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LEXICON: From Warehouse to Wort

The most entries on this page are directly related to whisky, water and wood.
If the word, phrase or brand you are looking for isn’t included here, I would very
much appreciate it if you could let me know about it. While you wait for me to
expand the lexicon you might like to check out some of the other sections
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A warehouse can contain various goods - but ideally it’s casks of whisky.
Warhead is Glenfiddich vatted with just a dash of Balvenie to "blend" it.
The Wash Act of 1784 established the borders of Scottish whisky regions.
The so-called washback is the container of the fermenting wort.
As an abundant material, 'dirty' water is crucial for shippping, cooling, etc.
Clean water (H2O) is used as 'process water' during whisky distillation.
Drinking enough water during whisky tastings prevents hangovers. 
The bottler and blender Wemyss Malts entered the market quite recently.
The brand 'Westport' is used for Glenmorangie vatted / bastard whiskies.
Wheat can be used to make an interesting alternative to malt whisky.
In some countries they spell 'whisky' wrong - but 'whiskey' is not inferior.
A ‘whisky area’ is part of a whiskyregion, like the Midlands in the Highlands.
Whisky barons were the large whisky entrepreneurs from the 19th century.
The whisky store The Whisky Exchange is owned by Sukhinder Singh.
The Whisky Fair in Germany was both an event and a bottler.
Black 'whisky fungus' often covers distilleries - and nearby homes as well.
The 5 ‘classic’ Scotch whisky regions were reduced to 3 in recent years.
Within Scotland there are several whisky types - and many more globally.

The subsidiary Whyte & Mackay is now owned by Emperador Inc.
It would seem that American bottler Whyte & Whyte isn’t active any more.
William Grant & Sons owns both the Glenfiddich and Balvenie distilleries.
Italian bottler Wilson & Morgan specialises in whisky and rum.
Wine is made from fermented grapes and comes in many varieties.
The abbreviation ‘WIP’ means ‘Work In Progress’ - i.e. not finished.
The original Wolfburn distillery near Thurso was closed in the 1850s.
Wood is the material that is used for the casks that turn spirit into whisky.
During maturation, the profile of many whiskies develops ‘woody’ notes.
The ‘world whisky’ group includes all whiskies not produces in Scotland.
Wort is the clear liquid that is seperated from the mash during brewing.

Warhead (and Burnside)

Glenfiddich straight malt (pre-burnside and warhead)

The very first association that many absolute novices have with the
word ‘whiskey’ is the American wild west. The Scotch whisky world
has its fair share of ‘wild’ stories as well. Those tall tales go back to
the 1700s when distillation was still (mostly) illegal, but they continue
well into the 19th and early 20th century when whisky barons built up
massive trade empires - and personal fortunes in the process.

Anyway... One of the most succesful Scotch whisky companies is
William Grant & Sons - owners of both the Glenfiddich and Balvenie
distilleries in Dufftown. (Some consider Kininvie as a third distillery.)
Glenfiddich was the first brand of single malt whisky to be marketed
globally and William Grant have been very protective of their brands.

The truth of the matter is that both the Glenfiddich and Balvenie
distilleries produce much more malt whisky than what is needed to
meet the demand for official bottlings of the single malts. While other
distilleries often sell casks to independent bottlers, William Grant is
not in favour of independent bottlings of Balvenie and Glenfiddich.

So, very few casks leave those distilleries as a single malt whisky.
Instead, casks of Glenfiddich malt whisky are ‘polluted’ with just a few
drops of Balvenie, turning it into the Warhead vatted or blended malt.
Meanwhile, ‘Burnside’ is a lot of Balvenie with a little bit of Glenfiddich.

Wash Act of 1784

Over the year there have been several ‘wash acts’ in Scotland, but the Wash Act of 1784 probably was
the most important. It reduced the severe duty on Scotch whisky and defined the Highland Line between
the wild and rural Highlands and the (slightly) more civiised Lowlands. Legally speaking, whisky distillation
remained a bit of a grey area - until the Excise Act of 1823 in fact - but this law did at least offer distillers
an incentive to operate in a more ‘industrial’ fashion and leave their illicit lives behind.


