The term ‘Whisky’ comes from the Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’, (pronounced uishkay vhar),  meaning ‘water of life’.

Scotch Whisky

Scotch Whisky

Few products are so closely linked with the environment, culture and people of their country of origin as Scotch whisky. Scotch Malt whisky is usually classified as one of five main categories, Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay, and Campbeltown,  according to the location of the distillery in which the spirit is made.

While many Malt whisky distilleries bottle some of their production for sale as Single Malt – the product of one distillery, most of the Scotch Whisky consumed today is Blended Scotch Whisky. This means that it can be a blend of as many as 50 different Malt and Grain whiskies, all blended skilfully to maintain consistent quality and flavour.

Scotch Whisky is Scotland’s leading indigenous product and is of major importance to the economy not only of Scotland but of the United Kingdom as a whole. Sold around the world for more than 100 years, Scotch whisky is now established as the leading international spirit drink, making it one of Britain’s most important exports.

There are about 100 well-known brands on the home market and many more are exported, but it would be impossible to count every brand of Scotch whisky marketed. Many of them are sold only locally or to private clubs and individuals.

All the well-known brands on the market are blended by experts of many years’ experience, and indeed as is Amber Glen blended Scotch Whisky and consumers can be confident that in choosing their favourite they are drinking a whisky consistently blended to bring out the best characteristics of the Malt and Grain whiskies of which it is composed. 

Amber Glen embodies the flavours and aromas of a time gone by in a celebration of perfection for you to enjoy…


About Scotch Whisky

About Scotch Whisky

Scotch Whisky is a versatile and unique alcoholic drink, produced only in Scotland though enjoyed around the world.

To be legally called “Scotch Whisky”, The law insists that Scotch whisky shall be at least three years old, it must be distilled in Scotland from natural ingredients, water, yeast, malted barley and other cereals and that it must also be matured in Scotland for a minimum of three years in oak wood casks. The minimum bottling strength is 40 per cent volume (70% proof). Once bottled and securely sealed whisky does not lose its strength or character as oxygen in the air cannot get to the whisky so there is no further maturing. 

The five Scotch Whisky producing regions in Scotland, Campbeltown, Islay, Highland, Lowland and Speyside as shown in the accompanying map. 

During the maturation period a small amount of spirit evaporates, about 2% per annum in the early years and slightly less as it matures for longer, this is known as the Angels share.

The age statement that is given on a bottle of Scotch Whisky be it blended, single malt, blended malt or grain whisky, must represent the youngest, no matter how small the amount, even if other whiskies in the product are older. It is never an average.

Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the product of only one distillery and must be made from malted barley. New spirit is colourless when distilled and produced in the traditional batch process of mashing, fermentation, distillation in copper stills and maturation. The smoky flavour of certain Scotch whiskies is usually more noticeable in Islay whiskies and originates from the peat fire over which the green malt is dried prior to grinding and mashing. The aromas and flavours of Scotch Whisky are inherent within the spirit itself and depend chiefly on the water, the balance of ingredients and method of distillation used and maturation where traditionally ex-bourbon and ex-sherry oak casks are used. The new spirit is reduced for filling into casks at a strength of 68.5% Alc.vol (alcohol by volume).  

Whisky sold at cask strength has not been diluted to the standard 40% or 43% but is bottled at the strength at which it leaves the cask. This will vary depending on the age of the whisky, as older whiskies lose considerable strength during extended maturation, although many cask strength malt whiskies are bottled at up to 56% Alc.vol (98% proof).

As the whisky spirit matures in the cask it begins to settle its taste and picks up some of the inherent flavours and over time takes on a darker honey golden colour as the whisky spirit matures. 

Sometimes if the whisky is reduced to a low temperature or stored in very cold conditions it may become cloudy, but this cloudiness will disappear when the whisky is brought back to a normal temperature. To ensure that the whisky retains its brightness and clarity in the bottle under all conditions of temperature and when water is added by the consumer, the whisky is chilled to temperatures below freezing point so that the cloud formed in the whisky becomes a deposit and this is filtered off by the process of Chill filtering.  It is thought by some connoisseurs that chill-filtration detracts from the subtle flavours and character of the whisky in the removal of the cloudy matter and some tiny speckles of cask residue (as you may find at the bottom in some fine wine bottles). Consequently, many of the independent bottlers do not chill filter their products.

