The Island of Islay off the West coast of Scotland has its own Whisky classification with 7 working distilleries and perhaps more in the pipeline. Islay is fashionable again due to the distinctive peatiness and seaside Character of many of its whiskies. Indeed the sea laps at the walls of many of them. As a rule the most heavily flavoured whisky comes from the South of the island with whisky from the North or West tending to more subtle marriages of flavour.
Classic South coaster very smoky and dry with a briny iodine punch and strong peat tones.
Light and dry, a hint of peat, tobacco and peppermint a gentle sting.
From this distillery Scotland's most westerly comes a whisky that is very soft and smooth with hints of seaweed and iodine, a touch of peat. Balanced by the taste of summer fruits and a certain zesty character.
Bright yellow in colour, perfumed sea air, clean grassy sweetness and a touch of pepper married with the whiff of peat and seaweed.
Bruichladdich (Lochindaal) 10yr
Independent bottling, slightly saltier and brinier than other Bruichladdichs.
Remarkably fresh seaweed and sea air flavours and aromas with a gentle nutty maltness.
From the capital of Islay with somewhere in between in style of the aggressive South coast whiskies and the more mild north. The 12yr has a firm peaty smoke and an earthy sweetness.
Caol Ila 1996
A smoky explosion of pepper, peat and seemingly the essence of the sea not to be missed.
Perhaps the driest and most sustained attack of any readily available whisky, this near neighbour of Laphroaig and Ardbeg has a nose of sea spray and peat smoke, a full body and an explosive peaty dryness on the palate complemented by clear salty and seaweed notes.
Medicinal, phenolic and sea-weedy the Laphroaig is the most distinctive whisky in the world very strong peat and iodine tones.
An explosion of sulphur, burning peat and Islay intensity.
Port Ellen 1982
The Rarest of all Islay malts the distillery closed in the early 1980’s though its associated maltings are still in production. This 1982 has classic distillery character, Cod liver oil, dried seaweed and smoke well structured and containing perhaps a dap of antiseptic?
The heart of Scottish whisky production, more than 50% of Scotland’s operating distilleries are on Speyside. Often Speysiders are sweet full flavoured whiskies while sherry is a common characteristic of many Speysiders.
Aberlour 10yr Old
Malty and spicy on the nose, with a smooth full body and hints of berry fruit.
From a modern distillery built in the 1970’s this has hints of both flowers and spices and is fairly light in body.
Characterised by a dry caramel toffee finish with hints of marzipan.
Auchroisk 1974 single cask
Very pale in colour with hints of oak and vanilla and a very dry finish.
Pale in colour but with a distinctive nutty (pine?) and biscuity palate.
Fruity hints of currants and raisins smoothed out with a hint of sherry.
Fairly hot and spicy on the nose with both ginger and smoke to taste.
The Balvenie 10yr Founders Reserve
Pale gold in colour, honey sweet with just a hint of sherry and fruit.
The Balvenie 12yr Double Wood
Amber in colour this elegant whisky is finished for 6 to 12 months in sweet oloroso sherry casks, giving beautiful balance and notes of heather honey, cinnamon and orange.
The Balvenie 15yr Single Barrel
Numbered stamped and signed each bottling is unique and irreplaceable, notes of heather, vanilla and a honey sweetness with a surprisingly dry finish.
From a distillery that once supplied the House of Commons. This has a fresh light colour with a grassy citric nose, and a smooth almost tropical palate.
Light and smooth body with a distinctively flowery nose.
Distinctive cereal notes on the palate, dry finish.
Partially triple distilled from a very quirky distillery. This is a big creamy whisky with a fair touch of smoke and hint of peat.
Restrained and fragrant a surprisingly mellow whisky from the smallest distillery on speyside.
The first completely organic scotch whisky.
Very heavily peated for Speyside, smoke and peat balanced on the palate by heather and vanilla.
This is an assertive whisky with a flowery almost hoppy punch.
Royal Brackla 1981
From the first distillery to gain the Royal Warrant this golden whiskey has a very hot and almost astringent finish.
Light to medium in body with a very smooth velvety body and a malty sweet palate and lashings of vanilla.
An Cnoc 12yr
Very creamy whisky surprisingly light in body, soft notes of fruit.
Our oldest whisky slightly viscous with pepper and a hint of peat.
