Scotch Grain Whisky

Scotch Grain Whisky

How Scotch Grain Whisky is Made - Video Part 2:

Also see Part 1 - How Malt Whisky is Made and Part 3 - How Blended Whisky is Made

In the past Scotch grain whisky was often thought of as being a neutral spirit which is mixed with malt whiskies to make blended whisky. Today with the increasing popularity of whisky, whisky drinkers have become aware that grain whisky is not the neutral spirit it was once thought to be and we are even seeing original distillery bottlings as well as bottlings from independent bottlers such as Cadenheads, Signatory and Douglas Laing.

Grain whisky distillation begins when the grain, usually wheat, maize (called "corn" in North America) or unmalted barley, is mashed with water. An enzyme, needed to break down starches in the grain to sugars, is added, followed by yeast to begin fermentation.

Grain whisky is distilled in a continuous operation in a Patent still, also known as a Coffey still. The Coffey Still was invented by Robert Stein, a Clackmananshire distiller. However, the design was patented in 1831 by a Dublin excise man named Aeneas Coffey, hence the name.

Once distilled, the grain whisky is matured just like malt whisky in oak barrels and must age for a minimum of 3 years to be called Scotch whisky.

Only seven grain distilleries are currently in operation, most located in the Lowlands (central Scotland). They produce the majority of spirit (whisky before it has been aged) used in blended whisky.

Current operational Scotch Grain Whisky distilleries:
  • Cameron Bridge in Fife
  • North British Distillery in Gorgie, Edinburgh
  • Invergordon
  • Strathclyde in the Gorbals, Glasgow
  • Girvan
  • Loch Lomond Distillery in Alexandria
  • Starlaw Distillery in Livingston (opened 2011)
Closed Scotch Grain Whisky distilleries:
  • Dumbarton (19382002)
  • Carsebridge in Alloa (19251983)
  • Caledonian in Haymarket, Edinburgh (18551988)
  • Cambus in Tullibody (18061993)
  • Port Dundas (18132009) in Glasgow

With the increase in popularity in Scotch whisky in recent years we are now seeing the release of Single Grain Scotch Whisky, which as its name suggests, is unblended grain whisky from a single grain distillery. These single grain whiskies tend to be well aged, often over 30 years old. It is still rare to find a distillery bottling but there are some excellent independent bottlings available from whisky specialist shops such as The Whisky Exchange

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