How Single Malt Whisky Is Made

A Detailed Description of Single Malt Whisky Production

For more than 500 years barley and water have been the basic ingredients for single malt Scotch whisky. Beside their rugged beauty, the Scottish highlands are characterised by the vast grain fields, especially during harvest season.

Scotland has unique water. Since there is no limestone, the water is very soft. The rain water flows over hillsides overgrown with heath and through peat meadows, thereby taking up the unique flavour typical for each distillery. Small, well-protected wells provide the water for the single malt whiskies. But also the big rivers are needed for producing whisky. They provide cooling water for the pot stills.

The production of whisky is comparably easy. You let the barley germinate until the starch of the grain has become malt sugar. The malt is then dried and coarsely ground. The sugar is extracted by adding hot water, and the resulting liquid is then left to ferment, producing a beer without the addition of hops. This beer is then distilled twice in copper pot stills. The spirit is then matured in oak casks for at least three years. High-class single malt whiskies are sometimes matured for decades.

Read about the various production steps here:

After reading these pages you might think that single malt whisky is a science in itself. However, enjoying such a whisky is easy. Just let your taste guide you. Drink it neat, or dilute it with soft water if necessary, but never use ice, mineral water or soda water. It would overlay the unique taste of the Scottish national drink.

Bourbon

Learn about the American Bourbon production.