A Journey through the Distilleries of Islay and Skye.
When iBESTmag was not yet a web magazine, some of our collaborators made a Press Trip to Scotland and precisely, in the islands of Skye and Islay, where they produce some of the most popular and appreciated Single Malt Whisky brands . Because the concept we want to express in this magazine is linked to quality, choice and selection. In short, the pursuit of good drinking, be it tied to a wine, a distillate and why not, to a good craft beer.
So, what better than a journey through wild and beautiful lands, with streams of pure waters, that flow between peat lands and where the salty mixes with the scents of the heather? What better than to follow the stages of barley processing which, while having to fulfill the demands of an increasingly large market, still mix modern techniques and even ancient instruments or rituals of centuries? Then we follow these phases, until we savor the exquisite final result.
The barley processing goes through many stages and is influenced by both its quality and that of water. For this reason, the location of the plant and the constancy of the source of supply are essential for the final result. As mentioned previously, in most cases (especially at Islay) water brings with it the elements conferred by the passage in the peaty soils.
After the malting of the barley, some distilleries add a further peaty scent through a smoking with this fossil fuel. The malt is then put into infusion with selected yeast to obtain a must which, in turn, is fermented for times varying between 2 and 5/6 days. At this point, the alcohol rate is still very low and the must is distilled through special stills. In this regard, each still has its own, how to say … “personality” and each of them provides a product like no other.
After the distillation phases, carefully carried out by the Distillator Masters, the Single Malt is transferred to oak barrels for maturation. The barrels are not new, but they have generally hosted noble wines, such as Sherry, Bordeaux or the American Bourbon Whiskey. The combined action of wood essences (Tannins) and the environment in which the distillery is located (for example the proximity to the sea), gives the Single Malt Whisky its final qualities. Color, fragrance and taste can however be appreciated only after a minimum aging of three years (according to the official Scottish specification), even if any manufacturer uses much longer times.
And, for those who still do not know, no ice in Singe Malt please!
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