Malt whisky :
It is the heart of all the history of the whisky...
Single malt is the malt whisky produced by a single distillation, exclusively starting from malted barley.
The production process of the Single malt whisky is as follows :
1. The barley is malted. With this intention, it is soaked in spring water, and then spread out until it manufactures sugar and that a germ emerges from each grain. To stop the growth of this growth, which nourishes sugar of seed, the malt is then dried on peat fires, in a malting kiln perforated, crossed by smoke, or in cylindrical Saladin in which the malt turns in a drum, which allows a complete and regular infusion peat smoke.
In the two systems, each distilling has its own formula of mixture of peat, peat cutting being one of the most important elements which will confer into final on the whisky its flavours and its qualities. Thus, for example, the whiskies of Islay are heavily flavoured with peat, whereas Lowlands are it only very slightly.
2. The dried malt is ground in grist to which is added hot water. The paste which results from it is put to rest in large wood tanks, until all sugars are dissolved in the liquid, called mash. The residue of the grains, the draff, is recovered by filtering and is used for the animal feed.
3. The sweetened liquid, starch nouveau riche is then put to ferment; it then takes the name of beer or wash.
4. This wash is distilled in a still, the wash still. The beginning and the end of distillation are carefully eliminated, to avoid the few impurities which could affect final quality. Size and the form of the still play an unquestionable part. The apparatuses with long neck give a lighter whisky, more elegant, whereas those in the onion shape produce a heavier alcohol and more round.
5. Condensed alcohol is distilled one second time in a smaller still, from which the heads and tails of distillation there are still eliminated.
The Irish whiskies and of Lowlands and some others are distilled third once, tradition due to the increasingly large stills used in the past to compete with the floods of whiskies blended which flowed of Edinburgh and Glasgow. With the origin, these large stills let pass from advantage of impurities, from where need for the third distillation.
6. Condensed alcohol is then put to age in barrels.
Two types of barrels are used :
- Barrels of Bourbon imported of the United States, where, by law, they can be useful only once. Their walls passed to the flame add much to the colour of individual malt and its vanilla flavour.
- Barrels of Spanish sherry, which, as by magic, makes it possible the perfumes of a whisky to develop, to be based, to intensify. However, a stay prolonged in these barrels can end up masking certain qualities of the whisky.
The first five stages of the development of the whisky last approximately five days, the period of ageing much longer. Legally, a whisky must spend at least three years out of barrel. Practically it remains there generally much longer, from 5 to 20 years.
One does not know very precisely what occurs for this period, and for which reason the contents of barrel A will be perfect whereas that of the barrel B needs to take a few additional years. It is thought however that the place and the climate play an important part and the producers who tried to make age their whisky in other countries saw the confirmation with their costs of it. Certain individual malts are bottled without indication of age, and can occur some, whereas others which proclaim a long career out of barrel sometimes exceeded the best of their age. In fact, after 25 years out of barrel, the majority of the whiskies are extremely likely to lose their qualities, the wooded flavours ending up dominating and hiding malted savour. When the malt is judged with maturity, it is bottled under the label of individual malt or dispatched at the blenders to be assembled with a whisky of grain.