The Highlands Scotch whisky production region that runs from the town of Greenock on the West coast and Dundee on the East coast to the northern Scottish coast. It takes in everything from East to West, excluding the Speyside region (which is the subject for another article.)
This is one of the most complex regions of single malt Scotch whisky production. The region could be split into 3 sub-regions – Western Highland, Northern Highland and Southern Highland.
History of Highland Scotch Whisky Production
The history of Highland single malt Scotch
In the Scottish Highlands, everything was done on a small scale. In fact Highland production accounted for less than 10%, of
1. Northern Highland Whiskies
This is the area between Nairn and John ‘O Groats. Most of the distilleries in this region are found on the coast and so there is a distinct salinity to single malts from the
Northern Highland Distilleries.
Glenmorangie. Situated in the town on Tain, this distillery produces some of the best single malts in the Highlands. Glenmorangie boasts the highest
Dalmore. Not far from Tain is the town of Alness, where Dalmore is produced. It takes its water from the River Alness.
Dalmore produces single malts that are distinctly heavy and ‘oily’ and mature well in European oak casks. The barley for
Dalmore has developed a single strain of yeast which produces a very rich and fruity ‘beer’ from which the spirit is distilled. The
Old Pulteney. Located in the town of Pulteneytown near Wick, Old Pulteney can claim to be the most northerly distillery on the Scottish mainland and produces a very unique single malt Scotch whisky.
Old Pultney is used in Ballantine blends.
2. Southern Highland Whiskies.
Whisky from the southern highlands is usually more gentle in flavour, but still retains the peaty flavour that are characteristic of Scotch whisky. The single malt Scotch whiskies generally have a fragrant and flowery, but soft, sweet taste.
Southern Highland Scotch Whisky Distilleries
Dalwhinnie. There is some discussion if this is a Highland or Speyside
You can find the Dalwhinnie distillery in a village of the same name, just of the A9. This is truly in the heart of the Highlands and it the highest distillery in Scotland.
Water is sourced from local spring water and there is an abundance of local peat from the surrounding bogs. Although this is a famous brand (being one of the Six Classic Malts of Scotland) only about 10% of
Edradour. Being the smallest distillery in Scotland this produces a unique and rare
If you do, then it is well worth purchasing it. This distillery is the last ‘farm’ distillery. The local mountain water adds to its unique depth and
The distillery is the only place in the world where you are guaranteed to find a bottle of this fine Highland malt.
Deanston. Situated on the banks of the River Teith this is a relatively new distillery. The river Teith is the source of the water and is considered one of the purest rivers in Scotland.
The river is also the source of the electricity used to for the distillation process. The buildings on the site used to be a weaving shed; however whisky production started in 1965. Only unpeated malted barley is used and this results in a light, nutty but malty single malt Scotch
It is the main ingredient in the Scottish Leader blend, which is known around the world.
3. Western Highland Region.
Moving west in the Highland region we find that whiskies produced here are more robust in character than other Highland whiskies. They are more peaty and have well-rounded flavours, with a smooth taste. However there are only a few distilleries left there.
Western Highland Distilleries.
Oban. Probably the most well known of from the Western Highland region. The distillery, which is in the town of Oban pre-dates the town. It has the classic ‘West-Highland’
Ben Nevis. Situated at the foot of Britain’s tallest mountain is the Ben Nevis distillery. The water is sourced from the Allt a’Mhuilinn river which originates from two pools in the mountains.
“Ben Nevis” used to be a major producer of Highland Scotch
It is the major
In Conclusion: Highland Scotch Whisky
The Highland region produces some excellent examples of single malt Scotch whiskies. There are many flavours and aromas to enjoy from the salty whiskies of the north east to the light peaty ones in the west. So look for a good whisky shop or online whisky exchange and you can examine the different ones from the Highland region.
Click here to buy some great single malt Scotch whiskies produced in the Highlands.
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Picture credit: Jack Shainsky