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What is new make?

New Make is the name given to freshly distilled and unaged spirit which cannot legally be called whisky as it has not been matured for three years and one day in oak casks.

The Long Read

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Scotch and Irish whisky must be legally matured for three years and one day before being bottled and sold as whisky. Prior to this period of mandatory maturation the spirit cannot be sold as whisky. While the requirements in other countries generally differ for their products to be sold within Europe as whisky these need to meet this minimum period. This period initially started off as only 2 years being enforced bu the UK Immature Spirits (Restriction) Act of May 19, 1915 but was subsequently increased.

Why the mandatory minimum maturation?

This aging requirement is intended to ensure that the whisky has sufficient time to develop its flavors and characteristics, and to reach a certain level of quality. While most single malt whiskies are aged for far longer than three years, the minimum aging requirement of three years is a common standard.

New Make, white dog, moonshine or poitín

New Make (also called White Dog or Moonshine in the US) refers to freshly distilled and unaged whisky. In principle, it is not yet whisky, as it must first be matured in oak casks in order to be allowed to bear this designation. Scotch must be stored for at least three years. Bourbon is typically aged for at least two, if not four, years in virgin charred bourbon barrels.

New Make is unavailable from a lot of older Scottish distilleries though a few will include a sample on their more premium tasting tours. Happily the majority of newer distilleries sell their New Make by the bottle and allow the curious connoisseur to draw conclusions about the style and the rough aroma profile of the distillery.

Poitín (pronounced “potcheen”) is a type of Irish spirit that is made from a variety of grains and other ingredients, such as potatoes or sugar beets. It is traditionally distilled in small batches using a pot still, and has a high alcohol content, often exceeding 60% ABV. Poitín has a long history in Ireland, and was once a popular drink, but it fell out of favor due to a series of laws and regulations that were passed in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in poitín, and a number of distilleries have begun producing it once again. It is often used as a base for cocktails, or enjoyed on its own. Poitín is a tricky area as it may be whisky new make, or not depending on the ingredients used.

How does New Make taste?

Typical of New Make is a sharp, burning taste, which typically has clear fermentation notes of grain. In addition, sweet and subtly fruity notes of apples or pears can often be perceived. New Make, which is distilled from peated barley, has strong smoky and peaty notes. In particular, heavily bottled New Make is not particularly enjoyable overall.

After the second distillation, Scotch Whiskies flow through the Spirit Safe with an alcohol content of between approx. 68 and 71%. Before being filled into the oak casks, the New Make is usually diluted with water to a strength of 63.5%. The most new make possible is bottled at this level.

How exactly a New Make tastes and what character it has depends on the malting, mashing and distillation (including the shape of the stills and the frequency of distillation). In the case of distillation in copper stills, the master distiller also has a decisive influence. He sets the cut points and thus separates the three brands head, heart and tail from each other. The influence of distillation on whisky flavor is estimated at 10-15% in the final product.

Why try New Make?

New Make is the only way for whisky enthusiasts to discover the character of a distillery unmatured and unadulterated. The tasting can make sense, especially in comparison with the standard bottlings of a manufacturer. Here one can pursue the question of which aromas from the New Make can be tasted in the matured whisky.

New Make is particularly popular with newly established distilleries. With the purchase of the New Make you can on the one hand support the new distillery and on the other hand get to know the character of the manufacturer before the first regular whisky is bottled.

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