All whiskies are made from just three ingredients: water, barley and yeast. Malt whiskies are based on malted barley, that is, barley that has been steeped, germinated and finally, kilned. A single malt whisky is the product of a single distillery. Blended whiskies, like J & B, Johnnie Walker, Chivas Regal and the like, can be based on a variety of malt and grain whiskies from different distilleries, blended together. Johnnie Walker Black Label, a 12-year-old deluxe blend, for instance, is composed of more than 40 malt and grain whiskies, a high proportion of which, by the way, are Islay malts. Blended whisky styles may be smooth, fruity, oaky, full-bodied, malty or smoky, depending on the profile of the predominant whisky.

Just as within the world of wine, the single malt whiskies of Scotland are grouped by region, the difference being that these regions offer a guideline to the styles, rather than a strict rule. As one familiarizes oneself with the different whisky regions, the distinctive characteristics of each are learned.

The regions of Scotland are the Highlands, the Lowlands, Campbeltown, Speyside, Islands and Islay single malts. (To give the uninitiated some idea of the differences, Highlanders like to say that they use Lowland whiskies to brush their teeth!) Speyside malts are generally sweet, fruity and flowery and are thought to be quite complex and elegant. Malts from the Islands can be quite peaty, but not to the extent of Islay malts, which are renowned for that feature. Generally speaking, Islay single malts are not for the faint of heart; they are famous for a complex, refined smokiness and the strong influence of peat in two forms, first in the island’s soft, peaty water and secondly when used in the kilning of the malt.

Tasting – or nosing as it is called – single malt whiskies is not unlike tasting fine wine. Here are the six essential tasting tips:

The Prep Choose a glass that is narrower at the top than the bottom. Hold it by the stem so that your hand doesn’t warm the whisky pour a small measure (a dram) into the glass. Don’t add water – yet – and certainly no ice. Adding ice to good whisky is like adding it to hot soup.

Colour Hold the glass to the light to determine how the spirit was matured. A golden hue means a sherry oak cask was used, while a paler whisky suggests a bourbon cask. (All whiskies take their colour from the cask in which they were aged.)

Body Hold the glass at an angle and swirl it quickly once so that the inside walls of the glass are coated. Now, hold it upright and watch as the whisky flows down the inside of the glass. “Long legs” means it slowly slides down the glass, indicating a richer, full-bodied spirit, higher in alcohol.

Nosing Your first impression is your best. (Unlike wine, single malt vapors may anaesthetize your nose if you inhale them repeatedly.) Take note of the characteristics which can run the gamut from sweet and floral to mineral (slate) to smoky and peaty. If the characteristics aren’t readily apparent, add a very small amount of still spring water. This helps the whisky to relax and open up and, as the Scottish say, “release the serpents from within.”

Taste Take a good mouthful and swallow. Note whether it’s creamy, smooth, warm, astringent or soft. Take another sip. This time swirl it around in your mouth, so that it covers your entire tongue. Sweetness will be noted on the tip of your tongue, saltiness on the sides, bitterness at the back.

Conclusion Recall your first impressions. Overall, is it a balanced whisky? Did your mouth confirm what your eyes saw and your nose smelled? For example, if it looked full-bodied in colour and had long legs, but was thin and disappointing in the mouth, it’s not balanced. Finally, does the aftertaste linger in your mouth after swallowing? Is it pleasant and does it have medium or longer length or is it short and crisp? Repeat the experience (often) and enjoy!

This refers to the southernmost area of Scotland, a relatively flat, mountain-less region. Whisky from this area are generally considered as the most light-bodied and soft of the single malts without the peat of the Islay malts or the brininess of the Island whiskies. The Lowlands is defined by a line following old county boundaries and running from the Clyde estuary to the River Tay. The line swings north of Glasgow and Dumbarton and runs to Dundee and Perth.

