The 10 Best Speyside Whisky

Speyside single malt originates from the north-eastern corner of the Scottish Highlands. The distilleries in the region spanning the area of the River Spey in Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey are protected under UK government legislation for Scotch whisky distilling.


The Glenfiddich whisky is produced in Dufftown Scotland and was founded in 1887 by William Grant & Sons. In Gaelic, Glenfiddich means 'Valley of the Deer', the Stag on the bottle is representative of this and is admired around the world.

The length of time that the whisky has matured and the type of cask which it has matured in affects the flavour of the single malt. Extra spices are added changing the tasting notes of the Glenfiddich whisky. The 12-year-old Glenfiddich single malt whisky is the most popular choice in the market and available at most UK retailers. Matured in American and European oak sherry casks for 12 years, producing subtle tones of oak that combined with the fruity tones and traces of fresh pear to create a smooth finish on the palate.

The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet distillery was founded in 1822 by George Smith, producing whisky illicitly until 1824 when he received a legal license but this was to the discontent of the other unlawful distillers in the area. Glenlivet pride themselves on their unique casks and departure from tradition as advocated by George Smith himself.

The 15-year-old Glenlivet is matured in a French Limousin Oak cask. The Glenlivet distillery was amongst the first to use French Oak from the region of Dordogne. The cask produces notes of spices marrying with the sweetness of almond and leaves a lingering taste on the palate. The Glenlivet also produce a 12-year-old single malt whisky akin to the Glenfiddich. However, The Glenlivet one produces strong pineapple notes as opposed to pear but similarly creates a long-lasting smooth finish as are matured in the same European and American oak casks.


John Hopkins the founder of Speyburn built the distillery alongside the Granty burn due to its incredibly fresh and clear water. It continues to be the only distillery which uses the Granty Burn. Speyburn has an interesting origin, Hopkins was determined to build and craft a Speyburn whisky in time for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. They were successful in doing so though no doubt without some blood, sweat and tears as they worked through the winter which are famously cold in Northern Scotland.

Ten-year-old Speyburn single malt is matured in American Oak ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. This particular age of Speyburn whisky is enjoyed around the world with citrus notes and hints of butterscotch and toffee it leaves a pleasing sweet finish. Another, single malt from the Speyburn distillery is the Bradan Orach. A spicy taste with undertones of honey and vanilla; it is considered a classic.

Glen Moray

The Glen Moray is distilled on the banks of River Lossie located just outside Elgin. Glen Moray exclusively uses American oak casks from North America. The main ingredient used is Barely Sheaf.

The Classic Elgin Malt is considered their signature whisky and matures for an average of seven years. This single malt features sweet toffee with citrus flavours and blackcurrant. It has a marmalade finish with a herbal infused notes. Alternatively, for a Sherry cask finish, the single malt whisky is matured in Oloroso casks which produces a sweet vanilla and spicy taste, the dried fruits are prominent to the nose whilst the cask used, conjures a nuttiness from the sherry. Elgin Heritage offers others tastes and tones to the Glen Moray classic such as their Fired Oak single malt scotch.


Tamdhu is known as originating from Spain to Speyside as they pride themselves on acquiring the first sherry casks from Bodegas in Spain and continue to use Oloroso sherry casks exclusively. Ian McLeod Distillers brought Tamdhu back from the brink in 2010, restoring it to its former glory and preserved the tradition of using only a sherry cask when distilling their single malt scotch akin to the nineteenth century when the distillery first formed.

In the San Francisco World Spirit competition 2020, the fifteenth year old Tamdhu was a double gold winner. This particular scotch whisky includes exotic notes whilst on the palate it exudes flavours of raspberry and apricot. The almond undertones and tartness of the lemon intensifies the vanilla sherry finish. The single cask distillery Managers Edition was awarded the title of Best Single Cask Whisky 2020 at the World Whisky Awards. This particular scotch has vanilla and fruity undertones.


The Ardmore distillery is located beside the village of Kennethmonth, Aberdeenshire and uses the springs of Knockandy Hill. The distillery was founded by Adam Teacher in 1898 and exists 600 feet above sea level. The distinctive golden eagle is symbolic of this; let your spirits soar.

The Ardmore Legacy features a fine balance of flavours of vanilla, the smokiness of charcoal, the sweetness of honey and some added spice. On the nose, the heather honey shines through whilst the subtly of the smoke is discernible but subdued. The finish leaves a lasting aftertaste with tangy and spicy notes.


The Glenrothes distillery exists in the town of the Rothes. The distillery was started by James Stuart and Reverend William Sharp in 1879 who recognised the employment opportunities and wealth it would bring to the community.

The Soleo Collection and the Aqua Collection both included single malt scotch of different maturities. In the former, the Glenrothes 10-year-old is matured in sherry seasoned oak casks originating from Spain. The citrus taste of the lemon combined with the malt leaves a zesty finish. The slower the process of distillation the light the spirit will be in flavour and the fruitier in taste it will be.

The Balvenie

At the Balvenie distillery, each scotch whisky produced is accompanied by an audiobook in which the distillers tell the unique story of its journey. From the origin of the cask to the developed scotch and its lasting finish, the experience is personal to the distiller. The distillery was built by William Grant in 1892 in the abandoned Balvenie New House.

A Sweet Toast of American Oak is one The Balvenie Scottish whisky which is very fruity in taste. The American virgin oak barrels are imported from Kentucky. The Balvenie distillery burns them onsite. By burning the casks, extra flavour is extracted from the American wood. The sweet taste of orange, lemon, with notes of coconut and oak vanilla is completed with spices matured in ex-bourbon barrels.


Established in 1879, the Aberlour distillery uses water from the Ben Rinnes and local barely 15 miles away from the distillery. The distillery specifically uses an Oloroso Sherry cask and American oak cask to mature their single malts.

Their 12-year-old Scotch produces a fruity and chocolaty flavour on the palate. Aberlour double cast their whiskies for added maturity and depth to the taste and finish. This also creates a finer balance of flavours within the scotch whiskeys as is the case for the 12-year-old Scotch which leaves a spicy but sweet finish.

The Macallan

The Macallan was founded by Alexander Reid on The Macallan Estate above the river Spey in Speyside in 1824.

Matured in Oloroso Sherry seasoned oak casks, the Sherry Oak 12-Year-Old is The Macallan's classic single malt. On the palate, a balance of dried fruit, spices and oak emerges and leaves a long-lasting finish. The Macallan similar to the Glenrothes distillery appreciates the natural colour of their single malts and a homage to this has been created in The Macallan's Edition No. 5.

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