Scotch whisky has a rich and storied tradition in various regions of Scotland. It’s history dates back to the end of the 15th century, and since has grown tremendously in flavor and appeal. Single-malt scotch is some of the finest, and most sought after in the world for it’s unique characteristics, aromas, and tastes, all depending on the region from which it hails.
Fermented in oak barrels on malted barley for a minimum of three years is mandatory for a single-malt scotch, although many of the best brands are aged as long as eight years or more. Increased fermenting time normally increases alcohol content, which influences the way the final product looks and tastes. Scotch whiskys are within the 80 to 190 proof range.
Of the five regions from which true scotch whiskys hail, each holds it’s own unique traits due to various natural and local influences. Whiskys which hail from the Speyside region tend to have a smooth, somewhat fruity finish as a result of the fresh water used for distillation. This region has the highest density of distilleries, and produces Glenfiddich, a fairly well-known brand. This region also produces Macallan scotch whisky which, often time’s referred to as a Highland single malt, holds true to it’s tradition of being a Speyside regional whisky.
Formerly of it’s own region, the Island region is now considered part of the Highlands region, although they share characteristics more relative to the Islay region scotch whiskys – with traces of iodine and hints of saltiness due to the proximity to the sea with which these brands are distilled. The Islay region produces whiskys of high flavor, with a unique smokiness that can be attributed to the peat moss used in manufacturing.
Highland whiskys are variable in terms of flavor, ranging from smooth like Speyside’s to smokey like an Islay scotch. In general, Highland’s tend to be more full-bodied than other scotch whiskys. One of the most famous Highland distilleries, Glenmorangie, boasts the tallest stills in all of Scotland.
The Lowlands region produces some fine, flavorful scotch. Distilling their malts three-times gives these whiskys a light body with hints of flavor. Only three true distilleries remain in this region, but they continue to hold true to the tradition of these great malts.
So as you can see, when it comes to choosing a unique, flavorful, traditional Scotch, there are plenty of options. The whisky ratings are only determined by the connoisseur, the casual drinker, the appreciator of time, effort, and time-honored traditions which bring you the best whiskys in the world – straight from Scotland.