Take a tour around some of the world’s top whisky destinations and learn what makes each region different, plus some great examples to taste for each
The world of whisky is a vast place. But fear not, we’re here to help with a travel guide to help you navigate your way around some of the best regions across Scotland and Ireland, while learning the tastes and aromas to look out for each along the way.
All Scotch whisky must be made from grain and aged in oak barrels for at least three years and finally bottled in Scotland. Any age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky, expressed in numerical form, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product.
Scottish whisky is divided into many regions, each of which have unique taste and aroma characteristics, influenced by the land and weather. Here are the top four Scottish whisky regions to have on your radar…
Part of the Scottish Highlands, Speyside has the greatest number of distilleries of any of the whisky producing areas of Scotland. Speyside whiskies are generally light and grassy or rich and sweet.
BenRiach 10 YO
Launched in April 2015, the BenRiach 10 year old is matured in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for a classic Speyside style that’s deliciously woody and fruity. $$
BenRiach 10 YO Curiositas
A rare peated single malt, BenRiach Curiositas is distilled from heavily peated malted barley to produce a unique, fresh, peated expression with peaty and floral characters. $$
2. THE HIGHLANDS
Covering 75% of the mainland – this is Scotland’s largest whisky region. As a rule of thumb, the Highlands region produces big-bodied whiskies and boasts an array of styles from rich and textured to fragrantly floral.
GlenDronach 12 YO
This superb richly sherried single malt is matured in a combination of the finest Spanish Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks to create a sweet, creamy dram. $$
The Dalmore 12 YO
Matured for nine years in ex-bourbon casks, the spirit is then divided – one half remains in the bourbon barrels, while the other is transferred to exclusive 30 year old Gonzalez Byass Matusalem Oloroso Sherry butts before being reunited. Elegant, complex and rich on the palate with intense citrus and hints of sweet vanilla pod to finish. $$
3. THE ISLANDS
Classified as part of the Highland region, excluding Islay, whiskies produced on the islands around the perimeter of the Scottish mainland are extremely varied; however, can often be distinguished from other whisky regions by having a smokier flavour with peaty undertones.
Jura 10 YO Origin
Where it all started for Jura. This whisky signifies the rebirth of the Jura distillery and rebuilding of their community. The bottle carries the Celtic symbol for beginnings. Aged in ex-bourbon casks for 10 years to give it the distinct Jura house style, flavour and exceptional structure. On the palate: a smooth and clean tasting liquid with gentle oak flavours. $$
Islanders are a superstitious lot. This bottling is a nod to them and Jura’s island home. When you raise a glass of this whisky you are raising a glass to the ancient ways of the island. Aged in ex-bourbon casks and crafted from a selection of the finest aged Jura single malt whiskies, it’s a subtly sweet, yet smoky dram. $$
One of the southernmost islands located off the west coast of Scotland and one of the five whisky distilling localities and regions in Scotland whose identity is protected by law. Whisky distillation is the island’s second largest employer after agriculture. Islay whiskies often have a smoky character derived from peat.
Bruichladdich Classic Laddie
Crafted to showcase a classic, floral and elegant style, this unpeated whisky is made from 100% Scottish barley, trickle distilled, then matured by the shores of Loch Indaal in premium American oak. $$$
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte
A heavyweight peated whisky that’s crafted in casks hand-picked by master distiller Adam Hannett. A union of the classic floral elegance and heavy peat, it’s trickle distilled from 100% Scottish barley the spirit gently matures in the lochside village of Port Charlotte. $$$
Irish whiskey is distilled three times as opposed to Scotch which is primarily distilled twice. This extra distillation creates a smoother, lighter flavoured whiskey. In the 1890s Irish whiskey was the most popular in the world with over 37 distilleries in Dublin alone. After a decline, due to Prohibition, it has been one of the fastest growing spirits in the world year on year since 1990. The Teeling Distillery is the first new distillery to open in Dublin in over 125 years and won World’s Best Whiskey Visitor Attraction in 2016, one year after it opened, not to mention the countless array of medals received for their whiskies at the world’s most prestigious competitions.
The Irish may have been the first to distil whiskey and for a brief period in the 19th century Irish whiskey reigned supreme over its Scottish rival. Today the Irish boom is back with some of the world’s finest whiskies being produced and new distilleries popping up all over Ireland. Irish whiskies are typically light, floral and exceptionally smooth.
Teeling Small Batch
This is Teeling’s flagship drop and their attempt to create the most interesting blended Irish whiskey. This small batch bottling consists of hand-selected casks which are given further maturation in ex-Flor de Cana Rum barrels imparting an extra sweet and smooth flavour unique to Irish whiskey. $$
Paddy Blended Irish Whiskey
First produced in 1887, this is amongst the most well-known of all the Irish whiskeys. Triple distilled from barley and matured in casks for up to seven years, it has a high malt content in its blend and is made with all three styles of Irish whiskey: single pot still, single malt and grain. It is “One of the softest of all Ireland’s whiskeys,” according to whiskey connoisseur Jim Murray. Mild and soft, with a distinctive mellow maltiness, it has a touch of sweet oil and spiciness. $
$ – $30-$69.99
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$$$ – $100-199.99