Barley for Malting at Whisky Distillery

Barley for Malting at Whisky Distillery, Scotland

This evening, I am providing an overview of the the somewhat complicated process for manufacture of malt whisky in Scotland.

Raw ingredients are barley, water and yeast ( all natural). The barley is malted to obtain sugars from the starch. This can be undertaken on an industrial scale by specialist maltsters or on the traditional basis at the distillery.

Maltings Furnace at Whisky Distillery

Maltings Furnace at Whisky Distillery, Scotland

 
The malted barley is steeped in hot water in a Mash Tun, as shown below.
 
Mash Tun, Whisky Distillery

Mash Tun, Whisky Distillery, Scotland

 
Next, the resultant liquid is transferred to containers called washbacks where yeast is added to facilitate fermentation. This results in a liquid similar to a beer, with alcohol content of about 8pct.
 
Fermentation  in Washback

Fermentation in Washback at Whisky Distillery

 
After fermentation, the liquid is distilled, passing first through a wash still and then the spirit still.
 
Distillation at Whisky Distillery

Distillation at Whisky Distillery, Scotland

 
 
After distillation the spirit is transferred, after dilution with water to reduce alcohol content, to oak casks to commence the maturation process. This takes a minimum of three years but more commonly for periods of 10years, 12 years or longer, even up to 50 years in extreme cases.
Maturing Whisky at Distillery

Maturing Whisky at Distillery in Scotland

 
After the appropriate period of maturation, the whisky is normally ready for the palate.
 
Single Malt Whisky

Single Malt Scotch Whisky

 Visiting a distillery and learning the basics of the whisky making process is recommended as part of a Scotland tour. In many cases distilleries are located in areas of scenic beauty, e.g. Speyside, which adds another dimension to the case for learning about aqua vitae which in turn forms Scotland’s single largest export industry. 

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