It wasn’t that long ago that I discovered how great Scotch whisky can be. I don’t remember an epiphany moment, but rather a gradual realization over the course of several days — and a lot of whisky tasting. I was traveling in Scotland with the sole mission to taste, discover and learn about Scotch whisky. Surrounded by fresh sea air, Scottish accents, and those cute shaggy cows, we sipped whisky after whisky until something finally clicked. I’m now a lifelong Scotch drinker.
So if you’re looking for a vacation destination that is full of history, adventure (driving on the wrong side of the road is definitely an adventure), and whisky, Scotland is the place.
There are plenty of online resources for planning whisky tours through the different whisky regions. Here are a few to get you started. Slainte!
Lowland: Generally considered to be the lightest style of Scotch, generally a safe bet if you don’t like peat.
Highland: Whiskies from the Highland region are generally full-bodied with the flavors further varying by micro-region.
Northern Highland: Sweet and rich
Southern Highland: Dry and fruity
Eastern Highland: Very dry and very fruity
Western Highland: Peaty and smoky
Speyside: The Speyside region is home to the largest number of distilleries in Scotland, so there is quite a breadth in style, but in general Speyside whiskies are known for the richness, boldness, and strong aromas.
Islay: The aptly described “peat bombs” — heavily peated whiskies often accompanied by flavors described as oily, briny, medicinal (think iodine).
The Islands: While The Islands (all whisky producing island of Scotland except Islay) are not an officially recognized region (and generally considered closest in character to the Highland style) they have some unique distillers who break the mold, and have created a number of styles all their own that some believe warrant a separate category.
Campbeltown: Campbeltown currently only houses three distilleries and their whiskies tend to have a bit of smoke, richness, and are sometimes slightly salty
(By Hannah Johnson, region descriptions contributed by Greg Harned)