Malt Whisky Vs Grain Whisky: Whats The Difference
Whisky is a complex spirit that contains a wide range of flavours and aromas. This high level of sophistication means that it can take some time to fully appreciate this strong and robust spirit.
This process is made more difficult by the many varieties of whisky that are available. Manufacturers can use different ingredients and production processes to make their whisky. Two of the most common varieties of Scotch whisky are malt whisky and grain whisky.
What To Know About Single Malt Scotch
Single malt Scotchmatured in oak casks in Scotland for at least three yearsand one day
- “Malt” indicates that the whisky is distilled from a “malted” grain. Several types of grains can be malted however, in the case of single malt Scotch, barley is the only grain used.
- “Single” indicates that all the spirits in the bottle come from a single distillery. Bottlings containing malt whisky from multiple distilleries are called “blended malt”.
How Does Single Grain Whisky Taste
Single grain whiskies are often light-bodied and mellow, making them an excellent introduction for those who just now entering the whisky world. Corn, maize, wheat, and old barrels are commonly utilized.
Since this type of whisky is made from corn, maize, wheat and aged in older barrels, their character is somewhat sweeter than single malts, for instance. Contrarily to the bourbon flavour that is made with 51% corn within the mash the single grain expressions do not have the smoky flavours, the maple or vanilla flavours one can find in conventional bourbon whiskey.
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What Grains Are Used To Make Whiskey
You might think that theres not much to making whiskey: its just grain, right? Like beer, but distilled? But theres actually more to it than that, and like gin, what goes into the whiskey can wildly change the taste of what you get in the bottle. Its true that, at its simplest, whiskey is just distilled grain, but the word grain is an umbrella term and can mean several very different kinds of seeds, many of which are used in varying amounts to make whiskey of different quality and taste. So join us once again as we explore each of the major grains used to make whiskey, and well see where each comes from, and what it does to whats inside the bottle.
The most important of all grains used in the production of whiskey worldwide is barley, and most whiskies have at least some barley in them. Barley was one of the first grains to be domesticated, in the Fertile Crescent of what is now Iraq and the Levant, sometime around 8500 BCE. These days it is grown all over the world. Malted barley is most famously used to make Scotch whiskies as the name says, a single malt Scotch like Singleton is 100% malted barley, and blended Scotch like Johnnie Walker typically has a high barley content in it as well. Barley imparts a warm, roasted toffee taste to a spirit, and these whiskies are surprisingly versatile and can be enjoyed on their own, finished in specialty casks, or blended with other grains to make endless varieties of flavor.
The Angels Share During Maturation
Usually, the Whisky is filled into the cask with an alcohol content of 63.5%. Over the years some of the cask content evaporates through the cask walls. Alcohol is more volatile than water so it evaporates more quickly. The alcohol content of the Whisky decreases by 0.2% to 0.6% annually. The Scots call this evaporated alcohol the Angelâs Share. The fluid level decreases by 2% each year. It is measured with a square wooden ruler that has four scales on each of its four sides corresponding to the various cask sizes. The scales indicate the target level for each year. With this method, even the smallest leaks can be detected. Experienced controllers tap on the cask ends with a long-handled wooden hammer and deduce the fluid level by the resulting sound. Due to the evaporation and the absorption of flavours from the cask wood, the Whisky becomes mellower each year. Samples are taken regularly from each cask to find out when the Whisky has reached its prime. The size of the cask is important, too. Larger casks have a smaller surface in proportion to the content, and fewer flavours can be extracted from the wood. Therefore Whisky in large casks must be stored longer in order to reach the same level of maturation!
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Is Single Grain The Same As Single Malt
However, the main difference is that single grain whiskies do not have to be produced from malted barley. Single grain whiskies also differ from single malts in how they are distilled. Single malts are distilled using traditional pot stills, while single grains are distilled in column stills .
What grain is malt whiskey?
Single malt whisky is made in a traditional batch process using a copper pot still. According to the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009, to be classifed as a Single Malt Scotch Whisky it must be produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in pot stills.
What is malt and grain?
Malt is germinated cereal grain that has been dried in a process known as malting. The grain is made to germinate by soaking in water and is then halted from germinating further by drying with hot air. Various cereals are malted, though barley is the most common.
What Is Scotch Whisky Afterall
After we summed up the What is Scotch Whisky Made Of question, it is also important to know the lines that define a Scotch whisky.
Also known as Scotch, this type of whisky is produced primarily from malted barley. It can only be made in Scotland and single malt, single grain, blended malt and blended grain are among the various varieties.
Regarding the production process, only yeast must be used in the fermentation process and only whole grains must be added to the malted barley. Also, Scotch whisky must age in oak barrels for at least three years and be bottled having a minimun of 40% alcohol content.
