Scotch Whisky

Whisky made in Scotland, referred to as Scotch, is one of the most popular types of whisky in the world. By law, it must be distilled to no more than 189.6 proof and produced from a mixture of water, cereal grains, and malt, with the only allowed additives being water and caramel coloring. Scotch must be aged in oak casks in Scotland at a licensed warehouse for a minimum of three years, but, unlike bourbon or rye, those casks can, and almost always are, used barrels instead of new ones. Scotch is separated into five categories, one of which is required to be displayed on the label: Single Malt (100% malt barley from a single distillery), Single Grain (all grain spirit from a single distillery), Blended Grain (grain whiskies from multiple distilleries), Blended Malt (a blend of single malts), and Blended Scotch (a blend of malt and grain whiskies). The malt used to make Scotch can be dried by fire from with compacted vegetation called peat, which imparts a unique flavor on the final product. (This type of Scotch is most common on island regions, particularly Islay.) There are five whisky-producing regions in Scotland, each with its own style and character: Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, Islay, and Campbeltown.

Top Scotch Whisky Posts:

A Tour of Scotland: Understanding Scotch Whiskies
Touring Scotch Whisky Distilleries in Speyside, Scotland
Drinking Scotch with The Dalmore’s Richard Paterson
Whiskies of Glen Grant with Master Distiller Dennis Malcolm

Review: The Balvenie Madeira Cask 15 Years Old and Pedro Ximenez Cask 18 Years Old

By Drew Beard | September 18, 2023 |

Earlier this year, we had the chance to review Balvenie’s new French Oak 16 Years Old aged in Pineaus des Charentes casks. That bottle is actually part of a trifecta of new cask-finished releases launched in the spring of 2022. Two others, a 15-year-old expression finished in Madeira wine casks and an 18-year-old expression finished…

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Book Review: A Passion for Whisky

By Rob Theakston | September 17, 2023 |

The tiny Scottish island of Islay counts around 3,000 people as full-time residents but welcomes tens of thousands of tourists annually and counts hundreds of thousands, if not more, fans around the globe swearing regional allegiance. That may prove to be an unsubstantiated hot take in the end, but right now Islay seems to be…

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Review: Johnnie Walker Red Label (2023)

By Rob Theakston | September 13, 2023 |

As I slowly continue the journey of organic erosion and cognitive decline we all inevitably face, I find my tastes occasionally regressing, drifting back to various points of origin. Sometimes it is out of necessity as to what is being served, but there are times when it’s to find out just how much my palate…

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Review: Old Pulteney Coastal Series – Pineau de Charentes

By Christopher Null | September 12, 2023 |

Old Pulteney has launched a new range of whiskies called the Coastal Series, which is perhaps redundant on account of all of Old Pulteney’s whiskies are coastally born — but I promise there’s some logic here. The Coastal Series will comprise four different whiskies with different finishes, each from locations which are also coastal in…

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Review: Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2013, Black Art 11.1, Port Charlotte PMC:01, and Octomore 14

By Christopher Null | September 5, 2023 |

Another fall is upon us, and that means Islay’s Bruichladdich is pushing out its biggest releases of the year. Normally we’d see these trickle out in bits and bobs, but for 2023, the distillery dropped a bomb on us all at once, with Bere Barley, Black Art, a new Port Charlotte, and the three Octomore…

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Review: Highland Park Cask Strength Release No. 4

By Christopher Null | September 3, 2023 |

It’s been three years since Highland Park inaugurated its Cask Strength Release — the first full-proof release the distillery had ever put out. We reviewed the second edition a year later, and now we’re finally on to Release No. 4. It’s not the same old story, by the way: Cask Strength No.4 is quite a…

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Review: Isle of Raasay Single Malt

By Drew Beard | August 28, 2023 |

Isle of Raasay released its namesake whisky back in 2021, but it took a bit longer for this Hebridean single malt, distilled on a tiny island north of Skye, to wash up on our shores. We chewed over a stopgap bottling of sourced single malt from the distillery, cutely dubbed While We Wait, a few…

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Review: Dewar’s The Champions Edition 19 Years Old (2023)

By Christopher Null | August 22, 2023 |

Dewar’s “Champions Edition” scotch continues its celebration of the 19th hole of golf — the bar, in case you didn’t know — with another annual release of this 19 year old blended Scotch, produced in collaboration with the U.S. Open. This is our third year running with the blend, following the 2022 and the inaugural…

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Review: Laphroaig Cairdeas White Port & Madeira Casks 2023

By Christopher Null | August 4, 2023 |

Laphroaig’s latest annual edition, dubbed Càirdeas, is described by the distillery as bringing together “the best of much loved Càirdeas releases over recent years.” For 2023, the distillery went in two different directions: 3/4 of the whisky is matured in second-fill Madeira casks (which were the focus with the 2016 Cairdeas release), while 1/4 is…

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Review: GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 12

By Christopher Null | August 2, 2023 |

The latest cask strength sherry bomb from GlenDronach has arrived, a whisky again using Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks to create an unabashed exploration of the power of sherry. As usual, this carries no age statement yet has a clear maturity to it that certainly gives it ample gravitas. As with virtually all of…

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