Single malt, a well-liked liquor made from malted grain, is frequently referred to as the “water of life.” Whisky is known to have been made in the mediaeval Irish monasteries. Nevertheless, it is challenging to pinpoint the precise beginnings because school systems hold divergent views. What is known is that distilling began to spread to Scotland and Ireland about the 15th century. It was primarily employed as a medicine, especially in managing outbreaks like a pox. Numerous elements contribute to the taste of the liquor and create the distinctive hallmark of various nations and places. It is believed that the water used to create the spirit impacts the liquor’s final taste, adding subtle flavours that aid in differentiating between the areas.
How Is The Liquor Produced?
Based on the nation in which they are produced and the distiller in charge of creating them, various sorts of liquor go through various processes. Nevertheless, five steps generally go into making the ideal ounce of alcohol.
Malting the grain—barley in the instance of the Scottish variant —is the very first stage in the production. During this procedure, the barley’s grain is changed into the glucose that the bacteria would later consume to generate alcohol.
After selecting and gathering the best barley, it is submerged in water for a few days. After being soaked, the barley is laid out on the fermentation floors to allow it to germinate partly. The distiller determines the actual length of time, which ranges from 5-7. The germination stage is finished by blowing hot air over the barley, and if peat is introduced to the flame at this point, the distinctive smokey flavours of some whiskies are produced. The germinated, dehydrated wheat is referred to as malt.
The preceding step’s generated malt is ground into flour (known as grist) and transferred to a mixing chamber, a sizable container that combines with heated water. Three phases of water addition are used: 65° C, 80° C, and ultimately 95° C, almost simmering. The malt sugars break down into wort, deposited at the bottom of the tun during this process.
The fermentation begins when the water is chilled and added to a wooden or steel tank with microorganisms. During fermentation, the yeast turns the sugar into ethanol over 48 to 96 hours. Rinse is the resultant fluid containing 6-9% volume of alcohol.
The procedure of distillation is used to raise the wash’s alcohol content. Distilling takes place on the inside of a still, typically constructed of metal. The two categories of stills are column stills and container stills. The significant distinction between column still distillation and pot still distillation is that the second constantly operates while the other operates in batches. The most popular distillation technique for the Scottish type is the pot still. Although some distilleries use quintuple, the rinse is typically processed twice. The first one still heats the wash, causing more alcohol to evaporate since alcohol evaporates more quickly than water. The form of the still is intended to cause the dissipated vapour to concentrate in a different area of the still. The resultant solution, which has an ABV of roughly 20%, is transferred to the secondary still and warmed up once more to finish the process. The ultimate spirit graduates at a 60–70%ABV level.
Whisky only ages in the barrel, not in the bottle; hence its “age” is merely the interval between extraction and packaging. It demonstrates how significantly the cask’s interaction with it has altered the beverage’s chemical structure and flavour. Single malts that have been in bottles for a long time may be valuable collectibles. Still, they are not always “superior” or “vintage” to more modern whiskies that have spent a comparable amount of time maturing in wood. Further barrel ageing beyond a couple of decades only sometimes makes the alcohol better.