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single malt scotch whisky
single malt scotch
malt whisky
blended whiskies
single malts
natural sugars
distillery
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
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Whisky is known the world over and is the preferred drink of many. There are a variety of fine blended whiskies on the market but there is also something quite special, with its provenance following strict practices of production (and I love it!!) - SINGLE refers to the whisky coming from one distillery and not a blend of from several distilleries - MALT refers to the process of malting the grain - and SCOTCH means made in Scotland. You all knew that, didn't you?

For devotees, this is the best-of-the-best, the unique individuality of whisky which has smells and tastes specific to malt whiskies, as well as diversity according to their region, with its varying weather, and a particular distillery - each has its own following - the brands are well-known, as are the various areas of Scotland specialising in single malt scotch whisky (from the island of Orkney in the north, via the various parts of the Highlands, to the famous Speyside, which has many distilleries, then the Lowlands in the south and finally over westwards, back to the Islands and specifically the island of Islay).

The processes of production involve sources of water and yeast, the choice of types of barley (the only grain used in single malts), the amount of smoke (from peat) which infuses the barley, and the specific pot stills used to make the whisky. The barley is steeped in water for the required three days and then spread out of the malting floor where it is constantly turned, promoting germination and releasing natural sugars. Kiln drying follows and the barley is spread on a platform beneath which peat burns, giving the smokey taste associated with malt whisky. The peat smoke will vary according to the practices of an individual distillery. The next stage is to mill the malted barley, mix it with spring water and add yeast to trigger fermentation, producing both alcohol and carbon dioxide - the liquid is known as wash and must now be distilled in a pot still (usually in two different stills). The spirit produced has an alcohol content of 60-70% (phew - that might blow your head off!) but this is diluted and then casked in oak casks for a minimum of three years. While maturing, the whisky takes on the taste of the cask, as the oak expands and contracts. The casks have been used before with bourbon, whiskey or sherry, which also impart something to the flavour. Some distilleries employ coopers to make their own casks. Maturing for 10 or 12 or 15 years is common but once diluted again and bottled (maybe with a caramel colouring added to give an aged appearance), the maturing process is at an end.

Some distilleries bottle their own product with distinctive labels and sell on to customers. However, there are also independent bottlers who buy the single malt in casks and bottle immediately or at some time in the future.

The above is a skip through the processes in the production of single malt scotch whisky, hopefully giving enough information for the fans to appreciate a little more, the wonderful smell and taste of this unique form of a favoured spirit.


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