Although nowadays whisky is produced in many parts of the world, its name is inexorably linked to the land that created it and made it famous: Scotland, a legendary place where two types of whiskeys are distilled: grain and malt. The first is made from spring water, malted and non-malted barley and other grains, while a single malt whisky is made only from water and malted barley.
Blended whisky is the most popular, since it has a milder and probably more palatable taste for the less daring consumer. But without any doubt, Single Malt is the king of spirits, a luxurious delight for those that have taken time to educate their palate to detect the satisfying taste of smoked, authentic and complex flavors.
Scotland has six regions that produce whisky, each of them with their own style.
Speyside: their whisky is usually characterized by its elegance and complexity, and often by a refined smoky flavor.
Lowlands: an area in which the mild taste of their malted barley is evident.
Highlands: the most extensive region. Their whisky has a strong character; it is firm and dry, with a small hint of the peat from the region.
Islay: located in the Inner Hebrides, this region is blessed with large concentrations of windswept peat. The Single Malts of this region are powerfully phenolic, with aromas redolent of iodine and seaweed.
Campbeltown is located on the West coast of Scotland. Their Single Malts are very peculiar, as they have a slightly salty tang in the finish that makes them unique.
Islands: the Islands are a geographic region rather than a characteristic region. Jura, the island located just to the North of Islay, produces Single Malts similar to those from the Highlands, but they are distinguished by their exceptional mild flavor that has a hint of dried fruit and aromatic peat.
When it comes to choosing a single malt whisky my favorite region is Speyside, perhaps because it has more than 50 distilleries and is easier to find a whisky to my taste. But it is you who must discover what best fits your preferences.
During their lifetime some illustrious figures such as Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart and Errol Flynn were enthusiastic supporters of Single Malts, and demonstrated that the true lovers of this wonderful golden drink are almost always faithful to a brand until the end of their lives.
But I must urge you to always serve nectar this special in a fine crystal glass, clear, wide and heavy, and if you can, drink it straight. Think for a moment and answer in all honesty: Would you add ice cubes to a distinguished Rioja wine, to an exquisite Port or refined French champagne? ■