Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Well Stocked Bar XI

"It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves." ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The Islands Scotch Whisky Region encompasses all the island distilleries except those on Islay. Of Scotland's 790 islands only 7 are involved in the production of Scotch Whisky, they include: Mull - Tobermory, Orkney - Highland Park and Scapa, Jura - Isle of Jura (pictured above), Arran and a whisky by the same name, Shetlands - Blackwood (though the distillery has been planned for some time it does not yet exist and spirits labeled Blackwood are actually purchased from a Lowland distillery) and Skye - Talisker.

Whisky from the Islands tends to have similar characteristics of Islay whisky, only a bit more subdued, due in large part to the reduced exposure of the malted barley to peat smoke. These whiskies tend to be lighter in color and a bit smoother than either Islay or Highland whisky and in some ways remind me of Speyside malts with a hint of salt.

I have seen the whiskies of Orkney, Highland Park and Scapa included in the Highland region. Orkney is an archipelago of 70 islands lying to the North of the Scottish Highlands. Scapa is located on what is called the Orkney Mainland - despite being one of the islands, it is named as such as it is the biggest of all. Highland park takes its name not from The Highlands, but from the fact that the distillery was built on a hill in the parklands above the town of Kirkwall. There's also a certain logic to this classification as the taste profile is similar to Highland whiskies.

Talisker is my favorite line of the Island whiskies and has a long and interesting history on the Isle of Skye. Talisker has over the years increased its single malt offerings including the excellent 18 year and the 25 year cask strength bottlings, though the majority of the production goes into the Johnnie Walker blends. I'm not alone in my fondness for Talisker, the Scottish writer Robert Lewis Stevenson referred to Talisker as 'the king of drinks.'

'Slaandjivaa' (to your health)

1 comment:

Easy and Elegant Life said...

For the money, it's hard to beat Highland Park. A house favourite.