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Explained in 3 Minutes

Highlands

 

What the heck is that?

 

(Image Source: Edinburgh Whisky Academy)

 

The Highlands are a mountainous region encompassing the northwest of Scotland, and is the largest of the Scotch whisky regions. 

The Highlands are huge, but sparsely populated. The region is full of moorlands, lochs (Scottish lakes), castles and is also dominated by mountain ranges which includes Ben Nevis - the tallest peak in all of Great Britain. In the middle of the region resides a famous monster from folklore which lives in the waters of the Loch Ness. 

Scattered islands around the North and North-West perimeter of the mainland are also part of the Highlands – they include the Isle of Arran, Jura, Mull, Orkney and Skye.  

 

 

Who cares?

The Highlands have a large number of Scotch distilleries with over 47 of them. Whiskies from this region are highly varied in flavour profile, from the bright and citrusy Glenmorangie, to the full-bodied and mildly salty Oban, the honeyed and syrupy Dalwhinnie and Highland Park’s bouquet of dry heather smoke. 

Expect the unexpected in the Highlands. Here you will find light bodied to waxy textures, clean grassy notes to bright tropical fruits, and the occasional puff of smoke married with orchard fruits.

 

 

Why should I care? What is one thing to remember?

Because of the staggering variety of flavours, the label of a “Highland” whisky tells us almost nothing about the taste and character of the whisky. You may have really enjoyed your first Highland whisky, only to be disappointed when your second Highland malt tastes surprisingly different. 

The key is to take every distillery for itself and appreciate the exciting kaleidoscope of distinctive flavours from the Highlands.  

We recommend first-time drinkers to start with Glenmorangie which has a lighter body and soft caramel notes. Move on to Clynelish, which has honeyed notes and an unusual waxy texture. Go east to Ardmore, which delectably combines sweet ripe fruits with mild aromatic smoke. Finally, it is also worth heading to the windy Isle of Skye where Talisker showcases an interesting oceanic mix of heavy caramel, cracked black pepper and a hint of fresh oysters.