What Is Single Malt Scotch Made From

Best 10 Year Old: Jura 10 Year Old

How is single malt whisky made? | The World of Whisky

courtesy of Total Wine

Region: Islands | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Orange, Cherry

Though not as well-known an island as its neighbor Islay, the isle of Jura also boasts a history of scotch productionand its namesake distillery offers a delicious and approachable 10-year-old expression. This scotch is rested in bourbon barrels and then finished in Oloroso sherry casks, says Adam Morgan, head bartender at Husk Nashville. This unique finish lends a balanced yet sweet finish that dances between spice and oak. The smoke on this particular scotch is soft and intriguing for any first-time scotch drinker.

Thank You For Joining Our Single Malt Scotch Journey

The journey started on a business trip to Shanghai, with a glass of Glenfiddich 18, and the desire to learn much more about the ‘Water of Life’. In March of 2020 I started The Scotch World®. Every day allows me to learn more about scotch, connecting with passionate distillers and enthusiasts from around the globe.

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The Scotch World® is reaching scotch and whisky distilleries, businesses, industry leaders, and enthusiasts worldwide. When we launched The Scotch World® website in March of 2020, we shared our passion with family and friends around the world. We did not know and imagined that our website would ever reach people in 56 countries, 513 cities, and on five continents. We will continue to provide our audience with news and insights about our industry.

Tweeddale Grain Of Truth Peated Edition

Believed to be one of the firsts Peated Single Graind Scotch Whisky, this expression from Tweeddale presents a new turn on single grain whiskies. Made with 50% malted barley and 50% wheat, it is peated and also aged in bourbon barrels.

As sweet as it is smoky, the Tweeddale Grain of Truth has light smoke, chocolate and caramel as flavour notes.

This expression already won the Silver Medal at the World Whiskies Awards 2020.

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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.

No Other Malted Grains

Glenmorangie Single Highland Rare Malt Scotch Whisky, 18 Years old ...

The term malt has become synonymous with barley. However, you can make a whisky with unmalted barley giving a shout out to you, single pot still whiskey! You can also malt any grain. There are malted rye whiskeys, for example. So you might see a label that says Malted Whisky, but it is made from something other than barley. But you cant do that in Scotland or Ireland. There only malted BARLEY is allowed in single malt whisky.

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The Use Of Peat In Making Smokey Whiskies

Peat is centuries-old vegetation that has part-decayed and part-survived. It becomes compressed over hundreds of years, into a kind of fibrous dense soil, thick with that old vegetation. It can be cut into brick shapes and then dried.

Peat has long been used as a source of fuel. In Scotland and Ireland in particular, it was burned to provide heat to cook with, boil water with, and keep the home warm. And, peat is sometimes used in making whisky.

It’s important to note that not all scotch whiskies are made using peat. Only some. Where it is used, peat is burned to create heat which dries the malted barley, stopping it from growing, and keeping the sugar locked in the grains.

During this process, the peat gives off smoke. Picture that fibrous vegetal soil brick I described, burning on a fire. I bet you can imagine the smoke coming off it. That smoke will gently permeate the drying grains of barley. And some of the smoke particles will remain in the grains, through fermentation and distillation, and into the whisky. This adds a smokey earthy character to the final single malt whisky.

So again, not a typical ingredient, and not a ubiquitous one. But, peat can be used to add an extra flavour dimension to whiskies.

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 whats 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.

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Recent History Of Single Malt Scotch Whisky

According to a 2016 survey, barely 20% of Scotch whisky is produced by enterprises based in Scotland. Diageo, a London-based firm, owns the bulk of the goods, while Suntory, a Japanese company, owns Morrison-Bowmore.

Independent distilleries owned by Scots corporations also produce a significant amount of whisky, the largest being William Grant & Sons. Grant is responsible for 8% of total Scotch whisky production, including names like Glenfiddich and Balvenie. Glenfiddich is the worlds best-selling Single Malt Scotch Whisky, with around 14 million bottles.

Single malt whisky has made up around 26% of whisky exported to foreign nations in recent years, with bulk spirits accounting for about 5% and blended whisky accounting for the rest. The United States , France , and Singapore are the major importers of Scotch whisky .

Dilution Prior To Aging

How To Make Single Malt Scotch Whisky | The Borders Distillery

Most new-make malt whisky is diluted with water to about 60% alcohol by volume or so before it is placed in casks to mature . The aged spirit is then diluted with water to reduce it to bottling strength . Since large amounts of water are used during the process of whisky production, water supplies are a key factor for the location of any distillery.

The “new-make spirit” , or unaged whisky, is then placed in oak casks to mature and to reduce its alcohol content to expedition levels . By law, all Scotch whisky must be aged for a minimum of three years in oak casks, though many single malts are matured for much longer. The whisky continues to develop and change as it spends time in the wood. Typical maturation periods are in the range 10-15 years longer periods of twenty years or more occur, but are rare and costly. During the time it spends in the wood, a significant percentage of each cask’s content will evaporate. The lost part is known as the angel’s share.

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Sherry casks are also commonly used. This practice arose because sherry used to be shipped to Britain from Spain in the cask rather than having been bottled, and the casks were expensive to return empty and were unwanted by the sherry cellars. In addition to imparting the flavours of their former contents, sherry casks lend maturing spirit a heavier body and a deep amber and sometimes reddish colour.

