Scotch: The Basics

What makes a Scotch Whisky?

Scotch must contain malted barley and come from Scotland. It can also use other grains but malted barley is really the defining grain of scotch.  Scotch Whisky must be aged for a minimum of three years in oak casks. It is often aged in previously used bourbon barrels. Sherry, Port, Wine, Rum and Brandy barrels are also used.

Peat seems to be the dividing factor in Scotch. In a peated scotch, malted barley is dried over a peat fire which gives it that smokey flavor. Not all scotch tastes like campfire. Following are some popular Single Malt scotches and the regions they come from.

Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie come from the Lowlands of Scotland. Usually the scotch from this region is unpeated, with a light body. Lightly fruited with a delicate sweetness.

Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Oban come from the Highlands and usually contain notes of light smoke, fruit, honey and spice. This area is very large and distillers by the coast will pick up some salinity.

Some of the most popular scotches, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and The Macallan come from Speyside. It is a subdivision of the Highlands.These are often sweeter with notes of honey, vanilla and spice – sometimes lightly peated.

The heavy hitters come from Islay. Laphroig, Lagavulin, and Bowmore come from this area. They’re usually strong, heavily peated with saline, medicinal and iodine flavors.

Highland Park and Talisker come Islands. These islands at the tip of Scotland produce a slightly salinic, fruity, nutty and spicy scotch. These are not as strongly peated as those from islay.

Broaden your palate and try a new region today!

—Ann Mershon, Operations Manager

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