Speyside Single Malt
Speyside single malt whiskies are some of the best whiskies produced in Scotland. Speyside whisky includes such famous names as Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Aberlour, Macallan, and Tamdhu.
Speyside is located in an area within the Scottish Highlands around the River Spey in Moray in northeastern Scotland. Most experts on single malt whisky agree that Speyside single malts are some of the best single malt whiskies you can buy.
Due to the high concentration of distilleries in the Speyside, it is classed as its own whisky-producing region. However, you may find that some whiskies from Speyside are marketed as Highland.
There are, however, some similarities between Speyside and Highland malts. There are around 60 distilleries in the area.
History of Speyside Malt Whisky Production
The history of Speyside single malt whisky production is similar to the history of the Highland region. The first legal license to distill whisky in Scotland was granted to the Glenlivet distillery in 1824.
The reason for this is probably due to the abundant arable land which was easy to manage (as opposed to the mountains to the west).
Now Speyside has some of the best and largest whisky distilleries in Scotland.
Speyside Single Malt Whiskies
Most whiskies distilled in Speyside use only minimally peated barley. What do Speyside single malt whiskies taste like? This is how most people describe them:
- Delicious malt whiskies with only a hint of smokiness
- Single malt whiskies with light overtones of honey.
- Light and grassy single malts
- Rich, sherry-like whiskies
Speyside Whisky Distilleries
I will focus on three of the best distilleries in Speyside as there are too many to go into detail.
Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky. Started in 1886 by William Grant, Glenfiddich distillery has remained independent and family-owned. It was built by William Granth and his nine children. The very same warehouses are used today.
Glenfiddich is located near the town of Dufftown – right in the heart of Speyside. Glenfiddich produce with around 10,000,000 litres of Scotch whisky annually. All the whisky is matured in its own onsite warehouses and is bottled onsite also.
This Speyside single malt distillery produces a number of malts with the youngest at 12 years old and going up to 21 years old. Glenfiddich is the main whisky used in the Grant’s blend – which uses a similar triangle shape bottle to the classic 12 year old single malt whisky.
The best single malt from them is the Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Single Malt Solera.
The Macallan. Founded in 1824, The Macallan is regarded as a classic single malt whisky. It has changed ownership and names over the centuries. It was originally was called the Elchies distillery. The Macallan single malt has only gained popularity in recent years.
It wasn’t until 1970 that it was sold as a single malt. It is now reportedly the world 3rd most popular single malt whisky. The malt whisky is only matured in ex-sherry casks from Jerez in Spain. This gives it a sweet distinctive taste.
The Glenlivet. Situated near the town of Tomintoul, The Glenlivet distillery is the first legal Scottish distillery. It is situated on what was once a farm distillery called Upper Drummin.
Because the neighbouring distilleries were running without a license they became angry that the owner was running Glenlivet legally, and also becoming very successful. So George Smith, the owner, had to resort to carrying a pair of pistols for protection.
The taste of Glenlivet is very smooth and is a light Speyside malt. Glenlivet is the second most popular malt whisky in the world and the top seller in the US.
Other notable distilleries are Balvenie, Aberlour, Cardhu, Cragganmore and Macduff.
Conclusion on Speyside Whiksies
The Speyside whiskies are the jewel in Scotch single malt whisky production. The region produces high quality malts suitable for many palates. The only problem is to decide which is your favourite.