Whisky Appreciation

Making Malt Whisky – The Scottish Way

 

Malt whisky is still made with the same traditional methods of Scotland’s past using natural raw materials. Malted barley, yeast and water made up the humble ingredients of every malt Scotch whisky. The process is made up of 5 steps, and the time frame for making malt Scotch whisky varies depending on how long the whisky is eventually matured.

Step 1: Malting

Barley has to be malted before they can be used in the whisky making process. They are steeped in water before being spread out on a traditional malting floor for germination. This process creates a kind of starch in the barley which will be converted into soluble sugars in later processes. These sugars will eventually become alcohol.

The malting process lasts a week, in which the barley will start to sprout. The sprouting is stopped by drying the barley in a large oven known as a kiln. This drying process is known as kilning and peat is sometimes burnt in this process to produce whisky that has a distinctive, smokey flavour.

Step 2: Mashing

Once the barley are dried completely, they are grounded and then mixed with hot water in a mashing tun. Mashing dissolves the sugars from the malt and produces a sugary liquid known as wort. Wort will be used to turn into alcohol. The liquid is collected for the next step while the remaining solids are reused as nutritious cattle feed.

Step 3 – Fermentation

The wort that is collected went into large containers known as washbacks, where yeast is added for fermentation to happen. The yeast then converts the sugars in the wort, creating undistllled alcohol known as the wash. The wash is around 8% ABV.

Step 4 – Distillation

Normal malt whisky production demands a double distillation process, where the wash is distilled once in a wash still and once in a spirit still. The wash is heated in the wash still until it boils. Alcohol vapours then rise and pass over the narrow head of the wash still before it condenses back into liquid form as low wines. The liquid is then collected into the spirit still, where the distillation process repeats. The liquid that comes out from the spirit still is further monitored and only the high-quality of usable spirit is collected as new spirit. Do note that there are some whiskies which are tripled-distilled. In such whiskies, the liquid collected from the spirit still is distilled a third time to create even purer new spirits for maturation.

Step 5 – Maturation

The new-make spirit is then transferred into oak casks of different origins and set aside for maturation. Through the maturation process, the colourless spirit takes on the colour of the cask that they are in, and develops further flavour characteristics influenced by the cask. By law, whiskies that are to be known as Scotch whiskies must matured in Scotland for at least 3 years. When a whisky label carries an age statement, for example 12 years, all the whiskies in the bottle must have matured in a cask for at least the said number of years.

The 5 steps whisky-making process sounds easy but whisky-makers put in a lot of hard work and passion into the process. Whenever we are enjoying a Scottish dram or two, do think about the beautiful work that these producers are doing and wish them well. 🙂

Like what you have just read?

    Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!




    [mc4wp_checkbox]

    This is How Scotch Whiskies are Categorised

     

    Most people would know Scotch whisky as single malts, but there are also other forms of Scotch whiskies that you should know so that you can enjoy whisky completely! In this article, we will share a little about the different categories to pip your curiosity!

    Scotch Whisky Categories

    The Scotch Whisky Regulation 2009 defined five different categories of Scotch Whisky to regulate how Scotch whiskies are made and marketed across the world. The relevant category must be labelled clearly and prominently on every bottle of Scotch whisky that are sold around the world.

    Single Malt Scotch Whisky

    A single malt Scotch whisky must be distilled in a single distillery from water and malted barley without adding any other cereals. It must be batch distilled in pot stills and bottled in Scotland.

    Single Grain Scotch Whisky

    A single grain Scotch whisky must be distilled in a single distillery from water, malted barley and the addition of whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals. Some Scotch whiskies which does not comply with the definition of single malt Scotch Whisky are also labelled as a single grain Scotch whisky

    Blended Scotch Whisky

    A blended Scotch whisky is simply a blend of one or more single malt Scotch whiskies with one or more single grain Scotch whiskies.

    Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

    A blended malt Scotch whisky is a blend of single malt Scotch whiskies which have been distilled at more than one distillery.

    Blended Grain Scotch Whisky

    A blended grain Scotch whisky is a blend of single grain Scotch whiskies which have been distilled at more than one distillery.

    Greater Protection for Traditional Regional Names

    The changes made in the Scotch Whisky Regulation 2009 acts as a better protection for traditional regional names that produce Scotch whiskies, that is, the names of Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown. These names can only be put on the labels of whiskies which have been wholly distilled in the regions. A distillery name cannot be used as a brand name on any Scotch Whisky that is not wholly distilled in the named distillery. Labelling of every bottle of Scotch whisky is strictly monitored so as not to mislead consumers as to where the Scotch Whisky has been distilled.

    Better Protection for Consumers

    These regulations also provide for better protection for consumers who are buying Scotch whiskies all over the world. It helps to keep fraud down to the minimum. Besides, such regulations also help consumers to better understand where each bottle of whisky came from.

