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Scotch Whisky Making Process

Most of you know already that Scotch is whiskey coming straight from Scotland, the only one who can be named like this, and which needs to be aged 3 years minimum in oak barrels on Scottish territory. However, I wonder how many of you actually know how Scotch whisky is made? The process is not that complicated, you just need to pay attention to the three key ingredients (barley, water and yeast) and to follow the manufacturing steps just  like they are.
Therefore, the steps are as following:
1. Malting
2. Grinding
3. Brewing
5. Fermentation
6. Distillation
7. Ageing
8. Bottling. 
Barley is the key ingredient for making Scotch whisky, which means that its quality is very important, as it influences directly the quality of the overall product. So, when selecting barley, this needs to be done carefully.
Water is equally important, as its purity and quality determine how untainted and good the  Scotch will be. This is particularly important, as waters in Scotland are famous for being very clean.
Yeast helps in the fermentation process, but I have to tell you that how it is chosen depends on each distillery, something kept as a secret for years. 
1. In this process, the barley is wet and put on the floor, in order to permit for the germination process to begin. This needs to be stopped in the proper moment, not too late, nor too early, otherwise, the desired flavor will not be achieved. This process can take between 8 or 21 days, and it needs to be kept under constant attention. The nice part is  that in order to stop germination, the grain needs to be dried over an oven called „kiln”.
2. The dried malt is grinded into a type of flour which bears the name „grist”
3. This grist will then be put together with hot water in a mash tun, which normally has a double end, with small punctures, which allow the sweet liquid which results from brewing to flow out. The waste from the mash tun is called „draff”
4. The fermentation process requires first to add the yeast, which will then create alcohol, as well as carbon dioxide. The wort will begin to bubble, which might occasionally result in powerful vibrations of the wash back.
5. Now you have reached the distillation phase (my favorite, actually). This is when you separate alcohol from water and other substances which might be contained in the wash.  Scotch whisky is distilled twice, starting with the wash still, with the alcohol vapors being ventilated externally of the still, by condensers. The second distillation is done in a spirit still, which is smaller than the first one. Around 63-72% of alcohol is contained in this process.
6. The aging process, plus the barrels used, the air surrounding the distillery, as well as the type of warehouse, they all make the difference between the various types of Scotch. The minimum aging time is of 3 years, and the most common is 8, 10 or even 12 years.
7. And, after everything is done properly, the whisky is ready to be bottled. Remember, thou, that, unlike with wine, whiskey does not age in bottle. So, no matter how much you keep your 10 year old whiskey, it is not going to age anymore.
And now that you know how Scotch whisky is produced, I recommend visiting a distillery, if ever in Scotland. 

Posted by Jason Stone on


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