Auchentoshan Three Wood 43.0%
Auchentoshan Bartenders Malt 47.0%
Auchentoshan American Oak 40.0%
Auchentoshan Virgin Oak 46.0%
Auchentoshan 12 Year Old 40.0%
Auchentoshan 18 Year Old 43.0%
Auchentoshan 21 Year Old 43.0%
Glenkinchie 12 Year Old 43.0%

Beautiful Speyside is universally acknowledged as the heartland of malt distillation. This area, between the cities of Inverness and Aberdeen, sweeps from the Granite Mountains down to fertile countryside, where barley is among the crops. It is the watershed of a system of rivers, the principal among which is the Spey. Although it is not precisely defined, Speyside is commonly agreed to extend from the River Findhorn in the west to the Deveron in the east. Within this region are several other rivers, notably the Livet. The Speyside single malts are noted in general for their elegance and complexity and often a refined, subdued smokiness. Beyond that, they have two extremes: the big, sherryish type, as typified by The Macallan, Glenfarclas and Aberlour, and the lighter, more subtle characteristics of The Glenlivet 12 Year Old.

Within Speyside, the River Livet is so famous that its name is borrowed by some whiskies far beyond its glen. But only one may call itself The Glenlivet. (Braeval (aka Braes of Glenlivet) and Tamnavulin are produced in the valley and only Tomintoul in the parish.) These are all delicate malts and it could be tentatively argued that other valleys have malts that share certain characteristics. The Highland region includes a good few coastal and island malts, but one peninsula and just one island have been of such historical importance in the industry that they are each regarded as being regions in their own right.

Aberlour 10 Year Old 40.0%
Aberlour 12 Year Old 40.0%
Aberlour 16 Year Old 40.0%
Aberlour 18 Year Old 43.0%
Aberlour A’bunadh 60.3%
The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask 43.0%
Cardhu 12 Year Old 40.0%
Cragganmore 12 Year Old 40.0%
Glen Rothes Select Reserve 40.0%
Glenfarclas 12 Year Old 43.0%
Glenfarclas 15 Year Old Vimy Ridge 50.0%
Glenfarclas 21 Year Old 43.0%
Glenfarclas 25 Year Old 43.0%
Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength 62.0%
Glenfiddich 12 Year Old 40.0%
Glenfiddich 15 Year Old 40.0%
Glenfiddich 18 Year Old 40.0%
Glenfiddich Malt Master Edition 43.0%
Glenfiddich 1963 Original 40.0%
The Glenlivet 12 Year Old 40.0%
The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve 40.0%
The Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak 40.0%
The Glenlivet Nàdurra Triumph 1991 48.0%
The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Matured 60.4%
The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Cask Finish 61.5%
The Glenlivet 18 Year Old 43.0%
The Glenlivet Archive 21 Year Old 43.0%
The Glenlivet Cipher 48.0%
Lismore 15 Year Old 40.0%
The Macallan Gold 40.0%
The Macallan Amber 40.0%
The Macallan Sienna 43.0%
The Macallan Ruby 43.0%
The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask 40.0%
The Macallan 15 Year Old Fine Oak 43.0%
The Macallan Edition No. 2 48.2%
The Macallan Edition No. 3 48.3%
The Macallan Edition No.4 48.4%
The Macallan Rare Cask 43.0%
Mortlach Rare 43.4%
Mortlach 18 Year Old 43.4%
Singleton of Dufftown 40.0%
Strathisla 12 Year Old 40.0%

Island single malts is a general term for single malt whiskies produced on the islands around the perimeter of the Scottish mainland. The islands (excluding Islay) are not recognized as a distinct whisky producing region, but are considered to be part of the Highland region. Islay is itself recognized as a distinct whisky producing region.

The whiskies produced on the Islands are extremely varied and have few similarities, though can often be distinguished from other whisky regions by generally having a smokier flavour with peaty undertones.

