1. Scotch grain whisky is usually made from 10-20% malted barley and then other unmalted cereals such as maize or wheat. The starch in the non-malted cereals is released by pre-cooking and converted into fermentable sugars. The mashing and fermentation processes are similar to those used for malt whisky.
While maturing, the whisky becomes smoother, gains flavour, and draws its golden colour from the cask. A proportion of the higher alcohols turn into esters and other complex compounds which subtly enhance each whisky’s distinctive characteristics.
THE ART OF BLENDING
While the distinctive single malts produced by individual distilleries are becoming increasingly popular, blending creates over 90% of the Scotch whisky enjoyed throughout the world.
A blend of a range of malt whiskies, with no grain whisky included, is known as a vatted malt.
(1) Lowland Malt Whiskies, made south of an imaginary line drawn from Dundee in the east to Greenock in the west.
This is one of the mysteries of the industry and a secret which many imitators of Scotch Whisky have tried in vain to discover. Many theories and explanations have been put forward, but there is no universally accepted solution.
How many distilleries are there?
There are around 100 Pot Still Malt distilleries and Grain, or Patent Still, distilleries in Scotland; but the number working can vary from year to year.
Can Scotch Whisky be made only in Scotland?
Yes. Many other products which were originally manufactured only in a particular locality have lost their geographical significance and can now be manufactured anywhere. The word ‘Scotch’, however, as applied to whisky, has retained its geographical significance. This is widely recognised in law throughout the world. Thus, whisky may be described as Scotch Whisky only if it has been wholly distilled and matured in Scotland for a minimum of 3 years.
If you could duplicate exactly a Scotch Whisky distillery in, say, Brazil or Spain, could you produce Scotch?
No. For the reason given in the preceding answer, whisky can be called ‘Scotch’ only if it is distilled and matured in Scotland. Whisky produced in Brazil is ‘Brazilian Whisky’ or in Spain ‘Spanish Whisky’. Attempts have been made to copy the unique flavour of Scotch Whiskies in many parts of the world, but with no success whatsoever.
A number of distilleries bottle and sell some of the whisky they distil for consumption as single or unblended whiskies. By far the greater part of their production, however, is used for the well-known blended Scotch Whiskies that are sold all over the world.
Blending whisky is a considerable art acquired only after years of experience.
It is of the greatest importance that his blend should never vary from this standard, which his customers all over the world will have come to expect. His second aim is, therefore, to achieve consistency.