A washback (a.k.a. wash back) is a large vessel that is used at the start of whisky production.
After hot water has been added to the grist (ground barley) in the mash tun enzymes start their work turning
starch into sugar. During the next step the wort is transported from the underback to the washback where it
is cooled to +/- 23 degrees Celcius. Then, yeast is added which turns the sugars into alcohol.

Water (1)

Regular or ‘natural’ water is more important for the whisky industry than some people realise. For one thing,
the water of lakes and streams is used to cool the equipment of many distilleries. Furthermore, sea water is
an important transport medium for most of the whisky that is exported to different countries world-wide.

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Water (2)

The water that is used as an actual ‘ingredient’ of whisky is process water - i.e. the kind that is used in the
mash tun, the wash back and the stills. Because a little bit of this water ends up in the casks and the bottles,
the purity of this water is very important. Its mineral properties may have some influence on the end product.


In the olden days (and in some colonies and foreign countries), wheat was used to produce some whiskies
and whiskeys as well. Personally, I’ve only sampled two wheat whiskies. The expressions I’ve tried showed
some similarities with rye whisk(e)y, but other wheat whiskies might display another flavour profile.

Water (3)

More than half of a 40% ABV bottle of Scotch whisky consists of water. That’s Scottish water - but still...
All whisky comes from the cask at a ‘cask strength’ of up to 60% ABV, but many whisky producers take it
upon themselves to dilute this whisky to a lower strength of (usually) 40% or 43% ABV. That’s a shame.
Not only are consumers forced to pay for the transport of hundreds of centilitres of water from Scotland
to their place of residence with each bottle, they won’t be able to dilute their whisky very much either.

Whisky Fungus

Many distillery buildings in Scotland (as well as some houses surrounding them) are covered in a pesky
black fungus: Baudoinia compniacensis. This ‘whisky fungus’ is not exclusive to Scotland - it can also be
found near some cognac distilleries and warehouses in France. The fungus feeds off the airborne ethanol
molecules that can often be found near distilleries. Home-owners with affected houses have turned to
whisky producers like Diageo and Pernod-Ricard for compensation, but their lawyers denied any relation.

Whisky Area

A whisky area is part of a larger whisky region - like the Midlands area located in the south of the larger
Hghlands region. This distinction may have served a purpose in the past, when distilleries used locally
sourced ingredients. These days, ingredients like barley are often imported from abroad.

WIP - Work In Progress

The phrase ‘Work In Progress’ is not precisely defined. It usually refers to an intended release that is
not actually bottled yet. Most releases are vattings of multiple casks. If the profile of a vatting of 9 casks
turns out to be smokier than desired, the addition of a tenth ‘tired’ cask could temper the overall result.

(* 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.)

Whisky Baron

Until the middle of the 19th century, whisky production in Scotland usually meant the production of MALT
whisky - and it was mostly a cottage industry. However, the invention of grain whisky and blending paved
the way for production on an industrial scale - and the profits that go with it. The whisky barons of the
19th and early 20th century amassed large fortunes and some of them even aquired a noble status.

Whisky Region

By the 1990s whisky writer Michael Jackson had identified 5 Scotch whisky regions - the most important
of which was the central Speyside region. He even described smaller whisky areas within these regions.
The pages about whisky regions provides an overview of the various whisky regions and areas.


While wood is the material that is used to produce whisky casks it is also a characteristic of the spirit.
Some woody notes in a whisky can be very enjoyable, keeping the whisky in the cask for too long can
add too many of these ‘oaky’ traits and destroy the balance. These whiskies leave a bitter aftertaste.

Whisky Type

Within Scotland there are three (main) whisky types - malt whisky, grain whisky and blended whisky.
Internationally there are more whisky types; Pot Still whiskey is produced in Ireland while the USA is home
to bourbon whiskey (and Tennessee whiskey), corn whiskey and rye whiskey. Canadian whisky is similar.


The process of mashing involves the addition of hot water to the milled barley in order to convert starch
into sugars. The wort is the sugary liquid that is separated from the solid grist during the lautering of the
mash. After the wort is boiled and cooled, yeast is added to begin the fermentation.

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