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Issue 111 - Barley

Whisky Magazine Issue 111
April 2013


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When it comes to barley, the second essential raw material of Scotch malt whisky-making, greater efficiencies have been achieved as new varieties have been developed which provide farmers with a higher crop yields per acre than in the past, while from the distillers' point of view, the same tonnage of barley now yields more alcohol than before. It is sometimes considered strange that a product with so much emphasis on provenance as Scotch malt whisky may be made from barley grown anywhere in the world. However, today's distillers try to use Scottish barley wherever possible, and In 2010 more than 93 per cent of the malted barley employed in whisky-making was grown in Scotland. Diageo has pledged to purchase Scottish-grown barley whenever possible, with the company's Procurement Director Andy Roberts declaring earlier this year that “We are looking at between five and 10 per cent annual growth in the whisky market, and if Scotland can supply malting barley for that, then we shall be buying.” Chivas Brothers' Alan Winchester notes: “The malt we buy is predominantly grown in Scotland, but at times there will be English and even Irish malt in the system. We don't want to be involved in shipping malt hundreds of miles if we can help it, but in a really bad year for the barley harvest in the UK we could go to Denmark, if there just wasn't the quality and quantity required at the home.” In the past, large quantities of foreign-grown barley were transported to Scotland for ma...

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