Whisky, a spirit that is close to my heart. It took me a long time to enjoy it, those harsh intense flavours and searing burn as it goes down your throat. How could anyone enjoy this? Then something clicked, and as the whisky floodgates opened I was suddenly enjoying every style I tried.
I really believe that there is a whisky to suit every taste as the magnitude of styles is vast, but finding this style is easier said than done. Often the branding, names and bottles can seem very confusing, like wine, often the styles produced are dictated by the region it is produced in. Well in this week’s blog we shall give you a simple, easy to understand guide to the regions of whisky with what flavours to expect. You will get some handy whisky suggestions along the way too!
We kick off with the home of whisky that houses over 150 different distilleries. Whisky from Scotland can be very confusing with its names and terminology, but generally it can be defined by the five different regions it is produced in.
Speyside, named due to the majestic river that flows through the beautiful glens, is densely populated with distilleries, hosting over 50! Whiskies from here tend to be full of fruit flavours, expect apple, pear, vanilla and honey due to the use of sherry casks in the aging process.
Lowland whisky, named due to the southern regions of the country. It makes great entry level whiskies, gentle and round with hints of grass, honeysuckle, cinnamon, ginger and toffee; they make great aperitif drinks especially in highballs.
Campbeltown, once the home to over 30 distilleries but only three survive today. Salt, smoke, fruit and toffee, these whiskies are rich with character.
Highlands, spans a wide area of the north of Scotland. There are a vast array of distilleries to be found here all making a range of different styles of whisky, such as salty coastal malts, to rich or lighter styles.
Islay, an island just off the west coast where a majority of its inhabitants are involved in whisky production. This isn’t your beginner whisky; big, smokey and peated.
Some styles that we recommend include highland whisky The Ardmore, with light smoke and heather it captures the essence of the highlands and Glenfairn, a Speyside whisky with hints of lemon drizzle and raisins that makes a great entry level drink.
Bourbon is synonymous with the southern American States but can be made anywhere across the USA. It is characterised by the high percentage of corn used in it’s production, which must be 51%, the rest can be made up of wheat, rye or barley. It must be aged in new American oak casks that have been charred which gives the whiskey it’s vanilla tones.
We have some excellent bourbons in the store and online but a favourite of ours currently is Basil Hayden. This lighter bodied whisky is packed with heavy hitting flavours such as peaches, caramel and orange zest, but you can also expect extra spiciness due to the high percentage of rye.
Irish whiskey is often made with unmalted barley and blended with grain whiskey but there is also a rise in the production of single malt. It is usually triple distilled for smoothness and is aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels. Whiskey produced in Ireland tends to be smooth, light, fruity and easy drinking. If you want to find out more about Irish whiskey then check out our previous blog here.
Like I mentioned above, Irish whiskey tends to have a smoother, easy drinking profile; and therefore make approachable sippers for the beginner whiskey drinker. One tipple we are enjoying in the shops currently is The Sexton. This triple distilled single malt is finished in ex-sherry casks, creating a rich fruit character, the bottle is very striking too.
There are many other whisky producing countries around the world, including outstanding examples coming from England! A firm favourite with customers and staff alike is the Cotswolds Single Malt 2017 Odyssey Barley. Orange, spice, toffee and muscovado sugar makes this a delicious dram!
If you need any help selecting a whisky please drop us a message or just ask in store and we will be happy to make some recommendations.
Photos by Basil Haydens and Cotswolds Distillery