Whisky has been made in Scotland for hundreds of years, so it’s not surprising that there are currently well over 150 Scotch whisky brands – although there are far more if you include past brands and brands that make several types of spirits not just whisky.
With so many Scotch whisky brands it’s useful to categorize the main ones by the type of whisky they make and the region in which they’re made. That’s exactly what I did, and the following is a list of the main Scotch whisky brands by type (single malt, single grain, blended malt, blended grain and blended) and region (Lowland, Highland, Island, Speyside, Campbeltown and Islay).
Single Malt Scotch Whisky Brands
The vast majority of Scotch whisky brands are single malt Scotch whisky brands. Single malt Scotches are whiskies made in Scotland, from malted barley only, that come from one distillery.
Because there are so many single malt Scotch whisky brands, they’re categorized by the region in which they’re made. Scotland is divided into six whisky regions for this very purpose:
The whisky region of Lowland starts at the south of Scotland on the border with England and ends further north at approximately Glasgow in the West and Edinburgh in the east.
Lowland whiskies are considered the lightest and most delicate of all single malt Scotches – their whiskies are often tripled distilled which removes the heavier compounds and leaves the final product lighter-bodied. It also helps that they have very little peat. That’s why they’re usually soft, smooth, fruity and sweet.
There are 12 Lowland single malt Scotch whisky brands which are:
- Ailsa Bay
- St Magdalene
North of the Lowland whisky region is the Highland whisky region. It’s the largest Scotch whisky region covering the entire north of Scotland. It’s known for medium bodied whiskies that are stronger than those from the Lowland whisky region but lighter and more luxurious than those from the Islay whisky region (see later). That’s why they have bold flavors in a much more robust and dry body.
However, since it’s the largest whisky region with its distilleries spread far and wide over different types of natural environments, it does produce a wide variety of whiskies.
There are 33 Highland single malt Scotch whisky brands which are:
- Ben Nevis
- The Dalmore
- Glen Albyn
- Glen Deveron
- Glen Garioch
- Glen Ord
- Glenury Royal
- Loch Lomond
- North Port
- Old Pulteney
- Royal Brackla
- Royal Lochnagar
The whisky region of Island consists unsurprisingly, of all the islands around the perimeter of the Scottish mainland except for the island of Islay (mentioned briefly above) which is a whisky region in its own right.
Since the flavor of a whisky is affected by the natural environment in which it’s made and since the islands that make up the whisky region of Island are small, their whiskies have a large influence from the sea.
There are seven Island single malt Scotch whisky brands which are:
- Highland Park
- Isle of Jura
Once part of the Highlands, Speyside is now its own distinct whisky region. It’s located in the North-East of Scotland and surrounds the river Spey which provides its distilleries with water.
The Speyside whisky region is much, much smaller than the Highland and Lowland whisky regions, yet it has the largest number (and therefore widest variety) of single malt Scotch whisky brands – 49, which are:
- The Balvenie
- Dallas Dhu
- Glen Elgin
- Glen Grant
- Glen Keith
- Glen Moray
- Glen Spey
- The Glenlivet
- The Glenrothes
- The Macallan
Campbeltown is a small town on the west coast of Scotland that used to have over 30 distilleries (which explains why a small town is its own whisky region) but today has only three, making it Scotland’s smallest whisky producing region. Its whiskies are sweet, fruity, peaty and smoky.
There are six Campbeltown single malt Scotch whisky brands which are:
- Glen Scotia
Islay is a small island off the west coast of Scotland. It’s covered in peat that’s exposed to rain and sea spray which makes it particularly pungent. That’s why Islay whiskies have a pungent, peaty, smoky, earthy and oily flavor. And because they’re made on a small island they also have notes of salty sea air, brine and seaweed.
There are 11 Islay single malt Scotch whisky brands which are:
- Caol Ila
- Port Askaig
- Port Charlotte
- Port Ellen
Single Grain Scotch Whisky Brands
Single grain Scotches are whiskies made in Scotland, from a mash that includes grains other than malted barley – most commonly corn, wheat and rye, and which comes from one distillery.
Grain whiskies are usually used to make up blended whiskies which is why there are only six single grain Scotch whisky brands:
- Cameron Bridge distillery
- Invergordon Grain Distillery
- North British
- Starlaw Distillery
Other types of Scotch whisky brands also produce single grain Scotches but since that’s not the main type of whisky they produce they’re not included in this list. I only included a brand in a category if it’s the only or main type of whisky it produces.
So, for example, Loch Lomond, mentioned above, is a single malt Scotch whisky brand because that’s the main type of whisky it produces even though it also produces two single grain whiskies.
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky Brands
Blended malt Scotches are whiskies made in Scotland that are a blend of two or more single malt whiskies. However, because there are not that many of these types of whiskies, there are no blended malt Scotch whisky brands that produce mainly or only blended malt whiskies.
There are, however, several blended Scotch whisky brands (see below) that also produce blended malt whiskies. For example, The Famous Grouse, Chivas Regal and Johnnie Walker. There are also several independent bottlers (see below) that produce blended malt whiskies. For example, Douglas Laing & Co which produces Big Peat, Scallywag and Timorous Beastie.
Blended Grain Scotch Whisky Brands
Blended grain Scotches are whiskies made in Scotland that are a blend of two or more single grain whiskies. Once again, there are not that many of these types of whiskies, so there are no blended grain Scotch whisky brands that produce mainly or only blended grain whiskies.
But again, several blended Scotch whisky brands also produce blended grain whiskies. For example, The Famous Grouse and Ballantine’s.
Blended Scotch Whisky Brands
Although there are far fewer blended Scotch whisky brands than single malt Scotch whisky brands, blended whiskies account for more than 90% of Scotch whisky sales.
Blended Scotches are whiskies made in Scotland from a blend of one or more single malt Scotches and one or more single grain Scotches.
There are 33 blended Scotch whisky brands which are:
- Bailie Nicol Jarvie
- Black & White
- Black Bottle
- Black Dog
- Chivas Regal
- Clan MacGregor
- Cutty Sark
- The Famous Grouse
- Glen Turner
- Grand Old Parr
- Hankey Bannister
- Johnnie Walker
- Passport Scotch
- Pattison’s whisky
- Royal Salute
- Samuel Dow
- SIA Scotch Whisky
- Tè Bheag
- Teacher’s Highland Cream
- Vat 69
- White Horse
- Whyte & Mackay
Independent Bottlers of Scotch Whisky
Independent bottlers are brands that buy barrels of whisky from distilleries, which they later bottle under their own label. Independent bottlers are more likely to experiment with casks, maturation periods and techniques than distilleries, so they often produce some incredible whiskies.
There are nine independent bottlers of Scotch whisky which are:
- Compass Box Whisky
- Douglas Laing & Co
- Duncan Taylor
- Gordon & MacPhail
- Murray McDavid
- The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
- Vintage Malt Whisky Company