Single Cask Scotch Whisky is bottled from just one cask that has come from one distillery. Once the whisky has been removed from the cask, the flavour can never be replicated.  Their rarity makes single cask whiskies highly collectable. 

The Amber Glen Supreme range of Single Malt & Single Cask Scotch whisky are bottled at 46% Alc.vol. They are Non-chill filtered and natural in colour. This eclectic range of outstanding Single Malt bottling is from small batches of casks matured at various ages and selected by our team of experts for their superb character of finish and aroma.

Blended Malt Scotch Whisky contains a mixture of single malts from different distilleries. Blended Scotch Whisky is made from a mixture of single malt and grain Scotch whiskies, which have been expertly selected to complement one another. The Master blender, who aims at uniformity in the product year in year out, brings the whisky to a definite standard colour by adding, if necessary, a small amount of colouring solution prepared from caramelised sugar. In relation to the volume of whisky involved, the amount of colouring matter is infinitesimal. 

Grain Scotch Whisky is distilled from wheat or corn in a continuous process, using column stills. The vast majority of grain whisky distilled is used for blending. It has a mild, balanced flavour, which acts as a base for the more flavoursome single malts. The aroma and flavour of Grain Scotch Whisky are inherent within the spirit itself and picks up some of the tasting notes from the vast oak cask during the maturation process. There are a number of high quality single and blended grain whiskies that are available.

The aroma or bouquet of a whisky along with colour, body, palate and finish, the ‘nose’ is used to quantify and describe a whisky. Most whisky professionals, particularly blenders, use their noses as the principal means of analysing whiskies.

The Master blenders employed by the blending and bottling firms who blend the different whiskies which go to make the customary brands and indeed Amber Glen Scotch Whisky are guided by smell alone in producing a uniform product over the years. At the most, they moisten their hands with a little of the spirit. Usually, it is enough to smell the whisky in a glass.

A tumbler or goblet-shaped glass is probably the most convenient shape to nose whisky, but whisky does not require any specific shape to enhance its delights and no rigid rule  has been laid down in this regard, although in conjunction with Dartington Crystal we have designed our own Amber Glen nosing goblet that allows the initial burst of spirit to escape before nosing the aromas of the whisky.

The bouquet of Scotch Whisky cannot be improved by warming. The effect of such warming would only be to increase the rate of evaporation of the spirit, thus speeding up the release of the aroma.

In Scotland & England whisky is usually served at room temperature, but in some overseas countries, the custom has evolved of putting ice in the glass. Similarly to add natural spring water, soda water or mix other soft drinks with Scotch Whisky is a question of individual choice and taste. Our own view is that Scotch Whisky is best served any way that you like it to be, straight up, shaken with ice or with water or as an Old Fashioned crafted for the senses or as a newly created cocktail to feast the eyes and palate. 


Distilleries of the UK

Distilleries of the UK

Alfred Barnard was secretary of Harper’s Weekly Gazette which was, according to some sources a weekly journal devoted to the British wine and spirit trade. In 1885 Barnard conceived the idea of visiting every working whisky distillery in Great Britain and Ireland with the aim of producing an article about each for the Gazette.

Between 1885 and 1887 accompanied by friends he visited a remarkable 162 distilleries; of which 129 were in Scotland, 29 were in Ireland and 4 were in England. Many of the names found in his reports still exist and excite the dedicated whisky connoisseur today, as well as others whose fame has faded since the end of the 19th century.

The appeal of Barnard’s book lies not only in the technical descriptions of each distillery’s processes, but also in the colourful descriptions of his journeys, brimming with historical colour and detail. As well as publishing articles in the Gazette, he published the magnificent The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom. Counting the adverts in the back, this came to some 500 pages and included historical and technical information about every distillery, and engravings of many of them.

Very few copies of the original edition still exist, but a facsimile reprint was issued in 1987, and the book has gone from strength to strength since. Alfred Barnard can be thought of as a pioneer in the now popular art of writing about whisky and distilleries. His comprehensive (and surprisingly entertaining) approach has meant that his book continues to be the definitive guide to the state of the industry in 1887, and it remains especially relevant in Scotland.

Barnard followed up his book on distilleries with The noted breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, published in three volumes and based on a tour of 110 breweries in Great Britain and Ireland. He died in Croydon, south of London, in 1918 at the age of 81.


Amber Glen Scotch Whisky Co., Ltd.
Registration Number: SC443301
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tel: +44(0)3337729613


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