Scotch whiskey is made from distilling barley grains. The most difficult part of making scotch whiskey is having the right materials—and patience, as the aging process requires a minimum of three years. A variety of factors will affect the final flavor and color of the whiskey, including the type of storage, the length of aging, and even modifications in the beginning steps, such as how the barley is mashed, or the type of yeast used. Experiment making your own scotch whiskey by following these steps.

Things You'll Need

Soak the barley. Place the entire sack of barley in full pots of water and soak until it is thoroughly saturated, stirring occasionally to ensure evenness.

Spread out the soaked barley. Transfer the soaked barley from the full pots of water into shallower metal cooking trays. Allow the barley to sit in these trays (room temperature is fine) for two to three weeks while malting occurs.

Check the barley for sprouting. Small green growths appear in the barley, like the start of little plants–this is sprouting. As soon as sprouting is visible anywhere in the batch, drain the barley of the water.

Dry out the barley. During this germination the enzyme amylase is produced, which converts the starch in the barley into sugars. The sprouting is halted by drying the barley and heating it with hot air from a kiln. For Scotch whiskey, the fuel used in the kiln includes peat, a soft, carbon-rich substance formed when plant matter decomposes in water. The peat gives Scotch whiskey a characteristic smoky taste. The malted barley is then ground like other grains.
Place the barley into a kiln, where the hot air will cease the sprouting and make the barley suitable for grinding. Keep the barley in the kiln until it is dry; drying times will vary, depending on the kiln size, temperature, and fuel used to heat the kiln.

Grind the barley into a powder using a pepper mill.

Place the ground barley into the still. Add five gallons of boiling water to the barrel and stir. The mixture produces a sugar-rich liquid, known as wort. Allow the mixture to cool before proceeding to the next step.

Add the brewer’s yeasts to the mixture and close the still. Yeast will convert the sugars of the wort into alcohol. This is the fermentation process.

Assemble the fermentation vessel according to its directions. (Many types of fermentation vessels are available, and basically function the same, though their assembly instructions may differ.)

Wait three or four days for the alcohol (distilled) to rise into the fermentation vessel.

Place the distilled alcohol into an oak barrel, close, and age for a minimum of three years.

Tips

  • To really enhance the distinct smoky flavor of Scotch Whiskey, include peat in the fuel of the kiln.

  • The type of barrel used, temperature where the whiskey is aged, as well as the length of the aging process will affect the flavor of the whiskey.