In the beginning, there is the barley!
Malt Whisky is a purely natural product and merely consists of malt (malted barley), water, and yeast.
Barley is among the first crops, ever cultivated by humans – it goes back to as early as the fifth millennium B.C. After germinating and drying on the kiln, the barleycorns develop malt, which is the basis for brewing beer as well as distilling whisky. An annual 140 million tons are harvested world-wide, regulary used types in whisky distilleries being “Golden Promise” or “Optic”.
In order to develop malt the barleycorns are soaked in water and spread on the malting floor. This process converts the starch into sugar. When the “green malt” starts to germinate, it is dried over a peat fire to stop the process.
In the “mash tun” maltose sugar is extracted from the milled malt, thus creating the “wort”. After cooling, the wort is filled into the “washback” where yeast is added to start the fermantation. The result is a slightly alcoholic fluid similar to beer called “wash”. This process is the birth of the alcohol!