LEXICON: From Saint Magdalene to SWA

The ‘S’ page covers well over 50 words, phrases and whisky brands, so you may
want to take out your drinking glasses and/or reading glasses. If you’re in the
mood for some ‘lighter’ reading, may I suggest one of the other sections of MM?
I’ve managed to reconstruct quite a bit of the old Malt Madness content by now.
Furthermore, you can now follow me on Twitter or Facebook again for updates.


Despite producing some great malts, St. Magdalene was closed in 1983.
A Saladin Box automatically turns the germinating barley it contains.
The founder of legendary Italian bottler Samaroli passed away in 2017.
A ‘sample’ of whisky is a small measure - usually between 3 and 5cl.
The Scapa distillery on Orkney makes malt whisky for blends like Ballantine’s.
Assigning a personal score to a whisky makes comparing whiskies easier.
Scotch whisky is sometimes abbreviated to ‘Scotch’ - especially in the USA.
The SMW Society is a bottler that works with subscriptions for its members.
The Scotch Whisky Association looks after the interests of the industry.
The Scotti were an Irish tribe that ousted the Picts and invented Scotland.
Scott's Selection bottlings are named after ‘selector’ Robert Scott.

Canadian drinks giant Seagram Company Ltd. went defunct in 2000.
The ‘seasoning’ of a cask is a way to artificially add sherry character.
The 'second maturation' of a malt may occur in another cask - or the bottle. 
Starting in the 1970s, semi lauter mash tuns with rotating knives were used.
Italian independent bottler Sestante evolved into ‘Silver Seal’ after 1990.
A sherry butt is a (+/-) 500 litre casks that has previously contained sherry.
The Shinshu Mars distillery in Japan was founded in 1985.
These days, ‘shipping’ can refer to any kind of transport, not just by boat.
Shipping casks are not used for the maturation of Scotch whisky.
Independent bottler Signatory Vintage was founded by Andrew Symington.
The phrase 'silent malt' is used for ‘malt’ whisky made in a column still.
The whisky brand Silver Seal is (more or less) a successor of Sestante.
Bottler Single & Single released just a few bottlings around 2008.
A blend of malt and grain whiskies from the 'same' distillery, like Ben Nevis.
The phrase ‘single cask’ only refers to the LAST cask that held a whisky.
The brand ‘Single Cask Nation’ is appartently owned by company JWC.
A bottle of single malt whisky only contains whisky distilled at one distillery.
Legendary Italian bottler Silvano Samaroli passed away in February 2017.
The brand name ‘Singleton’ was used for several distilleries in the past.
A ‘skalk’ can be a dram of any whisky - as long as it’s drank before breakfast.
The Isle of Skye lies off the north-western coast of Scotland.
Slainte (pronounced “SLAHN-chə”) is officially spelled as slinte or slinte.

St. George's Distillery

straight malt
Strathisla (1)
Strathisla (2)

SMD is short for Scottish Malt Distillers - a predecessor of Diageo.
... but the abbreviation can also mean the whisky shop Single Malts Direct.
Smoke is used to dry barley - and also a small part of the ‘flavour wheel’.
The abbreviation SMWS is used for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
The snifter is a ‘stemware’ type of glassware - traditionally used for cognac.
The solera system is used in sherry production, but also for other beverages.
Sparging is the process of running water through grains to extract sugars.
Specialty Drinks is the ‘umbrella’ company for many brands, including TWE.
The famous Speyside region got its name from the Spey running through it.
The Speyburn distillery got started in 1897 during a massive whisky boom.
Within Scotland, the Speyside region is home to the most distilleries.
There's also a 'Speyside' distillery - located at the very edge of the region.
A spirit is a distilled beverage - often with an ABV of 40% or more.
Spirit caramel is usually E150A - adding colour and some flavour to whisky.
All the spirit produced at a distillery passes through the same spirit safe.
Springbank is one of only two (real) distilleries in Campbeltown.

