Best Under $: Bowmore Darkest 15 Year Old
Region: Islay| ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Toffee, Smoke, Brine, Dried fruits
Bringing together the best of Scotlands opposing traditions, this cherrywood-colored scotch from Bowmore, Islays oldest distillery, is made with heavily peated malt from island-grown barley. Its aged primarily in bourbon barrels, but its final three years are spent in oloroso casks, where the scotch takes on its sherrylike layers.
I love that it captures both, says Tardie. Its the perfect balance: salty but sweet. Toffee, dried fruit and swarthy smoke are finished with ocean-water salinity for what Tardie calls a multidimensional treat. Im not big on dessert, but if I were to have a dessert, this would be it,” he says.
Region: Islay | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Smoke, Brine, Umami, Dried fruit
Why Does The Regulatory Body Exist
We spoke to whisky expert Oliver Maruda to get to the bottom of why the regulatory body exists
In Scotland, the Scotch Whisky Association oversees distilleries to make sure good business practices are being followed, its a big reason why Scotch is such a highly respected product all over the world. Other countries have their own regulators for whisky, and Canada was actually one of the first, setting guidelines on age statements and casking to the point that at one point in time it became the number one spirit consumed in America because the quality was guaranteed, said Oliver Maruda, a whisky expert and co-founder of The Whisky List.
Unfortunately not every country has these guidelines, and in some parts of the world, you can find the word whisky stamped on everything from rum to aged rice wine. Having these purity laws in Scotland gives consumers the assurance that they are buying a bottle of whisky that is made with heritage, practice, and skill.
While the SWRs requirements may seem over the top, they still leave plenty of room for experimentation. For instance, Scotch whisky can be either chill-filtered or non-chill-filtered. Also, the type of cask in which the whisky is aged can vary, though the spirit is most often aged inside ex-bourbon barrels. After that, Scotch whisky can undergo additional maturation inside sherry casks, port casks, rum barrels, or whatever the distiller or producer has in mind. So what about the different types? Lets check them out.
What Is Scottish Whisky
Scottish whisky, also known as whisky, Scotch, or Scotch whisky, is a strong alcoholic drink produced in Scotland. Its made from grain, most commonly barley. The Scottish Gaelic word for whisky is uisge beatha which means water of life.
For a whisky to be labelled and sold as a Scotch whisky, it must meet a number of criteria, which include:
- It can only be made from water and malted barley
- It has to be produced at a distillery in Scotland
- It must be distilled in a pot still
- It has to be matured in an oak cask in Scotland for at least three years
- It must be at least an alcoholic strength of 40% by volume
These criteria are defined by the Scotch Whisky Regulations, which you can read here. Its also illegal to make any other type of whisky other than Scotch in Scotland.
Note that in Scotland, whisky is spelt without an e. If you refer to whiskey, its assumed you are talking about Irish or American whiskey. Whisky from Japan is usually spelt the same as from Scotland.
There are actually five different types of Scotch whisky, which are:
- Single Malt Scotch Whisky
- Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
- Blended Grain Scotch Whisky.
I think that most folks learning about Scotch whisky are likely to be interested in the difference between a single malt whisky and a blended whisky. Let me explain the difference for you.
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The 14 Best Whisky Distilleries To Visit In Scotland
- by Mako Young
Scotland is a historically rich country in the northern part of Great Britain. While it is known for having beautiful scenery, full of rolling hills, gentle landscapes, and even a few sandy beaches, the country is also famous for its world-class whisky. Scotch whisky is undoubtedly one of the most popular types of liquor in the world.
Made using malted barley or other grains, Scotch whisky is typically aged in oak barrels for about three years before being bottled and served. There are also different types of Scotch, including single malt, single grain, blended malt, and blended grain. The country has over 100 Scotch whisky distilleries, so tourists often drop by a few when in the area.
If you are a Scotch lover on the hunt for the countrys latest distillery, passing through, or just looking for something to do, we highly recommend visiting these 15 whisky distilleries while in Scotland.
Single Malt Or Blended
Scotch whisky falls into two main categories, single malt and blended. Single malt is made from water and malted barley, and blended Scotch whisky is malt whisky mixed with grain whisky. Single malt is the priciest and most sought-after Scotch whisky, but that does not necessarily mean that its the best choice for you. The majority of Scotch whisky sold is blended Scotch. Single malt is smooth, but it also has a peaty, smoky flavor. A blended Scotch whisky is less strong, gentler, and a tad sweeter. It is also more affordable.
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Is Scotch The Same As Scottish Whisky And Whats Whiskey
Whiskey, whisky, Scotch. One drink, many names, so what are the differences? Whiskey, whisky and Scotch all refer to the same drink with the main difference being regionality, and the country, or countries the whisky is produced in.
Whiskey with an ‘e’, mainly refers to whisky produced in the US , such as Bourbon and Rye, and Ireland, such as brands like Jamieson’s and Bushmills.
