How to choose the best Scotch for you
With so many different kinds of craft scotch out there, it’s hard to choose one. We’ve built this guide for those who want to go down the oh-so-great path of becoming a scotch-connoisseur but don’t know where to start.
Choose a Speyside or Highlands scotch if you want a sweeter flavor. Scotch flavors tend to vary a bit depending on the region in Scotland where they were produced. While this is not a hard and fast rule, Speyside and Highlands scotches are generally more fruity and sweet than other types of scotch. Speyside and the Highlands are both home to large numbers of distilleries, so you can expect quite a bit of variation between bottles. Experiment with different Speysides and Highlands until you find one you like. We strongly recommend a 15 year aged Glenfiddich.
- Lighter Body
Try a Lowlands scotch if you prefer a lighter body. If you like whiskey that feels light and smooth and has a floral or grassy finish, Lowlands scotch is a good choice. These malt whiskeys are known for being gentler than many other types of scotch, and they make excellent aperitifs. There are only a few operating distilleries in the Lowlands today. The 2 oldest and most famous distilleries currently in business in the region are Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie. Like most scotches, Lowlands whiskeys are single malts, meaning that they are made with malted barley from a single distillery. Malting involves letting the grain germinate in water before fermentation. Most scotches tend to have a milder flavor than other malts because of the special double or triple distillation process they go through. Generally, they have an alcohol content of about 40% (80-proof).
- Strong Flavor
Opt for Islay, Islands, or Campbeltown if you like stronger flavors and aromas. These regions are known for producing whiskeys with strong, complex flavors, often with overtones of smoke, peat, and salt. These are good choices if you don’t like sweet or floral drinks, but they may be overwhelming for a first-time whiskey drinker. Islay scotches are known for their strong flavors, which come from the peat fuel that is used during the malting process. Some of the most famous Islay scotches distilleries are Lagavulin, Ardbeg, and Laphroaig. For a somewhat lighter flavor, try a Bruichladdich scotch.
Islands scotches are also peaty, but are milder and sweeter than Islay scotches. Try a Tobermory or Highland Park, or choose an Arran bottle for a lighter and fruitier taste. Campbeltown scotches are complex and slightly salty, with peaty notes similar to those found in Islay's. The major distilleries are Glen Scotia, Longrow, and Springbank.