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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.


Islay, a small Hebridean island off the west coast of Scotland, is famous for producing some of the peatiest and smokiest whiskies around. Its remote location necessitated the use of local peat for the malting of barley, and despite modern transport and electricity most of the island’s distilleries still distil a peated spirit. Bunnahabhain did not even get road access until 1967, relying on supply from the sea. Islay peat has a distinctive aroma, with an above-average sodium content and a more ‘earthy’ flavour due to a lack of forests on the windswept island. Distilleries include Laphroaig, Bowmore and Ardbeg.