Flavours of caramel, and dried fruit and spices.
Golden in colour, the most complex bouquet of any malt, medium in body.
Fairly sweet with distinctive malty nuts.
Rich almost tawny colour, full body with hefty aromas of port and autumn fruit.
Now closed and in the care of Historic Scotland this is a lush silky whisky with soft fruits and honey.
Singleton of Dufftown 10yr
Pale golden lightly syrupy with a soft hint of malt.
Glen Craig 1975
A deep gold colour, very oily and full with strong notes of spicy dried fruit. Distilled from the Lomond stills of Glenburgie.
Glen Elgin 12yr
Deep gold, fruity and flowery with a dry and spicy finish.
Glen Grant 21yr
Lots of sherry in the nose and on the palate followed by malty peaty notes.
Glen Keith 10yr
Flowers and lemongrass on the nose with a tart fruity finish.
Glen Moray no age statement Chardonnay finish
Very pale gold hint of banana and soft fruit, crisp apple finish.
Glen Spey 16yr Cadenhead Cask Strength
Light gold, grass oak and walnut on the nose dry finish.
Glen Spey 12yr
Full gold colour medium oily body and a lively sweet palate.
Sweet raisiny sherry very rich and smooth balanced with a dry maltiness.
Very pale almost white with an extraordinarily long perfumy finish.
Full gold firm body with a hint of sherry and a long sweet finish.
Perhaps the best balanced Glenfarclas plenty of sherry oak and maltiness but with all the elements beautifully blended.
Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength
Very robust strong and heavy rich nectar and honey dryness.
Fruity pear like on the nose with a smooth oily maltiness.
Glenfiddich 12yr Caoran Reserve
Gentle peat and smoke, achieved using casks that have previously held Islay whisky.
Glenfiddich 15yr Solera Reserve
Chocolate and pears and a hint of ginger to finish.
Bright lemony yellow with slight hint of lemon zest and rooty liquorice.
The Glenlivet 12yr
Pale gold with a remarkably clean flowery and peachy palate.
Malty and dry with a perfume and spice especially at the finish.
Sweet and malty with spicy fruit and a hint of peat.
Full and milky on the nose. The body much lighter and dryer.
The heart of Scottish whisky production, more than 50% of Scotland’s operating distilleries are on Speyside. Often Speysiders are sweet full flavoured whiskies while sherry is a common characteristic of many Speysiders
Lemony but slightly dry and hint of vanilla slightly dusty finish.
Sweet and malty developing flavours of seaweed, sea salt and a long lingering finish..
Soft and creamy raspberries and toffee with hints of citrus.
Petals and roses on the nose, marzipan and almonds on the palate.
A big oily whisky cereal maltiness. A hint of plums, nuts and pepper.
The Macallan 10yr
Sherry butterscotch and a real depth of flavour even at this age, malty gingery finish with a hint of peat and smoke.
The Macallan 18yr
Attractive deep tawny colour, oak, raisin, sherry flavours, oily body chocolate malt and ginger to finish.
The Macallan Speymalt 1973
Very deep almost ruby colour incredibly rich dense malt, sherry raisins, pepper and plums on the palate, with strong hints of oak and vanilla and just a hint of peat.
Fragrant and lively, barley sugar, followed by hints of lime.
Bright nutty colour hints of clotted cream, toffee, sherry and ginger..
Millburn 25yr 1975 Cask Strength
Medium dry body, sooty and smokey with lively orange and spices.
Bright greeny gold colour, dry and lightly peaty on the nose mature peaty apple succulence on the palate.
Fragrant and flowery very faint peat, with a light to medium body and lightly nutty finish.
A classic speysider flowery and supple with complex blending of herbs and spices, hints of peat and sherry.
Pittyvaich 12 yr
Deep amber colour sherryish and perfumy on the nose intensely dry and lingering on the tongue.
Pittyvaich 16yr (Cask Strength)
Fruity oily and spicy with some malty chewiness and vanilla.
Clean and lightly malty with fresh herbal heathery notes.
Full deep gold sherryish with a vanilla and flowery finish.
Creamy and soft with citrus peel blossom and spices on the palate.
Strathmill 12yr (Cask Strength)
Honeycomb, orange and a hint of mint at the finish.