St. George's Distillery produces single malt whisky, but does so in England.
While starch may not sound very tasty, it’s a vital ‘ingredient’ for whisky.

is Scotland’s youngest grain whisky distillery - founded in 2010.
A series of ‘staves’ make up the sides of a cask or barrel.
Some whisky glasses are ‘stemware’ with a bowl atop a stem and a base.
A still is a device that increases the alcohol percentage of a liquid.
The stillman in a distillery operates one or more wash / spirit stills.
A stopper is the closure of a bottle or jar - often made out of cork.
The dark colour of beer variety ‘stout’ comes from roasted barley or malt.
Just like 'pure malt', the phrase 'straight malt' was used for vatted malts.
The Gaelic word 'strath' means valley. It's usually wider than a 'glen'.
The Strathclyde grain whisky distillery was built in 1927 by Seager Evans.
Strathearn is SO ‘craft’ that you won’t find the bottles at a liquorist.
In one meaning of the word, it’s a whisky area within the Speyside region,
... but Strathisla is also the name of a distillery within that area.
The Strathmill distillery was converted from a corn mill in 1891.
The silent Strathmore grain distillery used the name ‘North of Scotland’.
There’s no such thing as the Stronachie distillery - not any more anyway.
A subsidiary is a (often Scottish) 'working company' of a corporate owner.
All Scotch whisky contains minute quantities of sulphur - mostly undetectable.
Suntory used to be both a brand and a company from Japan.
The abbreviation SWA is used for the Scotch Whisky Ass. from Scotland.
When you’ve poured swill into your glass, swilling it won’t help very much.


Saladin box

Saladin box (from the inside)

At one point in time, the Saladin box was the hottest thing
in town in Scotland. Everybody wanted one. Well, at least
(almost) every distillery... And why wouldn’t they? With the
traditional malting floor the layer of germinating barley could
be only about 10 centimetres deep.

Within a Saladin box the germinating barley is turned over
regularly, which allows the device to process a layer of barley
of a metre deep. Obviously, this means that much more barley
can germinate at once - very handy for large distilleries.
Major disadvantage: the malted barley isn’t dried this way.

These days, both floor maltings and Saladin boxes have
been mostly replaced by drum maltings - which are able
to process large quantities of malted barley even faster.


Technically, a ‘sample’ of whisky is a small measure drawn from a cask or bottle for review purposes. 
Some people use the term for the 3cl or 5cl miniature bottles that were released by the distillery owners,
but those often had poor closures. That meant that the contents could oxidise quickly. At the start of the
3d millennium swapping samples from larger bottles became a popular way to try more different whiskies
without having to buy a big bottle from all of them. Some companies now do this ‘professionally’.


Not everybody agrees that giving a score to a whisky or a film makes sense. For those that do, it allows
them to express their love for a product in comparison to other products. Such a score may be personal
and subjective, but it allows you to analyse your own preferences and possibly developments over time.
After a while, your old scores will make shopping for whisky easier because you have more than memories. 

Scotch Whisky Association / SWA

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is an organisation that is funded by the Scotch whisky industry.
Most distillers in Scotland are members. Because the industry pays this particular piper, their main goal is
“to advance the global interests and profile of Scotch Whisky, our members and of the industry as a whole.”
Because whisky consumers like you and me are not actual ‘stakeholders’, we’ll have to fend for ourselves.

A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H  |  I  |  J  |  K  |  L  |  M  |  N  |  O  |  P  |  Q  |  R  |  S  |  T  |  U  |  V  |  W  |  XYZ


During Roman times, Scotland was inhabited by the Picts. The end of the Roman occupation after the year
400 AD kicked off of a period of migration. The Scotti migrated from Ireland (known as Hibernia at the time)
to settle lands in the region that was later to me named after them. Many waves of Irish migrants followed.


Sherry used to be a popular drink with the generations that preceeded us. This was good news for the
Scotch whisky industry because it gave them access to many cheap second-hand casks that had served
their purpose in sherry maturation. When sherry consumption started to dwindle in the 1980s, proper sherry
casks became harder to acquire - so distillers needed to come up with a cunning plan. They started to
artificially season or rejuvenate so-called bespoke casks by other means, like adding fermenting must.


