As a very vague rule of thumb, the Highlands region is one of big-bodied whiskies, often peated and smoky, often very powerful. The Highlands is such a large, diverse region that is difficult to categorize their whiskies accurately. Technically speaking, the Islands has not been officially recognised as a region of its own and, as such, is included in the Highlands appellation. For the sake of precise classification, we shall choose to note the separation.
It is worth looking at the subcategories within the Highlands, typically broken down into the cardinal compass points. The Northern Highlands is an area of big-bodied, cereal rich, sweet and mouth-filling whiskies. Noteworthy examples are The Dalmore from Alness in Ross-shire, whose single malts are rich and sherried with honeyed sweetness and, of course, Glenmorangie, whose full-bodied whiskies are among the world’s best-selling. The Southern Highlands produces lighter, fruitier and drier whiskies. Edradour and Aberfeldy are good examples. The Eastern Highlands proffers full-bodied, dry, well-fruited single malts. Glen Garioch whiskies are wonderful examples; their twenty-one year-old is a personal favourite with its beautiful fruit and smoke. The Western Highlands locale is one of full-bodied, powerful single malts, peated and smoky. Oban is a wonderful example and Dalwhinnie consistently amazes.