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Whisky Regions

You might think the name should make this answer a given; but people in other countries have produced whisky which they've then labelled as 'Scotch'. Legally, whisky has to be produced and matured in Scotland before it can be given the name Scotch whisky. Even the spelling is protected by law - if your whisky is produced in Scotland, you can't call it 'whiskey' with an 'e'!

Within Scotland, there are five very different production areas, each with its own flavour characteristics.

Whisky Regions


These are, generally speaking, the whiskies produced in the southern half of the country, below the Highland Line that runs between the rivers
Tay and Clyde in the centre of Scotland. These whiskies are mellower and gentler than their northern neighbours, and much of their produce ends up in blends. Ironically, their subtleties of taste are appreciated by both newcomers to malts and by more experienced malt drinkers.


Scotland's most famous whisky town and home to more than 20 distilleries in the 19th century. Their number has dwindled to two, only one of which is currently operating. Its whiskies are more distinctive than those of the Lowlands, with peat lending more of a hint of the flavours of Islay to the north.


The most distinctively flavoured of all whiskies come from this island, where the apparently endless supplies of peat are put to use in the malt kilns. The resulting 'peat reek' gives the island whiskies a smell and taste that has variously been described as 'iodine', 'seawater' and even 'kippers'!
Islay malts are undoubtedly an acquired taste, and their presence adds instant depth of character to a blend. (Incidentally, the name is pronounced 'Isle-aah'.)


An enormous area which is home to some of the world's most famous drinks names, as well as others that are worth taking the time to discover. In Speyside alone are more than 40 distilleries with names recognisable from any supermarket and liquor-store shelf. This is also the place to come if you want to visit lots of distilleries: several in the Spey valley are on the Whisky Trail and open to visitors. Varieties of whisky produced here range from mellow and sweet to aromatic and flowery, with every shade of flavour between.


Strictly speaking an area of Highland, this is a sub-grouping based on geography rather than flavour characteristics. From Arran, Jura, Mull and Skye in the west to Orkney in the north, the whisky flavours here are as wide-ranging as any in the Highland group.