How to make whiskey cannot be summarized in a few words. It is a process that is long and time consuming. However if instructions are followed carefully you will find it easy to produce a fine tasting whiskey distilled in your home. Ingredients needed are just water, barley and yeast. Manufacturing steps are malting, grinding, brewing, fermentation, distillation, aging and bottling.
The barley is the most important ingredient and high quality barley will produce a quality tasting product at the end, therefore selection of the barley has to be done with great care. The malt can be bought at a malting plant. The purity and quality of the water will determine the taste of the whiskey since it is used in different steps during the process of distillation and the production of the “wort”. Brewer’s yeast will begin the fermentation and its role is very important.
The actual making of whiskey will take a duration of three years. No spirit or malted grain that does not lie at least for three years in a cask can be called whiskey neither can it be sold and marketed as “whiskey”. To be deserving of the “scotch” name, the whiskey needs to stay for at least three years in Scotland.
During the malting the barley is moistened or made wet and spread out on a floor in order to allow the germination to start. Chemical reactions will automatically change the barley starch into sugar which will in turn later turn into spirit. You will have to find out the right time or moment in which the germination process has to be stopped. Usually the malting takes 8 to 21 days. Turn the barley over in order to ensure constant temperature and moisture and dry it over a peat fire to control the process of germination. The smoke of the fire gives it a distinct flavor.
The malt is ground when dry into a coarse flour called “grist” that has to be mixed in a “tun” with hot water. The ratio of grist to water should be 1:4. The mixture that looks like porridge is called “wort”. Fermentation of this wort will produce a beer. Whiskey unlike beer has to be distilled without any alterations or additions of hops etc. The process of distillation separates the water and alcohol. It is done in stills. While the water will evaporate at 100% the alcohol will be transformed into vapor at 80% thus raising into the still long before the water. The use of copper stills are popular because it helps in the separation of the spirit and water.
The first “low wine” that has 21% alcohol is the first distillation that takes place in the wash-still. Alcohol vapors are cooled with the help of a condenser containing cold water or ice. The next distillation takes place in the “spirit still”. Oak casks are used to store the alcohol.
How to make whiskey at home is therefore a question of whether you have understood the manufacturing process well. Most whiskey casks are second-hand casks that contained bourbon in the past. Once your whiskey has aged for the required time limit, you will have to bottle the whiskey. You will have to decide when your whisky is ready to be drunk or sold.