The regions of Scotch whisky production are a blend of historical circumstance, corporate construction and brand identity. It’s commonly agreed that there are six such regions, these being the Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands, Islay, Islands and Campbelltown. Contradiction is rife – Islay is an Island, Speyside is the Highlands, and there are only three distilleries currently operating in Campbelltown. Many Highland distilleries are not even in the highlands, some Islay distilleries make Speyside style whiskies and there are peated Lowland whiskies. Yet despite wide debate, regionality is here to stay and offers convenient classifications to an ever-expanding array of distilleries and bottlings.
The Islands comprise all Isles except Islay, such as Jura, Mull, Skye and Orkney. These whiskies are varied in style, historically peaty but today are mostly hard to distinguish from Highland whiskies with the exception of Talisker. Due to their lawless nature, the remote isles of the Hebrides were the centre of illegal distillation and smuggling. Nobody embodies this daring spirit more than the preacher Magnus of Highland Park, who used to hide his casks in his church and distribute to his congregation on Sundays!