Each time I talk about Scotch, I cannot keep myself from falling in love. Unlike anything else in the world of spirits, each bottle is inextricably tied to time and place by its Scottish roots. Whether tied to Highlands’ moors or found along the windy lochs of Islay, the passion driving every drop of Scotch to the rim of its bottle speaks to the culture from which it comes. Each is unique, and each is special.
Lesson 1: What I Learned of Two Scotches, 3.25.16
Water source is extremely important to Scotch production , and here is how two different distilleries approach their products, given nearby resources.
First, Scotland is located along the 57th Parallel, north of England, northeast of Northern Ireland, and the same line as Alaska. Its northeastern province, Speyside, holds enormous influence over Scotch production with over fifty distilleries, many of which pull water from underground springs that feed off of nearby River Spey. Two distilleries that sit south of it – The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich – were sampled last week. This week, The Macallan, located northwest of River Spey , was sampled. A bi-product of malted barley and water sourced from an underground spring feeding off of tributary Ringorm Burn, the one-hundred-and-ninety-two-year-old distillery makes a Scotch with an abundance of honey and caramel on the nose. Its taste is almost sweet, largely attributed to the sherry casks in which it is aged.
Our second Scotch was Talisker, made on the island of Skye, found along Scotland’s west coast in the Inner Hebrides . This one-hundred-and-eighty-seven-year-old distillery– the only one on the island – was built along picturesque Loch Harport. It sources malted barley from Highlands village Muir of Ord, near Inverness, and its water is from underground spring Cnoc nan Speireag. Like other Island Scotches, Talisker involves peat in distilling, using the bricks of decomposed matter to promote smokiness in its Whisky. Similar to The Macallan 12, it offered a bit of honey and caramel on the nose. But peat’s smoky influence is also apparent, just not to the extent of other Island Scotches.