Whisky without the ‘e’, refers to whisky made in Scotland, and other countries who produce whisky in a similar style to Scotland, such as Japan and France.
Scotch however, refers only to whisky made in Scotland, and is a term most popularly used in film and TV, particularly in America, to differentiate it from Bourbon or American whiskey.
A Scotch whisky must be Is produced at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley which have been “processed at that distillery into a mash, converted at that distillery to a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems, fermented at that distillery only by adding yeast, and distilled at an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 94.8 per cent.
Old Pulteney 17 Year Old
Chosen by Mark Connelly, co-founder of Glasgow’s Whisky Festival: “Old Pulteney is rich without being too off-putting for some, like the Islay whiskies, and it is consistent and affordable.
“It has a lovely sweetness delightfully balanced by salty, coastal notes – it should be a staple of every home whisky bar.”
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Best Blended Grain: Compass Box Hedonism Whisky
Some Scotch snobs eschew blends entirely. Thats their choice, to be sure, but its always a good idea to keep your mind as open as your palate when youre searching for truly excellent whisky. Otherwise, youre apt to miss out on some quality hooch. Hedonism from London-based blender Compass Box is one such expression. The recipe is 100 percent grain whisky from a trio of distilleries using first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and re-charred American oak casks. The result is a beautiful dram, fruity, and chock-full of vanilla notes and a touch of coconut on the finish that will leave you clamoring for another glass.
Paul John Classic Select Cask
After India was introduced to Scotch in the 19th century, they quickly started making their own. Today, India might not be known as a major whisky producer, but they make liquor thats worthy of any connoisseurs bar. One of Indias best whiskys is Paul John, a premium single malt launched in 2008 to compete in the high-end market.
Paul Johns Classic Select Cask is made using exclusively Indian-grown ingredients in Indian-made equipment. The whisky is distilled and aged in the tropical region of Goa, increasing maturation speed. The end result is a strong, rich liquor that packs a punch.
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Best Overall: The Glendronach Revival
Region: Highlands | ABV: 46% | Tasting Notes: Cedar, Chocolate-covered cherries, Pecans, Honey
With notes of cedar, chocolate-covered cherries, pecans and honey, The GlenDronach Revival 15-year-old scotch evolves in layers and layers of new flavors and keeps on delivering, according to Tardie, following through with its seemingly miles-long finish.
Aged in the Highlands in Pedro Ximénez and oloroso sherry casks, it starts off with a spiced fruit nose that Tardie calls brilliant. Drink it neat with milk chocolate or aged cheeses, or, as he suggests, “drop an ice cube in and let it sit for a few seconds and see what happens.”
Whisky Distilleries You Can Visit From Edinburgh
Edinburgh is one of the most well known and popular cities to visit in Scotland. That said, it is not home to a great many whisky distilleries. It is however a good base from which to visit a number of Lowland distilleries, and there is one operational distillery you can visit in the city, as well as an excellent whisky themed attraction.
In the city itself, you can visit the Holyrood Distillery. This opened in 2019 in a former railway goods shed, and is around 10-15 minutes walk from the city centre. Because its so new, their whisky is still maturing. However, you can tour the distillery and learn about the whisky making process.
Two other excellent options in Edinburgh city centre are the Scotch Whisky Experience and the Johnnie Walker Princes Street venue. Neither of these venues create whisky, however they are both good options for learning how whisky is made and its history.
The Scotch Whisky Experience isnt tied to a particular brand, and the interactive visit is a lot of fun. Its a great place to learn about the history of whisky, how its made and the various regions and associated flavours. Theres also an excellent tasting session, as well as the opportunity to see the worlds largest whisky collection. A great first-stop on any whisky tour of Scotland.
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Shop > Whisky Glasses
Click here to view our vast selection of whisky glasses perfect for Scotch Whisky. We have glassware for whisky covered, from the award-winning Glencairn Whisky Glass to the more traditional tumblers…we have glassware for whisky covered! We also have a great collection of whisky decanters ideal for scotch whiskey and other spirits such as cognac, brandy, port, and more!
Images courtesy of Hennings Wine Merchants.
Whisky Distilleries In Scotland
Ill now go through some of the whisky distilleries in Scotland you can visit. To make this easier to navigate, Ive divided this up by popular destinations in Scotland.
So if you are visiting Edinburgh for example, Ive put some distilleries together that you can visit easily as a day trip from Edinburgh. Where possible, Ive also included suggested guided tours that include each of our recommended distilleries.
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Whisky Distilleries In Scotland: A Guide To Whisky In Scotland
Last updated: –
Scotland is well known as a producer of some of the best whiskies in the world, and there are over a hundred whisky distilleries in Scotland. Many of these distilleries are open for whisky tasting and tours.
I had the pleasure of living in Scotland for a number of years, which allowed to me to regularly partake in two of my favourite pastimesâlandscape photograph and drinking whisky. Over the past decade Ive visited dozens of Scottish whisky distilleries and Ive enjoyed a fair share of wee drams!
