By Scotch Adam in Learning, Regions, Uncategorized
I’m back on the saddle to try and keep some momentum on learning about whiskey. I put together a nice calendar of stuff I want to accomplish on here, so I’m hoping I’ll stick to it.
First being, learning about the regions again. The only region I’ve really delved into thus far is the Islay region, because I love Laphroiag. But I recently picked up a bottle of Glenmorangie and decided it’s an excellent time to learn about Highlands scotch.
The Highlands region is the largest for scotch production and includes the islands surrounding Scotland, with the exception of Islay. According to singlemalt.com The characteristics of the malts seems to be categorized by geographic region: North Highland, East Highland and West Highland.
- North Highland: Light bodied, delicate and dry finish. Sometimes spicy. Sometimes with a trace of salt. Some faintly peaty.
- East Highland: The malts from distilleries north of Aberdeen – Macduff (the product is named Glen Deveron in its proprietary bottlings), Knockdhu, Ardmore, Glendronach and Glengarrioch – are medium-bodied, malty, slightly sweet, smooth, slightly smoky and with a surprisingly dry finish. South of Aberdeen – Royal Lochnagar, Fettercairn, Glencadam – they become richer, more toffee-like, with citrus notes, but still a whiff of smoke and still the dry finish.
- West Highland:West Highland malts are much less peated than their southern cousins in Islay, although they all have at least a whiff of smoke and a mildly phenolic flavour. If there is a uniting factor it is the sweet start and the dryish, peppery finish. Central Highland Malts’ Characteristics
The offerings from the Central Highlands are a mixed bag. Generally they are lighter-bodied and sweeter that their cousins to the east, but not as sweet as Speysides.
Scotch Hunter describes Highland Malts as such: “By far the biggest region is the Highlands. Bigger, brawnier, and generally more rounded than Lowland malts, the whiskies from the Highlands carry a wide range of flavors and styles. They cover a wide area, and malts from this region range from the relatively light-weight Glenmorangie to the powerfully aromatic Dalmore to the almost minty Inchmurrin, with many many variations in between. The Highland distilleries are often further sorted by specifying the river they are near (Spey, Bogie, Deveron, Findhorn, etc) These whiskies are full-bodied, smoky and peaty with a dry taste. The Glenlivet and Aberlour both come from the Highlands. North Highland malts tend to be medium-bodied and fresh-flavored with heathery, nutty notes. Those from the West add smokiness and spice to this while Central Highland malts often have floral aromas. The Speyside part of the Highlands is often described as the ‘Premiers Grands Crus’ of malt whiskies – they can vary from highly perfumed, light-bodied confections perfect for a summer’s afternoon, to chocolate and fruitcake-rich digestives, comparable to old cognac.”
Sounds to me there really isn’t a solid characteristic that ties all highland scotches together the way all Islay malts are peaty, except maybe they are lighter. And also that within the region you can find just about anything you want, with the exception of a lot of peat.
Another tidbit I was curious about. why so many “glen?” It’s another regional signifier, noting where things are or speaking to the land where the distillery is. Glen technically means Valley, but as an example Glenmorangie’s distillery is next to the Morangie forest. Glenlivet is distilled next to the Livet River.