Scotch Whisky can be traditionally divided by its region where the whisky is produced. There are 5 traditional regions: The Highlands, Lowlands, Islay, Campbeltown and Spreyside. Spreyside in the north-east of Scotland has half the whisky distilleries and was traditionally considered as part of the Highland region. Now it is recognized as its own region as well as Campbeltown which has just recently recognized as an own whisky region again. All regions have their distinct character in taste and look.
Types of Scotch Whisky
There are basically two different types of Scotch Whisky: Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Single Grain Scotch Whisky.
Single Malt Whisky is produced from only one distillery and has only water and malted barley as ingredients. Single Grain Scotch has whole grains of the cereals additionally to the ingredients that Single Malt Whisky has. Besides these two types there are Blended Scotch Whiskies which can be divided into 3 types.
Blended Malt Whisky is a blend of at least two different Single Malts from different distilleries.
Blended Grain Whiskies are the same with the difference that Grain Whiskies and not Malt Whiskies are blended together. A whisky that is called Blended Scotch Whisky is a blend of Single Malt(s) and Single Grain(s). Most of the well known brand names known around the World are in the Blended Scotch Whisky category e.g Johnnie Walker. Famous Grouse and Dewars.
Besides all the types mentioned above there is an additional way to categorize Scotch: Peated or not (less) peated. The Islay Region, for example, is well-known for its smoky flavour while the Highlands are known for the sweetness and are only slightly smoky. Also the Lowland as well as the Speyside whiskies are known for their light but complex flavours.
There are many words that can be used for describing the flavour of whisky. The most basic ones are: Fruity, floral, peaty, feinty, sulphury, woody, winey and cereal. For more general rather than precise descriptions, common words are: light, smooth, rich, clean, fresh, coarse, rich and heavy.
A Good Whisky
After having some basic knowledge about Scotch Whisky an important question arises: How can I recognize a good whisky? Well, unfortunately there is no general answer and you have to try out which type(s) of Scotch you prefer the most. However, there are a few points that can help you when purchasing whisky:
- The bottle should show the age of the whisky.
- You don't need to buy the most expensive bottle you find to have a good whisky.
- The older the Scotch, the smoother it is.
- Find out which water (and malt) has been used.
- Make sure that the whisky doesn't have 'spirit caramal' or any dye added.
Now that you are prepared for your whisky experience you just need to choose the distillery you like to visit. For more information about each distillery and the whisky they produce click on the buttons: