Single malts come mainly from the Highland region. Most of the scotch distilleries are concentrated in this area of Scotland. This region can be subdivided further into the Northern, Eastern, Western, and Central Highlands.
The Northern Highlands distilleries produce lighter scotches known for their delicacy, complex aromas, and slight saltiness (due to their being distilled by the sea). The Eastern Highlands distilleries produce scotches that are medium-bodied, smooth, and slightly smoky. The Western Highlands single malts are somewhat sweet, have a peppery finish and a hint of smoke. The Central Highlands produce scotches that are said to be light-bodied, somewhat sweet, very fragrant, and with a dry finish.
To scotch connoisseurs the most coveted and boldest single malts come from the islands. Usually very assertive, pungent with peat, smoke and saltiness, the scotches produced on the Islay are strongly influenced by the sea air that permeates the soil and the warehouses. Just a dash of Islay malt gives the unmistakable tang of Scotland to many blended whiskies.
Although some scotches, for instance a Talisker, are recommended with food, such as smoked salmon, oysters and kipper fillets, or an Oban may be good as an aperitif with salted nuts, most Montana scotch-drinkers like their “elixir” straight, with perhaps a few “rocks” or a little water on the side.
“By adding water to some bold scotches, such as an Islay, the aromas and the flavor tend to open up more,” explains Head of the Rhino bar. “Some ice cubes instead seem to anesthetize the tongue and create a lighter experience for you, a different drink,” adds Head.