Scotch whisky requires a considerable amount of time to produce. It can be a tedious process that takes many years. On the other hand, when it’s crafted the right way, the end product is one that is worth the long wait.
Initial, the barley is immersed in tanks of water for roughly 72 hours. The moisture causes the barley to begin the germination process. Once germinated, the barley will then be moved to the malting section of the distillery where it is placed into drums also known as the malting floor.
The purpose of the germination process is to convert the starch in the grains into fermentable sugar. The yeast will process the sugars creating alcohol in the fermentation phase. Turning the barley regularly makes sure the temperature will remain consistent. Wooden spades called sheils are used to turn the grains on a traditional malting floor. The grains will die if the temperature gets above 71 degrees F. This would consequently stop the whole process since the starch won’t be converted to fermentable sugars.
The grain is kiln dried to halt the germination process and the continuation of sugar consumption. Usually, a traditional kiln is often a building standing two levels tall with the top perforated permitting all heat to escape. The first floor contains peat bricks which are burned. During this procedure the grain is dried and absorbs the peat aroma and taste. The pagoda roof design on a distillery is a very distinct characteristic. Today, the majority of the distilleries purchase all their malt from a central malting company. Then again, there remain a small selection that continue to be traditional and do everything themselves.
The grain is milled into grist and combined with water in mash tubs. The concoction is heated to sixty degrees. Throughout the mashing period the water is changed a minimum of four times to remove sediment. The byproduct of the mashing is called wort. The wort must be cooled down before mixing with yeast. This large container is never filled entirely because the wort froths as a result of co2. By the time two to three days have passed, all the yeast is killed from the ethanol it created. The ultimate product of the cycle is referred to as wash. It has five to eight percent alcohol.
The stills where wash is placed are made of copper and are regulated to a certain shape that allows for proper distillation to occur. Distillation is typically performed two times, however, many distillers do it 3 x or more. Immediately after the entire process is complete the distillate is put into kegs made of oak, for a no less than three years. However, many Scotch whiskies are aged for considerably longer.