In this guide, Im going to share with you everything you need to know about whisky in Scotland. This will include an overview of the different regions and their flavours as well as a guide to how whisky is made.
We think that visiting a whisky distillery is an essential part of any trip to Scotland, even for those of you who dont like whisky. Jess for example isnt the biggest fan of whisky, but she still enjoys visiting the distilleries and learning all about their history and learning how whisky is made.
During our time in Scotland, we visited a great many whisky distilleries, from world famous brands like Talisker and Glenmorangie, to more niche manufacturers like the distillery found on the Isle of Raasay.
Based on our experiences, Ill share a number of Scottish whisky distilleries we think you should consider visiting. Ill divide these up by region, so wherever you plan on going in Scotland, there will be a whisky experience waiting for you!
Best New: Torabhaig 2017 Legacy Series
Courtesy of Total Wine
Region: Isle of Skye | ABV: 46% | Tasting Notes: Salt, Honey, Smoke, Bitter herbs
Want to get in on the ground floor with a new distillery? Only the second-ever licensed facility on the Isle of Skye, Torabhaig opened in 2017, and its first release, this single malt blended from 100 select barrels, is young but delightful. The heavy peat character is tempered by a brisk sweetness from the pure island spring water used to make it and the Kentucky bourbon barrels used to age it. The honeyed vanilla char of the wood mingles with isle seagrass and iodine for a whisky made for sipping or stirring into drinks.
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What Is The Most Popular Whiskey In Scotland
The 10 Best Whisky Distilleries in Scotland Glenfiddich. The worlds most popular single malt whisky and one of the most famous stops on the Malt Whisky Trail, Glenfiddich is a bona fide Scotch superstar. Highland Park. Laphroaig. The Macallan. The Glenlivet. Glen Grant Distillery. Isle of Arran Distillers. Bunnahabhain. Tobermory Distillery. Glenmorangie Distillery.
The Scotch Whisky Experience
The Scotch Whisky Experience takes pride in its place on Edinburghs historic Royal Mile, and if its your first time in Scotland, theres no better place to learn about the ancient art of distillation before sampling the best scotch from around the country.
This unique experience is home to a replica whisky distillery, where youll learn about the centuries-old processes that go into making the finest blends and malts. Youll learn about the different ingredients, the different whisky-producing regions in Scotland, and the different flavors, tastes, and aromas that different types of whisky are known for. Oh, and theres a fun theme-park style barrel ride through the experience!
You can also see the unique Diageo Claive Vidiz Whisky Collection, which is safely stored away in the vaults of The Scotch Whisky Experience. This is the largest collection of scotch whisky in the world, with the last count putting the number of bottles at 3,384. Once youve perused the extensive collection, youll be invited for a tasting session in the Amber Restaurant & Whisky Bar.
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How To Drink Whisky Like A True Scot
Imagine youre at a bar in Scotland.
Youre sitting beside the most Scottish man youve ever seen. He has wild ginger hair, a kilt, and an accent that even Groundskeeper Willie couldnt comprehend.
And as the minutes turn to hours, you chat to him and become best friends. Youve talked about your family, your work, and hes even said you can stay at his house in Ullapool next year.
But then he says, Do you want a dram of whisky?
You dont know the traditions associated with this drink. You dont want to cause offense. And you dont want to seem uneducated.
He rushes you to the bar and tells you to order. You look behind the barman and without thinking ask for a double 20-year-old Glenfiddich with lemonade.
And then the silence. Everyone looks at you as if you had just murdered Johnny Walker himself.
This is a dire situation to be in. But dont worry, its easy to avoid.
Simply read our quick guide and learn to drink whisky like a Scotsman.
Where To Buy Whisky Online
If youre looking for a whisky as a memento of your travel in Scotland, or perhaps in preparation of your adventure, then you have a few options.
First, we recommend you check out The Whisky Shop. They have a number of retail locations around the UK, as well as an online store, and they offer a huge range of whiskies. Naturally, these include whiskies from many of the North Coast 500 whisky distilleries.
Next, you can try . Amazon also has an extensive range of whiskies you can order online.
Of course, as you travel around Scotland you will find that the majority of distilleries you can visit have shops so you can also pick one up as you go direct from the distillery!
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Glenmorangie House & Distillery
Glenmorangies Highland distillery offers the chance to learn of the past and look forward to the future of whiskey. Tour the old, damp cellars, and explore the Lighthouse with Dr. Bill Lumsden, one of the most innovative minds in Scotch whiskey. In this modern glass structure, Bill toils away on single malts that wont be enjoyed until the 2040s or 2050s!
Glenmorangie House is about ten miles from the distillery, always ready to provide a warm welcome into its whiskey-inspired interiors. Enjoy a private lunch or dinner in the woodland area behind the distillery or treat yourself to a tasting with members of the whiskey creation team, who will regale you with story after story about their craft.