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Highland Whisky

Highland Whisky

When the whisky regions were reimagined in the 1980’s, the largest by far was the Highlands in terms of geographical size and scope. Lacking the natural borders of Islay, the...

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Highland Whisky

When the whisky regions were reimagined in the 1980’s, the largest by far was the Highlands in terms of geographical size and scope. Lacking the natural borders of Islay, the distinctive light approachability of Speyside, or the fruitiness of the Lowlands, the Highlands represents Scotland’s most diverse and overlooked whisky region.

Dividing lines have been dawn before across Scotland if only to make things easier for the taxmen. Glengoyne distillery itself is dissected by such a line, with the distillery technically residing in the Highlands, but its warehouses across the road are in the Lowland region. Debates are still ongoing regarding the regions and their boundaries today. In simple terms once you pass through the Lowlands and look towards Perthshire and the rugged landscape that awaits, you’re about to set foot into the Highlands.

If you continue North until the mainland ends and the Atlantic Ocean lays ahead, you’ll forever be in the Highland region with the only exception being the concentrated cluster of distilleries in the North-east of Scotland known as Speyside. These are important enough to blenders warrant their own distinctive region and flavour profile, and represent an area of huge production. Other distinctions have been made historically on the basis of compass directions of north, east, south and west. The Northern Highlands is by nature the remotest and placed around coastal locations where what little clusters of population existed. Port towns allowed whisky to be transported if the railway had not reached their location. The main cluster exists around the town of Dornoch with Balblair, Clynelish, Dalmore, Dornoch, Glenmorangie, Invergordon, Teaninich and the lost Brora; all offering a unique diversity of whiskies.

The Central Highlands to the south, are more approachable and merge into the Lowlands. This was the original hotbed of distilling offering natural resources and ease of access to markets. Today it is represented by distilleries such as Aberfeldy, Blair Atholl, Deanston, Edradour, Glenturret, Strathearn and Tullbardine. Compared to their northern Highland brethren these are lighter more gentle whiskies making them more approachable and well suited to blending and various cask types.

Arguably the saddest area is those that make up the Eastern Highlands, which prior to 1983 contained several of Scotland’s most accomplished and evocative distilleries. This geographical are bore the brunt of several closures due to a combination of factors including accessibility, production efficiency, confined sites and the sheer cost of bringing certain distilleries into the modern era. Falling by the wayside were Banff, Glenury Royal, Glenugie, Lochside and North Port making some of these the rarest of whiskies, as they were rarely bottled as single malts. There is some confusion or tactical regional placement of distilleries today as some will claim to be Speyside but geographically may belong to the Highlands. Today this overlooked eastern region is represented by distilleries including Ardmore, Fettercairn, Glencadam, Glen Garioch, Glenglassaugh, Royal Brackla and Royal Lochnagar.

This just leaves the Western sub-region that offers a rugged, coastal landscape which today remains relatively inaccessible continues south until you reach Campbeltown, which is quite rightly deserving of its own regional status. The West is the least represented compromising of just 2 distilleries that distinctly represent their locations with the coastal Oban and the uncompromising Ben Nevis. Both are survivors, with Oban being prized by Diageo for its characteristics. Ben Nevis is situated at the foot of the UK’s largest mountain of the same name and on the outskirts of Fort William. A few minutes from the distillery is what remains Glenlochy that closed in the 1980’s and has been retained as residential accommodation. However, with the current whisky boom this area’s numbers have been swelled with the addition of Ardnamurchan distillery, situated on a remote peninsula overlooking Loch Sunart.

By its sheer size the Highland region is not a specific style of whisky, as it harbours the salty coastal influence of Old Pulteney, to the waxiness of Clynelish or the malty approachability of Deanston and much more besides. Whiskies from this region are more diverse and historically would have been rugged and uncompromising, with the influence of peat and smoke apparently from local fuel sources and a dry finish. Modern methods today mean that the majority of whiskies are unpeated as their stills are no longer direct fired and malt is delivered from central locations rather than floor malted locally. Some distilleries are now producing peated whiskies and seeking to reclaim their heritage, which makes the region ripe for fascinating discoveries. Peat from these coastal and inland areas displays a subtle difference in character than those experienced on Islay; being drier and more earthy than vegetative.

The Highlands are Scotland’s most captivating and iconic environment with this applying to its varied range of whiskies. For generations these were only enjoyed by locals, before enthusiasts sought them out and now they await your discovery.

  • Sale

    Glendronach Parliament 21 Year Old

    Original Price £144.00
    Current Price £138.00

    Glendronach Parliament 21 year old, matured in a combination of the finest Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for a minimum of 21 years.

    Original Price £144.00
    Current Price £138.00
    Sale
  • Sale

    GlenDronach 12 Year Old Original

    Original Price £39.96
    Current Price £38.88

    A superb, richly sherried single malt Scotch whisky, matured for at least 12 years in a combination of the finest Spanish Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso...

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    Original Price £39.96
    Current Price £38.88
    Sale
  • Tomatin 12 Year Old

    £36.95

    The flagship of the Tomatin Highland Scotch whisky range. Tomatin 12 Year Old, starting it's life in traditional oaks casks, then transferred into ...

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    £36.95
  • GlenDronach Peated

    £48.00

    The first ever peated expression from GlenDronach whisky distillery. Created with a phenol level of 25 PPM, with the whisky starting it's life in e...

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    £48.00
  • Glengoyne 25 Year Old

    £324.00

    Part of core range of whisky available from Glengoyne distillery, this stunning unpeated Highland single malt Scotch whisky has been aged for 25 ye...

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    £324.00
  • Glengoyne 18 Year Old

    £99.60

    The core range of whisky at Glengoyne distillery is incredibly impressive, ranging from 10 to 30 years. This 18 year old Highland single malt has b...

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    £99.60
  • Glengoyne 21 Year Old

    £149.40

    Matured in hand selected sherry casks for 21 years, a stunning single malt Scotch whisky from Glengoyne distillery. Multi-award winner including a ...

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    £149.40
  • Deanston Virgin Oak

    £34.80

    Part of the core range from Deanston distillery, the whisky used to create this release started its life being matured in American oak casks. It wa...

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    £34.80
  • Dalmore 12 Year Old

    £42.88

    A 12 year old offering from Highland Scotch whisky distillery, Dalmore - matured in American white oak and Oloroso sherry wood before being bottled...

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    £42.88
  • Tullibardine 15 Year Old

    £49.50

    Produced from whisky distilled after the reopening of the Tullibardine distillery in 2003, this latest single malt release has been matured in firs...

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    £49.50
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