The Whisky Tasting Club The Whisky Tasting Club

Regions of Scotland

We have chosen classic examples from five of the six whisky regions of Scotland.

Arran 10 year old

Launched in 2006, the ten year old is Arran's entry level malt whisky. Unchillfiltred and bottled at 46%, it is a mixture of whisky from bourbon and sherry casks. This typifies the distillery taste profile, it is light and fruity, but also packs a punch.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Zesty, creamy, pears, banaba, oranges, redcurrants, icing sugar, faint smoke.
Palate: Immediately soft, creamy and fruity, then immensely spicy and woody. Salty and coastal, spicy icing sugar and vanilla to finish.

Retails for around £30-40

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Glenfarclas 10 year old


Arguably the most famous of the whisky regions, half of all Scottish distilleries are situated in Speyside including some of the most famous on the planet, such as Macallan, Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. Part of the reason for its popularity as a region was its ready supply of high quality water and good access by the railways which provided transport of manpower, raw materials and the finished product into and out of distilleries.

We have selected a Glenfarclas 10 as our Speyside representative. Situated in Ballindalloch, Glenfarclas was founded in 1836 and has been in the same family (the Grant family, but not the ones that own Glenfiddich and Balvenie) ownership since 1865. Glenfarclas is one of the greats. Its style is typically complex, rich and sherried. If there was ever a whisky to sit with in front of a roaring fire on a winter’s evening, this is it.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Light & cleansing with menthol overtones. Fruit jelly sweets. Sweet grape and orange, apricot and peach Danish pastry.
Palate: Light and fruity to begin with, then a definite fruitcake influence with candied fruits, marzipan and, eventually, light spices.

Retails for around £30

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Balblair 2003

Balblair is one of Scotland's most under-rated distilleries. You'll find it on the road from Inverness to Wick in the most North Easterly part of Scotland close to Glenmorangie and Dalmore. The air here is meant to be the purest in the United Kingdom and until relatively recently the distillery's standard offering was called Elements. But the whisky was relaunched a few years back and instead of an age statement its various expressions are now marked with a year representing a vintage in a similar way to wine. The new vintage is the 2002 which was released in September 2012. Balblair are owned by Inverhouse, who own 5 distilleries.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Creamy, fluffy red apples, yellow fruit, gentle and sweet.
Palate: Pear, sweet apples, tinned apricot, very sweet and then sharp and spicy. Vanilla ice cream.
Finish: Warm and fluffy.

Retails for around £40

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Ardbeg 10 Year Old

No other region divides people in the whisky world the way the Hebredian island of Islay does. It is rightly famous for its thumping peaty, phenolic whiskies, loved or loathed in equal measure.

With no indigenous coal supply, Islay had to rely upon its supply of peat for its fuel. When the barley was dried over peat fires, it imparted a smokiness to the malted barley which, of course, transferred itself to the whisky.

Given that it has an area of only 239 square miles, Islay has an amazing eight operational distilleries, including the "holy trinity" of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig along its Southern coast, Bowmore at its centre, Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain to the North and Bruichladdich and the recent Kilchoman to the West.

But it isn't just the peat that gives Islay malts their signature taste. With huge quantities of seaweed around its coast and the Atlantic ocean crashing against their distillery walls, it’s unsurprising that many have a distinct iodine character, plus a healthy dose of tar and salt. And yet, each Islay malt has its own character that distinguishes it utterly from its near-neighbours. Ardbeg has a distinct citrus note, Caol Ila a smoky bacon aspect and Lagavulin its rich medicinal, liquorice character.

So, mention 'Islay' in whisky circles and it is undoubtedly the heavily-peated malts which immediately spring to mind. But this immediate association with peat is slightly unfair. Two of its distilleries – Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich – produce whiskies which, more often than not, do not fit this phenolic template at all. Nevertheless, when people think of Islay, it is the heavily-peated malts that usually spring to mind and it is our pleasure to add the superlative Ardbeg 10 year old as the Islay representative in this regions pack.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Carbolic soap. Sweet pear. Lemon peel. An undertow of maple syrup but the peat, while unmistakable, is strangely restrained.
Palate: Beautifully balanced between the light hickory and butterscotch, the intense tarry peatiness and the pear and tell-tale Ardbeg citrus.

Retails for around £40

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Auchentoshan American Oak

there are only three operational Lowland distilleries whose single malts are readily available in 2014 – Glenkinchie, Auchentoshan and Bladnoch. Whereas most distilleries in the world double distill their spirit, the Lowland approach has traditionally been to triple distill it, as is done in many Irish distilleries. These days, however, only Auchentoshan still triple-distills in the region. The stills in the Lowland distilleries are taller, allowing only the very lightest elements of the spirit to rise to the top of the still and down into the receiving tank, ready to be matured in oak. Lowland whiskies are consequently light, creamy, floral and herbal - ideal whiskies for those who want an aperitif or/and
a gentle introduction to the drink. Because they are light and gentle, Lowlander whiskies are often unjustly dismissed in favour of their harder-hitting neighbours from the North but there is much to admire in Lowland malts. They may not have the oomph of an Islay malt, but they are often just as complex, albeit in a much more subtle way. The Whisky Tasting Club has selected the Auchentoshan Classic as the whisky to represent the Lowlands as it triple distils and carries on a fine Lowland tradition.

This expression is matured solely in first-fill American bourbon casks to allow the Auchentoshan flavours to shine through. If you have a few quid to spare, try an older bourbon–cask matured Auchentoshan expression for a lowland treat and see this distillery as God (not sherry) intended.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Much more of the trademark Auchentoshan banana. Baking spices. Vanilla ice cream and charred Christmas cake.
Palate: Young, sappy, light and clean with wood spice zinging around the mouth and more of the vanilla ice cream.

Retails for around £30-40

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