Because we are committed to responsible drinking, we need to make sure that you're old enough to visit this Extra Special website.

By entering this site you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy and Cookie Notice

Open Menu
Whisky Scotland

A Match made in heaven

Whisky and Scotland

Find out how the different regions of Scotland have had an ancient, lasting effect on the whisky we make.

Find out why
Understanding the whisky making process

Understanding the

Whisky Making Process

Bell's® Whisky has been made this way for over 160 years. Find out what makes it extra special.

View the process

The key


Find out where every drop of our extra special whisky comes from.

View our distilleries
Whisky Scotland
Understanding the whisky making process

Whisky and Scotland

Regional Differences

In Scotland, single malt whiskies fall into one of five main categories, based on the location of the distillery in which they are made: Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, West Highlands & Islands and Islay. While the topography and climate do have an effect on the character of the whisky, the distinct, final flavours of single malt whisky is determined by how it is made. You see, the distilleries in these regions strive to make whiskies that the people who live there will enjoy - the rule of thumb is "the more extreme the weather, the more robust the whisky".

View All Regions

Whisky Making Process

Master Blender

When the Master Blender at Arthur Bell & Sons stands up to compose another blend of Bell's® Extra Special Old Scotch Whisky, he has an entire orchestra of flavours to work with. With six grain whisky distilleries to choose from, he selects the best from each of them. He then selects the malts from the 88 working distilleries in Scotland - concentrating on regional styles rather than particular distilleries.

Whiskies of the

Extra Special blend

In this particular blend, we find the soft Lowland style represented by Glenkinchie and the classic Spey valley whiskies represented by Pittyvaich. The Highland style is represented by Inchgower, the Islands by Talisker and finally, a drop of reeky peat from Islay's Caol Ila is added. Of course, Bell's® wouldn't be Extra Special if it didn't contain a healthy dollop of nutty Blair Athol - the signature malt whisky that makes your dram of Bell's® so extraordinary.

The whisky making process

Step 1 - Preparing the grain

After soaking for a few days, moist barley is spread across a barn floor. As it begins to grow, the malting barley is slowly turned so that the roots and shoots don't matt together. After a short while, a fire is built below. Fueled by peat, the coal of the Highlands, a deep, aromatic smoke is absorbed into the malted barley.

Step 2 - Mashing

The malted barley is now ready to be milled and mashed. In the mash tun, warm water is added and the starch turns into sugar through an enzyme reaction. The sugary waters are drawn off and the solids or draff are used as cattle-feed.

Step 3 - Fermentation

Fermentation takes place in a large vessel called a wash-back. Here, yeast is added to the sugary liquid. Over a period of anything from 48 to 100 hours, the yeast exerts itself and we are left with a beery liquid with around 7% alcohol.

Step 4 - Distillation

Single malt whiskies are always distilled in copper stills. The very shape of the still influences the final flavour of the whisky. A batch of fermented liquid is added, heated and the alcohol is allowed to evaporate via the tall, elegant neck. As the vapours rise up the neck, they cool and drop back into the pot. When the Whisky Maker is happy with the amount of liquid distilled, the aging process begins.

Step 5 - Aging

All whisky must be aged for a minimum of 3 years in an oak cask that will have held either bourbon or sherry for a number of years. As the whisky lies in dunnage warehouses, the wood gently absorbs the spirit and then returns it, giving it both colour and flavour. After between three and thirty years of aging, the whisky is ready to be enjoyed, either as part of a blend, or by itself.

Step 6 - Bottling

After the whisky has aged to perfection and is ready to drink, it is poured into the iconic Bell’s Whisky bottle you find in the store and shipped off to its final destination.

Our Distilleries

Perth - The home of Bell's®

Situated on the River Tay in the heart of picturesque Perthshire, the city of Perth is well known for its historical connections with the whisky trade.

Often referred to as the Ancient Capital of Scotland, Perth has been a Royal Burgh since the 13th Century and was a Royal residence throughout the Middle Ages. In fact, all kings and queens of Scotland were crowned in Perth, up until Scotland's union with the United Kingdom.

Arthur Bell & Sons was once a major employer in Perth and this beautiful city continues to benefit from Bell's® largesse. The Bell family provided funds for the Sports Centre, the AK Bell Library and the Bell's® Cherrybank Gardens. These 1970s-styled gardens house the Scottish National Heather Collection, which proudly displays more than 800 varieties of heather - Scotland's cherished symbol.

Blair Athol

The taste of Bell's®

In the Victorian Spa town of Pitlochry, not far from Perth, lies the ancient distillery, Blair Athol. One of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, its origins can be traced back to 1798, when it was still called 'Aldour'.

The distillery gets its water from the Allt Dour Burn river that flows through the grounds, all the way from the mountain springs of Ben Vrackie. From the outside, the distillery displays a picturesque Ivy and Virginia creeper and inside is a museum containing the history of Arthur Bell.

After being closed down in 1932, the distillery remained shut through the years of the depression and the Second World War. In 1933, AK Bell bought the distillery and rebuilt it. Today it produces what many whisky-lovers identify as the signature malt ingredient in Bell's® blend. A light-bodied whisky with a pale gold colour, Blair Athol contributes the aromatic notes with a hint of butterscotch and ginger - the intriguing, spicy taste that is the defining characteristic of Bell's® Extra Special Old Scotch Whisky.