Scotland is the true home of good whisky, but with five regions to choose from, where does one begin to look for the best Scotch?
Obviously this question is very subjective, depending on whether you like light floral undertones or heavy peated bass notes, but many drammers turn to Speyside for their tipple of choice.
Speyside, despite its somewhat small surface area, is the most densely populated region in terms of distilleries, with eighty-four working in total. It is truly the heart of whisky production in Scotland.
It is also home to some of the big names in the Scotch game, including Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and The Macallan. These are names that have gathered near legendary status, both at home and abroad, with Glenfiddich and Glenlivet being the biggest selling scotches worldwide.
The region is not only famous for its malts, but also for its glorious natural beauty.
The magnificent River Spey, lending its name to the region and also the second longest in Scotland, runs through the rolling heather hills and deep green valleys of this part of Scotland.
The land is the epitome of outstanding beauty and compliments the exceptional whisky that is made here.
The river is also the main water source for many of the distilleries found here. Many Speyside fans attribute the overall success of Speyside malts to the fantastic water quality that comes from the river.
But the beautiful surroundings and exceptional quality of the region’s natural resources are not the only things to know about Speyside.
The malts produced here tend to be light and floral in profile. Age is a massive contributor to the high quality of these malts, especially when matured in sherry casks, a common practice in Speyside.
A delicate fruitiness is also very common in Speyside malts, with apples and pears making an appearance, tied in with subtle honeyed sweetness and exquisite vanilla highlights.
One needs only look to the Glenfiddich range to find an exceptional expression each of these flavours.
The malts of this region are a movement away from the deeply peated whiskies of the Highlands and Islands and the sea salted coarseness of the Lowlands, with a sweet lightness being the biggest expression found here.
That doesn’t mean that peated whiskies are not available here, with distilleries such as BenRiach and Tomintoul producing some very fine peated malts.
As discussed, the high water quality of the River Spey has massive effects on the malt produced from it.
This malt tends to be smooth, carrying the rich, fragrant flavours delicately and easily across the taste buds, a smoothness that perfectly combines with its lightness.
Speyside lives up to the hype. The brands produced here are of consistently high quality and do not let their region down.
So the next time you’re wondering about where the best scotch is from, why not pick up a bottle of Glenfiddich, or a dram of Glen Livet, and experience the Speyside region for yourself?