The basis of every single malt whisky is BARLEY.
During the
MALTING process, barley is soaked in water for
2 or 3 days, then spread out to germinate for a week or so.
GERMINATION, enzymes turn the starch within the barley
into soluble sugars - which is nice.

When the green malt begins to sprout, it is dried in a KILN to halt the germination process. The peat that is traditionally used to fire the drying process gives the malted barley its characteristic taste. Malts from the island of Islay, for example, derive a very distinct peaty character from the REEK (= peat smoke). Just the way I like it!

It is said that the shape and size of the pot still have a great influence on the whisky. The shape of the pot stills is sometimes the most characteristic part of a distillery.

Chapter 4  -  Distillation

The liquid that's drained off as a result of this process
is called the
WORT . This will later grow into whisky.
During the
FERMENTATION the sugars in the wort are
converted into alcohol by the addition of special
yeast strains in a fermentation vessel, the
After 2 to 4 days, the yeast has converted the wort into
a fermented liquid called
WASH (7-10% alcohol).

Within every distillation, the liquor is divided into three CUTS of which only the second cut, the HEART OF THE RUN, will be used. The first fraction (HEADS ) and last fraction (TAILS ) will be re-distilled together with the next batch of low wines.

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At the MASHING stage hot water is added to the milled malt
(a.k.a. the
GRIST) in a large vessel called a MASH TUN .
Here, the starch in the barley is converted further into
fermentable sugars.

During the distillation stage of producing a single malt, the wash is boiled in a copper WASH STILL and distilled two (or even three) times. Alcohol boils more rapidly than water, so the vapors from the still can be collected as they condense back to alcohol. This first distillation produces LOW WINES at 10-20% alcohol.
The second distillation often occurs in a special, smaller

The heart of the run is a clear liquid of up to 70% alcohol.
It used to be 'casked' at that strength as well but these days the fresh spirit is often submitted to oak casks at around 63%. There they will have the opportunity to
mature for three years or more, which is the topic of the next chapter. (Please note that grain whiskies are distilled in a completely different way, but I'll not go into that now.)

Malt Madness mAlmanac - Basic information about single malt Scotch whiskyA Beginner's Guide to SMSWHistory and statistics on all active distilleries in ScotlandLinks to other whisky websitesMy Big Black Book - All the knowledge I've gained on my alcoholic adventuresMy Little Black Book - Brief notes on all sampled whiskiesMy Track Record - Essential stats on all sampled maltsMy Hit List - an overview of my favourite whiskiesThe name says it all...My 'Bang For Your Buck' List - Which whiskies offer the best value for your money?My Stock List - An overview of the bottles in my whisky collectionMy Liquid Log - A chronological overview of my alcoholic adventuresVirtual whisky map of Scotland
Beginner's Guide OverviewChapter 2 - VocabularyChapter 6 - BottlingChapter 7 - Shopping for whiskyChapter 8 - EnjoymentChapter 9 - PracticeChapter 10 - ConclusionChapter 5 - MaturationChapter 2 - VocabularyChapter 3 - Geography


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