Where your whisky comes from will have some impact on how it tastes. Of course, much depends also on the oak cask your malt matured in and is a massive influence on your dram. For example, sherry casks will give a malt an undeniably Christmas cakey, sweet spicy flavour and a rich amber liquid. Virgin oak casks will produce a lighter coloured spirit, and lean to vanilla, floral tones on the palate. Your distillery will have more information on the casks used and the flavours to expect, but in the meantime, below is a very rough and basic guide to Scotland’s whisky regions.
Speyside malts come from the most densely populated whisky region in the world. With rich valleys and many rivers and glens, these malts tend to fruit, honey, vanilla and nuts.
Highland malts can traverse the peaty smokes right through to the nutty honey cereal.
Lowland malts tend to be lighter and floral, leaning towards delicate flavours of grass, cream, honeysuckle and toffee. If venturing tentatively into the wonderful world of malts, Lowlanders should be your first kiss.
Islay malts are the bruisers of the whisky world. Heavy peat and smoke, seaweed, oily medicinal and brine notes all come into play. To the uninitiated they can come across as aggressive and overpowering, but underneath there are complexities well worth training that palate for.
Island malts exhibit maritime, herbal and salty flavours. Peat and honey sweetness seems contradictory, but many Island malts can boast both qualities.
Campbeltown malts are both distinctive and varying – wool, smoke, fruit, toffee and vanilla flavours depending on where your distillery is at, and of course, the casks used.
Whisky Flavour Wheel
The best wheel we’ve seen so far for putting words to what you’re tasting!