While Scotland remains its spiritual home, whisky is now produced all over the world with some of the best coming from Japan, Ireland and the USA. The malts of Scotland are fascinating and complex. From the light ethereal Lowland to the elegant Speyside, through the rich Highland style and the peaty, smoky whiskies of the Islands, there is a whisky to suit all occasions, particularly with the raft of new ‘expressions’ released by the distilleries every year. The Irish style is generally softer, more approachable; look out for Teelings, one of the newer distilleries. Bourbon continues to grow rapidly in interest, the best now rivalling Scotch in terms of complexity, while the fledgling whiskies of England and Wales are beginning show their quality. Japanese whiskies are very like Scotch, as that is where the Japanese distillers first learnt their craft; there are some superb examples.
The subject of Scotch whisky can easily become a fascination: the source of the barley, the way it is malted, the water supply and the shape of the stills all influence the flavour of the spirit, and that is before the type of oak and conditions in which it is matured are determined! You will begin to notice that many distilleries are doing away with age statements on their entry level malts as they seek more flexibility to satisfy demand.