The Highland whisky region of Scotland covers an extremely large spread of land, and so the whiskies produced there are rather difficult to categorize in terms of body and flavour.
Re-occurring characterizations of Highland whisky include “big-bodied, peaty, and very powerful,” however the sheer size of the region inspires experimentation and whiskies which differ greatly.
The region is broken down in the Northern, Western, Southern, and Eastern Highlands. In the North the whiskies are known to be sweeter and rich, with examples like The Dalmore and Glenmorangie, which produce some of the best whiskies in the world. The Western Highlands produce peatier, heavier whiskies, with the Oban distillery producing some great examples. In the South distilleries like Edradour produce lighter, fruitier whiskies, and in the East the whiskies are full-bodied and quite dry.
There’s something for everyone in the great Highland region, and while it isn’t home to the most distilleries in Scotland, it is home to experimentation and abundant character.
Have a look at the top Highland whiskies we have on offer here at The Whisky Foundation.
Clynelish 20 Years (Signatory, 1995) – £147.48
Distilled in 1995 at the Clynelish distillery (not to be confused with the old Clynelish distillery, renamed Brora) this whisky is a wonderful treat.
The crisp, fresh, and intense character of Clynelish whisky has balanced out perfectly during the 20 years spent in the oak surroundings of a sherry cask.
At 52.7 per cent cask strength you can rest assured that you will find the full strength and power of this Highland whisky right there, in the bottle.
Fettercairn 27 Year (Signatory, 1988) – £176.16
This wonder by the Fettercairn distillery was distilled in 1988 and then matured in a single hogshead cask for an astonishing 27 years, before being bottled in the summer of 2016.
The Fettercairn whisky production features unique stills and an irrigator ring, which works by surrounding the stills and drenching them, helping them deliver the purest spirit.
Non-chill filtered, no added colours, and 55.2 per cent cask strength. Whisky in its purest and most natural form.
Clynelish 18 Year (Kingsbury, 1997) – £180.26
Yep, we love Clynelish so much that it’s on our list twice.
This particular release is a Whisky Foundation exclusive, so don’t bother looking for it anywhere else! Bottled by wonderful independent bottler Kingsbury in 2016, this whisky comes in at 52 per cent cask strength, bursting with the maritime expressions found in Clynelish whisky.
Only 242 bottles were made, so time is of the essence.
Edradour 18 Year Sherry Cask (1993) – £434.27
Produced in one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland, this 18 year-old release by Edradour brings the character of this wonderful distillery to the forefront.
Owned by Signatory Vintage Scotch Whisky Company, a highly renowned independent bottler, it’s easy to see why the whiskies made at Edradour are so unique and perfectly balanced each and every time.
The distillery is run by a team of two, and produces only 18 casks a week. The small team’s attention to detail has shone through here, with this 18 year-old release showing a smooth, deep, and rich profile with the complexity of dark and sugared fruits filling the palate. At 59 per cent cask strength the intensity is very much present.
Brora Rare and Old (Gordon & MacPhail, 1982) – £811.20
When the original Clynelish distillery shut down it was renamed Brora and tasked with creating some strongly peated, intense whisky, similar to that produced on Islay. This was due to a shortage on Islay at the time, a shortage Brora needed to make up for.
The distillery has long been shut down, but it has left some wonderful whisky behind.
Matured and bottled by well-known bottler Gordon & MacPhail, this whisky by Brora showcases an exquisite balance of citrus, spice, and mint, all brought together with a burst of peatiness and smoke.
Natural colours, non-chill filtered, and ready to go. Not a lot of Brora whisky remains, so best get your hands on a bottle today.