Undoubtedly, it is one of the first countries that comes to mind when whiskey is mentioned. Scotland. There are over 100 distilleries in Scotland that actively produce whiskey. At these distilleries spread over every corner of the island, there are currently about 20 million barrels The whiskey is waiting to mature and be bottled. This figure is almost 4 times the population of Scotland.
Today, although whiskey is produced in many countries such as Ireland, Japan, America, Canada, and India, many whiskey lovers like "Scots“They have a special place…
So what makes Scotch whiskey so special?
Scotland is one of the leading countries in terms of water resources. It is said that the spring waters filtering from the granite rocks in the high mountains of Scotland are one of the softest and highest quality waters in the world. Considering that water is the most important component of whiskey, the fact that a water source of this quality is used in the production of Scotch whiskey is indisputably the biggest secret of the Scots.
Scotland is a country that is famous not only for its whiskey, but also for its breathtaking natural beauties. The fresh air provided by the sea and abundant greenery and the cool climate created by being in the north provide a perfect maturation environment for whiskeys. Whiskeys in barrels mature slowly and for a long time in this favorable Scottish climate. This is another factor that makes Scotch whiskey special.
The last factor that distinguishes Scotch whiskeys is vegetable charcoal, which is abundant in Scotland and is used in many distilleries to dry barley. “Peat/Peat”we can say. We can define peat briefly as a black, spongy hard coal consisting of decayed plant remains and moss.
With this definition, peat may not sound very good, but let's say that the sooty, smoky, smoked and medicinal notes that many whiskey lovers (including me) like very much, have passed into whiskey with the use of this plant charcoal in the drying phase of barley.
Lagavulin, Talisker, Caol Ila, Bowmore, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Highland Park and BenromachAs an example of whiskeys that use peat in the making and contain the notes I mentioned in the tasting profile.
For all these reasons, the distillery in Scotland produces the world's most popular whiskeys/scots and offers them to whiskey lovers.
Did the Scots Invent Whiskey?
Although many people think that the Scots invented whiskey, there is no documentation to substantiate this thesis. Therefore, “Did the Scots or the Irish invent whiskey?” Discussions about it are still ongoing. Although we do not know for sure who invented the whiskey, let us state that the first written text with "whisky" in it belongs to the Scots.
In 1494, the Scottish King IV. James orders the monk John Cor of Lindores Abbey to be given about 580 kg of barley to make “aqua vitae” (Latin for water of life). These barleys are recorded in the Exchequer Rolls, that is, in the royal treasury book, and this record is the first written official document in history that whiskey has been mentioned.
What Is Scotch/Scottish Whiskey?
Before we can call a whiskey Scotch/Scottish, we look for 4 characteristics.
- Must have been manufactured in Scotland.
- Malted/unmalted grain and water are used in its production.
- Alcohol content should be at least .
- It should mature for at least 3 years in oak barrels not larger than 700 lt.
What Are the Types of Scotch Whiskey?
Scotch whiskeys are also divided into different types. Although there are many types of Scotch whiskey in the literature, the most well-known of them are Single Malt Scotch and Blended Scotch whiskeys.
Single Malt Scotch (Single Malt Scotch)
In order for us to call a whiskey a single malt Scotch whiskey, in addition to the features that must be present in the Scotch whiskeys mentioned above, 1 more condition is sought. This condition is that the whiskey must be produced in a single distillery.
Although single malt whiskey is usually associated with Scotland, it should be noted that countries such as Ireland, Japan, India and Canada also have their own single malt whiskeys.
Sample: Lagavulin 16, Talisker 10, Highland Park 12, Glenlivet Founder's Reserve, Glenfiddich 15…
Blend Scottish (Blended Scotch)
For blended Scotch whiskeys, we can briefly say Scottish whiskeys that are produced by masterfully blending malt and grain whiskeys produced by 2 or more distilleries.
Blended Scotch whiskeys contain between 15 and 40 different grain and malt whiskeys. These whiskeys are carefully selected by the distillery's chief blender.
As an example of blended Scotch whiskeys, one of the best-selling whiskeys both in the world and in our country. Johnnie Walker and Chivas RegalWe can give
For more detailed information about blended whiskeys “Blending Whiskeys & The Art of Whiskey Blending” You can read my post.
Scottish Whiskey Regions
There are 6 different whiskey regions in Scotland. These;
The tasting profiles of Scotch whiskeys vary depending on the regions they are found in. Each region has some characteristic features. Although there are exceptions, you can get close notes from whiskeys in the same region and compare the tasting profiles of these whiskeys.