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Best Under $: The Glenlivet 12 Year Old

Courtesy of Reserve Bar

Region: Speyside | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Apple, Citrus, Vanilla

The Glenlivets 12-year-old expression is extremely popular, and for good reason. Its priced affordably and has a really approachable palate, according to Chris Dempsey, bartender at Xaman in Dallas. Its not too peaty, and its really the best everyday drinking whisky for a great price, he says.

The whisky was matured in a combination of American and European oak and is a good entry-level bottle for those who dont want to spend too much but are looking for something with complexity of flavor.

Region: Highlands | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Almond, Baking Spice

This is a classic Highlands whisky and is an interesting look at one of the whiskies that makes up the much better-known Dewars White Label.

A major malt component of the Dewars blend comes from Aberfeldy, a distillery that has been around since the beginning of the 20th century. The 12-year-old expression is a great value single malt, usually available for somewhere between $30 and $40. For that relatively low price, the discerning drinker is rewarded with flavor-rich, syrupy notes of honey punctuated by bursts of vanilla and paired with a gentle spice undercurrent.

What Is Scotch Whisky Made Of

Given that all whisky is created from fermented grain mash, Scotch is no exception at all. To be classified as a scotch, the cereal used to produce this spirit must is, mostly, malted barley. However, many Scotch whiskies are made just from barley, water, and yeast.

In a scotch whisky recipe, you may use whole grains from various cereals and caramel colouring. There are no fermentation additives or shortcuts allowed.

Although Scotch whisky is produced from malted barley, the different types of Scotches may add different ingredients to the mixture.

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Understanding The Terms In Single Malt Scotch Whisky

The first step in comprehending the term single malt is to determine which element of the scotch whisky production process each word refers to. Lets start with the definition of the term single.

This is the most perplexing aspect of the phrase, as it may refer to a wide range of whisky-related issues. For example, a widespread misunderstanding about single malt whisky is that the term single implies that the whisky must come from a single batch or barrel. This is not the case, though. A great amount of the single malt scotch whisky are mixtures. However, all expressions in the mix come from the same distillery. And thats what the word Single is related to: the expression is produced and aged in a single distillery. Summing this up, while a single malt might include whisky from various barrels, it must all have come from the same distillery.

When we say blend, were talking about the process of blending whisky from various barrels and maturities to create the finished product. Thus, producers mix whiskies to achieve a flavour balance in their single malt.

As an example, Glenfiddich single malt whisky must be made in the Glenfiddich Distillery. As you might expect, Talisker single malt is manufactured at the Talisker Distillery.

What Happens After The Distilling Process Is Completed

Macallan 25 Year Old Sherry Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Once distilling is complete, the new spirit is put into wooden casks. Now it’s time for the hardest part – the waiting game. The whisky is matured in bourbon or sherry oak casks for a minimum of three years before it can legally be called Scotch whisky. Many whiskies are matured for much longer often for a decade or more. Slumbering in dark, damp warehouses were, over the years, the wood of the casks and the surrounding atmosphere gives the whisky its colour character and just some of its natural flavours. Using his trained palate, the master distiller will decide when the maturing whiskey is ready and fit for finishing.

While the basic distillation processes are the same across Scotland, subtle variations in ingredients and the micro-climate can change the characteristics of a whisky. Local preferences and technique, and even the shape and size of the stills at different distilleries all contribute to the huge range of flavours. These characteristics can vary from region to region. Lowland whiskies are known for the delicate malty citrusy character. While Highland whiskies tend to be more robust with nutty notes and hints of honey. If the distillery is near the sea the whisky can have some salty maritime influences creep in like Old Pulteney. Speyside is renowned for its fruity single malts like The Glenlivet.

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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 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.


Other Grains

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How Does Location Influence Scotch

HIGHLANDS: It is difficult to generalize a profile of style because of the vast area, but highlands tend to be more full-bodied and flavored with less peat and more malt taste.

LOWLANDS: This area is in the south on the English Border. The style is lighter, fruitier and dryer.

ISLAY: The Islay is famous for its peaty, salty, iodine-like style.

ISLAND: Again, because of the vast region, it is difficult to generalize. Because of the proximity to the ocean, they tend to have a salt sea air taste accented by peat.

CAMPBELTOWN: These few malts are slightly peated and smokier than the flavors of the Highlands.

SPEYSIDE: Once considered part of the Highlands, is known for producing sweet whiskies, with mellow notes and fruity flavors.

The Distillation Process Of Scotch Whisky

What is a Single Malt Whisky? – What you need to know

The distillation process is one of the factors that gives scotch whisky its distinct flavour profile. After distillation, Scotch whisky includes not just ethyl alcohol and water but also several secondary components.

The specific composition of these is unknown, although it is thought that they comprise essential oils from malted barley and other grains and compounds derived from peat.

The amount of these secondary elements kept in the spirit is determined by the stills design, operation, and vigour with which the spirit is extracted. Grain Whisky has fewer secondary ingredients than Malt Whisky due to the manufacturing process and has a milder flavour and fragrance.

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