Water is the most important aspect to the success of a distillery. It is difficult to argue that no peat flavour finds its way into whisky even when no peat is used in the kilning of the malt.
The character of the water is influenced not only by the rock from which it rises but also by the land over which it travels to the distillery. Some water flows over peat and whiskies gain their peatiness from this; other whiskies have a peaty flavour from the use of the fuel in malting, and some from both sources.
Water will be used in several steps in the process of making whisky. First, the barley is steeped in water and then again in the infusion before the fermentation and distillation process. It may also be used to reduce the strength of the spirit before maturation. The distilleries that have their own bottling plants will use their own local water to reduce the strength of the whisky prior to bottling. Therefore, a reliable source of water is a prime consideration.
Many parts of Scotland are covered with peat bogs or moss. Peat is vegetable matter that has decomposed in water and partly carbonized. Many centuries are required for this natural process to occur. Peat is basically earth that can be cut, dried and used as fuel. Different parts of Scotland produce varying types of peat due to the variations in climate, flora and fauna.
Peat is the largest variable in the flavouring of whisky. Up until the discovery of coal all whisky was heavily peated as this was the only source for fuel.
The peat is put into a massive kiln and burned underneath the malted barley, stopping the germination process and sending wafts of smoke into the grain. This is the key step in the process that defines the typically smoky character of peated Islay single malts.
There are many types of barley used in the making of whisky. Some of the flavours given by the barley are malt and wheat flavours.
For every batch of whisky, there are two majo
The Type of cask the whisky is aged in determines final flavours
Casks are sourced mainly from the US and Spain, where they have previously been used to age whiskey and sherry
Whisky aged in smaller casks has a greater effect on the flavour
As the interaction between wood and spirit is integral to the maturation process, smaller casks tend to mature Scotch whisky quicker. By contrast, large casks such as butts, puncheons or port pipes usually require a longer maturation process, often of 15-20 years or more.