The Highland region of Scotland is home to gentle glens, towering peaks, coastal scenery, and some of whisky’s most famous names. The distilleries in this area account for 25% of Scotland’s malt whisky production, which rises to 85% when the Speyside area is included. The whiskies produced in this region are spicier and more robust than their Speyside cousins; however, they vary significantly in style across its various subregions.
From light and grassy to smokey and heavily peated, Highland whiskies truly are Scotland’s most fiercely individual single malts. Read more about the distinct character of Highland whiskies below, or browse our extensive range of Scotch and place your order today.
- The Highland Tradition
- The Highland Regions and Their Distilleries
- Northern Highland
- Southern Highland
- Western Highland
- Eastern Highland
- Central Highland
- Highland Whisky Characteristics
The intense flavours of Highland whiskies are known for stem from the deeply ingrained traditions of the region. Distilleries in other areas of Scotland, including the Lowlands region, had access to an abundance of barley and developed large, tall stills as a result, which allowed them to produce large volumes of whisky. However, barley was scarce in the Highland, which meant distilleries needed significantly smaller stills compared to their competitors. These stills meant that oiler, heavier alcohols condensed in the neck of the stills, which resulted in a richer, bolder flavoured whisky.
The highland region is geographically the largest whisky-producing region in Scotland, covering anywhere from the north of the Glasgow commuter belt up to Thurso and the northern islands, from the serpentine west coast to the fertile east. As a result, whiskies from this vast region are exceptionally diverse, ranging from lighter, fruitier flavours in the southern areas to bolder, smokier single malts in the north.
To accurately classify the various Highland styles, this area can be divided into multiple subregions, each boasting a range of distinguished distilleries that faithfully capture the unique attributes of their distinct scenery in their whiskies.
No matter what your preference of Scotch may be, the diverse flavours of this region are sure to have something for everyone to enjoy. The House of Whisky boasts a vast collection of whiskies from this unique region, all available for purchase online for delivery.
The region north of Inverness is a hotbed of distinct whisky flavours. Northern Highland whiskies tend to be full-bodied, rich, and sweet with fruity and nutty aromas, with most also boasting hints of brine inspired by the northern coastline. Some of the most distinct whisky varieties in the Northern Highland include:
Southern Highland whiskies tend to have more in common with Lowland whiskies than their northern contemporaries, largely due to the proximity of these distilleries to the Highland Line. These whiskies are usually lighter and drier with a distinct fruity flavour, with some boasting a broad range of aromas and flavours, from grassy intensity to lighter nutty fragrances. Some of the most popular whiskies from this region include:
While Scotland’s Hebridean coast does not boast as many distilleries as the other Highland subregions, the distilleries located in this region are known for their truly distinct expressions. Western Highland whiskies are known for their pungent tones of peat and smoke, often accompanied by pronounced, satisfying notes of sweet sherry and wood spice.
Some western highland malts are similar to Islay malts, with some distilleries, including Adelphi, the most westerly located distillery on Scotland’s mainland, offering peated expressions with salty elements inspired by the sea air.
The Eastern Highland, stretching from Banff and either side of Aberdeen and heading south to Montrose, is home to wildly differing malts. These whiskies range from dry and herbal to sweet and fruity. Some malts also boast smokier flavours, as well as exotic spice notes. The most distinct distilleries in the Eastern Highland include:
Additionally, the Royal Brackla distillery, famed for being one of only three distilleries allowed to use the “Royal” epithet in their names, is also located in this region.
Home to a limited number of distilleries, including Aberfeldy, the Perthshire region in the Central Highland boasts whiskies that range from fruity, spicy, and grassy to rich, honeyed flavours.
While Highland whiskies boast several general tasting notes, each region has its own unique offerings, with tastes varying widely between distilleries as a result of the ever-changing landscape and variable weather conditions.
In addition to the distinct characteristics of each region, highland whiskies tend to boast several distinct tasting notes, including:
- Dried Fruit
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