Part 1: How is Whisky made? The ingredients

28-11-2016 By Emily Stockden

Whisky or whiskey is a distilled alcoholic drink made from fermented grain mash, water and yeast. Sound simple?

So which grains? There are many different grains that may be used and which result in different varieties. The most common is barley (which can be malted - more about that later), maize, rye, and wheat. The good news is that the barley doesn't have to come from Scotland for the whisky to be called Scotch whisky! In fact a lot of it comes from England and South Africa. In this case, it's not about the origin of the barley, but the quality: we want high sugar content at the lowest price.

Water. Straight from the tap? No way. The quality of the whisky depends on the purity of the water hence Scotland, famous for its crystal clear water, originating whisky. Some of the taste of whisky can be attributed to the water used but only to a small degree. Water is also mixed into the ground malt in order to produce the wort (this strange word means the infusion of mash before it is distilled). It is also used for cooling the alcohol as it comes out of the still and - obviously - to reduce the alcohol content at bottling.

Yeast is the other essential ingredient and it's often a combination of brewer's yeast and culture yeast. What does the yeast do? It kicks off the fermentation process. Distilleries take their yeast selection and combinations very seriously as fermentation has an impact on the finished product.

So now that we have ingredients covered, we will move onto how to combine them in the next post. Keep your eyes peeled!