Scotch Whisky, spelled without the 'e' found in the spelling of whiskey from most other regions, must be produced in Scotland from only three ingredients: cereals (primarily malted barley), water and yeast. It also must be aged at minimum three years in oak barrels in Scotland and bottled at 40% ABV or above. Scotch is considered a geographic term, in the same way Champagne is for sparkling wine. In the EU and many other countries across the globe, Scotch Whisky is a registered Geographical Indication, or GI, to ensure the region's protection.
There are more than 130 distilleries scattered across Scotland, in five different production regions: Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside. Each region tends to have general defining characteristics, such as the peated whiskies of Islay. There are also five different categories of Scotch Whisky. Single Malts are often considered the pinnacle of Scotch Whisky, distilled at a single distillery and made from only malted barley by batch distillation in copper pot stills. Single Grains are also from a single distillery, but may include other grains or not fully comply with the definition of Single Malts. The majority (90%) of Scotch Whiskies, however, are considered blended: Blended Grain, a blend of Single Grains from more than one distillery; Blended Malt, a blend of Single Malts from more than one distillery; or Blended, a blend of one or more Single Malts with one or more Single Grains. These can also be incredible expressions of age-worthy whiskies.