Robert Burns Single Malt (Arran) 40.0%
Arran Malt – Port Cask Finish (Arran) 50.0%
Machrie Moor released 2011 Peated (Arran) 46.0%
Highland Park Magnus (Orkney) 40.0%
Highland Park Dark Origins (Orkney) 48.6%
Highland Park 10 Year Old (Orkney) 40.0%
Highland Park 12 Year Old (Orkney) 43.0%
Highland Park 18 Year Old (Orkney) 43.0%
Highland Park 21 Year Old (Orkney) 47.5%
Highland Park St. Magnus (Orkney) 55.0%
Highland Park Valhalla Collection Thor (Orkney) 52.1%
Isle of Jura Origin 10 Year Old (Jura) 43.0%
Isle of Jura Superstition (Jura) 43.0%
Isle of Jura Brooklyn (Jura) 42.0%
Scapa the Orcadian Glansa Peated Cask Finish (Orkney) 40.0%
Scapa the Orcadian Skiren American Oak Cask (Orkney) 40.0%
Talisker Storm (Skye) 46.0%
Talisker 10 Year Old (Skye) 45.8%
Tobermory 10 Year Old ( Isle of Mull) 46.3%

Irish whiskeys are frequently thought to be smooth, easy-drinking, fruity and triple-distilled and, indeed, many of them are, but as with most things Irish, this isn’t the full story. The Irish are widely credited as being the first to distil whiskey, though this is strictly contested by the Scots (well, it would be wouldn’t it…). The Bushmill’s distillery, for example, is the world’s oldest licensed distillery, founded in 1608. And, the Irish are unique in their pure pot still whiskey. What is that?
Irish single pot still whiskey is a mix of barley, malted and otherwise, distilled in a pot still. The unmalted barley delivers a spicy freshness that one associates with Irish whiskey. Some of the Irish blends are global successes with Bushmill’s Original and Jameson both being notable examples. There are also a healthy selection of single malt expressions, including the majority of the Bushmill’s range, Tyrconnell and Connemara.
In the last 20 years or so there has been a re-introduction of double distilled single malts and peated malts as well as a reinvigorated and now thriving single pot still Irish whiskeys. There are also many new distilleries being constructed as Irish whiskey continues to be the fastest growing spirits category worldwide.
Bushmill’s Original 40.0%
Bushmill’s Black Bush 40.0%
Bushmill’s Red Bush 40.0%
Bushmill’s Malt Whiskey 10 Year Old 40.0%
Connemara Peated 40.0%
Connemara Cask Strength 57.9%
Connemara Turf Mor 58.2%
Glendalough Double Barrel Single Grain 42.0%
Green Spot 40.0%
Greenore Single Grain 40.0%
Inishowen 40.0%
Jameson 40.0%
Jameson Beau’s Caskmates 40.0%
Jameson Black Barrel 40.0%
Jameson Crested 40.0%
Jameson Distiller’s Safe 40.0%
Jameson Blender’s Dog 43.0%
Kilbeggan 40.0%
Kilbeggan 18 Year Old 40.0%
Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt 40.0%
McFadden Spirit Drink 40.0%
Midleton Very Rare 40.0%
Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy 46.0%
Powers Gold Label 40.0%
Redbreast 12 Year Old 40.0%
Redbreast 21 Year Old 46.0%
Teeling Single Grain 46.0%
Teeling 21 Year Old 46.0%
The Irishman Single Malt 40.0%
The Quiet Man 40.0%
Tullamore Dew 40.0%
Tullamore Dew 10 Year Old Single Malt 40.0%
Tyrconnell Madeira Cask 46.0%
Tyrconnell 10 Year Old, Old Port Cask 46.0%
West Cork Original Irish Whiskey 40%
Writer’s Tears 40.0%
Writer’s Tears Red Head 46.0%
Writer’s Tears Cask Strength 53.0%
Yellow Spot 12 Year Old 46.0%

Put simply, bourbon is a type of American whiskey made primarily with corn. However there are five things that make bourbon what it is: all bourbon must be made with at least 50% corn; the rest can be wheat, rye or barley. It must be aged for no less than two years and aged in a brand new oak cask. It has to be distilled at no less than 80 proof and it must be manufactured in the U.S. Bourbon whiskey gets its name from its historical association with the area called Old Bourbon in Bourbon County, Kentucky. It has been reported that more than 97% of bourbon whisky is made in or near the “Bourbon Capital of the World”, Bardstown, Kentucky. Today’s bourbons are thought to be an improvement over the whiskeys of the past because the aging, bottling, yeast, water source, and grain composition have evolved over the decades to produce a superior whiskey in taste, colour, and smoothness. Generally, American whiskey is made up of a mixture of corn, rye, wheat, and barley (collectively referred to as the mash) and is aged in charred-oak barrels, but each variety has its own characteristics.

