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Issue 93 - A Region of Subtlety

Whisky Magazine Issue 93
January 2011


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A Region of Subtlety

Gavin D. Smith takes us through this often maligned producing region

When we think of the Lowlands of Scotland and the malt whiskies they produce, there is sometimes a tendency to compare them unfavourably with the more dramatic and romantic Scottish Highlands and islands and their single malts.

In terms of whisky, the Lowlands are all too often perceived as the poor relations of the Speysides and the Islays; too light and undemanding to be taken seriously by the experienced imbiber. They are seen as not terribly characterful: whiskies for ‘the ladies' and malt virgins of both sexes. This is, of course, emphatically not true. If we have to characterise Lowlands in generalised stylistic terms we can say they are quite delicate, floral, grassy and comparatively sweet. It is all too easy to mistake subtlety for blandness.

Like the whiskies they produce, the geographical Scottish Lowlands offer a gentle charm in rural areas, and also house the country's main centres of population, industry, commerce and entertainment.

In Edinburgh and Glasgow Scotland has two contrasting, engaging, cosmopolitan cities, each of which boasts a grain distillery at their heart and a malt distillery in their hinterland.

North British grain distillery stands in the Gorgie area of Edinburgh, and Glenkinchie malt distillery, established in 1837, is to be found in the soft, fertile farmland of East Lothian, 18 miles south-east of Edinburgh.

Meanwhile, Glasgow has Chivas Brothers' Strathclyde grain distillery located in its Gorbals district, while Auchentoshan malt d...

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