"Have a dram, will travel"
The original name for scotch is “Uisge Beatha” or "Water of Life" and whisky can be called 'scotch' only if it is distilled and matured in Scotland.
Don’t ever call it Scotch though! It’s whisky or malt and, unless you want to be the subject of ridicule, do not under any circumstance order your malt on the rocks!
Ice numbs the tongue and melts too fast. You either drink it neat or.....with a drop of water to 'open the flavours'. Drinking it on the rocks is only (barely) acceptable if you’re drinking a blended whisky or if it’s scorching outside (which doesn't happen very often).
One more thing: Whisky is Scottish and whiskey is Irish or American (not everyone seems to know that!).
There are 6 distinctive whisky regions although officially, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), there are only 5.
- Speyside: In the northeast of the country where, despite it being a rather small area area, 50% - 60% of all Scotch is produced (!).
"Broadly speaking, Speyside whiskies can be classified as falling into one of two camps. At one end of the spectrum there are the light, grassy, ‘lunchtime whiskies’ such as Glenlivet; at the other end lie the rich, sweet, sherried qualities of Glenrothes and Macallan". (Text: The Whisky Exchange)
- Highland: The huge swathe of mainland Scotland north of Glasgow and Edinburgh (minus Speyside).
"A dizzying array of styles, from rich and textured to fragrantly floral, as befits an ever-changing landscape of coastline, moor and mountain. You’ll find some of whisky’s most famous names here (e.g. Edradour, Pulteney) – and some of its most fiercely individual spirits". (Text: The Whisky Exchange)
- Islay: Just one Island of the westcoast but so distinctive when it comes to whisky that it’s a separate region.
"The southernmost of its island chain, Islay is known as ‘The Queen of the Hebrides’ – and is certainly the reigning monarch of a typically smoky, peaty style of single malt whisky. But there’s much more to this beating heart of distillation, which has eight active producers". (Text: The Whisky Exchange)
- Lowland: Roughly south of Glasgow and St Andrews.
"There’s more distillation here than any other Scottish region, but its days as a significant single malt player are over. This is the home of the blend, and of the large quantities of grain whisky which form its foundation. A few producers keep up the trademark light and grassy Lowland malt style". (Text: The Whisky Exchange)
- Campbeltown: The town of Campbeltown at the bottom of the Kintyre peninsula.
"Once a thriving malt whisky region of no fewer than 34 distilleries – no mean feat for a small and remote settlement. Now only three producers remain, but they make up for their paucity by producing five distinctive malt whiskies between them". (Text: The Whisky Exchange)
- The Islands: All the islands (except for Islay). Officially part of the Highland region but many people consider it a region in its own right.
"There are nearly 800 islands scattered off Scotland’s crenellated coastline, of which only a few are inhabited – and fewer still have a distillery. Excluding Islay, the islands of Arran, Mull, Jura, Skye, Lewis and Orkney are home to an eclectic mix of styles, from light citrus to full-on peat smoke". "Scotland’s labyrinthine archipelago of islands were obvious locations for distilleries, especially at a time when illegal operations were the norm. Just a scattered handful of these far-flung facilities remain now – although a few newcomers hint at an island distilling renaissance". (Text: The Whisky Exchange)
For expert advice and background information I would recommend: A Beginner’s Guide To The Scotland Whisky Regions.
Are you a beginner? Here are some whiskies for you:
- Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or
- Glenmorangie Original 10
- The GlenDronach Allardice 18
- Craigellachie 13
- Glen Moray Elgin Classic
- Glenlivet 12
- Tomintoul 14
- Ailsa Bay
- The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year
- Aberfeldy 12
- Auchentoshan 21
- The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year
On the map you'll find only those distilleries that welcome visitors. Most distilleries want you to book a tour ahead of time!
Visiting Scottish distilleries is an incredible deal. Between £5 and £7 generally gets you a tour of the facility and a dram (a small glass) or two of cask-strength whisky (whisky before water is added). Many distilleries also offer pricier warehouse tastings (upwards of £25 each), giving the chance to sample rare whiskies straight from the barrel, including some whiskies that are impossible to find anywhere else and others that you may never taste again.
As 'things' have the tendency to change from time to time it is advisable to check the distillery's website and than give them a call first.
If you happen to come across a distillery that is not on this map (and should be) or the other way around.....please let me know! Slàinte Mhath!