Learn How Scotch is Made on National Scotch Day

July 27th, is officially National Scotch Day, but there really isn’t a bad day to celebrate and enjoy this unique liquor. If you are still a little confused when it comes to the differences among whiskey, bourbon and Scotch, this article will outline some of the basics so that you can get to know Scotch and order with confidence.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about Scotch is that it is basically whisky that is made in Scotland. Certain liquors are defined by the geographic location where they are produced and these distinctions are actually written into law. For example, whiskey can be made anywhere in the world, but whiskey made in Kentucky is called bourbon and whisky from Scotland is called Scotch. While there are some other defining characteristics and differences in product techniques and practices, geography is the most notable.

It is also unique in that it is made from malted barley and aged in oak barrels. With bourbon, only new barrels are used, but Scotch can be aged in old sherry and whiskey barrels. In fact, many American distilleries sell their used oak barrels to distilleries in Scotland. Another main requirement is that it must be aged for at least 3 years. Some bourbons and whiskeys are aged for just a matter of months.    

How Scotch is Made

While every distillery will have their own practices, making Scotch involves a few basic steps. 

  1. Malting

Barley is soaked in fresh spring water and then spread out on the malting floor. This allows for germination and the production of key enzymes, which are essential for the creation of alcohol.

  1. Mashing

Once the malt is dried out, it is ground down into a grist, which is then mixed with hot water and slowly heated. This process allows the starches to convert into sugar.

  1. Fermentation

At this stage, yeast is added and begins to feed on the sugar and produce alcohol.

  1. Distillation

Scotch is actually distilled twice. This process removes the alcohol from the water and also gets rid of any solids.

  1. Inspection

An experienced stillman will test the distillates to make sure that they are ready to go into the oak barrels and undergo the maturation process.

With Scotch, there are a variety of different blends and a single malt style. Blends can be made using malted barley along with other grains and cereals. However, single malt uses just three ingredients: water, malted barley and yeast. The production process is basically the same although the flavors of a single malt versus a Scotch Blend are quite different. Many people prefer blends because they offer a smoother texture and taste.

If you are looking for a good excuse to try some Scotch and explore this spirit, National Scotch Day is the perfect occasion. However, there is no need to wait for a special event. You can order up a single malt or blended Scotch any time and see exactly why spirit has earned its own day on the calendar. 

FAQs

Do they call Scotch Scotch in Scotland?

According to law, whisky can only be labeled as Scotch if it is distilled in Scotland. There are also some specific distilling requirements that must be followed.  

What is the difference between Scotch and regular whiskey?

The biggest difference has to do with geography. Essentially, Scotch is whiskey that can only be made in Scotland. This is similar to bourbon, which is whiskey that is made in Kentucky. In addition, it is produced from malted barley and bourbon is made by distilling corn. 

What do they call scotch in Scotland? 

In Scotland, it is referred to as Scotch whisky. It can also be called simply Scotch or whisky.

What is there to know about scotch? 

The spirit is aged in oak barrels for at least 3 years. The barrels can be new or used, which means that in some cases, old sherry or bourbon barrels are shipped over to Scotland to be reused. 

How is Scotch made?

Scotch whisky consists of 10-20% malted barley along with maize, wheat and other cereals. During the cooking process, fermentable sugars are released. From there, the wash is distilled twice before being put into oak barrels in order to mature.  

How do you make single malt scotch? 

Single malt contains three ingredients: water, yeast and malted barley. The process begins with malting the barley so that it can begin to germinate and convert starch into the sugars that will then be mixed with yeast in order to produce alcohol.

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