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For fans of fine scotch whisky, there’s nowhere quite like the Highlands. This single malt whisky region is the largest in Scotland, covering a vast swathe of the country and providing a great deal of variation, and both subtle and dramatic differences in style, flavor, aroma and character from bottle to bottle. This isn’t surprising, when you consider how varied the landscape of the Highlands is. Here, you find towering mountains, misty moorlands, urban centres and rugged coastlines, each with their own distilleries creating their own interpretations of single malt scotch whisky.
Due to it being such a large region, the Highlands produces around twenty-five percent of all Scotland’s whiskies. Thirty distilleries are still operating in the Highlands, continuing a set of whisky traditions that stretches back centuries, and always innovating and experimenting in order to achieve the best expression of their unique surroundings. Great pride is taken in maintaining traditional techniques, and alongside state of the art equipment, Highland scotch is forever pushing the possibilities and reaching new heights.
Highland scotch is difficult to pigeonhole and characterize with a set of flavors or features, because there is so much variety between the distilleries in the north, and those in the southern and central parts of this region. However, the most common flavor profiles include rich, fruit-cakey flavors, smoky notes from the production techniques which include burning peat, and dried fruit, oak and fragrant heather.
When people think of fine whisky, their minds typically turn to Scotland. This wild at windy country, battered by the north sea and dotted with mountains, lochs and moors, has been the home of high-quality whisky for over six hundred years. During this time, it has forged a reputation over these centuries which has proven difficult to beat, and which has influenced the rest of the world, from America to Japan and beyond.
The term Scotch refers to either malt or grain whisky, which must be made in one of Scotland’s specified whisky regions, with practices and techniques strictly controlled by a series of stringent regulations. One such regulation is that Scotch must be aged for a minimum of three years, and that the age of the whisky must be clearly printed on the bottle. The quality and style of whisky varies quite significantly from place to place, with certain regions producing light and grassy whisky styles, and others using time-honored practices such as burning peat (a type of moorland soil) during the fermentation to imbue a smoky, earthy character.
There are five categories of Scotch, and each has its own set of distinctive characteristics and typical flavors and aromas. These are single malt Scotch (often referred to as the connoisseur's choice), blended malt Scotch, single grain Scotch, blended grain Scotch and blended Scotch whisky.