Tamdhu no age statement
Clean and sweet with a touch of toffee and a little peat at the finish.
Very aromatic with a touch of peat, hay and heather on the nose, very light in body but smooth, curranty with hints of juniper and peat to finish.
Mellow and round toffee and a fresh round mintness to finish. Scotland's largest distillery.
Sweetish with hints of crushed barley, delicate but surprisingly lively and nutty.
Sweet and soft, barley and pear on the palate hints of caramel and fudge.
Medium firm body with big hints of toffee and vanilla.
Tullibardine 25yr Stillmans Dram
Dry honey on the nose, honey nuts and a grapey sherryish palate with a long sweet nutty finish perhaps a hint of spice.?
The Highlands of Scotland containing two-thirds of Britain's peat bogland and Europe's largest expanse of blanket bog as well as some of Scotland's largest barley growing areas and most magnificent coastal landscapes produces whisky as diverse as its landscape from peaty salty coastal whiskies to more mellow and softer varieties in the South.
Full gold colour hints of marshmallow, and lemon cutting through the sweetness.
Nutty light spiciness on the nose, almost salty chocolate with a hint of biscuit or shortbread on the palate.
Balblair Elements (no age statement)
Slightly salty but smooth, shortbread again and maybe raspberries.
Malty dryness with the ubiquitous Balblair shortbread on the palate, salt and vanilla on the nose.
Ben Nevis 10yr
At the foot of Scotland's highest mountain Ben Nevis has something of a coastal character being close to a sea loch. The 10yr old is emphatically big smooth and oily with hints of dark chocolate and a touch of smokiness.
Ben Nevis 12yr (Milroys 1979) Cask Strength
Salty and slightly peaty with a hint of heather honey and toffee balancing the palate perhaps a touch of a smokey dry finish.
Blair Athol 12yr
In the Eastern Highlands Blair castle is home to the Duke of Atholl keeper of Europe’s last legal private army. This nearby distillery produces an attractive dark orange whisky with a palate like spiced cake and a lightly smokey and herby finish.
From the Northern Highlands this is a harbour front sea-weedy whisky with a firm steely body and salty savoury finish.
Slightly sherried and darker in colour than the 1990 but carries off a similar sea-weedy astringency.
The Dalmore 12yr
A Classic malt from the North Highlands, rum butter and malt loaf on the nose, a silky malty sweetness on the palate balanced by heather a light peat and a faint salty tang.
A very pale greeny gold whisky from the east highlands with a drying malty finish and a lightly nutty dry sherry character.
Scotland's smallest distillery making as much malt in a year as some produce in a week. Minty and leafy on the nose a thin but firm body and a syrupy smokey palate.
Full gold in colour with hints of resin, sherry and clean crisp toffee notes slightly bitter finish.
Glen Garioch 15yr
A good nose of earthy peat carried through a flowery heathery smokiness and liquorice-like rooty notes.
Glengoyne 12yr Cask Strength
Full of Malty flavour contains a certain peaty astringency as well as a slight touch of sherry. This Glasgow malt is now becoming better known.
A warm dry maltiness deep rich nutty flavours hints of cedar and oak, Mature very firm and smooth long rich sherry finish.
The biggest selling malt in Scotland the 10yr has a flowery sweetness on the nose following through onto the palate matched with a creamy buttery maltness and perhaps a hint of banana.
Vanilla mint and walnuts finished off with a spicy biscuity note.
The Oldest distillery in Scotland tucked away in the Eastern Highlands the 10yr has a heavy sweet nose, toffee and cough mixture on the palate and a minty soothing finish.
Glenury Royal 25yr
A voluptuous malt from the East coast South of Aberdeen. Honey Chestnuts and plums predominate, beautifully balanced with a hint of coffee and smoke.
Glen Ord 12yr
From the Northern Highlands Glen Ord is little known. Full gold in colour, full of sultanas, malt and a hint of sulphur on the nose. It has a malty oaky finish.
Loch Lomond No age statement
Candy-floss, salt and powdered sugar with a lemony balancing dryness to finish.
Royal Lochnagar 12yr
Queen Victoria's favourite distillery and not far from Balmoral. The 12yr has a light smokiness a restrained sherry fruitiness and a mellow maltiness lovely balance.
Now demolished this distillery produced a whisky that a has clean barley aromas and a restrained maltiness.
