Whiskey Week continues! Today: scotch! Two things you need to know: if it’s single malt or blended, and which region it comes from.
These are made from one grain and from one distillery. They tend to have more concentrated flavor, and that flavor just depends on the individual grain used and place it was made. They’ll have their own individual character, so you have to experiment and explore to find which ones you dig.
These are made from different malt and grain whiskies that come from different distilleries. They’re then bottled and sold as one whisky. Because they have a few different whiskies in it, they can be more complex and layered. They’re generally lighter, smoother, and less expensive than single malts.
(The difference between single malts and blends reminds me of vintage vs. non-vintage Champagne. In a vintage year, Champagne makers only use grapes grown in one year. Those have their own distinct character and any gaps can’t be filled in with wine from other years. In non-vintage Champagne, they blend together wine made in all different years to create a well-rounded house style each year.)
Lowlands The lightest and mildest of the single malts, with malty and grassy notes.
Highlands Not as light as Lowland, but lighter and more elegant than Islay. It’s a big regiong so the styles vary from dry to sweet to smoky. Oban (love) and Glenmorangie distilleries are here.
Speyside Has almost half of all the distilleries in Scotland. Known for sweet whiskies, with mellow notes and fruity flavors, that are considered the most elegant ones in Scotland. Home to: the Macallan, Glenlivet, and Glenfiddich.
The Islands comprise all of the whisky producing islands in Scotland minus Islay. Pretty much just a part of Highland but some people think it should be its own region because it has unique distilleries like Talisker, Jura and Arran.
Islay This island off of Scotland is a peaty, smoky boomtown. They dry the malted barley over a fire fueled by peat (the dark soil found there) and the smokiness then gets into the barley. Laphroaig and Lagavullin are here. Let me paint a picture for you: It’s January. You’re in Chicago. It’s been below zero all week. You sit down at the bar and need something that will thaw you from the inside out. There is one drink and one drink only that you want to order: a peaty scotch. If you’ve tried these, like, once and said “ew” or anything related to “ew” – grow a pair and drink up! It’s freaking awesome.
Campbeltown Have a little peat and salt to them, and are generally medium to full bodied. Springbank is the most well-known whisky here (there are only 3 distilleries).