How To Make Scotch
Scotch is only produced in Scotland!
Call a Scotsman a Scotchman at your peril. The word Scotch is used when referring to either an egg covered with sausage meat and breadcrumbs or a whisky distilled in Scotland. There are five processes involved in making Scotch Whisky. Malting is controlled germination of barley to make Malt. The crushed Malt is then mashed and the resulting liquid is called Wort. The next step is to add the yeast, this is to ferment it into weak spirit called Wash. This is then distilled to purify and strengthen the wash. Finally, the spirit is matured in barrels - often for many years. Rather more complicated than making a Scotch Egg!
(Image credit: Loch Lomond Distillery)
Barley is a grain that grows well in the Scottish climate. It can take the cool temperatures and the amount of rain. So it seemed perfectly natural that the Scots learn how to ferment it to make Scotch whisky. The process for making Scotch hasn't changed much in the past couple of centuries though new quality control technologies help insure that distillers can get a more consistent quality.
Learn How to Make Scotch
The great debate
Single malt or blended whisky?
- Active Yeast
- 1) Steep the barley grains in water until they start to sprout. Spread it on a flat surface (most malting houses use a floor) and allow to grow for a week or two. Turn periodically with a paddle to allow the grains access to air.
- 2) Heat the grain in an oven or kiln. Traditionally made Scotch gets its classic peaty flavor by heating it over a peat fire. When the grain is dry, grind it into a flour called grist. Mix it with hot water in a large container to make the mash. Stir regularly to assist the release of sugars.
- 3) Drain off the liquid into a separate container. The best container is a washback made of Oregon pine or Cypress, both of which can resist fungal growths. The remaining grain solids are often fed to cattle. Add active yeast to start the fermentation process.
- 4) Allow to ferment for 2-4 days. The liquid will bubble as the yeast converts sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. At first, the conversion is rapid enough to create foam. When it slows down over a period of days, the yeast has done as much as it can and produced an alcohol content of about 8% to 9%.
- 5) Transfer to pot stills to distill. A typical pot still is made of copper and has a distinctive swan-neck shape. Scotch whisky goes through two distillations. The first produces low wines and the second produces the usable product, which most manufacturers put through a testing process to certify it.
12 years aged is said to be the magic number when it comes to scotch, what do you think?
Is 12 years the charm?
Sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it?
That's why a lot of Scotch whisky drinkers prefer to leave the Scotch making to the professionals. That and the fact that in most places it is illegal. But there are people out there who prefer to control the process and you'll find stills in their basements. However you like your Scotch, you can be sure you're in good company anytime you lift your glass in memory of the drinking mate who just lost your latest drinking match. ;)