The whisky manufacturing process
comprises five distinct stages:
Barley is a food cereal similar to wheat
The barley has to be dried, cleaned and steeped into water
for approx. 2-3 days. Then the process of germinating begins,
which is finished after about 5-9 days, while the corn is
turned regularly to keep temperature and humidity constant.
While in former times, floor malting was operated in the conversion
of barley to malt, nowadays the germination process is usually
carried out in pneumatic maltings either Box Maltings or Drum
Maltings. Both methods appear to be cheaper for the whisky
The expiry of the germination is stopped by drying the barley
(Kilning) with hot air. The Kiln is a tower shaped structure
with a furnace, in which coke or other fuel and peat is burned.
The barley then is to be crushed and mixed with hot water
in the Mash-Tun (a circular metal vessel provided with mechanical
stirrers that revolve and rotate to thoroughly mix the Mash
of Grist and Water as necessary). Wort (a sweet liquid or
sugar solution) is now being produced.
Yeast is then added to the cooled Wort being pumped into
the Washback. This process lasts approx. 48- 50 hours. The
sugar is split up by the yeast into alcohol, water and carbon
dioxide and the result is a weak, crude, impure spirit,
called "wash", containing about 5% alcohol, which
somehow is comparable to beer.
Distilling means turning liquid into vapour and then vapour
To produce a malt whisky, two or three distillations are
taking place in pairs of pear-shaped copper pot stills.
The first in the "Wash stil"”, where the
wash is brought to boil, the alcoholic vapours and steam
rise over the "swan neck" and into the condenser
(a series of pipes in a cold-water jacket). Here the vapours
become liquid again. This process provides the so-called
"Low Wines", a kind of rough whisky with approx.
20-25% vol. alcohol).
The second distillation takes place in the Spirit Still
(or "low wines still").
During the second distillation the distiller watches the
spirit carefully as it passes through the spirit safe. The
first part of the run ("foreshots") is pungent
and impure. Until the foreshots run clear, he directs it
back to the low wines and feints charger to be redistilled.
When the run is clear, the stillman redirects the spout
and begins to collect the spirit (commencing at about 70-75
% vol. alcohol and decreasing to 60-65 %), which is "new
make" and may be about 1/3 of the spirit distilled.
When sufficient spirit has been collected in the Spirit
Receiver it is removed to another vessel, reduced with spring
water from and filled into oak casks, that are then placed
in warehouses for the spirits to mature. The filling strength
of 11 o.p. has been determined over many years as the most
suitable strength at which to start maturation.
At this stage the spirit produced can
not legally be called Scotch whisky until it has been matured
in oak casks for at least 3 years, a single malt whisky has
to be matured for at least 8, preferably 10 -12 years.
During maturation the spirit vaporizes and permeates through
the cask into the atmosphere and moisture from the atmosphere
is drawn into and mixed with the spirit in the cask, developing
the raw harsh spirit to the smooth, mellow aromatic whisky,
Every year approx. 2% of all Scotch whisky that is being matured
is lost to evaporation. This process has become known as the
Scotch whisky is to be matured in oak casks,
that lend a great deal to the final flavour of the whisky
as well as to the colour, although the addition of spirit
caramel can be used to darken the spirit. The casks have already
been used for maturing Bourbon, since the American law prevents
bourbon producers from using casks twice, so the Scotch whisky
industry benefits from this. Besides, new oak casks would
lend too much flavour to the spirit. Some producers use sherry
casks from Spain instead.
Some distilleries use a second stage of maturation
to add a different "finish" to their whisky. The
spirit then is to mature in a second cask that contained Madeira,
Port, Cognac, Bordeaux or Sherry before.
Most whiskies are bottled at between 40 per
cent (the minimum legal limit) and 46% ABV alcohol by volume,
occasionally by adding water.
||alcohol by volume
(alcoholic strength as a percentage of alcohol by volume
at a temperature of 20°C invented by Gay Lussac)
caramel) A natural food colour that may be added to whisky
middle portion of the spirit coming off the spirit still.
The cut is the best part of the distillate, and is saved
and put into barrel. The foreshots and feints are re-distilled.
glass of whisky
where malting is carried out in large drums that turn
the grain mechanically.
known as tails, or after-shots. The final spirit from
the spirit still at the end of distillation. The feints
are low in alcohol, and are re-distilled.
a second stage of maturing in casks that contained Madeira,
Port, Cognac, Bordeaux or Sherry before, a certain kind
of flavour is added.
where barley is malted by spreading it out on a large
floor and turned by hand. Floor maltings have been largely
replaced by drum maltings.
known as heads. The first spirit to come off the spirit
still. The foreshots are high in alcohol (75-80 % ABV),
contain too many volatile compounds, and are re-distilled.
tower shaped structure with a furnace, in which coke
or other fuel and peat is burned.
spirit to come off the wash still. Its strength is usually
about 21 % ABV.
||sniffing the flavour of the whisky.
remember: It is the nose that does most of the tasting,
since the mouth can only pick out 4 different tastes:
sweet, sour, bitter and salt.
weak, crude, impure spirit, called "wash", containing
about 5% alcohol, which somehow is comparable to beer.
sweet lliquid or sugar solution
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