The definition of whisky states that it is a fermented beverage which is made from grains. But did you ever wonder how do the grains turn into alcohol? The answer is fermentation. A long series of biological and chemical reactions take place which results in the clear spirit. The type of grain depends on the kind of whisky being produced. However, all whiskeys contain malted barley in small amounts. Scotch mostly contains barley and other whiskeys use barley in combination with wheat, corns, oats, and rye. The higher the content of rye spicier are the whisky notes. Rye whiskeys appeal to those drinkers who want the extra bit of peppery spice in their drink. It also needs mention that oats is not an easy grain to work with.
Corn whisky contains at least 80% corn whereas Bourbon and Tennessee whisky contain at least 51% corn. Aficionados of Bourbon prefer the liquor for its sweet and robust flavors of maple syrup and vanilla. In the case of blended whiskeys, in addition to the grains, additives such as caramel colour and sherry are added.
Interestingly, distillers today aim at revolutionizing the taste of bourbon with new grains such as millet, rice, and triticale. “Triticale” must be a mystery word for most of you. It is a hybrid grain made of durum wheat and rye. This grain was first bred in the late 19th century at European laboratories. Whiskeys which use triticale come with a rye spiciness, hint of sweetness and a chalky breakfast cereal aroma and flavor.
The five main stages of whisky production include malting, milling, fermentation, distillation, and maturation. Grains which are used for whiskey production must be clean. They are passed through screens to eliminate the smaller grains. This ensures the quality of the alcohol.