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Scotland is one of my favorite places in the United Kingdom. It has beautiful landscapes, rich and colorful history and … delicious whisky! I have never been a great fun of whisky, but I suspect I did not really know how the proper one tastes until I went to Scotland.

If you are a big fun of whisky, you can be tempted to do the famous whisky trail.  There are nine distilleries on the trail, but 2 of them offer free basic tours and free whisky shots and one of them – Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery – is included in Explorer Pass, so you can have at least five shots of whisky for almost free. Five? Hmm, yes, five and I will tell you in a minute why you can enjoy five shots of delicious whisky for free!

All nine distillates are located in one area, so if you are brave enough and your love for whisky is great, you can visit all of them in two days. However if you want to save some money and still have a great whisky experience – visit two or three of them.

The two distilaries offering a free guided tours and whisky shots are Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. In both of them you can taste the 12, 15 and 18 years old single malt whisky. Bare in mind that at Glenlivet you must choose one of the three, but Glenfiddich will spoil you with three generous shots per head! And I think these guys know what they do, as three shots are more than enough for average person 🙂

What do you need to make a great whisky? Firstly,  you need barley. A lot of it!

Then you need some water to start malting process. This could take between 8 and 21 days, depends on the weather. When malt is dry, it is grinded to achieve a flour which is processed in a malt mill in the distillery itself. Then the grin is mixed with hot water in the mash tun. This could be done up to four times in order to obtain as much of a wort (sugary substance containing alcohol) as it is possible.

Then the product (wort) is located in wash back so yest can be added and impact on it.

Fermentation of wort will result in kind of beer, containing about 8% of alcohol. Up to now there is no real difference between producing beer and whisky.

The next big step is distillation – and this is when magic of whisky begins. This process will separate alcohol from water and other substances in wort. This happens in stills.

The stills are made of copper, as this material works perfectly when separating waters and spirits. They are heated with petrol, occasionally coal.

The process of distillation of the wort  will contain two distillations – first will result in “low wine” with 21% of alcohol and second will give the “distillation heart”, containing between 63 and 72% of alcohol. Only product of second distillation will be casked and turned into proper whisky.

The aging process takes place in caskets previously used for bourbon and cherry, and a result – beautiful Scotch whisky! For the alcohol to be called whisky the aging process should take at least 3 years.

Even if you do not like Scottish whisky, the tours and history behind it is fascinating. However if you would like to know more about making whisky, its traditions and history not only in Scotland- visit here.

Dallas Dhu

Glenlivet Distillery Visitor Centre

Glenfiddich Distillery