Speyside Scotch

Speyside produces some of my favourite Scotch whiskies.  It is a sub-region of the Highlands, taking its name from the River Spey which meanders through the region.  It includes the Highlands to the west, Aberdeenshire to the east and the Cairngorms National Park to the north. 

Speyside has the most distilleries of any of Scotland’s whisky regions, containing about half of all of Scotland’s distilleries.  According to at least one so-called expert, Speyside is as close as most whisky lovers will ever come to the center of the single malt universe.

Speyside whiskies are generally not peaty as many of Islay’s and the Western Island regions are.  Instead they tend to have a fruity flavour, sweet and nutty, sometimes with hints of apple, caramel, honey and vanilla.

There are a number of world class whiskies that hale from Speyside including Aberlour, Balvenie, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and The Macallan.

The distilleries

Speyside’s distilleries are listed below with those highlighted in orange having whiskies available for sale in Canada.

AberlourAllt-A-BhainneAuchroiskAultmore
BalmenachBalvenieBenRiachBenrinnes
BenromachBraevalCardhuCragganmore
CraigellachieDailuaineDalmunachDalwhinnie
DufftownGlen ElginGlen GrantGlen Keith
Glen MorayGlen SpeyGlenallachieGlenburgie
GlendullanGlenfarclasGlenfiddichGlenlivet
GlenlossieGlenrothesGlentauchersInchgower
KinnvieKnockandoKnockdhuLinkwood
LongmornMacallanMannochmoreMiltonduff
MortlachRoseisleSpeyburnSpeyside
StrathislaStrathmillTamdhuTamnavulin
TomintoulTormore  

In addition to single malts that are sold under the distilleries’ names, brands associated with Speyside include Allt-á-Bhainne, Casg Annamh, Glen Turner, Lismore, McClelland’s Single Malt, and Tlàth.

The oldest working distillery in Speyside is Strathisla Distillery.  Even though Strathisla single malt is not well known outside of Scotland, their whiskies are included in popular blended Scotch, such as Chivas Regal and Royal Salute.

Speyside’s style of whisky has helped popularize Scotch throughout the world. Their craftsmanship dates back a few hundred years with skills being passed down from one generation to the next.  The distillers continue to find new innovations to keep improving the appeal of their whiskies.

There is ongoing experimentation with distilling processes.  One such example is at Glenfiddich where they are finishing a 21 year old whisky in Canadian ice wine barrels from Niagara’s Peller Estates Winery.  Fruity flavourful Speyside whisky accented by sweet ice wine is a match made in heaven.

With Speyside distilleries continuing to develop and rediscover themselves, the future of Scotch whisky is looking very bright.

If you haven’t tried a Speyside scotch, do yourself a favour and try the 18 year old Glenlivet, one of my ultimate favourites!

Sláinte mhaith

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