Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Well Stocked Bar VIII

"We borrowed golf from Scotland as we borrowed whiskey. Not because it is Scottish, but because it is good." ~ Horace Hutchinson

A picture of the Oban Distillery in the city center of the town of Oban.

If Speyside is the heart of Scotch Whisky then the Highlands are the head with great variety and complexity among the varied malts indicative of the relative vastness of the region. The southern boundary of the Highlands is generally defined as the imaginary line between Edinburgh in the East and Glasgow in the West (though a good portion of Speyside would be included using this broad definition). Highland whisky is generally powerful with a richness of flavor and more than a bit of smoke though generally less than can be found in the Island malts. Not unlike the Speyside malts the word ‘glen’ frequently appears in the names and means ‘valley’. There is really no central character that binds Highland malts except to say that they are generally expressive of their microclimates and the unique and varied heritage of their distilleries. Among them you can find some of the mildest and most powerful of all single malts.

Among the noted malt producers in the Highlands are: Aberfeldy, Ben Nevis, Blair Athol, Clynelish, Dalmore (a personal favorite), Dalwhinne, Edradour, Glen Garioch, Glengoyne, Glencadam, Glenmorangie, Glenturret, Glenugie, Glenury-Royal, Loch Lomond, Lochside, Oban, Pulteney, Royal Lochnagar, Teaninich, and Tullibardine.

It should be noted that Glenmorangie, a long produced highland malt is one of the only single malts not sold to blenders for use in blended malt whisky. This is not because it is not desirable in a blend, but quite the opposite, it is because it is simply too popular among the Scots where it is the top selling single malt. It is available and popular in the United States but has been overshadowed by other single malt distillers offering much larger and diverse product lines.

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