Scottish Highlands & Islands

Argyll & Bute, Aberdeen, Highland, Moray, Perth & Kinross, Stirling, Arran, Islay, Western Isles, Orkneys

Bruichladdich Organic 2010

A classically light Laddie, with cereal and citrus notes and a subtle spiciness from the casks, this is the only organic whisky from Islay, and one of only two organic single malts. What's more, we are told the names of the farms which produced the barley for this whisky, and even the names of the farmers.

In my glass it is straw coloured, in typical lightly-peated Bruichladdich style. The nose is fresh, elegant, and youthful, showing cereal, lemon, and a little warm bourbon-cask spice. Elegance and refinement are the hallmark of the Laddie, and this example has them in abundance.

46%, RRP: £36, Master of Malt, Royal Mile Whiskies, The Whisky Exchange, The Laddie Shop

Arran 14 Year Old

A sweet malt, the Arran 14 Year Old has plenty of fruity notes, given weight by the woody, spicy cask flavours.

Mid-amber in colour, much like the 10 Year Old, there are an array of fruits on the nose - red fruits like raspberries all the way to tropical (bananas!). There is also the characteristic Arran malty note, and a well balanced woodiness, which comes through as vanilla, cinammon, and allspice.

To taste it is sweet and mid-bodied, with toffee, maltiness, a little pepper, perhaps some mint, and plenty of vanilla from the casks.

£40/70cl, from the distillery website, Royal Mile Whiskies, The Whisky Exchange, and independent retailers

Bruichladdich 12 Year Old

Light, elegant, and clean, the Bruichladdich 12 Year Old combines delicacy and intensity.

It's pale looking beside other whiskies; no sherry casks here to darken the malt, just light, sweet ex-bourbon barrels.

£37/70cl, from Royal Mile Whiskies, The Good Spirits Co, and other good specialist retailers

Talisker Distillery

Even by the high standard of whisky distilleries Talisker has an outstanding setting, in the shadow of the Cuillin Mountains in Western Skye.

Founded in 1830, Talisker is now the only distillery on Skye. The remoteness of Talisker meant that – like many island distillers – in earlier times the sea was the main route in and out. Talisker has maintained these links in its association with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and in supporting boating and boat races.

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Glengoyne Distillery

As you approach Glengoyne from Glasgow the change in the landscape is striking, the gentler Lowlands giving way to the more rugged Highlands. The distillery sits exactly on the line which divides the two, so that Glengoyne can say that it is distilled in the Highlands but matured in the Lowlands.

The style of the spirit seems to reflect this divide too – there is a delicacy to it which comes from the unusually slow distillation process, yet it also has the breadth of flavour of a true Highland malt.

  • Tours
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  • Wheelchair Access
  • Dog Friendly
  • Public Transport within 5 miles
  • Eco Initiatives

Laphroaig Distillery

On approaching Laphroaig, it seems as if the distillery has its back turned, with only some unassuming warehouses to see. But head on down the road and the view opens out across the bay, and even, on a clear day, over to Kintyre or Ireland.

Laphroaig faces the sea, and on a stormy day it's easy to see where the iodine tang in the whisky might come from. The malt has always been highly prized for this intense flavour, both in blends, and in the pure form.

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  • Clubs

Ardbeg Distillery

Like many of the island distilleries, Ardbeg looks to the sea, in a reminder of the days when deliveries by road were virtually impossible. And there's something of the sea about the whisky too, a salty tang which speaks of its birthplace, although it's easy to miss, so powerful is the peat-smoke reek of the malt.

  • Tours
  • Café and/or Restaurant
  • Shop
  • Clubs

Glenmorangie Distillery

Sitting on the Dornoch Firth some 35 miles north of Inverness, Glenmorangie is in an area rich in wildlife. But its not just the seals and dolphins that are the attraction. 25,000 visitors head to the distillery each year, a number which will surely grow as word gets out about its gloriously revamped Visitor Centre. 

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  • Child Friendly
  • Public Transport within 5 miles
  • Accommodation

Bunnahabhain Distillery

Tucked away at the end of the road to the North of Islay, Bunnahabhain has been quietly making whisky since 1883. Bunnahabhain is often called the gentle malt, since the barley that goes into it is very lightly peated, in contrast to the more usual smoky Islay style.

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Clynelish 14 Year Old

Until as recently as 2003 there was no official standard bottling from Clynelish, and even now there are only three. The 14 Year Old is the most widely available. It is an elegant medium-bodied whisky, neither peaty nor overly malty, and thus a good all-rounder.

£34 / 70cl, widely available at specialist retailers; Waitrose