Whisky galore!

Whisky galore!

Originally uploaded by Mr_Chips

Going on a birdwatching and rambling trip to Islay brought out some long passion for Whisky.
There are eight distilleries on Islay and one on Jura next door which I have to say is one of the best for my taste. Each distillery has its own flavour and characteristic even though they use very similar water and peat resources.
Nowdays the malt is brought in from the mainland. Some of the more traditional distilleries have a proper malting floor where the malt is left to germinate – the insoluble starch turns into soluble sugars and then the maltings are smoked to arrest the germination. Cutting a long story short the malt is milled into grist and then mixed with water to form a mash. After fermentation the wash is transferred to the distillery stills for the distillation process. The shape of the stills is unique to each distillery and they are a joy to see. Large copper canisters with huge funnels.
The whisky is then transferred to oak barrels from America that have been used for bourbon or in some cases to sherry barrels. This is the maturation process where the whisky has a long rest and is then sold commonly as 10 year or 15 year old whisky. It takes on some of the characteristics of the wood in the barrel which also imparts a colour to the otherwise clear liquid.
The taste is peaty as one would expect. Peat is used in the malt smoking and drying process and also tints the water. Sometimes adding water brings out the flavours although many whisky geeks would sneer at the idea of adding water.
Touring around the distilleries is very interesting. They are unique buildings in prime locations and even if you don’t do the tours it is worth checking out the scenery.
My favourite is the Jura whisky which has a mild peaty flavour with a fine finish.


2 Responses

  1. Hi,

    I’ve been reading your Islay posts the last days with great interest. Thanks for the positive reports on Islay!

    I guess you will be back?


  2. Thank you Ron. Yes – certainly lookiing forward to going back. It’s a lovely place.

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