All About Single Malt Whisky

All About Single Malt Whisky

Welcome to Single Malt Whisky

We, at Glenora Distillers, believe that as you educate yourself (and others) in the single malt category you will eventually realize and thus appreciate the uniqueness of our signature brand, "Glen Breton Rare"

  • Some common terms (in reference to whisky)
  • What is single malt whisky?
  • The single malt process
  • What makes Glenora Distillers unique?
  • How to best enjoy single malt whisky

Common Terms (in reference to whisky)

  • New Make – Clear unaged sprit
  • Whisky – The aged spirit from Canada & Scotland
  • Whiskey – The aged spirit from rest of the world including US & Ireland
  • Whisky – Spirit aged 3+ years in Oak
  • Scotch – Whisky, regardless of the grain (barley, rye, corn, wheat) made & aged in Scotland
  • Bourbon – Whiskey made & aged in the US with at least 51% corn
  • Single Malt Whisky – Spirit made from 100% barley in copper pot stills and is the product of one distillery
  • Blended Whisky – Whisky either produced from various grains or from more than one distillery
  • Pure Malt – 100% single malt, may come from several distilleries, taste may vary from year to year
  • Vatted Malt – Similar to “Pure” but more consistent in taste
  • Unchillfiltered– Whisky still containing haze causing oils that may otherwise be removed through chill filtering
  • Chillfiltering - Whisky is cooled to allow the oils congeal and then be filtered out. If served cold or with water or ice the whisky will retain its clear color.

What is Single Malt Whisky?

Although various grains (barley, rye, corn, wheat) can be used either on their own or in a combination, a single malt whisky is a whisky made from malted barley only and it comes from one distillery only. Canada and the USA have been producing whisky for many years and have been mostly known for rye and bourbon formats. In 1990 Glenora Distillers produced what later hit the shelves as North America’s 1st single malt whisky, Glen Breton Rare.

The Single Malt Process

  • Malting Barley

(The malting process converts the barley’s starch into sugar)

Barley is taken in from the field and spread out on a floor where it is soaked with water

and allowed to germinate. The barley is turned during germination providing a consistent product.

  • KilnBuilding

The germinated barley is then moved to a kiln building housing a fire in the lower level. Smoke from this fire rises and enters the chamber containing the barley.

The smoke stops the germination and flavours the barley.

Please Note: Glenora Distillers contracts the malting process to an outside source, however the barley is malted to Glenora's specifications.

  • The Grist Mill

Once Glenora receives the barley it is ground in the Grist Mill. This is the first step in separating the sugar (the flour like substance) from the husks

  • The Mashhouse

The grist is soaked and stirred in the mash ton where hot water dissolves the sugar. The sugar-flavoured water seeps through many small slits in the floor of the mash ton. The solids left behind are off loaded to local farmers for cattle feed.

  • The Washhouse

From the mash ton, the sugar-flavoured liquid (the wort) is cooled before it flows into the washbacks. Added yeast converts the sugar to a 9% alcohol.

As favorable as this liquid may be, we don’t want to age water; so it must be distilled

  • The Stillhouse

Distilling separates the water from the alcohol. The copper pots stills heat the 9% liquid to a boil. Because alcohol boils before water the alcohol vapors rise first, they are collected and then cooled back into a liquid. During this first distillation the water percentage is reduced, increasing the alcohol from 9% to 22% alcohol. This process is repeated in the second and final distillation increasing the alcohol from 22% to 70%. We refer to this product as New Make.

  • Maturing Whisky

Oak barrels are filled with the New Make. Each barrel is numbered and stored in the warehouse for maturation. A spirit must age a minimum of 3 years in oak before it can be called a whisky. Oak as that hardwood has the ideal porosity allowing the spirit to breath. As it breathes through the wood approximately 2% per year will escape into the atmosphere of the warehouse where it further escapes into the community through traditional dirt floors. Some may consider this a loss but, the escaping spirit attracts characteristics from the community. The Glenora Distillery and its warehouses are located brookside in a glen amongst an apple orchard and surrounded by natural stands of maple, pine, spruce, and cedar trees. This surrounding vegetation may influence the end character of the whisky as it may breath back into the warehouse, into the oak barrel, and finally into the whisky.

Each year not only does whisky mature, the warehouse matures as well pulling in more and more of the communities character. Until the warehouse maturation peaks, each year can provide an exciting variable in the final expression of the whisky. During the first year of production (1990) there were only 23 casks laid down to mature. Although some of this product was used in earlier bottlings there are still a few casks remaining. It is always a treat to sample their progress.

How to best enjoy single malt whisky

To each his own however;

  1. A clean glass is a must. There are a few accepted glass styles that are recommended as the "proper" glass however a common brandy snifter will do just fine or cup made of pottery. Both styles help retain the heat from your hand.
  2. A 1-ounce pour is a typical serving
  3. Tilt the glass coating as much of the inside as you can. (Be careful not to spill any)
  4. As the glass warms in your hand aromas should start to come alive, try and identify. If you really want to be adventurous warm the glass (with the whisky in it) in a bath of hot water before moving onto to the taste.
  5. Follow up with a taste (not a drink), follow the first taste with another and allow the to whisky roll to the back of your tongue. Depending on the alcohol content, you may find it to be spicy hot.
  6. Look for the aromas you identified in the nose. Are they the same?
  7. Add a couple of drops of good clean water, give the glass a swirl and breath in the aroma. Repeat this step until you achieve an enjoyable whisky water ration, warm not hot is spiciness. Remember the heat from your hand will help enhance the aromatics and flavours.
  8. The finish is what lingers beyond the taste.
  9. As time passes, the alcohol will have dissipated from the whisky that coated the sides of your glass in step 3. Throughout your tasting, this dried aroma should have contributed another layer of flavour to your taste experience.
  10. Enjoy

Side Note: Good company and atmosphere should not be underestimated

2021 Jun 3rd Donnie Campbell

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