Whilst whisky can be produced (in theory) almost anywhere in the world (Ireland, the US and Japan), it is generally argued that the finest examples come from Scotland, where the art of distilling has evolved over many centuries, although malt whisky is still made in Pot Stills similar to the originals.
As with wine, a sense of terroir is of utmost importance in whisky, and a vast range of conditions contribute to the complex aromas and flavours of the spirit in the bottle; such as heather-clad hillsides, the degree of peat employed, the qualities of the water source, and even the diversity of the rock surrounding the distillery.
The (200 or so) whisky distilleries of Scotland cover the length and breadth of the country, from the Lowlands to the Highlands as well as the surrounding Islands, from the Hebrides to Orkney. The joy of whisky is in the huge variety of character offered by such diverse regions, yet unlike wine, there are no regional regulations regarding its production, although whiskies are often discernable by their regional characteristics…
The Lowlands feature the smallest number of distilleries, but the whiskies produced here are often considered to be the most accessible. They are generally light in flavour and body, yet complex and herbal. This style is particularly attractive to those who find whiskies from the Highlands and Islands too powerful or robust. There are currently only three active distilleries in the Lowlands.
The Highlands comprise the Eastern, Northern and Western Highlands, as well as Speyside. The Highlands account for by far the highest proportion of Scotland’s distilleries (Speyside alone boasts between a half and two-thirds of them). Due to the great area it covers, you cannot associate one particular style of whisky to the Highlands which are wide and diverse in style.
The Islands. Of all the Islands, Islay has the greatest reputation and the most number of distilleries (eight). Famously peaty in style, it is not uncommon for Islay whiskies to be described as ‘medicinal’! These whiskies exhibit arguably the most singular character of all.