1792 Small Batch 46.9%
1792 Full Proof 61.87%
Ancient Age 40.0%
Baker’s Kentucky Straight 53.5%
Basil Hayden 8 Year Old 40.0%
Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye 40.0%
Benchmark Old No. 8 40.0%
Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Wheat 45.0%
Bib & Tucker 6 Year Old Small Batch 46.0%
Black Saddle 12 Year Old Bourbon 45.0%
Blanton`s Single Barrel Original 46.5%
Booker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon 65.1%
Buffalo Trace 45.0%
Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash #1 62.5%
Bulleit Original Bourbon 45.0%
Bulleit Rye 45.0%
Bulleit 10 Year Old 45.6%
Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye 50.0%
Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon 44.0%
Eagle Rare 10 Year Old Bourbon 45.0%
Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Bourbon 47.0%
Evan Williams Bottled in Bond (White) 50.0%
Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon 43.0%
Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch 43.0%
Ezra Brooks Sour Mash Kentucky Straight 45.0%
Ezra Single Barrel 12 Year Old 49.5%
Ezra Old Rare 7 Year Old 50.5%
Four Roses 40.0%
Four Roses Small Batch 45.0%
Four Roses Single Barrel 50.0%
Jack Daniel’s Sour Mash Old No.7 40.0%
Jack Daniel’s Gentleman Jack 40.0%
Jefferson’s Reserve 45.1%
Jim Beam 40.0%
Jim Beam Double Oak 43.0%
Jim Beam Devil`s Cut 45.0%
Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece 50%
Knob Creek 9 Year Old Bourbon 50.%
Knob Creek Rye 50.%
Knob Creek Smoked Maple 45.0%
Little Book II ( 8yr Kentucky Rye, 40yr CC, 13yr Canadian Rye) 59.4%
Maker’s Mark Bourbon 45.0%
Maker’s Mark 46 46.4%
Old Grand Dad 40.0%
Old Forester Statesman 95 Proof 47.5%
Old Forester Signature 100 Proof 50.0%
Old Weller Antique 107 53.5%
Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey 6 Year Old 55.0%
Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon 40.0%
Rebel Yell Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon 44.5%
Sazerac Rye 45.0%
Stagg Jr. 67.2%
Virginia Black 40.0%
Wild Turkey 81 Proof Straight Bourbon 40.5%
Woodford Reserve Select 45.0%
Woodford Reserve New Cask Rye 46.2%
Woodford Reserve Aged Cask Rye 46.2%

By far the largest region, the Highlands embraces wide variations in style. The West Highlands have only a few scattered distilleries making it difficult to generalize about their character. If they have anything in common, it is a rounded, firm, dry character with some peatiness. The far north of the Highlands has several whiskies with a notably heathery, spicy character probably deriving both from the local soil and the coastal location of the distilleries. The more sheltered East Highlands and the Midlands of Scotland (sometimes described as the South Highlands) have a number of notably fruity whiskies.

AnCnoc 12 Year Old 40.0%
Ardmore Legacy 40.0%
Balblair 02 46.0%
The Dalmore 12 Year Old 40.0%
The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve 40.0%
The Dalmore 1263 King Alex III 40.0%
Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old 43.0%
Deanston Virgin Oak 46.3%
Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve 48.0%
Glengoyne 15 Year Old 43.0%
Glenmorangie Original 40.0%
Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Port Cask 46.0%
Glenmorangie Lasanta Sherry Cask 43.0%
Glenmorangie Nectar D’Òr Sauternes Cask 46.0%
Glenmorangie Spios Private Edition No.9 46.0%
Glenmorangie Signet 46.0%
MacKinlay Shackleton The Journey 47.3%
Oban 14 Year Old 43.0%
Old Pulteney 12 Year Old 40.0%
Tomatin 14 Year Old Port Wood Finish 46.0%
Tomatin Highland Single Malt 43.0%

