How Whisky Is Produced
Whisky production – Discover the complex, multi-stage process involved in making this age-old alcoholic drink!
The first main stage of whisky production is malting, a process of soaking barley in water for days. This increases the moisture content of the grains and causes germination, which converts the starch in the grains into fermentable sugars. The grains are then separated from the heated water and dried.
Next, the dried malt is crushed into grist and added to water, heated to 60”C in a mashing process. This step creates a sugar solution (wort), which is then separated from the grains. The grains are disposed of and the wort is sent for fermentation in a series of wooden containers called washbacks. After two to three days in a washback, the wort generates a low-alcohol liquid, or the wash.
Distillation follows, a complex process of evaporation and condensing of the wash in stills. This enriches the alcohol content of the wash and produces a high-alcohol liquid that can then be matured into drinkable whisky. Finally, maturation is achieved by depositing the young whisky into oak casks.
Old – The earliest direct account of whisky being made in Scotland dates from 1494, when cereal grains were mashed together crudely before being fermented.
Global – Despite the home of whisky typically credited to Scotland, the liquor is in fact produced worldwide, with large industries in Ireland, Canada, Japan and America.
Life – The word whisky is an Anglicization of the Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’, or water of life. This is the same as the Latin ‘aqua vitae’, which translates as the same.
Prohibition – During the prohibition era in the US in the late-Twenties and Thirties, the only form of alcohol made legal was whisky as prescribed by licensed pharmacies.
Sun – Japan’s primary producer of whisky is Suntory Holdings Limited, one of the oldest distribution companies in the country. It was established in Osaka.