Whisky Making Processes
The first stages of the making of Scotch whisky require the barley to be first steeped, then spread out on the malting floor where it generates its own heat, prior to being dried in the kiln so that the process ofis arrested. In many distilleries today, however, malt is mechanically processed, although the end result is the same. After the malt has been dried, it is allowed to cool and then, the rootlets of the barley being taken off (to be used for cattle feed), it is ground in the malt mill before passing to the mash tun.
Here hot water is mixed into the malt which starts up the action of the diastase; this completes the conversion of the soluble starch into maltose. The resulting liquid, called wort, is drawn off (the husks that remain also go for cattle feed) and allowed to cool.
The wort then goes into the tun-room, where the huge ‘wash backs’receive it. Yeast is added, so as to convert the sugar in the wort to alcohol over a period of a couple of days or more. As the temperature of the ‘wash’ rises, the yeast cells are killed off. The wash is now ready to be distilled.
The wash is pumped into the wash still, or stills: these stills are huge bulbous copper vessels shaped like pots or cones — hence their name—and have a sideways-tilted top pipe, tapering into what is known as a ‘swan neck’ or ‘lyne arm’, which passes into the ‘worm’. This worm is an ever-decreasing coil which winds through a tank kept cold by means of continuously-running water. The liquid that passes through the swan neck into the spirit receiver is called ‘low wines’. This is again distilled. The beginnings and ends of the ‘runs’of the first stillare sent back to be redistilled, as they contain too high a proportion of impure spirit. The first part is known as ‘foreshots’, the second ‘middle cut’, and the third feints’. It is the middle cut that eventually passes over as whisky and this then goes into casks for subsequent maturation.