How whisky is made...
...that is... pure single malt...
Malt whisky is made from malted barley, yeast and water. The water usually is (or should be) from a spring near the distillery. At least is it should be spring water.
The highest quality barley is moistened, to allow the grain to partially germinate, a process which prepares the starch in the grains for conversion to sugar.
After five to seven days, it is dried over a peat fire.
The dried barley is now called malt. The malting process stops germination and adds a characteristic smoky flavour.The barley is then sent to the distillery.
The malted barley is ground into a rough flour known as grist, and mixed in the mash tun with spring water.
This converts the soluble starch in the grains to fermentable sugars. After several hours, the resulting sweet copper-coloured liquid called 'wort' is drained off.
The warm wort is then cooled to the optimum temperature of 20°C.
Once cool, the wort passes into the 'washbacks'.
Brewer's yeast is added to convert the sugar over the next 56 hours into alcohol. The resultant liquid is about 8.5% ABV (Alcohol By Volume), and is known as 'wash'
The distillation process is then repeated through a smaller copper (spirit) still. The resulting condensed vapour is about 69% ABV.
The spirit then enters the spirit safe, and into the hands of the distiller, who's job it is to select the best spirit for aging.
The distiller analyses the quality of the spirit and returns everything but the finest spirit for another distillation.
It's then transferred to the filling store where it's brought down to precise strength before it goes to the warehouse
The spirit is stored in specially selected oak casks (preferably used bourbon or sherry casks) which allow the malt to breathe, while it slowly but surely mellows with age.
During maturation, the spirit is constantly monitored as it acquires its distinctive colour and flavour. Every year, around 2- 4% of the liquid is lost to evaporation - what is known as the 'angels' share'.
Whisky has to lay down for at least three years before it is legally classified as a true Scotch whisky, the good ones take about ten years.
...and how it is drunk
Never drink Whisky with water
and never drink water without whisky
Many who drink Scotch whisky say they do not want to spoil the taste by adding water.
However, as many will say that adding a touch of water, particularly if it is pure, soft spring water, (ideally the same spring water used in the making of the particular whisky!) serves to enhance the distinctive aroma and flavour of a whisky.
A lot of Scots drink their whisky with lemonade or a glass of beer afterwards (a hauf and a hauf).
The Single Malt Law of Consumption©
There's lot of things that could be said about drinking Scotch whisky the proper way...
- it's all down to personal taste at the end of the day.
Just one final claim:
If you drink Scotch whisky...enjoy it!