SCOTCH WHISKY REGIONS EXPLAINED | What are the six regions of Scotch whiskey?

A brief summary of whisky regions in Scotland for someone getting into whisky this little bit of knowledge to help you, when you’re enjoying your whisky.
But when you’re buying a whisky does knowing the region help determine what the whisky will actually taste like when you buy it And that’s what I’m looking at. Now we have to go back.

What happened was in the 1920s, the master blenders wanted to sort of categorizing the five different regions of Scotland, so they could sort of narrow down the different tastes of different places.

So I’m just gonna talk a little bit about each one. Kind of what some of the flavors you might expect, but there’s an exception to every rule. You know each time I say: there’s gonna be a flavor there’ll be that one distillery who’s just done it completely different, Even on Islay, which is known for really smoky whiskies. There are non-smoky whiskies like The Laddie, (, Bruichladdie, ) and Bunnahabhain. , But we’re looking at sort of the center of the bell curve.

What is the kind of general feel when someone says “? This is a Speyside” or “. This is a Lowland’‘. What is the kind of saying So we’re just gonna look at the more generalized aspects of the whisky, regions?

All right, let’s print up the map. , So there are five/six different regions in Scotland.

  1. The Highlands
  2. Speyside
  3. The Lowlands
  4. Campbelltown 
  5. Islay

but for this post I’m going to include a sixth region, The Islands which is actually part of the highlands, but because is it quite a few little differences?








Speyside SCOTCH WHISKY REGIONS| Why does Speyside is having so many distilleries? | How many distilleries Speyside region has?

So let’s talk about the biggest whisky region, Speyside. Speyside is in the northeast of Scotland.

Speyside is like a Manhattan of scotch whisky because it has the highest density of distilleries in one single place. , With over 60 distilleries in this one place all around the river Spey.

Now the main reason that there are so many distilleries in this part of Scotland is that it just made common business sense. . It’s got a Great transportation network that used to come up and go out east, and then it sits in the area with lots of fertile rivers and Glen’s, where all the water gets used for the distilleries.

And Speyside has the river Spey, which provides plenty of water For all of the distilleries there. Out of all the regions, you’re – probably most likely to have heard of some of the ones from Speyside, and these include the Glenlivet, the Glenfiddich, and the Macallan, and just these three distilleries alone make up nearly 1/3 of the single malt market in Scotland. Speyside is generally known for its more smooth, refined, and sweet whiskies.

Now, because it’s such a big region, there are exceptions to every rule. . There are actually some smokey whiskies you can find there.

  • Number of distilleries in Speyside Region: 60

  • Oldest Distillery: Strathisla (1786)

  • Most popular distillery: Glenfiddich

Some of those flavors of Speyside Region SCOTCH WHISKY REGIONS are as follows:

But generally, there are a few flavors that you typically can find and expect from most Speysides. In terms of some of the flavors, you might get on the palate and the nose is flavored, like apple pear, honey, Floral notes, nutmeg, vanilla, cereal. And also there’s a lot of sherry casks throughout the Speyside region that a lot of distilleries use.

So you will be expecting a lot of dried fruit and a little bit of spice. . So, if you’re not really into the smoky whiskies if you’re not really into peaty whiskies, Speyside is probably a good place for you to start your journey exploring whisky.


The Highlands SCOTCH WHISKY REGIONS | What to expect from a Highland Scotch Whisky?

The Highlands are the biggest whisky region of all Scotland. . It covers from just north of Glasgow all the way up to Thurso.

Now, with The Highlands there’s even more of a vast variety of malt and flavors, you can get from all the different distilleries throughout The Highlands.

So it is quite hard to pin down exactly what you would expect from Highland malt when you buy one off the shelf. . There’s still a center of the bell curve, there’s a lot of similar flavors there’s a lot of the different mals share in common.

  • Number of distilleries in Highlands Region: 47

  • Oldest Distillery: Glenturret (1775)

  • Most popular distillery: Glenturret (Famous Grouse Experience)

Some of those flavors of Highlands SCOTCH WHISKY REGIONS are as follows:


Malt oak


dried fruit

sometimes a little bit of smoke actually not extreme, but sometimes you get a little bit of smoke.

They could be quite oaky, quite malty, and organic. You know that sort of heather sort of grassy, earthy kind of floral Flavors as well.


The Lowlands SCOTCH WHISKY REGIONS |What to expect from a Lowlands Scotch Whisky?

The Lowlands are the second biggest whisky region in Scotland in terms of the total area it covers, but it’s currently only home to around five distilleries and, unlike other regions of Scotland’s all the whiskies there used to be triple distilled and only one now that still triple distilled As Auchentoshen, whereas most other distilleries just double distill their whisky, this triple distills their whisky.

  • Number of distilleries Lowlands region: 18

  • Oldest Distillery: Bladnoch (1817)

  • Most popular distillery: Glenkinchie

So some of the typical flavors you might be getting would be grass honeysuckle cream, toffee, toast cinnamon, they are often lightly bodied. There are often fresh and young tasting citrusy and often can have a lot of cereal notes as well.



