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A lexicon of terms from the world of whisky.

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The Saladin box is a French invention in the late 1800s by Charles Saladin to reduce the labour needed in the malting process in comparison to the floor maltings. The germinating barley is placed in large boxes where a few vertical screws attached to a crossbar move the barley. The screws help to raise the barley from the bottom to the top. A helpful addition of the movement is the control of heat, often supported by mechanical airflow. The Saladin box has almost everywhere now been replaced with drum maltings.
A single cask bottling is malt whisky that is the product of just one distillation run, from just one individual cask, from just one distillery. It is usually bottled at cask strength and the process of chill filtration is frequently omitted.
Single Malt Scotch Whisky is made of 100% malted barley, is from just one single distillery and has not been blended with any other product from elsewhere. It must be matured in oak casks in Scotland for a minimum of three years. Each distillery has a own unique style of character due to ingredients, production techniques and maturation.
A toast of “Slàinte Mhath” with a response of “Slàinte Mhòr” (pronounced “slahnje vay ... slahnje vor”) - meaning “Good Health ... Great Health” - is the equivalent of the English toast of “Cheers” and is almost exclusively used when drinking whisky.
Speyside has two-thirds of the malt whisky distilleries in Scotland and could therefore be rightly acknowledged as the heartland of whisky production. There are over 50 operating distilleries, which are working, and several that have been mothballed, although their malts are still available. This area, between the cities of Inverness and Aberdeen, sweeps from granite mountains down to fertile countryside, where barley is among the crops. It’s about 32 kilometres deep by 50 kilometres broad, and bisected by the river Spey, the fastest flowing of all Scottish rivers. None of the distilleries draw their production water from it, preferring instead to use some of the many springs and tributaries that feed it. It is not surprising that the region has gained such pre-eminence. The low country which lies between the mountains and the sea, called the Laich O’Moray and known as “The Garden of Scotland”, has wonderfully rich and fertile soil.

Its mild climate and long hours of summer daylight make it perfect barley-growing country. The Speyside single malts, such as Cragganmore and Glen Elgin, are noted in general for their elegance and complexity, and often refined smokiness. Notable is the very complex beast of Dufftown – Mortlach. Speyside malts are typically complex, offering fruity and floral flavours with hints of green apples and citrus notes.

The spirit safe is a large, usually brass-bound and glass-walled container, found in all distilleries, with several glass vessels that act as receptacles for the distillate. It also has instruments such as a thermometer and hydrometer, allowing the distiller to analyse and manage the spirit coming out of the spirit stills. Spirit safes carry padlocks, traditionally placed there by Customs and Excise, which prevent anyone siphoning off the new make spirit, to avoid paying duty on it.
A pot still where low wines, the foreshots and feints from the previous distillation are mixed and heated up to produce the spirit which is later filled into oak casks to mature. The spirit still is used for the second, occasionally third, distillation in the process. The spirit still is usually, with a few exceptions, a lot smaller than the wash still.
Steeping is probably the most important step in malting, as it is here that the barley is “tricked” into growing. In the field, barley will take weeks, even months, to begin germinating. In malting the onset of germination is achieved in less than two days. By immersing the barley three times in water, with air rests in between, the moisture raises from 12% in the original barley to around 46% at the end of the steeping. This “broken” or “multiple steeping” provides optimum conditions for good germination in the plant.
The building in which the Pot stills are located.
The SWA works to sustain Scotch Whisky’s place as the world’s leading high-quality spirit drink and its long-term growth worldwide. More information about the Scotch Whisky Association can be found here: