shoganai wrote:I guess I should try and clarify this question a bit. I understand that there are several steps to malting the barley & then to ultimately making the whisky. So my question is, which steps are skipped? Does the barley come straight from the field and is fermented?
The main step that is skipped is the malting process.
If you think of it like this .... you should not think of Malted Barley as barley any more in relation to whisky but Malt.
Barley seed is germinated by adding some water(usually warm). This is done so that the Barley seed actually starts to grow. (This happens in the malting house and can generate a fairly warm heat.)
Water is absorbed by the seed, and after approximately 24 hours, the first visible sign of germination is the appearance of the root, also known as a white 'chit' and this is the start of the malting process.
The seed is then transferred to malting beds where germination is allowed to proceed over a period of around 5 days.
The seed is regularly turned to prevent grains matting together.
At this stage you have green malt. i.e. the growing Barley.
This is then kiln dried (partly cooked) by hot air. This can be with or with out peat smoke to add the smoke flavour. This process stops the growth of the malt.
At this stage it is nice and dry and the chit is seperated from the seed.
What is left is your malt ready to be made into a mash.
If it was just Barley to be used this Malting step would not be used.
And that is the difference between Malt and Barley