    Like what you have just read?

      Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!




      [mc4wp_checkbox]

      6 popular whisky myths that are just…myths

      Whisky is a mysterious drink to many people around the world. While the drink is progressively getting popular, especially in Southeast Asia, China, and parts of Southern America, many people are still wary of whisky. Some of the most arguable points in whisky are possibly how to drink it, when to drink it, at what age should you start appreciating whisky and what sex you have to be if you want to drink whisky.

      All these myths are negative ideologies that give reasons why people should NOT drink whisky. To drive home the point, you just need to examine the parts of the world where whisky is getting popular, and you will see that those areas do not subscribe to whisky myths like those above. That is possibly the only real reason why whisky is so popular in these countries.

      Whisky is not an elitist drink, neither is it a drink just for men. It is a complex and flavourful drink that can impress even the most knowledgeable man and woman. Let’s see some of the whisky myths and blast them away with facts!

      Whisky is old-fashioned

      Maybe the scenes of old movies in which a group of men in tweed suits, holding glasses of golden spirits and muttering to one other about peat and flavours come to mind whenever you think about whisky? It is considered as old-fashioned, irrelevant and unable to catch up to the modern world. However, if you would just look at the whisky bars that are springing up one after another in Singapore today, and you will realise that more and more young people are starting to appreciate the complexity of the drink. Just as the clubs are mixing whisky cocktails for the party-goers, the whisky bars of the modern world are serving up drams of excellent whiskies in almost any way that it can be drank – neat, with an ice ball, with ice cubes, with water, or perhaps as a highball. Whisky is not old-fashioned, but our mindset might be.

      Whisky is too strong a drink for women

      That is probably a sexist remark in today’s world. If you walk into a whisky bar today, you may find that many of the knowledgeable bartenders are women. If women are too weak for whisky, why are the bartenders women? To entertain the men? Absolutely not! You will be surprised at what these women bartenders drink if you dare to ask! Besides, there are many women now who enjoy whisky, and possibly drink more than the men. Whisky is for everyone, and definitely not a drink exclusively reserved for men.

      Whisky should be drunk neat

      This is furthest from the fact. Whisky is a versatile drink. It can be drunk neat, but it can also be enjoyed with a splash of water, with an ice ball, with ice cubes, as a cocktail and as a highball. There are so many people in this world who does not know that whisky can be drank in any of these forms! Some old timers are so fixated on drinking it neat that they did not fully appreciate what a dash of water can do to open up the flavours of their well-loved whiskies. Newcomers are usually put off by the sharp taste of whisky when drank neat. Without knowing that whisky can be drank in other ways, these people tried whisky once and never try it again. Isn’t that a perfect waste?

      Whisky is an after-dinner drink

      Whisky might be an after-dinner drink during the Victorian era, where gentlemen retired to the gentlemen’s den for whiskies and cigar, while the ladies return to their chit-chats in the parlour. It is however, the 21st century now, and hardly anyone ever drink whisky after dinner due to the drink-no-drive policies and reluctance of restaurants to serve digestifs after dinner. This makes whisky a drink that can be drank before dinner, at parties and as a late night snack! Just ask those whisky lovers around the world!

      Single malts are better than blended whisky

      This is the one single thing that many people adhere to almost anywhere we go. This could be due to the price tags that are attached to the single malts. Blended whiskies are generally cheaper; hence, it is labelled as inferior, rough, cheap and a dilution of strong character. We need to stop comparing single malts and blended whiskies, because they are different from each other. While single malts are popular because of certain well-known brands, blended whiskies have their fan base too. In fact, in new markets such as China and Vietnam, the whisky lovers sees whisky as blended. Single malts and blend each have their own distinctive characters, complexities and flavours. Comparing the two of them is just like comparing apples and oranges – they are simply not the same, and should be appreciated differently.

      Scotland makes the best whisky

      Source

      If you still believe this, you probably stayed in an ice cave all these while! While Scotch is undisputedly the largest whisky producer, it is definitely a mistake to associate it as the producer of the best whisky. Just check out Irish whiskies with their sweet, juicy drinkability and Japan, whose precise, complex single malts have won awards in recent years. How about Taiwan? She is slowly but steadily building whiskies that are flavourful and complex, winning awards and fans along the way. There is probably no “best whisky” since the appreciation of whisky is subjective to individual preferences.

      Whisky is therefore, a drink that is for everyone. Appreciating and understanding whisky may take time, but we promise that it will be a journey that you will hugely enjoy! So, sit back, relax, rise your glass and say slainte!

      Like what you have just read?

        Join WhiskyGeeks.sg as a member for FREE and receive our curated articles and videos in your mailbox every month!




        [mc4wp_checkbox]