North Port-Brechin 1982
A light creamy flavour, smooth body and a light leafy spiciness.
The classic West highland malt. Firm and smooth with a touch of peat and seaweed. A slight drying smoke and aromatic finish.
Old Pulteney 8yr
The most northerly distillery on the mainland from county Caithness the 8yr has notes of peat, heather honey, vanilla and a slightly oily saltiness.
Old Pulteney 12yr
A light palate with vanilla honey and nuts giving way to a hint of peat and a salty briny finish. A very smooth malt.
The islands of Scotland produce a multitude of different whiskies varying from the volcanic and smoky Talisker to the piney Jura, indeed if a new distillery in Shetland comes online then there will be as many Island malts as ones from Islay. All the Islands have only one operating distillery with the exception of Orkney which has two the famous Highland Park and the less well known Scapa.
The Arran Malt 10yr
Creamy and smooth with hints of roots and pine nuts and minty herbs. Scotland’s newest distillery.
Highland Park 8yr
Smoky and flavoursome feels fresh young and heathery.
Highland Park 12yr
Smoky and dry palate with a lingering finish of heather-honey. This is an outstanding malt from Scotland’s most northerly distillery.
With a sweetish malty palate that develops hints of island saltiness towards the finish.
From the same distillery as Tobermory this whisky is more oily and viscous with stronger hints of smoke and a salty peat.
Subtle hints of peat and salt married with scents of vanilla and heather. Slightly oily perhaps due to the use of Lomond stills.
Fiery and volcanic, described by one whisky writer as the lava of the Cuillins. Incredibly smoky with a long peaty attack.
Faint peat and married with a intense dry island saltiness.
Lowland whisky is perhaps the most accessible to the palate, many lowland distilleries have a history of using the Irish practice of triple distillation though only one Auchentoshan uses it presently. Sadly only three lowland distilleries are still in production, as tastes change and the whisky industry goes through ups and downs maybe more will come back into production.
Bright lemon in colour this is the only Scottish whisky that is triple distilled, perfumed vanilla notes with citric and grassy flavours.
Classic lowland notes herbs, grass and hints of vanilla and spice.
From Scotland’s most southerly distillery comes a classic lowland whisky, delicate notes of citrus and lemongrass on both nose and palate surprisingly firm body and finish maybe hints of sherry.
A superb fresh grassy and leafy whisky with exceptional balance and cleanness on the palate.
The Edinburgh malt light but rounded whisky, cinnamon and cane sugar sweetness with hints of gingery oaky dryness.
Straw coloured, with fresh tart plum flavours and a large dose of oak.
Marshmallow sweet with a delightful citrus finish that clears the palate.
A lemon and biscuity palate, surprisingly astringent for a lowlander with a long bitey finish.
At the turn of the 20th century Campbletown on the Mull of Kintyre was the whisky capital of Scotland . With over thirty distilleries many of which grew up to access the American market the Campbletown distilleries with their own harbour had an ideal location from which to export. Unfortunately only two working distilleries remain though a third Glengyle is being reopened by the owner of Springbank.
Glen Scotia 1990
A whisky that has a full gold colour a oily smooth body and a saltiness reminiscent of sea mist married with the sweetness of malt and coconut.
Produced by Springbank Longrow has a robust character with lashings of fruit underneath a peaty palate and smoky finish.
Tastes of brine and spice and hints of apples and pears with a measure of smoke and a crisp finish reminiscent of melons.
Though Scotland is by far the largest and most diverse whisky producing country others such as Ireland, America, Japan and now Wales have many and varied whisky producers and we try to offer a sample.
Bushmills 10yr single malt
A fresh minty whiskey from Northern Ireland, Apple and cream on the palate and a fairly oily body.
Penderyn single malt (no age statement)
A fiery whisky from the Brecon Beacons in mid-Wales the first Welsh single malt whisky is young fresh with hints of vanilla and a zingy spiciness.
From Japan’s oldest distillery the 10yr has lashings of vanilla hints of oak and a long honey finish.
Chivas Regal Century Malt
Johnnie Walker Red Label
Johnnie Walker Black Label
Johnnie Walker Green Label
Famous Grouse 10yr
Famous Grouse 18 yr
Woodford Reserve Bourbon