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I've noticed the tendency for different regions of Scotland to produce malt whiskies that tend to be similar in character, and I wonder how this came to be.

That the distilling methods from each region are different is clear enough, but the question is is this because different distilling methods arose naturally out of each region, historically, and became static once they had established themselves, or something else?

  • I haven't been able to find much evidence or research that details how distillation methods developed in the regions. I did find this Edinburgh University dcs.ed.ac.uk/home/jhb/whisky/lapointe/text.html which quotes Jackson about how the local environment impacts whisky: > The relationship with geographic features was demonstrated, supporting the hypothesis that whiskies are affected not only by distillery secrets and traditions but also by factors dependent on region such as water, soil, microclimate, temperature and even air quality – n34_panda Jan 9 '18 at 7:49
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Much of it has to do with the material they used to dry the grain. If the distillery traditionally used peat (because it worked well, was widely available, and cheap, the smell made its way into the spirits (this is why the Islay area has such a concentration of “peaty” whiskies.

Much of the flavor and color comes from how the distillery ages the whisky. One of the casks of choice these days is American white oak. Bourbon distillers in the US are only allowed to use a cask once. Scotland distilleries will buy the used casks and reuse them several more times. The best whiskies tend to be aged 12 or more years in ex-bourbon casks (first run of whisky).

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