It’s very difficult to mass categorize the wonderful spirits of Scotland’s myriad collection of distilleries but if one were forced two, the easiest buckets to put them in are based on smokiness. On one side, we have the heavily “peated,” smokey stylings of Scotch produced on the island of Islay. On the other, we have absolutely no smoke and no peat and the most popular area for that is a toss up between the Highland region and Speyside.
If you’ve ever walked into a liquor store and seen several scotches lined up on the shelf, you’ve probably seen The Classic Malts Selection. Sometimes they’re on a little wooden pedestal, each bottle with a small plaque that identifies it (as if you couldn’t tell from the bottles) as one of The Classic Malts, sometimes they’re just shown together on the shelf. If you’ve ever wondered what makes them Classic Malts, it’s because the original set of six were all owned by Diageo. The original were Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Cragganmore, Oban, Talisker, and Lagavulin. Since then, the Classic Malts lineup has been increased to include Caol Ila, Cardhu, Clynelish, Kockando, Royal Lochnagar, and The Singleton of Glendullan. Again, they are all owned by Diageo, which is why they were added to the Classic Malts selection. 🙂
This year, they’ve also released some 2010 Limited Edition releases in time for the holidays. Here’s the list along with their descriptions: Continue reading
Do you know how to pronounce Lagavulin? Glenfiddich? Glenmorangie?
If you know those, you’re in pretty good shape. How about Bruichladdich? Caol Ila?
Now, visit this website and play all the names. They have an audio file for a lot of distilleries (many of the majors, most of the smaller ones too) in both .wav and .au, though some are only in .au file format.
How many did you get right? If you got the pronunciation right did you accent the right syllable? Glenmorangie is easy to say but I bet you accent the wrong syllable like I did. 🙂
Learn how to pronounce scotch whisky names from an expert.
I spent the last week in Nags Head, North Carolina, with a few of my friends renting a vacation home and we took advantage of the numbers to buy a few bottles of whisky. One of the prime choices was Ardbeg
10, a bottle I’ve wanted to try for a while but hadn’t gotten around to it.
As a fan of Lagavulin and Laphroaig, I wanted to try what is billed at the peatiest of whisky. When I poured it from the bottle, I was struck at how light it was. It’s a pale yellow, very pale, and the peat and smoke is very evident. I added a few drops in and it opened up a little, with a little fruit sweetness hiding behind the smoke and warmth of the whisky.
Overall, it was pleasant but nothing shouted “peaty!” like the billing leads you to believe. In the future, I think I’d like to try one of the more mature bottlings to get a more complete picture. Or… I just need to try it some more. 🙂
Diageo Six Classic Malts of Scotland
In 1988, the United Distillers and Vintners began marketing the “Classic Malts of Scotland” as a selection of six single malt scotch whiskies that were representative of the best Scotch whiskey available. The United Distillers and Vintners was later purchased by Diageo, who has continued the marketing campaign. The “regions” in the six classic malts of Scotland differ from the official Scotch Whiskey Association region classifications, most likely so that they could include other scotches to the list of classics.
It’s not an official designation, just a marketing one. That doesn’t stop the six from being fine scotches though.
The six Classic Malts of Scotland are:
- Dalwhinnie 15 – Highland
- Talisker 10 – Isle of Skye
- Cragganmore 12 – Speyside
- Oban 14 – West Highland
- Lagavulin 16 – Islay
- Glenkinchie 12 – Lowland
As you can see, Isle of Skye (part of the Island subregion of the Highlands in the SWA’s official regions) isn’t an officially recognized region and Campbeltown, where Diageo does not own a distillery, isn’t represented on the list.