Reference Regions

Reference Regions » Highlands and Islands (UK-Scotland)
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Highlands and Islands (UK-Scotland)

Description of the Reference Region

The Highlands and Islands are located in Scotland and are defined as an area of naturally constrained land capability for agriculture and forestry. The Cairngorms National Park lies within the region. The population resides mainly in rural areas and are predominantly employed in the tertiary economic sector.

Constraints include water scarcity, high temperatures, depopulation and transport in remote areas. Furthermore, there is a high proportion of second homes and staff shortages in the agricultural, forestry, environmental and service sectors.

Selected Value Chain

The selected value chain (VC) is Speyside Malt Whisky.

Speyside is one of five Scotch Whisky regions. Scotch Whisky, with Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), accounts for around 75% of Scotland’s food and drink exports. Malt Whisky is the name given to whisky made from malted barley (rather than other carbohydrates); and single malts (premium products) come from individual distilleries.

The focus of the project is on the Badenoch and Strathspey landscape region, which contains 28 whisky distilleries. Badenoch and Strathspey is a highly scenic area valued for outdoor recreation and wildlife, and contains large forests, the upper River Spey and parts of the Cairngorm mountains.

The population is concentrated in Aviemore and other small settlements: most of the region is remote and is regularly affected by snow in winter.

This VC interlinks with food, drink and nature tourism and the use of whisky by-products in livestock feed.

Multi-Actor Platform (MAP) members

The core stakeholders of the Multi-Actor Platform have formed a Stakeholder Advisory Group which includes producers, NGOs, members of civil society, public authority/policy-makers, business representatives (both agricultural and non-agricultural) and researchers.

Publications & events

MOVING Leaflet

Video: MOVING community: working together for the future of mountain value chains

Article: Kick-off meeting of the Scottish regional Multi-Actor Platform (MAP)

Article: The James Hutton Institute MOVING’s webpage

Policy Brief: Speyside Malt Whisky

Article: Understanding the full extent of Speyside Malt Whisky value chain

Practice Abstract (1st set): Speyside Malt Whisky

Infographic: Scotch Malt Whisky value chain

Video: Vulnerability and resilience of the Speyside Malt Whisky

Infographic: Benefits of Scotch Whisky

Practice Abstract (2nd set): Resilience in Whisky, Food and Drink Value Chains: technology, cooperation and youth are the answer if funding is provided

Final Policy Brief: Speyside Scotch Malt Whisky


Liz Dinnie
The James Hutton Institute