For a whisky to be called Scotch, one rule must be followed above all else: the whisky must be aged in oak casks in Scotland for at least three years. We’re going to bet that most of you already knew that, just as you know that Irish whiskey must be produced in Ireland and bourbon must be produced in the United States. If you didn’t, don’t worry. Welcome to the wonderful world of whisk(e)y. You’re going to love it. We sure do.
Once you know the No. 1 rule, it’s important to know that there are different regions that make Scotch whisky, each with their distinct styles and taste profiles (though there are exceptions to each and every “rule” in each region). In total, there are six Scotch regions, though around half of the country’s 126 licensed distilleries are in Speyside.
Below, you’ll find a guide to each of these regions, including some basic taste profiles and the distilleries that have helped to bring notice to the area.