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Scottish grain whisky production...HELP?

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Scottish grain whisky production...HELP?

Postby Admiral » Fri Feb 27, 2004 11:34 am

Can anybody provide me any information about how the scottish grain whisky distilleries produce their whiskies?

I know that the grain is either maize or wheat, and I know they are distilled in a continuous still.

But is the mash bill 100% maize, or 100% wheat? Or is similar to the bourbon producers in the U.S.A who combine all their different grains into the one mash bill and then distil the resulting beer?
Admiral
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Feb 28, 2004 8:45 pm

Hello Admiral, when I read your question I went to my book"Whisky, Technology, Production & Marketing" Volume Editor Inge Russell. Under chapter 3 Grain Whisky: raw materilas & processing I read that maize was used but a change came about in 1984 dues to economic, import duties and EU regulations designed to improve EU production. A switch was then made to wheat which comes primarily from the south of France. He then goes on to say that some distilleries continued to use corn. However throughout the chapter I could not find a specific answer to your question regards the mash bill and the implication was it is usually 100% wheat. I will re read the chapter in more depth and see if I can find further info.
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Feb 28, 2004 9:42 pm

There seems to be an issue with the different properties of maize and wheat and the stills had to be modified so that the wheat would not stick to the plates and gum up the process. It seems that the general rule with Scottich Distillers is to run with one type of grain at a time and not to mix them.

Ok, there seems to be a bit more information available and from page 86 is the following paragraph

"Barley-Although it can relatively inexpensive compared to maize and wheat, unmalted barley has been rarely used in grain distilleries because of the processing problems associated with high levels of gums such as beta(?)-glucans (Walker, 1986).

In grain distilleries barley is generally used in the form of malt, and its primary function is a source of enzymes to convert cereal starch from unmalted cereals such as wheat or maize into fermentable sugars. According to the legal definition of Scotch whisky, all of the enzymes must come from the malt, and no other externally added enzymes are permitted.

..........Since barley malt is a relatively expensive component of the production cost in grain distilleries there is a continuing drive to reduce costs by limiting the amount of malt used, and this has resulted in malt inclusion rates falling to less than 10 per cent in some cases. The main effect of this is that it is now more important than ever for grain distilling malt to meet high enzyme specifications"

So there you go, the mash bill, according to this book, is 90% wheat, red or winter, not durum and 10% barley malt. Sometimes maize is used but not generally. If you have any other questions please let me know and I'll go thru the book and try to find some answers and now I'm going to have a scotch.
Lawrence
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