found in an Islay malt.
Whisky only matures while in a wooden barrel; once in a bottle it is has stopped maturing, so the whisky in your tasting sets will not change over time. When an age is quoted in ‘years’ it is the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle. When a year is marked on the bottle it indicates the year it was distilled.
There is no ideal age for whisky, but you should be able to see the effect of ageing when you conduct your whisky tasting. The time whisky spends in a wooden cask often influences the colour and also enhances the oak flavour in the whisky. It can also give the whisky more ‘legs’, which you can see when you gently swirl the whisky around the glass.Some of our sets allow you to compare the effects of ageing various whiskies.
Essentially, after a substantial period of maturation in its original cask, the whisky is sometimes transferred into a different cask, which has previously held another alcoholic drink, for a period of finishing. This provides variations on the usual distillery style.The most common finishes feature various styles of Sherry, but others include Rum, Madeira, Burgundy and Port.
When tasting your whisky you may also be able to tell the difference between a ‘first-fill’ and ‘refill’ cask, where you may see the stronger influence of the finishing cask when it is a first-fill. You may want to choose a Whisky Tasting Set that allows you to experience some of these various finishes.
Single Cask whisky is taken from just one individual cask, the product of just one distillation run from just one distillery. This will provide the most individual whisky and is by definition a very limited edition – sometimes just a few hundred bottles.
The information on the label is usually extended to include the cask number, date of distillation, date of bottling and usually the number of bottles produced from that cask. If you want to try something really individual, then a Single Cask bottling is for you.
While the majority of whisky is watered down to about 40% ABV, some whiskies are bottled at cask strength. These whiskies are usually older, and their alcohol level has increased over time from their original level at filling, often to about 55-60% ABV.
Because of these whiskys’ age, they are a favourite of collectors who like to buy whisky at the strength it came out the cask, being the most pure form of whisky. It is usual to dilute cask strength whisky with up to one-third spring water for drinking.
Artisan Blended Whiskies
We’ve created tasting sets from some of the most respected whiskymakers in the world who have created ‘artisan’ whiskies by blending flavours and influencing the whisky in creative new ways.
These whiskies tend have more consistent flavour than single malts, so it is interesting to experiment. This consistent approach enables the whisky to be paired with various food.There are a number of limited editions amongst these blends, including some rare grain whiskies.