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Scottish Whisky

Scottish Whisky

Scottish whiskies are seen as some of the finest whiskies in the world, especially since the 1890s when before Irish whiskies were the most popular whiskies in the world. Scottish whiskies are usually referred as Scotch whisky which is then often shortened to Scotch. Regardless of what it is called, whisky that is produced in Scotland is always a unique tasting product that truly stands out.

To begin with, Scottish whiskies were made using malted barley. This changed in the 1700s when commercial distilleries started making some whiskies using rye and wheat. Since then, there has been a variety of styles on the market resulting in different flavours and tastes which vary anything from smokey to those that are fruity.


It is reported that distilling first began in Scotland in 1494 but it wasn’t until 1644 that whisky creation started to be taxed, which led to an increase in illegal whisky distilling around Scotland. It is said that in the 1700’s, illegal distilling was such an issue that there were around 400 illegal distillers and just eight legal distillers.

In 1823, to combat the problem, the government decided to loosen the rules on licensed distilleries whilst tightening rules around illegal distilling. These changes were successful, bringing in a new age for Scottish whisky production.

Two areas that helped in the growth of Scottish whisky’s popularity was firstly the fall in Irish whisky popularity and production. There were many reasons behind this, one of which was the evolving consumer tastes, which the Irish didn’t adapt to whilst the Scottish managed to move with the times. Another reason was the establishment of column stills in distilleries which reduced costing massively while also allowing them to create smoother tasting whiskies.

Scottish Whisky Today

2016 was the very first year that single malt Scotch whisky reached over one billion pounds in exports, helping the Scottish whisky industry overall reach nearly four billion pounds worth of exports in the same year. These figures just show how well the Scotch whisky market is doing and just how popular it has become worldwide.

Scottish Whisky Regions

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has broken Scotland into five Scottish whisky regions which are categorised into the following Campbeltown, The Highlands (which also includes islands around Scotland that produce whisky but excludes Islay), The Isle of Islay, The Lowlands and Speyside.

Scotch Whisky Styles

Scotch Whisky Styles are broken down into different categories below is a list of some of these categories and what makes them different from each other:

-“Single Malt Scotch Whisky” style is the original produced whisky in Scotland, created using only water, malted barley and pot stills which together go through a batch distilling process. This process allows these whiskies to be produced at a single distillery.

- “Grain Scotch Whisky” is a style similar to Single Malt Scotch Whisky and is produced in one distillery using both water and malted barley however it may also have other ingredients added like grains and cereals. Any high grade grain whisky will give a unique taste and texture so they are definitely something to try.

- “Blended Scotch Whisky” style is created using a mixture of both malt whisky and grain whisky. It tends to be that makers of blended scotch whiskies use the same mixture and process in order to create a consistent drink style that people can enjoy and trust. Around 90% of all whisky produced in Scotland is blended whisky which also makes it the biggest export whisky style in the Scottish whisky industry. 

Scotch Whisky Regulations

In order to be legally called a Scotch whisky, distillers must follow some strict rules which include some of the following:

-The whisky must be produced and distilled in a distillery in Scotland

--Water, malted barley and any whole grains or cereals must be made into mash in the distillery in Scotland.

--It must be aged in Scotland for at least three years inside oak casks which are no more than 700 litres in size.

--Have a minimum ABV of 40%

--Any numerical labelling on the bottle stating the age must only show the age of the youngest whisky used in that whiskies production.

Regardless of the whisky you choose you are sure to find some truly unique flavours from the whiskies that are produced in Scotland.

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