Finally, you cant call your drink Scotch unless its created entirely in Scotland, with 100% Scottish ingredients.
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The Future Of Malted Grain
Garden adds that Great Western Malt is also working with a researcher at Oregon State University to develop new winter varieties of barley. Its also worth noting that in other parts of the United States theres work being done to develop strains of barley that are more heat tolerant and drought resistant, including Texas A& Ms work with Blacklands Malt. These are qualities that will not only prove useful to distillers in warmer climates, but also may be a boon in regards to climate change.
We feel that theres a lot of benefits to being able to have an assortment of spring and winter varieties available for our customers, says Garden. We do invest a lot in ensuring the sustainability of our business. Its important to us to be on top of our game and stay engaged and involved to ensure that we are developing varieties that seem to provide a benefit to all.
In the end, the kind of innovation that Great Western Malting and other maltsters around the world are spearheading will only benefit what we find on liquor store shelves.
As the craft beer revolution did, I think that the whiskey industry is evolving and producing many more interesting things for people to try, says Garden.
How Scotch Is Made
In addition to the divide between single malts and blends, scotch offers a diverse range of flavors and styles, far wider than other whiskey categories. Between different regions, different aging casks, the use of peat – or lack thereof, and a host of other variables, scotch production can take many twists and turns. Here well dig deeper into how these all impact what’s inside the bottle.
Base Ingredient: Malted Barely
Malted barley is the bedrock grain of scotch. It is used exclusively in single malts and is present in smaller quantities in grain whiskeys. Barely creates a distillate that is a bit drier than other grains. Malting is a technique that means the barley is steeped in water to convince it that it is time germinate. This causes the starches to break down into simple sugars so the yeast can consume and convert it into alcohol. More on this here. In addition to scotch, malted barely is used in beer, where it is also known as malt, as well as in whiskeys all over the world.
Wheat and Corn
Wheat is the primary grain used to make grain whiskey for blends. It supplanted corn in the 1980s, which is still sometimes used. Both grains create distillates that are lighter and a bit sweeter which is perfect for blended scotch.
Though Scotch is best known for peated whiskys, they do exist elsewhere, including Japan, Ireland, a few in the U.S. and beyond.
Phenols and PPM
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Which Malt Whisky Is The Best
The 15 Best Single Malt Scotch Whiskies to Drink in 2021
- Best Overall: Aberlour 16 Year Old.
- Best Under $100: Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie.
- Best Under $50: The Glenlivet 12 Year Old.
- Best Value: Aberfeldy 12 Year Old.
- Best for Cocktails: Auchentoshan American Oak.
- Best 12-Year-Old: The GlenDronach Original.
Whats the best single malt whisky?
Is Single Malt better than blended?
Single malt whiskey has grown a reputation for being a higher quality spirit than blends. This has led to a misconception that they are also smoother and more flavorful. That malted barley form of whiskey, aged for years in an oak barrel, produces that classic Scottish single malt scotch.
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Differences Between Malt And Grain Whisky
To be known as Scotch whisky, a mash of cereals, water and yeast must be distilled and matured in Scotland for a minimum of three years in oak casks.
There are two main types of whisky produced in Scotland: malt whisky and grain whisky. All whisky begins its life as the product of a single distillery so these products are known as single malt or single grain.
Single malt whisky is made in a traditional batch process using a copper pot still. According to the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009, to be classifed as a Single Malt Scotch Whisky it must be âproduced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in pot stillsâ.
Single malt is the premium, traditional style of whisky, but the artisanal manner of its production is not easily scaled.
The production of single grain whisky is very different. Unlike single malt, it can be produced from a variety of different grains or cereal types, either malted or unmalted. Single grain whisky is also made continuously via a modern column still, on an industrial scale. The output is purer in alcohol, but with much less flavour and character than a single malt.
The overwhelming majority of Scotch whisky consists of malt and grain whiskies mixed together to make a product known as blended Scotch whisky.
More grain whisky is produced than malt but far fewer distilleries make it
What Is The Difference Between Whiskey And Whisky
There is a difference between whiskey and whisky beside the spelling. The barrel type is a key differentiator from bourbon, which must age on new oak barrels. Scotch can be aged on used barrels, many of which come from bourbon country. In Scotland, there are 22 million or more barrels maturing, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.
The final product that goes into a bottle must be 40% ABV or higher.
Many Scotch aficionados will highlight their favorite regions, which can produce unique whiskies to their area of Scotland. Particularly popular regions include Islay and Speyside. With more than 100 Scotch distilleries in Scotland, there are five main types of whisky.
