Islay Islay malts are known particularly for their peatiness, and a strong salt-sprayed , aye, aye, Cap’n, seaweedy flavor: they are the most pungent of all whiskies. Islay remains a self-contained powerhouse of distinction and I will eulogise upon the subject strictly on request.
Campbeltown Campbeltown is on a large substantial peninsula, enclosing the Isle of Arran and it in a way that suggests something rather manly and virile. It is no accident that the church bell in Campbeltown is blessed with a big loud dong. There is something camp about that bell. The pun is irresistible and so is the whisky—strong-bodied, pulsating warmth and a salty tang of smugglers’caves…
Lowlands Lowland whiskies are lighter, with a sweeter quality. But some, like Auchentoshan are triple-distilled, light, but intense and nutty, rather like one of those gelding in fettle again! They get leaner and less sweet with age, but who doesn’t? For whisky, it is a bonus.
Highlands Highland malts are the spoiled brats of whiskies, which only means that they have got it all—eagles, red deer, grouse, heather moors, lochs, glens, mountain peaks and wildest abandon.
Smoky, rather than peaty, they excude a kind of Scottish pride and wealth, which is considered sophisticated. In many ways it is, but, to an outsider, it can also be interpreted as an over-exercised national pride and smugness which, thankfully, are absent from the Highlands’ superlative art of whisky-making. The Highlanders are generous and ingenious enough to make sure that only that which is breathtaking and lifegiving about their environment is put inside a handy bottle, with a hint of sweetness to help it on its way to softening the stoniest heart. (My editor is a Scotsman, and he appreciates the poetic bits.)
Oarkney The Orkney Islands are a Nordic law unto themselves, and the stronghold of one of the finest malts it has ever been my privilege to watch in production and to taste to profusion—Highland Park.