The barley used to make the whisky is "malted" by soaking the grain in water for two to three days and allowing it to germinate.This process releases enzymes, which convert starch (which is insoluble in water and not available for fermentation by yeast) to fermentable sugars.More subtle malts can have phenol levels of around 2–3 ppm.Entirely non-smoked (non-peated, unpeated) malts are made by the Glengoyne Distillery, which only uses hot air for drying.
Barley, yeast and water are the only ingredients required in the production of (barley-based) single malt whisky.At first, the hot water dissolves the sugars (maltose) and enzymes (diastase) in the grist.Then the enzymes act on the starch left over from the malting stage, continuing the conversion to sugar, and producing a sugary liquid called wort.Most distilleries use different water sources in the various steps, and this becomes a crucial part of the character of the end product.Most new-make malt whisky is diluted to about 62.5% before it is placed in casks to mature.
Rosenthal single malt
However, most of the distilleries now use commercial "maltsters" to prepare their malt.The germination is halted (by heating) after three to five days, when the optimum amount of starch has been converted to fermentable sugars.Typically, each batch of grist is mashed three times or so to extract all the fermentable sugars. The first water is injected at approximately 60 °C, the second portion at approximately 72 °C and the third and final portion at approximately 88 °C.For example, there is no definition of the term single with relation to whisky in the law of the United States, and some American whiskey advertised as single malt whisky is produced from malted rye rather than malted barley.
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All single malt goes through a similar batch production process, as outlined below.Traditionally in Scotland each distillery had its own malting floor where the germinating seeds were regularly turned.The "pagoda roof" (many now false) which ventilated the malt kiln can still be seen at many distilleries both in Scotland and in other countries.These days, many distilleries are using distilled water for diluting whisky before it is casked as well as for diluting the whisky to bottling strength (40-46% Alcohol by Volume (ABV)) after maturation.Others, like Jura or Bruichladdich use water from local burns or springs to dilute new-make before it is casked.