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    how is whisky made?

    Despite only requiring three very simple ingredients, water, barley and yeast, the process of actually making whisky is far more complex and time consuming. Each distillery has its own special methods, tricks and techniques but the overall process is the same.

    Making the malt

    The first step in making whisky is to create the malt. This is done by soaking the barley grain in warm water for several days. Traditionally the barley was then spread across the floor of special buildings called malting houses. This would activate the germination process which changes the starch contained in the barley into sugar. Nowadays this process is handled in special plants called maltings which produce malt to meet each distilleries unique requirement.

    Grinding the malt

    The malt is then ground down in the malt mill to produce coarse flour called grist.

    Time to brew

    With the grist made, it is time to brew. The grist is mixed with hot water in large containers called mash tun’s. Each mash tun can hold up to 25,000 litres and features rotating blades that constantly mix the grist and water. What these mash tun’s produce is sugary liquid called wort.

    Let the fermentation begin

    The wort is then transferred into large wooden containers called wash backs. It is in the wash backs that yeast is added to the wort to allow it to ferment. The yeast reacts with the sugar within the wort to produce alcohol. The fermentation process takes up to 48 hours and produces a liquid very similar to beer that is about 8% alcohol.


    Up until now there has been no significant difference between the process of making whisky and that of beer. It is the distillation process that turns this beer like substance into a stronger spirit.
    Distillation takes place in large copper stills. These are then heated, traditionally with coal or peat, which causes steam to rise from the wort. As alcohol evaporates quicker than water the steam that rises contains the alcohol from the wort which is then collected at the top of the still and cooled back into a liquid. Scottish whisky is generally distilled twice, whilst Irish whisky is distilled three times. The first distillation takes place in the large copper wash still. This transforms the wort into a liquid that contains about 21% alcohol. The second takes place in a spirit still, which is smaller than the wash still and produces the final whisky that is then casked.

    Good things come to those that wait

    The final process in making whisky is the aging process. This is a vital part in the process of making whisky and contributes to 75% of the taste of each whisky, giving its unique character and flavour.

    The whisky is poured into wooden casks. These casks are made from a wide range of wood types and come in all shapes and sizes. The casks are then stored in a cellar where they remain from for a minimum of 3 years. During this time the casks breathe the surrounding air which is absorbed by the whisky adding to its flavour. It is also during this aging period that the angels take their share.

    The angels share is the whisky that evaporates during the aging process and accounts for 2% of lost whisky per cask.

    After many years the whisky is bottled and can then be enjoyed by whisky lovers around the world; well it’s true what they say, good things come to those that wait.