I will try to briefly summarize the 6 different whiskey regions and their characteristics in Scotland. Let's start with Speyside first.
We can say that Speyside, which is home to almost of the single malts produced in Scotland, is Scotland's most important whiskey region. Speyside, which takes its name from the Spey River in which it is located, is the leader in this field by hosting about 50 distilleries even though it occupies a small place on the map.
Whiskeys originating from this region are generally fruity, flowery and is known for its rich tasting profiles. The world's best selling single malts Glenlivet and GlenfiddichIt should be noted that , is also located in this region.
Here are a few of the distilleries located in Speyside: Aberlour, Macallan, Balvenie, Cardhu, Cragganmore, Strathisla, BenRiach, Glenrothes….
To get detailed information about Speyside, you can visit this region from my trip. to my notes .
The Highland region has the largest area among whiskey regions in Scotland. There are close to 30 distilleries in this region and approximately of the malt whiskey produced in Scotland is made in this region.
Since the Highland region is a very large area, it contains whiskeys with very different taste profiles. For example, in the western part of the region Oban known for its salty notes, Ardmore with its sooty structure, located in the north Glenmorangie and Dalmore located in the middle of the region with its complex flavors. Aberfeldy stands out with its fruity notes.
As you can see, there is a brand in almost every taste profile in the Highland region. For this reason, it is not possible to generalize the taste profile made for the whiskeys in the Speyside region for Highland.
To give a few examples of other distilleries located in Highland: Old Pulteney, Clynelish, Tomatin, Glendronach, Glengoyne, Dalwhinnie…
Lowland, as the name suggests, is located below Scotland, in the south of the island, which is the closest part to England. This region includes the two most important cities of Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
While Lowland was one of Scotland's most active whiskey producing areas in the early 1800s, it is now home to just 13 distilleries. Most of these distilleries produce grain whiskey. The most prominent names among Lowland whiskeys, which are also very limited in variety in our country Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie and Ailsa Mr..
In the old days, in the Lowland region, distilleries used to distill their whiskey 3 times, just like the Irish. This made Lowland different from all other Scottish regions, which double distilled their whiskeys. But now Auchentoshan continues this tradition.
Lowland whiskeys are generally light, smooth, dry and fruity known for their structure.
The Islands region includes the islands around the Highland region. In fact, the archipelago is shown as being connected to the Highland in many official sources. However, since the tasting profiles of whiskeys produced on the islands differ markedly from Highland whiskeys, the number of sources specifying the islands as a different region is quite high. For this reason, I believe that the islands should be considered as a different region.
So, what are the differences between the whiskeys that come out of the islands?
in Island whiskeys salt, iodine, moss, oyster and similar sea notes are the most common notes. The biggest reason for this is the drying of barley, which is one of the most important stages of the whiskey making process during the maturation period of whiskey. “Peat/Peat” is to use. Drying with peat gives whiskey a smoky/smoky, smoked and sooty character.
Distillates in the area: Highland Park, Jura, Arran, Scapa, Abhainn Dearg, Tobermory and Talisker, which is among my favorite whiskeys.
The Islay region (pronounced Ay-la) covers a small area on the west coast of Scotland. this small area Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Bowmore, Caol Ila It is home to iconic distilleries such as
We can set Islay whiskeys apart from all other Scottish whiskeys based on their tasting profile. The whiskeys of this region are known for their intense peat and soot notes that fill the room even when the caps of the bottles are opened.
Many whiskey loversvery heavy” Islay whiskeys, which he can define as whiskeys, are undoubtedly not for everyone's taste… One of the Islay whiskeys Laphroaig for "You either hate or fall in love” is commented quite often. I think we can say this comment for many Islayians.
As in Island whiskeys, the peat and sooty notes originate in Islay whiskeys, which are used in the drying of barley. “Peat”is.
We can say that Islay whiskeys are generally dense peat, sooty and dry finish. In addition to these, synthetic notes such as suede, leather or medicine are also included in the tasting profiles of Islay whiskeys.
There are 9 distilleries active in the Islay region. Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Kilchoman, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Bowmore, and Ardnahoe.
To learn more about the Islay region “All About Islay Whiskeys” Check out the article.
Just like the Lowland region, Campbeltown is one of the whiskey regions that are looking for their old days... In this small region, which used to be home to about 30 distilleries for a period, there are currently only 3 distillates. These; springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia.
As a general tasting profile for Campbeltown whiskeys fruity, caramel and chocolate due to the dominance of the notes and the use of peat. sooty/peat Let's say it's whiskey.
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