Speyside is located in the northeast of Scotland.

Speyside is located in the northeast of Scotland.

Overview of Speyside whisky

The world's largest whisky producing region, with more than half of Scotland's distilleries concentrated in the Speyside region. The two best-selling single malt whiskies in the world, The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, are also Speyside whiskies. It is also popular as an introduction to single malt Scotch whisky.

Characteristics of the taste and aroma of Speyside whisky

Speyside whisky has less peat than other regions and is characterized by a rich fruitiness. It is characterized by the taste and aroma of apples, pears, honey, vanilla, nuts, and spices. It is generally aged in sherry casks.

Three key ways to describe the taste of Speyside whisky

  • Fruity
  • Sherry flavour
  • Less peaty

However, as there are around 50 distilleries in Speyside, with a wide range of flavours, it cannot be said that they all share the same taste system. Some distilleries are moving back to peat whisky.

Typical Speyside distilleries

  • The Balvenie
  • Glenfiddich
  • The Glenlivet
  • The Macallan
  • Aberlour
  • Tomintoul
  • Glen Moray

There are many more Speyside distilleries, see the list of distilleries below for more information.
→List of Scotch Whisky Distilleries

Speyside whisky trivia

The origin of the name "Speyside" and the Spey River

The name Speyside is named after the River Spey. Therefore, to be classified as Speyside, the whisky must be produced near the River Spey. It may also be classified as Speyside whisky if the distillery draws its water from the River Spey or from a spring or stream that flows into the River Spey.

Movement back to peat

Historically, many distilleries used peated barley to make their spirits. This style is being revisited by many Speyside distilleries, with Benromach being noted for returning to its Speyside roots and incorporating peated barley into the distillation process.

Speyside or Highlands?

The Speyside region is strictly a part of the broader Highland region. There has therefore been some debate in the past as to whether distilleries in the sensitive region are Highlands or Speyside. Many well-known Speyside distilleries, such as Dalwhinnie and Macallan, are still labelled as 'Highland' on their labels, causing confusion among whisky drinkers.

To address this issue, the Speyside region was defined in The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009. Under the new regulations, distilleries previously considered to be Speyside, such as Glendronach, Ardmore, Tomartin, Macduff, Ancnock and Royal Brackla, are now officially classified as Highland.