The phrase ‘shipping’ invokes images of actual ships transporting products. These days, especially in
American English, the phrase means any kind of transport and includes transport by air, road and railway.
That being said; a large part of international whisky transport still occurs by ship.


The phrase ‘skalk’ refers to a dram of whisky drank before breakfast. Having a skalk early in the morning
might seem like a habit for alcoholics, but it is actually seems to be a local tradition in northern Scotland.
The word is an anglicized version of the Gaelic word ‘scalig’ - which means “a blow to the head”.


In a lauter mash tun a rotating arm with horizontal rakes or rods continuously keeps turning the mash.
One major advantage of this device is that the mash can be heated more uniformly.  In theory all mash
could be processed in a single run, but in the semi-lauter process they still use multiple fillings.

Silent Malt

Even though column stills are generally used to produce grain whisky from ‘lesser’ grains, it seems to
be possible to produce malt whisky (from malted barley) in them. I’ve been told that the Glentauchers
distillery did experiment with ‘silent malts’ at one time - but they didn’t lead to actual whisky production.
It could be argued that the Loch Lomond distillery still produces ‘silent malts’ these days, but because
details about their precise production methods are hard to come by I’m not sure if this is true.

(* The old technology used for Malt Madness doesn’t allow me to present the information in the most user-friendly
way possible. Check out my new personal website for a fresh attempt at a site, covering a wider range of topics.


Drinking Scotch malt whisky is usually an enjoyable experience, which can be made even more enjoyable
when shared with others. If you want to make a toast in style, the Gaelic “slinte” of “slinte mhaith”
is always a good choice. It means “good health” and the appropriate response is “do dheagh shlinte”.


The solera system is probably most famous for its use in the production of sherry, but it is also used to
ensure the consistency of drinks like beer and brandy. The word solera means “on the ground” in Spanish.
It refers to the lowest cask or container in a stack from which the oldest product is drawn to be bottled.
Usually, only half of the contents are drawn off before the cask is topped off with half of the contents
of the cask above it - and so on and so forth. This blends the product of different vintages together.


During sparging water is forced through grains in order to extract the sugars. A sparge ring with so-called
sparge nozzles is usually installed in the top of the mash tun to deliver a fine spray of hot water. Spraying
the hot water on the mash helps release soluble materials like fermentable sugars and starch.


The basis of all malt whisky is the starch that is the main component of barley. Starch is a carbohydrate,
but before it can be turned into alcohol it needs to be converted into (soluble) sugars. This is achieved
by allowing the grain to start germination, which releases enzymes that convert the starch into sugars.


The source of the sulphur notes that can be found in some whiskies can be the sulphur candles that are
used to fumigate empty casks. However, barley also contains small amounts of sulphur, sulphides and
sulphites while the use of paxarette is another possible source. Personally, I don’t mind a little sulpur...


A snifter is a bowl-shaped piece of glassware with a short stem. The bowl provides a relatively large
surface area for the whisky to evaporate and the small opening at the top concentrates the fragrances.
This type of glass is traditionally used for cognac but I personally find it ideal for malt whisky as well.

SitemapFrequently Asked QuestionsMalt Maniacs - Malt Whisky Archives
Whisky Lexicon (Home)Distillery DataDistillery Map of Scotch WhiskyLiquid Blog (New)
A (whisky lexicon)B (whisky lexicon)C (whisky lexicon)D (whisky lexicon)E (whisky lexicon)F (whisky lexicon)G (whisky lexicon)H (whisky lexicon)I (whisky lexicon)J (whisky lexicon)K (whisky lexicon)L (whisky lexicon)M (whisky lexicon)N (whisky lexicon)O (whisky lexicon)P (whisky lexicon)Q (whisky lexicon)R (whisky lexicon)S (whisky lexicon)T (whisky lexicon)U (whisky lexicon)V (whisky lexicon)W (whisky lexicon)XYZ (whisky lexicon)Lexicology
Send an e-mail