The production process of Scotch whisky has a key impact on the taste and aroma of the drink. The smallest nuances, such as barley or yeast species or water source, can be of tremendous importance for the quality of the final product. The following is a general description of the different steps in the Scotch whisky production process – however, it should be remembered that each distillery has its own unique production method.
Natural elements of water, fire, earth and air have a huge impact on the taste of Scotch whisky. A good source of crystal clear water is essential for the production of good whisky, fire creates whisky in the distillery process, the earth gives grain and peat, and Scottish air enriches whisky during many years of maturation in the barrel.
The first stage of production is malting, consisting in soaking and germination of grains (traditionally on special floors of the malting plant). The germinating beans contain enzymes that break down starch into sugars, which will then be converted into alcohol. After a few days, the germination process is stopped by drying the malt with hot air or peat.
The fermented wort is then sent to the pot stills in which the distillation process takes place. The shape of the pot still has a significant impact on the taste of whisky, and each distillery has its own specific shapes of "pot still". During distillation, the drink is heated in such a way as to evaporate alcohol from it, which then passes through the neck of the potion into the condenser, where the liquid condenses.
Whisky is usually distilled twice, although there are distilleries that carry out this process three times. Ultimately, the effect of distillation is alcohol, which contains approx. 68% alcohol.
The freshly distilled, colourless drink then goes to the oak barrels, ripening there for a certain number of years. As the whisky matures, it becomes smoother, gains flavor and draws a golden color from the barrel. According to the law, all Scotch whisky must have matured for at least 3 years, but part of the whisky remains in barrels for much longer – even up to several decades.