There are five major whisky regions of Scotland, Speyside, Lowlands, Highlands, Campbeltown and Islay. Each area has different qualities that leave their marks on the whiskies that are produced there.
Speyside is arguably the most well-known whisky region as it is home to more than half of all distilleries in Scotland. It is situated in the lower northeast corner of the Highlands and lies between Inverness and Aberdeen. It has a rich and varied landscape, with the River Spey, which the region is named after, flowing through it. Many Speyside distilleries use water from the River Spey in some form in the production of their whiskies.
The Highlands cover the largest area of all the Scotch whisky regions, spanning from the northwest of Glasgow to the Northern islands. At the heart of the region, you’ll find Loch Ness but across its entirety, you’ll also find plenty of picturesque scenery including rolling hills, green glens, and crystal-clear lakes. And that’s without taking the manmade structures of castles and cathedrals into consideration.
There are many Highland distilleries but as they are spread further apart than the distilleries found in other regions, the taste profiles of their Scotch whiskies can vary quite significantly.
A small island off the southern coast of Scotland, Islay has just 8 distilleries and is the smallest region in terms of area coverage. As an island, it boasts stunning shorelines but the land itself is dominated by Sphagnum peat, which contributes to the whiskies distilled here.
The Lowlands Scotch whisky region can be found in the southernmost part of Scotland and is near the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, making it an easy place for whisky enthusiasts to visit. Much of this area, which is characterised by a structure of sedimentary rocks with coal deposits and fertile greenery, lies within the basins of the River Forth and the River Clyde.
The region is known for its preference for triple distillation and whiskies which are more delicate, sweet and floral than other varieties.
Campbeltown may be a well-known whisky region but in terms of its geography, it isn’t all that large. In fact, it is a town of approximately just 4,500 people. It lies by Campbeltown Loch, in a deep bay sheltered by Davaar Island, on the Kintyre peninsula. Aside from being famous for its Scotch whisky production, it is also highly regarded as a fishing port.
Whiskies made in Campbeltown are recognised for smoky, briny and salty flavours as well as notes of fruit, toffee and vanilla.