Jacob Osborn

A Guide to Scotch Whisky Regions | Man of Many

When it comes to flavours and profiles, there are definite overlaps between the various whisky regions of Scotland. However, don’t take to mean each specific region doesn’t render a unique influence upon the spirits produced within its borders. Hence, the short answer is yes, the whisky region matters, even if Scotland isn’t all that large a country. To that end, everything from local production methods to terroirs to broader geographic factors will influence how the whisky smells and tastes.

Does the Whisky Region Matter?

Originally, Scotland broke down into four officially-recognised whisky regions: Highlands, Lowlands, Isle of Islay, and Campbeltown. Speyside was eventually brought into the fold and with good reason, as it has the country’s largest number of distilleries. That raised the tally of unique regions to five, according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).

Scotland Whisky Regions Map

As mentioned above, there are five official Scottish whisky regions and then one unofficial region. Being that most folks treat the Islands like its own region, we’ll do the same, including it as a “bonus” toward the end. Also featured are some of the top distilleries from each respective whisky-producing region in Scotland. Let’s get to it!

5 Whisky Regions of Scotland

Located at the northeastern end of Scotland, the Speyside whisky region is truly abundant in rivers, glens, history, and whisky. A veritable destination among locals and tourists alike, this heralded whisky-making region hosts about 60 per cent of the country’s distilleries. As such, there’s a ton of great stuff to be discovered here, including a number of smaller and lesser-known producers.


  • The Macallan
  • Glenfiddich
  • Aberlour
  • Glenfarclas
  • Top 5 Speyside Distilleries:

    In the simplest terms, any (land-bound) distillery that’s south of the Highlands and north of England classifies as a Lowlands distillery. From the perspective of pure land-mass, this region is the country’s second-largest, though it doesn’t have many distilleries to show for it. However, more and more operations continue to pop up, so that all might change over the course of subsequent years.


  • Auchentoshan
  • Glenkinchie
  • Bladnoch
  • Daftmill
  • Top 5 Lowlands Distilleries:

    To summarise the whiskey from this island region in a word: peaty. Odds are you’ve smelled an Islay malt and then either recoiled or engaged, depending on your personal palate. Speaking strictly for ourselves, we love few things in life more than a smoky Islay malt. Rife with layers of complexity and character, the region’s best expressions start at the mouth and go straight down to the ends of one’s toes.

    Isle of Islay

  • Laphroaig
  • Lagavulin
  • Ardbeg
  • Bowmore
  • Bruichladdich
  • Top 5 Islay Distilleries:

    What was once the self-proclaimed “whisky capital of the world” isn’t exactly that these days, though the Campbeltown region is still good for a quality dram. At one point in time, there were over 30 distilleries in this remote town. Alas, that number is currently down to just three.


  • Springbank
  • Glengyle
  • Glen Scotia
  • Top (and Only) 3 Campbeltown Distilleries:

    As the largest whisky-producing region in Scotland, the Highlands accordingly delivers an epic range of flavours and characteristics. Because there’s so much diversity to grapple with, most folks break the region down into four sub-regions, each of which has its own style of whisky.


  • Oban
  • Glendronach
  • Glenmorangie
  • Dalmore
  • Top 5 Highlands Distilleries:

    We know, we know: there are supposed to be five whisky regions in Scotland (as per the SWA). What’s up with this “bonus” sixth region called the Islands? The answer is pretty straightforward. Officially, the Islands is regarded as a sub-region of the Highlands, perhaps because the two words rhyme, though it more likely has to do with proximity.

    Bonus Region: Islands

  • Highland Park
  • Talisker
  • Arran
  • Jura
  • Skye
  • Top 5 Islands Distilleries:

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