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How Grain Whisky Made
Main Differences between Grain and Malt Whisky.
Grain whisky production is a continuous process using un-malted cereals that can be bought on price, in a Coffey style still that runs continuously.
Single malt whisky is a batch process in stills that are similar to a giant kettle that have to be charged, operated and then cleaned in between batches, using only malted barley, an extra process that adds to cost The distillation is also carried out twice. First time in a wash still then repeated in a spirit still
Because of the way the grain distillation works the grain spirit produced is lighter in body and matures quicker than malt spirit. Also the light grain spirit does not have the influence of kiln or smoke dried malt barley. Producing lightly flavoured whisky ideal for a cheaper infill used in blended whisky
Grain Whisky Ingredients
The ingredients for grain whisky are made up from un-malted cereals such as wheat or maize with some green malt barley to help with the conversion of starch to sugar.
Milling and Mashing
The cereals are finely milled then pressure cooked to soften the husks and release the starch into a solution. This slurry is added to the green malt in the mash turn, which converts the mash into a sugary solution.
The solution now referred to as wort is transferred to the fermentation vessels where yeast is added. Fermentation continues for forty-eight hours, during which time the sugar is converted into alcohol at about 6%-7%
Unlike Malt Whisky, Grain Whisky is distilled in a continuous operation in a Patent Still. This is sometimes known as the Coffey Still, after Aeneas Coffey, who developed it in 1831. The still consists of two interconnected towers one tower is called the analyser the second is called the rectifier.
Both equipped with perforated trays stacked at intervals of approximately 20 – 30 centimetres. Each tower has two inlets; one for the alcohol-containing liquid the other for pressurized steam.
Steam is fed into the base of the analyser and hot wash into the top. As the two meet on the surface of the perforated plates, the wash boils and a mixture of alcohol vapours and uncondensed steam rises to the top of the analyser column. These alcohol vapours are collected then transferred to the base of the rectifier. The spent wash runs down and is led off from the base of the analyser
The hot vapours from the analyser enter the rectifier at the base and as they rise through the chambers they partially condense on the sections of a long coil through which wash is flowing. The spirit vapour condenses at the top of the rectifier and is run off through a water-cooled condenser to the spirit safe and on to the spirit receiver. Once the spirit begins to be collected it runs continuously until the end of distillation.
At the end of the run, a highly purified (90 percent ABV) alcohol is obtained Because of the rectifying element present in this process the distillate is generally lighter in aroma than most Malt Whiskies. It consequently has a milder character and requires less time to mature. Producing lightly flavoured whisky is ideal for a cheap infill for blended whisky.
This reputation as a cheap filler for blends has meant grain whisky has been overlooked. However every so often certain casks produce some exceptional tasting whiskies
Grain Whisky Production.
Please click images for full size diagrams
Scottish Grain Whisky Distilleries
Caledonian Grain Whisky Distillery
Graham Menzies & Co operated and built up the Sunbury Distillery from the mid 1830s unfortunately the site had no room for further expansion. so he built a replacement initially called the Edinburgh Distillery in 1855 Shortly afterwards the name was changed to the Caledonian. Was known informally as ‘the Cally’
Cambus Grain Whisky Distillery
John Mowbray (MourBray) converted a derelict mill in 1806, located next to the River Devron just before it entered the Forth estuary, into a distillery. He registered the business in 1813 gaining land title in 1823; during the same year he started producing grain whisky on possibly an early coffey still or similar.
Cameron Bridge Grain Whisky Distillery
Cameron Bridge Distillery had been operating for several years before John Haig, one of the famous families of Lowland Whisky distillers, acquired it in 1824.
John Haig’s, cousin, Robert Stein, created the first continuous still Cameron Bridge Distillery was the first ever to produce grain whisky
CarseBridge Grain Whisky Distillery
Carsebridge Alloa also known as Kerse Bridge
Founded between 1799 and 1804 by John Bald in what was once a rural setting a mile north east of Alloa.
The distillery was listed as owned by John Bald & Co from 1813 a partnership with his eldest son Robert Bald who inherited the distillery on his father’s passing in 1844.
Dumbarton Grain Whisky Distillery
There have been two distilleries by the name Dumbarton Distillery; a small lowland distillery founded in 1817 the other one is the large Grain distillery built by Hiram Walker in 1938 Two years after they had acquired George Ballantine & Co. of Dumbarton in 1936
Girvan Distillery Grain Whisky
William Grant & Sons Ltd built the Girvan Distillery in 1963 to supply grain whisky for its blended brands.The 64-acre site is on a sea front site a mile north of Girvan on the Ayrshire coast.
Invergordon Grain Whisky Distillery
Established in1961 by Invergordon Distillers Ltd The Distillery occupies an eighty-acre site on the northern shore of the Cromarty Firth in the northeast Highlands, The area has some of the best arable land in Scotland.
Loch Lomond distillers built a state of the art grain distillery within their complex in 1994, making it a completely self suffiecient distillery and has produced single Grain and Single Blend to compliment its Single malts, one of the last grain/malt distilling complexes left.
North British Grain Whisky Distillery
In the early 1880's Scottish whisky sales in England rose dramatically as supplies of brandy dried up. The father of blending Andrew Usher & Co appointed agents in all the principle countries of the world as sales rose dramatically. At the same time The Distiller's Company had been formed taking control of the Caledonian Grain Distillery in 1884.
North of Scotland distillery
Also known as Strathmore was founded in 1957 on the site of the former Knox Forth Brewery, by George Christie from the North of Scotland distilling Co. and was a neighbour of the Cambus distillery. Mothballed in 1980 and demolished around 1993
Port Dundas Grain Whisky Distillery
The distillery is situated just north of junction 16 of the M8 in Glasgow on North Canal Bank Street (No Visitors)
Originally there were two distilleries in the locality Port Dundas established in 1811 by Daniel McFarlane Two years later a second Port Dundas established by Brown, Gourlie & Co.
Strathclyde Grain Whisky Distillery
Strathclyde distillery was built in1927 by Seager Evans on the South bank of the river Clyde, Approximately 1 mile southeast of the city centre.
As with most of the large grain distilleries information is difficult to obtain.
Loch Lomand (Grain)
North of Scotland