We're sorry Ballantines.com won't work in this browser

Try the Edge browser

5 Whisky Regions Every
Whisky Lover Needs
to Visit in Scotland

Nothing beats a holiday based on something you love. If you’re a whisky fan you probably have a dream distillery visit in mind but for a truly mind-opening whisky experience, it’s worth branching out and exploring the area around your favourite distiller. 


Take a look at any map of the scotch regions and you’ll find the hotspots that gave rise to all your favourite bottles and how the story all fits together. For an authentic whisky tasting in Scotland, a visit to each of the five whisky regions is a must. 

What are the 5 whisky-producing regions of Scotland?

There are five major whisky regions of Scotland and each has different qualities. Speyside is easily the most well-known area as it makes up the vast majority of quality scotch sold around the world. But when we look at the amount of land covered, the Highland region takes the top spot despite only producing a quarter of the country’s malt whisky. 


Even so, more than half of all distilleries in Scotland use the Spey river in some form, producing great whiskies for both newcomers and veterans of the whisky game. 


As well as the Highlands and Speyside, there are the Islay, Lowland and Campbeltown regions. Each has its own audience, all thanks to the different master distillers, water and barrels at each site. 

What is the difference between Islay and Speyside?

Apart from the geographical differences, Islay and Speyside whisky are the easiest to tell apart. While a Speyside whisky tour would certainly be enjoyable for anyone who likes the occasional sip of whisky, an Islay tour can be a lot more divisive! 


Unlike the smooth and sweet sensations of an iconic Speyside scotch, Islay whisky typically leans into the peatier side of the whisky flavour wheel. If there is a taste of smoke and the sea, odds are you’re sipping an Islay. The intensity is due to the fact there’s relatively little land in the Islay area, which also means there are only a handful of distilleries based here. To create a true Islay whisky, the earth for barley to grow in has to be both peaty and fertile, and this isn’t common.

What is the difference between Speyside and Highland scotch?

While Speyside wins in terms of numbers of distilleries, the Highland regions take the lead in terms of variety. The overall region covers so much of the country it makes sense that distillers so far apart would produce very different styles of whisky. And since the Highlands make up the bulk of Scotland’s landmass, it’s worth visiting at at least one of the distilleries across the region on your journey.  


You won’t find a common unifying flavour note across Highland whiskies. Some have heavy, peaty notes while others verge on being desserts, with hints of vanilla and fruits. It’s a good idea to break down the region into North, South, East or West Highland and do some tasting until you discover which area’s flavours and aromas you most enjoy. 

Take a trip and dive in

When it comes to deciding which whisky distillery in Scotland to visit, the best and most enjoyable way is to taste a variety of spirits from each region. Our Ballantine’s blend is the result of over 50 different top-quality grains sourced from across the entire country, so you’re guaranteed a rich, fascinating flavour with every sip. 


If you want to dive deeper into the various flavours, immerse yourself in the world of whisky by touring the country and drop by some of the different distilleries to see exactly how they make your favourite scotch.

ballantines finest scotch whisky blog news page


You already know we’ve nailed the Finest Whisky to ever grace a glass. But that’s just a little drop of what we’re about. Scroll on for the latest news and features from across the world of Ballantine’s whisky, True Music and much, much more.

Discover More