Single Malt Whisky Produced in Scotland
How is Scotch whisky made? This article shows how whisky is made. How do blended whiskies and single malt whiskies differ? Find out by reading this article
With ninety two distilleries, Scotland is that the undisputed home of whisky and single malts. However to attain the legally protected standing of ‘Scotch whisky’ 3 steps should be followed: 1. it must have been produced using only whole grain;, 2. have been distilled in Scotland; 3. for at least 3 years have been kept in oak barrels For the whole maturation process the whisky must be kept in Scotland
Why Single Malt Whisky Is Unique
Scotland has six own whisky producing regions. These are Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, Cambeltown, Islands, Islay. Each area produces whiskies unique to the area. If you wish to buy Scotch whisky you need to take the region into account and generally whiskies from one region will have will be similar to the palate. Every distillery will have a unique factor about it, whether it be biggest one, the most remote one, the most northerly one and the tiniest.
The area called 'Lowlands' starts at the town of Greenock (west coast) to Dundee, which is situated on the east coast then south to the England/Scotland border.
The Highland region starts from the border of the Lowland area to the northern Scottish coast, apart from the islands and Speyside.
The Speyside region is located in the Scottish Highlands, but because of the density of distilleries and the type of whisky produced is classed as it’s own region. (Sometimes it is also called 'Highland Whisky'. In fact over 50% of Scotch whisky is produced in this region.
Campbeltown used to be the main hub of whisky production in Scotland - boasting an impressive 30 distilleries. However only 3 are remaining and producing whisky. Campbeltown is classed as it's own region because of the unique whisky produced there.
Leaving the Scottish mainland, we come to the Islands, Arran, Isle of Skye, Mull, Jura and the Orkneys.
Islay is a small island, but is classed as a region in its own right.
What is the 'Malt' in Single Malt?
In order to make the alcohol the starch from barley needs to be turned into sugars. Top quality barley is first of all soaked in water. It is then spread out to germinate on malting floors. This process is termed "malting". The barley is then kept at a constant temperature and turned regularly. Large drums are used by some distillers to do this. When a week has passed the barley will start to germinate, this is called 'green malt. The germinated barley then placed in a large kiln and is dried off, this in turn stops the germination process. Burning peat is used heat the kiln and this adds to the flavour of the whisky. To avoid destroying enzymes, the temperature is kept below 70c. We now have what we call 'malted' barley. To make it ready for the next step the malted barley is gound down.
Blended Whisky or Single Malt - Which is Best?
A blended whisky is a blend of single malt whiskies from various distilleries with grain whiskies. Typically individual distilleries will combined their single malt whiskies with grain whiskies to form a singular flavour profile
It wouldn't be correct to assume that single malt whiskies are inherently superior to blended whiskeis. Blends just enable the master blender to balance totally different flavours from different single malts to attain their desired flavour.. This means that branded whiskies like Johnnie Walker and Chivas to make sure that they constantly produce a uniform flavour, one that their customers expect.
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