Scottish Whisky - How Scotch Whisky is made?

Since its first appearance in the homeland of whisky, Scotland, this alcoholic beverage managed to spread across the world becoming one of the most popular drinks, holding its place to the wine and beer. Created in the cold northern regions rich with the grain production, whisky soon became national drink of the Scotland and one of their most lucrative exports.

Whisky Scotch

The first historical record of Scotland whisky come from little over 500 years ago, and since then production of this drink had its ups and downs. As the centuries went advancements in the production process enabled brewers to refine their work and create many new types of whisky, however many legal constraints (taxes and bans) almost managed to forever cripple their traditional production. Between beginning of the 18th century, to the end of 19th century, Scottish brewers worked in secret, illegally producing whisky and lived through constant struggle against authorities. During that time smugglers devised many tactics for transport, storing and selling whisky that proved instrumental to the future underground alcohol movement that rose during American Prohibition in early 20th century.

Scottish whiskies can be produced in five types:

  • Single Malt Scotch Whisky, produced from malted barley at a single distillery that used pot stills.
  • Single Grain Scotch Whisky, same as before, only with addition of other grain types besides barley, also produced in single distillery.
  • Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, made from the mixture of two or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies from different distilleries.
  • Blended Grain Scotch Whisky, made from the mixture of two or more Single Grain Scotch Whisky from different distilleries.
  • Blended Scotch Whisky, made from mixture of one of more types of both Single Malt Scotch Whiskies and Single Grain Scotch Whiskies.

Production of whisky in Scotland is strictly governed by variety of laws that were introduced during several past decades (Scotch Whisky Act 1988, Scotch Whisky Order 1990 and currently active Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009). In addition to governing ways of production, these laws also set the rules on how Scotch whiskies must be labeled, packaged, advertised and exported (drink that is labeled for local sale is forbidden to be exporte d). Also, this law forbids other types of "non-Scottish produced" whiskies to be brought in Scotland to remain there for their aging process (this was done to prevent advertisements with "matured in Scotland" labels).

Here are some basic laws that govern the creation of Scottish whisky:

  • It must be produced in Scotland from local water and malted barley.
  • Malt must be processed in mash, and fermentation must be achieved only by adding pure yeast (no other additives).
  • It must be distilled to below maximum allowed alcoholic strength of 94.8%.
  • Minimum 3 year aging process must be done in oak casks which have capacity of no more than 700 liters.
  • Addition of flavors that change drinks color, aroma and taste is forbidden.
  • The only allowed additives are pure water, yeast and plain caramel coloring.
  • Finished product must have minimum alcoholic strength of 40%.

Note: All figures are approximate; this site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.