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Issue 62 - Fields of Gold

Whisky Magazine Issue 62
March 2007


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Fields of Gold

Barley is one of the vital ingredients in whisky,but with shortages and price increases is there going to be a knock on effect?

It is the cornerstone the industry is built on, indeed the core of a good whisky and yet barley remains possibly one of the most under discussed issues.

Let's face it barley tends to be sidelined during conversations about the whisky making process.

Distillers will often go to great lengths to discuss the shape and size of their stills, purity of water and the premium quality of their barrels.

All this would be for nothing without having a top quality key ingredient.

However now this significant grain has come top of the discussion poll for many distillers as poor harvests have pushed up prices – in some instances by 80 per cent – creating panic buying in some sections of the industry.

All this has come at a time when many companies are starting to lay down stock in the anticipation of a rise in future demand.

Speculation indicates that customers' wallets could also take a hit as increased production costs and scarcity of stock dictate a probable high street price rise for many brands.

Barley prices have rocketed from £200 to £250 per tonne in 2006 to £280 to £360 per tonne this year.

This in turn has lead to some firms struggling to source supplies and having to lower their barley standards to secure the much needed grain.

Using a lower grade of barley has an effect on the production process, making it less efficient due to a number of factors including reduced moisture content. Essentially distillers will not getting the spirit yield from the malt they woul...

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