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Example For Bottling: Scottish Liqueure Center
The Scottish Liqueure Center is a small bottler near Perth. It is one of the bottlers, where the distilleries send their casks, in order to bottle them. The first step is the batting tank, where cask are being mixed in order to have the same taste and aroma in one bottling. The Whisky is then transferred through tubes to the bottling station where the machine is filling the Whisky into single bottles. Before the bottles are filled, they are washed out with the same Whisky, that gets filled into it.
After the bottles are filled they are brought to the corking machine. Here the machine is putting the corks in and tightens them. Is the bottle closed, the label is being put on. In the last step, the capsule is being put on, above the cork, to seal the bottle of Whisky. Then the bottles are placed on palettes and are ready for being shipped.
Also interesting is the storage of the casks, which are brought by the distilleries. Those are being checked for their mass of spirit. A rod is put into the cask via the bunghole. With that, two points are measured: The âheightâ of the spirit, and the height of the cask. With the difference between those two points, it can be said, how much spirit is in the cask. The scale on the rod is not linear, since the sides of the casks is round.
Single Malt Vs Blended Whiskey
Whiskey labels can be confusing, so it’s good for drinkers to understand a few common terms. While scotch is the most obvious example, the same distinction between single malt and blended whiskey applies anywhere in the world. The most significant factor is how many distilleries played a role in making the whiskey.
- Single Malt Whiskey: A blend of malt whiskeys produced at one distillery from one type of malted grain.
- Blended Whiskey: A blend of malted barley and grain whiskeys from multiple distilleries. This includes scotch brands like Johnny Walker and Chivas Regal.
- Blended Malt Whiskey: A blend of malted whiskeys produced at various distilleries .
- Single Grain Whiskey: Whiskey produced from more than one grain, including barley, corn, or wheat, at one distillery.
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Haig Club Single Grain Scotch Whisky
This Haig single grain whisky, distilled in Scotlands Cameronbridge Distillery in Fife, was released to the US in December 2014. This has a morning cereal flavour with subtle hints of herbs, vanilla, and light barrel spices and is made mainly from wheat.
Diageo, the brands owner, has lately developed a more mixable version in the UK. The Haig Club Clubman is slightly less expensive at $30. It is recommended to serve this one neat or on the rocks to allow the delicate nuances to show through.
Bottles in the United States begin at $55.
The Haig Club Scotch Whisky was already part of our Whisky Tasting Box! Check all details, here:
Flavour Coming From Rye
Each type of whisky has its own unique flavour profile that comes from the ingredients that are used to make it.
Rye whisky is made from rye grain, which gives it a peppery flavor with a bit of a bite. The spicy finish is what sets it apart from other types of whisky. Rye whisky is also reminiscent of smoke and oak, with a hint of fruitiness.
How does Rye Whiskey taste? This is a difficult question to answer as there are different ways of aging Rye whiskey. Of course, the charred, brand-new oak barrel is the same. However, there are different age timeframes as well, which changes the flavor subtly.
If you’re looking for a whisky with a unique flavor profile, then rye whisky is definitely worth trying.
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The Alcoholic Fermentation In The Washbacks
The resulting liquid is called wort. It is stored for two to four days in the wash backs until fermentation is finished. During alcoholic fermentation, the yeast strains convert the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide , an odourless and colourless gas. Beer breweries and large grain distilleries collect the CO2 for industrial use. Malt Whisky distilleries are usually too small to do that, except for Tomatin, who used to collect the CO2 from their more than 20 pot stills. The wash backs are covered with lids so no vinegar bacteria can enter and the wash back doesnât boil over. In addition, the wash backs have a horizontally rotating blade that continually cuts the foam. The wash backs are usually made from Oregon pine or cypress wood, which is especially resistant to fungi. Recently also stainless steel has been used since it doesnât have to be impregnated with chemicals or cleaned so much.
Fermentation is finished after approximately 48 to 96 hours. The âbeerââ the Scots call it wash â then has an alcohol content of 8 to 9% and is ready to be filled in the stills.
We Love All Kinds Of Whiskey
Whiskey is a spirit made from grain, distilled at a proof lower than 190 and usually matured in oak casks.
Now onto the different types of whiskey. Here are the ones youll encounter most of the time:
- Bourbon: Whiskey made in America from 51% or more corn, and aged for any amount of time in new, charred, oak barrels.
- Rye: Made just like bourbon, but contains 51% or more of rye.
- Malt Whiskey: Made just like bourbon, but with 51% or more of malted barley as an ingredient.
- Scotch: Whisky made in Scotland from 100% malted barley. Usually aged in used barrels for at least 3 years.
- Irish: Whiskey made in Ireland made from malted barley and other ingredients.
- Canadian: Whiskey made in Canada from any grain and aged in oak for at least 3 years.
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