In Scotland, the art of whisky is not only enjoyed and respected, it has impacted the country's culture and economy since 1494.
Scotch whisky is produced only in Scotland and most often made with malted barley dried over open peat fires. All Scotch whisky is distilled and aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Scotch whisky that is exported must be at least four years old.
A legal definition of Scotch Whisky has been in place for many years. At the World Trade Organization (WTO) level it is recognized as a geographical indication.
This legal protection is vitally important, protecting Scotch Whisky from unfair competition worldwide and holding Scotch Whisky's reputation as being of the highest quality and integrity.
The raw materials required for the production of Malt Whisky are barley, water and yeast.
Scotch Whisky Regions
The character of single malt Scotch is influenced by region.
The largest whisky region, the Highlands is the barley heartland of distillation. It incorporates a system of rivers, the Spey and the Livet. Speyside single malts are elegant and complex.
The island of Islay (pronounced "eye-luh") in the Inner Hebrides is windswept, deep with peat, and grows a distinctively tangy malt. Its whiskies capture the taste of the sea.
Whiskies from the Lowlands are soft, smooth and free of peaty taste.
On Scotland's West Coast, the Campbeltown region produces whisky with two distinctively different styles. One is lightly peated, one is smokier.