Highland Gathering offers unique Scotch tasting events.

Add a tasting class or whisky bar to your event for something a little different. Tasting classes can be held at your home, office or venue of your choice. Wedding packages can be held during your reception. We also partner with several excellent restaurants and cater with food to compliment your tasting

Highland Gathering tailors event packages to compliment your event and budget. Why not add a tasting class or whisky bar to your event for something a little different, maybe it’s that special someone’s birthday?

Just can’t find that Scotch you are looking for? Not sure you really like Scotch and you’re not sure where to start? Just get in touch and we’ll happily point you in the right direction. Let us do all the hard work so you don’t have to. Contact your Certified Whisky Ambassador Robert Burke now.

What is Scotch Whisky?

For Whisky to be called Scotch Whisky, it has to satisfy certain criteria which are governed by law Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009. There are literally pages of regulations but in simple terms a Scotch Whisky must:

  • Be made from barley
  • Have been produced in Scotland
  • Be matured in Scotland
  • Be matured in oak casks
  • Be matured for minimum three years Contain nothing else except natural caramel for coloring

Geography plays a main stage for whisky-lovers, and it’s important to know where distinct Scotch whisky styles started and can be found today. Originally defined by four regions (Highlands, Lowlands, Islay, and Campbeltown), today Scotch whisky production is defined by the following six regions. There are 5 main areas of Whisky production in Scotland recognized in law.

In each of these 6 regions you will find some similarities within the specific region. But there are many different characteristics that must be considered such as age, barrel selection or selections, single cask, maturation process, to name just few key ones.

Speyside has the largest concentration of distilleries 50% of all the regions. All of which are situated around the Spey river valley in north-east Scotland. Speyside is named after the River Spey, the river that runs through the region. The whiskies from this region are some of the bestselling whiskies in the world. Not surprising when you look at the elegance and depth of the classic Speyside styles.

The temperature, climate and abundance of very pure water make the Speyside region an ideal envir0nment for consistently producing a very high quality malt. With more than 60 distilleries in the Speyside region is there a Speyside style? The answer is in part yes. Many of them are very rich and quite complex. The majority of Speyside whiskies possess a core flavor profile distinguished mouthfeel tend to be subtle light & fruity. Beyond these core values you will find that there are several styles of Speyside whisky produced. Each offers a different experience of their own. These whiskies usually hit all the marks! Whiskies from Speyside tend to be subtle and light with great finesse and little or no peat flavor.

Tasting Note: Orchard fruits like apples and pears, spiced, honey, vanilla, rich.
The Highland region is the largest of the whisky producing regions Includes Island Whiskies except Islay and therefore produces whiskies of various styles and known for their range. From fruit spicy Tullibardine, Clynelish, and Glenfarclas are just a few of the distilleries producing beautiful whisky from this vast area. Therefore produces whiskies of many various styles depending on where they are produced.

Tasting Note: Subtle, light, vanilla
The southernmost whisky-producing region in Scotland, home to only a few distilleries today including the beloved Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie, and Bladnoch, as well as some notable grains (and other new innovations!) from Girvan. These are lighter-style whiskies that lack significant peat influence and are often on the dryer-side.

Tasting Note: Malty, floral, light.
The elusive Campbeltown whiskies! On the Kintyre peninsula on the West of Scotland Once had over 30 distilleries, however today only three distilleries remain operating. Cambeltown whiskies are traditionally full bodies and heavily flavored with a slight saltiness on the finish and some peat influence.

Tasting Note: Floral. Tropical fruits. Lightly peated, salty
Islay whisky is strong with sea influence and are distinctively peaty. When you look at the Islay region it has a very signature style. A style of intense and Smokey Scotch whisky, tend to be heavy in flavor but it only has 9 active distilleries. The island of Islay on the West coast of Scotland is renowned for its unique style of whisky often described as peaty and smoky. Islay whiskies tend to be heavy in flavor.

Tasting Note: Salty, brine, smoky, powerful.
Technically an unclassified sub-region of the Highlands. The Islands include all of the whisky producing islands such as Skye, Jura, Orkney and Arran, are just some of the producers on Scotland's beautiful island landscapes.  Does not include Islay. Island whiskies can vary broadly in terms of flavor depending on where they are produced.

Tasting Note: Subtle peat, dry salty, heather honey, sea brine and gentle smoke.

Scotch Whisky Regions

Meet Robert Burke

My name is Robert Burke founder and owner of Highland-Gathering. A small company based in Pensacola FL focused on the education, profiling and tastings for single malt Scotch.

I was born and grew up in a very small vacation town on the western shores of the Scottish Highlands, Dunoon, Argyll. I grew up in the land where Scotch Whisky originated. It was in my blood and part of my everyday life. My introduction to Scotch came at an early stage in my life and has been a part of it ever since. I had the opportunity once I was of age to visit a number of different distilleries and of course sample their whiskies.

The Scotch Whisky Family

The five Scotch whisky definitions are structured in such a way that the categories are mutually exclusive. The 2009 regulations changed the formal definition of blended Scotch whisky to achieve this result, but in a way that reflected traditional and current practice: before the 2009 SWR, any combination of Scotch whiskies qualified as a blended Scotch whisky, including for example a blend of single malt Scotch whiskies.

Must be distilled at a single distillery from water and malted barley only. Must be produced by batch distillation in pot stills. Single malt is generally the most expensive Scotch. The barley does not have to come from Scotland.

Must be distilled from water and malted barley only with or without whole grains of other mallet or unmalted cereals, typically wheat or maize. Produced using a continuous distillation process which does not involve pot stills.

This is a blend of single grain and single malt whisky’s. The larger portion is from Grain whisky. The rest is made up from 3 different types of malt Whisky.

  1. Base malt (larger proportion)
  2. Top dressers (intense flavors)
  3. Packers (low aroma intensity)

Some blended whiskies are mixed together then re-casked for approximately 6 months to insure all the flavors are combined, a process called marrying

Blended malt Whisky is a blend of single Malt Scotch Whiskies distilled at more than one distillery. It cannot have the name of one distillery and will have a brand name. Usually done by independent bottlers.

Blended grain whisky is a blend of single grain Scotch Whiskies distilled at more than one distillery.

How Single Malt Whisky is Made

A 5 Step Guide

Step 1:
Malting the Barley

Barley is steeped in water and then left out on a malting floor to sprout shoots. It is then baked in a kiln to dry it out before being milled. Some distilleries burn peat to dry out the malted barley. This gives their whiskies deliciously smoky notes.

Step 2:
Mashing the Barley

The ground barley, or 'grist', is mixed with hot water in a mash tun (pictured), producing a sugary liquid called ‘wort’. This is the basis for the alcohol. The remaining solids are used as a nutritious cattle feed - nothing goes to waste here!

Step 3:
Fermenting the Wort

The liquid wort is passed into large vats called 'washbacks' (pictured). Yeast is then added and allowed to ferment which converts the sugars in the wort into an alcohol at around 8% abv. This liquid, similar to a strong beer, is now known as the ‘wash’.

Step 4:
Distilling the Spirit

The liquid wash is heated in two copper pot stills (pictured), the wash still and the spirit still. Only the highest quality part of the spirit, the 'heart of the run', is collected and poured into oak casks to age. The rest is siphoned and re-distilled.

Step 5:
Maturing the Spirit

By law, whisky cannot be called Scotch unless it has been matured for a minimum of three years in oak barrels in Scotland. Barrels may have contained sherry, port, whiskey or beer, which along with the oak, influences the flavour. If an age is shown on a label of blended whisky, it indicates the age of the youngest whisky in the blend.