Production of Scotch Whisky begins when cereals begin to germinate. Enzymes are released that transform grain starch into sugar. The process is interrupted by the introduction of heat; yeast is then added to commence the fermentation process. The liquid that remains is essentially beer. Distillation of the beer produces a transparent, hued distillate; the liquid is not potable at this point.
The blend is stored away for development in porous, second-hand oak barrels with the addition of water. The purity level now is approximately 60%.
As the mixture matures, chemical compounds combine with the distilled spirit. Complex chemical reactions occur to decrease the potency of the alcohol. As a result, the liquid evaporates causing fluid reduction of up to 2% per year. This fluid reduction is known as Angel’s share.
Once the cask is at a little over 50% alcohol (cask strength) the mature whisky can be released. The addition of water takes it down to about 40%. The production criteria for Scottish Whisky is as follows:
Distillation must take place in Scotland
Only Scottish water can be added before maturation and bottling
Barrels must be kept in Scotland throughout the maturation process
Scotch Whisky is GI recognised under European law and is globally protected. The only ingredient other than Scottish water that can be added is caramel, and this is to add colour.
Single malt whisky is a superior, long-established whisky. It makes up for approximately 45% of whisky distillation product. On average, 75 percent of single malt production is in blended whiskies.
Single grain whisky accounts for 55% of whisky distillation product. The single grain whisky has less depth and flavour compared to single malt whisky. It is often blended with single malt to produce a blended Scotch Whisky.
- Whisky improves significantly with age
- Scotch whisky has to mature for three years
- The age of the whisky is printed on the bottle to determine the quality and the price
- The Scotch Whisky Regulation 2009 oversees the production, labelling and presentation of Scotch Whisky
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