Classic Malts of Scotland

Picture of the 6 classic malt whiskies
The Classic Malts of Scotland collection a selection of 6 malt whiskies launched by United Distillers and Vintners (now part of Diageo) showcases a range of whiskies from the companies distilleries, however these do not adhere to the Scottish whisky regions as recognised by the SWA (Scottish Whisky Association) which often results in confusion, the malts are
Whisky Age ABV % Region
Dalwhinnie 15 years 43% Highland
Talisker 10 years 45% Isle of Skye
Cragganmore 12 years 40% Speyside
Oban 14 years 43% West Highland
Lagavulin 16 years 43% Islay
Glenkinchie 12 years 43% Lowland

The Whiskies Regions

Officially the Scottish Whisky Association recognise five distinct whisky producing regions: Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, the Lowlands and the Highlands (the latter includes islands which are sometimes treated as a sub-region).  Consequently the Isle of Skye and West Highland are not officially recognised regions, and the Classic Malts collection does not include a Campbelltown whisky as the group does not own any of the three currently active distilleries in the region.

Dawlwhinnie – Highland Whisky

Dalwhinnie is a light highland whisky clocking in at around £45 and is generally well received having earned 95 points in Jim Murray’s whisky bible and four stars on Master of malts. Although the Classic malts range list Dalwhinnie as a Highland malt it is typically recognised as a Speyside Single Malt

Talisker – Isle of Skye Whisky

Talisker 10 is an award winning smoky peated whisky usually available for around £35 in most supermarkets, though recently the No Age Statement Talisker Storm is replacing this as the standard offering. As noted above the Island region is not formally recognised so would typically be classified as a Highland whisky. The Uisce Beatha Talisker review can be found here.

Cragganmore – Speyside Whisky

The Cragganmore 10 is a sweet sherried, herbaceous whisky available from most off-licences for around £35. The distillery is situated in the village of Ballindalloch in Banffshire making this a Speyside whisky.

Oban – West Highland Whisky

Oban 14 is a smoky almost medicinal Malt with a distinctive seaside taste, widely available in supermarkets it typically retails for around £45. The Seaside resort town by the distillery actually draws its name from the distillery established in 1974. While the West Highland style is a useful descriptor being somewhere between the dry smoky whisky associated with Islay and the islands sub region and the lighter highland style no official distinction is recognised making this a Highland malt.

Lagavulin – Islay Whisky

Lagavulin’s standard offering is the 16 year old expression, offering a highly peated yet starkly sweet southern Islay flavour. A more common sight in bars than supermarkets the Lagavulin 16 is among the more expensive of the Classic malts range coming in at around £55. Awarded liquid gold status in Jim Murray’s 2014 whisky bible the Lagavulin 16 is a fantastic example of Islay single malt whisky

Glenkinchie – Lowland Whisky

Often called the Edinburgh Malt (being produced some 15 miles outside of the city) Glenkinchie is an incredibly light, sweet and highly accessible whisky coming in at around £35. Although relatively unknown before the creation of the Classic Malts range was launched Glenkinchie has become something of a household name being readily available in a growing number of supermarkets. The classic malt range originally featured the Glenkinchie 10 though this has was replaced by the Glenkinchie 12 in 2007.

The Extended Range

In recent years Diagio has expanded the Classic Malts range to include a further 6 expressions; Clynelish 14, Caol Ila 12, Knockando 12, Royal Lochnagar 12, Cardhu 12 and Singleton of Dufftown 12. For the most part however the classic malt range is generally limited to the traditional 6 but that’s no reason not to try them all!