How to make a fine Whisky
by the late Michael Jackson's book, Scotland and it's Whiskies
- Harvest barley of the finest quality.
- Secure a source of water, ideally from a stream. Streams on Speyside tend to be heathery, those on the Island are often peaty.
- Steep the barley in the water. Spread the moistened grains on a floor to sprout for about a week, and dry them in a kiln, preferable over a peat fire. (The peat is expecially good on Islay and Orkney.) You have now made malt.
- Infuse the grains of barley in water. The ideal vessel, ratther like a coffee filter, is called a mash-tun.
- Ferment this liquid (by adding yeast) in a vessel called a washback, often made of larch or Oregon pine.
- Distil this beer-like wash twice, or even three times. Do this in copper stills, made to your own design by Forsyth's of Rothes, on Speyside. Heat the stills to boil the wash, then collect the steam and condense it, by running it through a copper coil in a tub of cold water. It is easier to keep the water cold if you do this in a high mountain glen. Although this may be a hidden place, a licence to distil is recommended.
- Age the spirit in oak casks, preferably former sherry butts or bourbon barrels, for no fewer than three years (ideally eight, ten, twelve or more). Barrels can be obtained from the Speyside Cooperage.
A Glencairn glass is designed to showcase the bouquet better than a traditional tumbler, (see specials page for glass info). Avoid coloured or cut glass if you would like to enjoy the golden, bronze or amber hue of the whisky. Do not use ice because it freezes the tastebuds.WhenA light, sweetish Lowlander after a walk in the country or a game of golf. A flowery Speysider as an aperitif. Perhaps a salty Campletown whisky with your meal (take some water too). A heavily sherried malt after dinner or with a cigar. A smoky Islander with abook at bedtime.