Single Malt Scotch is the whisky distilled in a single distillery in Scotland, that too in a pot still, and stored in oak casks, for a minimum period of three years, before it is consumed. It is made with malted barley as its main ingredient. The word 'single' in single malt scotch specifies that all the malts in the bottle come from a single distillery. Whereas scotch made from multi-distillery malts is usually called blended malt, vatted malt or pure malt. The term 'malt' denotes that the whisky is distilled from a single malted grain, with barley being the chosen one.
There are only three ingredients - barley, yeast and water, required in the production of Single Malt Scotch. All brands of single malt scotch are made using the same method of preparation, but have variation in taste, either due to inexperience or intentionally. Talking about whisky production, water is present in all the phases. It is added to the barley, to promote germination, and also used to create a mash, when mixed with ground barley grist. Then, water is used to dilute whisky, before maturation and prior to bottling.
The barley used to make Single Malt Scotch is malted by soaking the grain in water for 2-3 days and then allowing it to germinate. This results in production of enzymes, required to convert starch into fermentable sugars. The malt is milled into coarse flour, and added to hot water, to activate the enzymes that convert starches to fermentable sugars. Yeast helps in the fermentation of the single malt scotch. The wash is then distilled and kept in oak casks, to mature for a few years. The longer the maturation, the better would be the taste of the scotch.
Drinking Single Malt Scotch
- Choose a single malt whiskey from the many varieties. There are some varieties of malt, which are a little sweet and some have a salty, smoky aroma.
- It is important to select the right glasses for drinks, as they can simply double the fun. The best glasses for consuming single malts are the tulip-shaped ones. Tumblers with a narrow top are also a good choice. The aroma of the whiskey gets trapped in the glasses with a narrow top.
- Pour one to two ounces of scotch into the glass. Swirl the drink to see its consistency, when it runs down the side of the glass. Swirling will also serve to aerate the drink by exposing it to more oxygen. Now, stick your nose into the glass and smell it. The aroma can range from grassy to chocolaty.
- Take a sip to enjoy the single malt. Do not gulp the drink; it is to be enjoyed slowly. The taste of malt can include flavors citrus, caramel, iodine, berries, almonds, etc.
- You may add water to your drink or have it ‘neat’. A lot of people believe that the best way to have malt is to take it neat. However, the choice is entirely yours. If the taste is too strong for you, you may add some water.