All the alcoholic beverages that are distilled from fermented grain mash and aged in wooden casks, usually oak casks, are categorized as whisky. They can be made from different grains, such as barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn). Amongst the various types of whiskies, one is Single Malt Whisky. If you are wondering as to what is it exactly, we can tell you that single malt whiskey is the one that is distilled at a single distillery and made completely from a single type of malted grain, traditionally barley. Though it is produced across the globe, the best ones come from Scotland, Ireland & Japan.
The first step in production of single malt whisky is malting of barley, by soaking the grain in water for 2-3 days. Thereafter, the grain is allowed to germinate, so that the starch coverts into fermentable sugars. After 3-5 days, heat is applied to the grain, to stop the germination process artificially. The malt, thus produced, is crushed into coarse flour (grist). Hot water is added to this grist, in order to extract the sugars from it, through a large kettle called mash tun. In most of the cases, each batch of grist is mashed three times.
The resultant mixture is called wort and it is put in a large vessel called washback, to which yeast is added. This process is called fermentation and it results in production of both carbon dioxide and alcohol. After a period of around 2-3 days, a liquid called wash is formed, which has alcohol content of 5-7 percent, by volume. Now is the time for distillation, for which the wash is pumped into a copper pot still. The result is a spirit, known as low wine, with an alcohol content of about 20 to 40 percent.
The low wine is then pumped into a second pot still, known as the spirit still, and distilled a second time. In some of the cases, third-time distillation also takes place. The final spirit that results from the second (or third) and last distillation is called new make spirit and generally has an alcohol content of 60 to 70 percent. The new make spirit is poured into oak casks and allowed to mature. Finally, the whisky, which has been produced at a single distillery, is bottled and sold as ‘Single Malt Whisky’.
Enjoying Single Malt Whisky
It is very necessary to know the proper way of drinking Single Malt Whisky, so that you are able to enjoy its taste fully. Single malt has a distinctive character and a lingering finish, which can only be experienced when it is gently sipped. Do not add ice or soda water to single malt whisky, as they might distort its taste. However, you can definitely add a little cool water to the whisky. If possible, add spring water to your single malt, as it has a more neutral flavor as compared to the tap water.