The single-malt whiskies of Scotland are a distillation of the rain-soaked Highlands and remote, sea-sprayed isles. Below, our fave picks of 18th- and 19th-century distilleries that combine the picturesque and the eminently quaffable.
Single Malt Scotch Reviews
Courtesy of ravenscroftcrystal.com
»EDRADOUR (011-44-179-647-2095, www.edradour.co.uk), concealed in the forested hamlet of Balnauld, in the central Highlands, is the smallest distillery in the country, with three distillers producing just two barrels of whisky a week. The nearby town of Pitlochry is a hub for exploring the region's peaks, moors, and glens.
TAKE HOME the ten-year-old ($54).
»LAPHROAIG (011-44-149-630-2418, www.laphroaig.com), set right on the rocky coastline, is one of seven distilleries on the sparsely populated 500-square-mile island of Islay, a two-hour ferry ride off Scotland's southwestern coast. From September to April, tens of thousands of wintering white-fronted and barnacle geese blanket Islay's lochs, drawing flocks of birders. TAKE HOME the 30-year-old ($344).
»GLENFIDDICH (011-44-134-082-0373, www.glenfiddich.com) operates a sprawling distillery in Dufftown, in the heart of Scotland's river-threaded Speyside region. From Craigellachie, four miles to the south, you can rent a mountain bike and cruise 30 miles of the Speyside Way, a converted railroad track that connects five distilleries.
TAKE HOME the Special Reserve 12-year-old ($36).
»HIGHLAND PARK (011-44-185-687-4619, www.highlandpark.co.uk) is located just shy of the Arctic Circle, on the largest of the 70-plus Orkney Islands. The stone buildings overlook sailboats and fishing trawlers heading out to the North Sea. A ninth-century Norse outpost, the island is loaded with Viking ruins, like the Ring of Brodgar, a spooky 27-stone circle a half-hour west of the distillery.
TAKE HOME the 18-year-old ($105).
ESSENTIAL PACKING: Michael Jackson's Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch, fifth edition (Running Press, $28), for distillery history and exhaustive tasting notes.