There are more than one hundred distilleries in operation in Scotland today. Little Islay – pronounced EYE-luh – about one-tenth the size of Prince Edward Island, with a population less than 4,000, is home to a magnificent seven. Collectively they produce about 20 million litres of single malt whisky a year. They are Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain, Bruichladdich, Caol Ila, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. An eighth, Port Ellen, at the western end of the island, is closed as a distillery, however the handsome buildings remain and it still supplies all-important malt to a number of operating distilleries. The combination of the sea, the peat, the barley malt and the briny Atlantic air produces a family of singularly distinctive smoky, peaty single malt whiskies, unlike any made anywhere else. A dash of Islay malt gives the unmistakable tang of Scotland to many blended whiskies.

Ardbeg 10 Year Old 46.0%
Ardbeg An On 46.6%
Ardbeg Grooves 46.0%
Ardbeg Corryvreckan 57.1%
Ardbeg Galileo 49.0%
Ardbeg Uigeadail 54.2%
Bowmore Small Batch Bourbon Cask 40.0%
Bowmore 12 Year Old 40.0%
Bowmore 15 Year Old 43.0%
Bowmore 18 Year Old 43.0%
Bowmore 25 year old 43.0%
Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie 50.0%
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Heavily Peated 50.0%
Bruichladdich Octomore Edition 4.2 61.0%
Bruichladdich Octomore Edition 7.1 59.5%
Bunnahabin 12 Year Old 46.3%
Bunnahabin 18 Year Old 46.3%
Bunnahabin Ceobanach 46.3%
Caol Ila 15 Year Old Unpeated 60.3%
Laphroaig Select 40.0%
Laphroaig Quarter Cask 48.0%
Laphroaig 10 Year Old 43.0%
Laphroaig Cairdeas 200th Anniversary Edition 51.5%
Laphroaig Lore 48.0%
Lagavulin 16 Year Old 43.0%

Located on the peninsula called the Mull of Kintyre, on the west coast of Scotland, Campbeltown once had almost 30 distilleries. By 2010, only three distilleries continued to produce whisky — Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia. The Campbeltown single malts are very distinctive, with a briny character. Although there are only three producers, they are still considered by serious malt lovers to represent a region in their own right. One of these, Springbank, produces three very different single malts. This is achieved by the use of a lightly peated malt in Springbank, and a smokier kilning of the malt in Longrow. Hazelburn is triple distilled resulting in a light, fruity, subtle malt.

Springbank 10 Year Old (Campbeltown) 46.0%
Springbank 18 Year Old (Campbeltown) 46.0%
Longrow CV (Campbeltown) 46.0%
Hazelburn CV (Campbeltown) 46.0%

Single malts are the product of a single distillery, with malted barley as the only grain ingredient, whereas a blended scotch whisky is a result of different single malt and grain whiskies blended together to create an exceptionally well-rounded and, most importantly, consistent flavour. The glass of Johnnie Walker Red or Chivas Regal you enjoy this evening will taste exactly the same in any bottle you experience next month or next year. The blending process is carried out using hand-selected oak casks, which is an important part of developing the spirit’s depth of character.

While single malt whisky is the product of a single distillery blends, however, use up to forty different whiskies with single malt as the base of their liquid.

Simply put vatted malts are also blended whiskies utilizing a variety of single malts in an attempt to get a totally new flavour but without the grain whisky component.

