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Lowlands

 

  

What the heck is that?

 

(Image Source: Edinburgh Whisky Academy)

 

The Lowlands is the Southern part of the Scottish mainland. While the Highlands are full of mountainous regions with charmingly bleak landscapes, in contrast, the Lowlands teem with life with its picturesque rolling hills, lively green pastures and a warmer climate better suited for agriculture. 

 

 

Who cares?

 

This year, Rosebank Distillery is the most anticipated addition to the Lowlands family.

 

The Lowlands is a region of unusually gentle, delicate and floral whiskies. Their whisky distilleries have been historically referred to as the “Lowland Ladies” (in an admittedly patronising fashion). 

Why? Interestingly, Lowland whiskies are almost always unpeated. The Lowlands have a historically strong coal-mining industry and coal was more easily available. Therefore, rather than smoky peat, coal has since been preferred by distilleries as a fuel for drying malted barley. 

Another traditional practice of Lowland distilleries is the use of triple-distillation, which makes the whiskies even more delicate in texture and light in flavour. Other Scotch single malt distilleries typically favour a heavier profile and would only double-distil their whisky.

That said, most Lowland distilleries have moved on from this tradition. As of writing, Auchentoshan Distillery is the only Lowland distillery that uses triple-distillation. The newly-reopened Rosebank Distillery is expected to also use triple-distillation when it gets back into operation.

Finally, the Lowlands have also been important for being the country’s capital of grain whisky production. Since the invention of the high-efficiency column still by Robert Stein and Aeneas Coffey in the 1830s, most Lowland distillers have adopted the column still to distil grain whisky. Today, 5 out of 7 of the Scotland’s existing grain distilleries are based in the Lowlands, the likes of Cameronbridge, Girvan, North British, Strathclyde and Starlaw. 

 

 

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

The Lowlands are a seriously overlooked whisky region that have more to offer than drinkers give them credit for. Critics may see the Lowlands as a place with “bland” whisky, but don’t just turn a Lowlander away! There is plenty of elegance and subtlety that can be found in the malty-citrusy Auchentoshan, honeyed and floral Bladnoch and lemon-cake-inspired Glenkinchie. 

More recently, the Lowlands have also become Scotland’s – if not the world’s – fastest growing single malt region. The town of Fife in the Lowlands has seen a resurgence of its whisky industry with hip new distilleries opening since the mid 2000s. Young distilleries that are showing a lot of potential include distilleries like of Daftmill, Kingsbarns, Lindores Abbey and Eden Mill. Another one of the most hotly anticipated re-openings is of Rosebank Distillery which promises to resurrect a legendary whisky lost in the 1990s.

The thunder is often stolen by glamorous Speyside whiskies or Islay whiskies. Bars may instinctively avoid offering you a Lowlands region Scotch for fear of their lack of popularity. So the next time you go down to a whisky bar, show them you know what you're looking for. Ask specifically to try an underrated Lowlands malt. 



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