Islay is another really famous region, especially known for its smoky whiskeys. A lot of its distilleries do really heavily peated smoky whiskies, and it’s located on this little island called Islay, pronounced EYE-LUH and there’s a great little island, and if you ever go, you can do a great road trip around all these little distilleries.

  • Number of distilleries in Islay Region: 9

  • Oldest Distillery: Bowmore (1779)

  • Most popular distillery: Ardbeg

Some of those flavors of Islay SCOTCH WHISKY REGIONS are as follows:

But actually, even though it’s such a small little island, It’s actually home to eight distilleries and more to come, and you might know some of these distilleries already like Ardbeg and Laphroaig and maybe Lagavulin all quite famous whiskeys, all known for their intense peaty and smoky flavors. ”.

The smoke from the peat fire, the peat reek, as we referred to it. , Makes its way up through the grains and the grains absorb the smokiness, which is where Laphroaig gets its characteristic flavors from. ” In terms of some of those flavors.

What you’re going to be expecting from your typical Islay whisky is seaweed brine apple smoke, vegetative, boggy, iodine medicinal charcoal. . Now, that’s not all Islay whiskies.

Some whiskies on Islay are actually not peated like a 12-year-old Bunnahabhain. I Will just put these over here.

If you’re kind of already used to smoky flavors and other foods and that sort of thing I mean this might be a good place for you to start with your whisky journey, maybe you want to start with an Ardbeg 10 or a Laphroaig 10.


The Islands are not actually an Official region categorized for the Scotch whisky Association, but often on whisky lists. When you know, when you’re going to restaurants, when you go into different bespoke whisky stores, they will categorize them as islands. There are actually over 800 islands off Scotland’s coastline, but actually, only a few of them have people living on them.

So there is sort of whisky distilleries kind of scattered throughout them. , There’s Arran, there’s Jura and there’s Highland Park right at the top.

Talisker is the biggest distillery on the Isle of Skye, which is so big tourist destination, heaps of really interesting landscape places. .

If you can even get to Skye it’s a great place to visit. , If you’re into the kind of fruity whiskies or if you’re into smokey whiskies, The Islands can accommodate for both.

So there’s quite a large variety of different flavors, you’re going to be getting from Island whiskies. As well. , So some of the flavors you might expect from an island whisky, citrus flavors, some are quite salty: there’s some sweet herbal fruity, there’s nutty brine oil, black pepper, honey, There’s light, peated, fresh marine, salty spicy.


Now Campbelltown is more down the south of Scotland. “ Campbellton thrived thanks to his deep natural harbor, rich raw materials, and ready access to the ocean and therefore export markets.

In Victorian times it was nicknamed the whiskey, metropolis. ” And Campbeltown town actually used to be known as the whiskey capital of the world. It used to have over 30 distilleries in this one little place, but most of those distilleries went out of business.

“. Then, after World War, one a dreadful combination of factors all but ended whiskey-making here. ”.

There are some opinions about why that happened. , Some people say that it’s because they’re churning out a lot of whisky by volume, but not a lot by quality. “ Campbellton, had produced too much whiskey, much of it low in quality.

At a time when consumption levels were falling, what’s more, natural resources were running low and the railways that helped roll Highland and Speyside whiskey out to the markets never arrived here. ” But they’re. Actually, three distilleries left and one of them I’ve got here.

Another prop is Springbank. . Now Springbank is definitely a whisky of quality.

The region’s small, but the distilleries actually produce quite different whiskeys to each other. Some of the flavors you might be expecting, are brine. Some smoke-dried fruit, vanilla toffee.

. It tends to be kind of similar to The Island Malts. Marine light.

Peat. Some people even consider them to be of the same region as the islands because of how similar they are, and flavor and variety as The Island whiskies. .

So now that we’ve gone through the regions, you might have noticed a trend that pretty much every region can have a huge variety of flavors. . Do you need to know the regions to better understand whiskey And my opinion is yes and no.

. . In terms of knowing the regions? I think there are some really helpful things so, when you’re on a whisky website, you want to know what region it is from.

. There are also people describing whiskies, they might say this kind of tastes like An Islay whisky, meaning that this tastes like a smoky whisky. That can be quite helpful.

And also, if you’re touring around the country. You can go to Speyside and there are so many distilleries. All in that one place.

, If you’re ever visiting Scotland. In terms of taste, I would say you’re – probably better, going off with a malt map or maybe learning about the barrel. Is it in a bourbon barrel? Is it a sherry barrel?

Looking at the age statement. And those sorts of things will probably indicate to you more about the flavor of the whiskey that you’re buying. So, for example, if you’re buying a whisky you can see if it’s aged in American oak casks or European oak casks, you can kind of get a hint into what the whisky might taste like, whereas just having Highland Whisky.

You know you can kind of guess, but you might not know exactly what you’re going to get. . So there is movement in the industry at the moment with the testing out different barley, styles, and maybe, if that happens more, there will be more of a terroir like there is a wine of whiskey where the barley is growing specifically and how that affects the whiskey.


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