Ballantines 40.0%
Black Dog Triple Gold Reserve 40.0%
Black & White 40.0%
Black Bottle 40.0%
Chivas Regal 12 Year Old 40.0%
Chivas Regal 18 Year Old 40.0%
Chivas Regal Royal Salute 21 Year Old 40.0%
Compass Box Asyla 40.0%
Compass Box Great King Street Artist Blend 43.0%
Compass Box Orangerie 40.0%
Compass Box Hedonism 43.0%
Compass Box Spice Tree 46.0%
Compass Box Oak Cross 40.0%
Compass Box Peat Monster 46.0%
Grant’s 18 year old 40.0%
Johnnie Walker Black 12 Year Old 40.0%
Johnnie Walker Blenders` Batch 10 Year Old 41.3%
Johnnie Walker, White Walker, Game of Thrones Edition 41.7%
Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve 40.0%
Johnnie Walker Green 15 Year Old 43.0%
Johnnie Walker Red 40.0%
Pig’s Nose 40.0%
Sheep Dip 40.0%
The Black Grouse 40.0%
The Naked Grouse 43.0%
The Famous Jubilee 40.0%
The Famous Grouse 40.0%
The Tweeddale 12 Year Old 46.0%

Canada has a glorious 200-year-old history of whisky production, filled with dedication, innovation, hard work, adventure, smuggling and intrigue. Today the words ‘Canadian whisky’ continue to be synonymous with fine quality spirits the world over as the collection of brands has steadily grown far beyond the ubiquitous and perennially good, Canadian Club and Crown Royal. Rye, the grain whose name acts as a nickname for Canadian whisky, plays a small but vital role in its production. It is rye that bestows most of its distinctive yet subtle spiciness and the aging in charred oak barrels that provides the sweet vanillins. But Canadian whisky is not derived from rye alone. Corn, rye, wheat and barley malt are used, generally with corn as the base and the other grains providing the flavour notes. Because the grains in Canadian whiskies have been specially developed to stand up to the Canadian climate, they lend a unique character to the final product.

Canadian Club Classic Reserve aged 9 years 40.0%
Canadian Club Barley Batch Edition 42%
Canadian Club 100% Rye 40.0%
Canadian Club Classic 12 Year Old 40.0%
Canadian Club 20 Year Old 40.0%
Canadian Club 40 Year Old 45.0%
Canadian Club Chronicles 41 Year Old 45.0%
Collingwood 40.0%
Crown Royal 40.0%
Crown Royal Blenders Select 45.0%
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye 45.0%
Crown Royal Black 45.0%
Alberta Premium Dark Horse 45.0%
Forty Creek Barrel Select 40.0%
Forty Creek Copper Pot 43.0%
Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve 40.0%
Gibsons Finest Sterling 40.0%
Gooderham & Worts 44.4%
Gooderham & Worts, Little Trinity, Three Grain, 17 Year Old 45.0%
Gooderham & Worts, Eleven Souls, Eleven Casks, Four Grains 49.0%
Lohin McKinnon Single Malt – 100% Candian Malted Barley 43.0%
Lot 40 Rye 43.0%
Lot 40 Rye 12 Year Old Cask Strength 55.0%
Pike Creek 10 Year Old, Rum Barrel 42.0%
Pike Creek 21 Year Old, Speyside Cask 45.0%
Royal Canadian Small Batch 40.0%
Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Red Cask 40.0%
Wendel Clark Alumni Series, J.P.Wiser 41.6%
JP Wiser’s 15 Year Old 40.0%
JP Wiser’s 18 Year Old 40.0%
JP Wiser’s 35 Year Old 50.0%
JP Wiser’s Last Barrels Aged 14 Years 45.0%
Stalk & Barrel Blue Blend 40.0%

Amorik Breton Single Malt (France) 46.0%
Amrut Fusion Whisky (India) 46.0%
The Belgian Owl (Belgium) 46.0%
Toki, Blended (Japan) 43.0%
Tokinoka Black Blended Whisky (Japan) 50.0%
Hibiki Harmony, Blended Whisky (Japan) 43.0%
Mackmyra (Sweden) 41.4%
Penderyn Legend ( Wales) 41.0%
Bastile 1789 Blended (France) 40.0%
Bastile 1789 Single Malt (France) 43.0%
Nomad Outland Whisky (Scotland/Jerez) Gonzalez Byass 40.8%
Black Dog Triple Gold Reserve* 42.8%
*(distilled, aged, blended in Scotland, bottled in India!)