Single Malt Whiskey
Single Malt Whiskey
Whiskey, often referred to as “The Water of Life” in Gaelic, is made at one distillery and uses only one type of grain for the production of single malt whiskey. The words “single malt” are often associated with Scotland because of the history and tradition in which single malt whiskey is made, thereby earning the distinction of being called scotch. However, it is referred to as whiskey or bourbon whiskey when distilled elsewhere and can only be called scotch if it is distilled in Scotland. Single malt whiskey has become wildly popular in recent years and is actually produced in distilleries in many parts of the world, each one with their own distinctive flavor characteristics.
Single Malt Whiskey Flavor
What makes single malt whiskey unique is its rich flavor, which is specific to the region in which it is made. Malted barley is used to make single malt scotch while malted rye is often used in American single malt whiskey; but, only one strain of malt can be used in the fermentation process for each malted whiskey in order to keep the integrity of what is known as the single malt whiskey.
Single Malt Whiskey Production
Single malt distilleries implement the traditional method of using a pot to make single malt whiskey that has been used for centuries. They begin with adding water to the grain and let it sit for a few days to start the germination process. The germinated grain is heat dried in a kiln and ground into a course consistency as it is prepared for the process of mashing to extract the sugars. Yeast is added to start the fermentation process, which typically takes a few days. The process of making single malt whiskey is very similar to how beer is made. Barley-based single malt whiskey uses only barely, water, and yeast in its ingredients. Many distilleries will also use distilled water to dilute the single malt whiskey in order to reduce the percentage of alcohol. The longer the maturation process means the more expensive the single malt whiskey.
Single Malt Whiskey Regulations
There are varying constraints that are placed on the production of single malt whiskey depending on where it is made. In Scotland, the regulations state that barley must be used in the production of all single malt scotch whiskeys, and that they must be aged at least three years. American single malt whiskey must not have added coloring or flavor and must have an alcohol volume that is distilled to no more than 80%.
Drinking Single Malt Whiskey
There is no right or wrong way to drink a single malt whiskey; however, there are preferred methods of consuming it in order to taste the multitude of flavors in the drink. It is often recommended to pour a little whiskey into a glass, give it a bit of tilt and swirl to coat the glass, and breathe in the aroma. Afterward, take a small sip of the single malt whiskey and swish it around in the mouth to experience the different full-bodied flavors of the drink.