Sulphur is a controvertial topic within the whisky industry, and a number of high profile characters, including the man with the hat have waded in. Unfortunaly this has often served the purpose of confusing the matter rather than clearing it up. It should be understood that whiskey always has, and always will contain sulfur compounds. Sometimes its concentration is so low that it does not reach the odor thresholdand thus cannot be perceived.
While every distillery has its own recipe for making malt whisky, they all largely follow a basic recipe. The process, although strictly regulated, offers a lot of leeway for the master distiller to create his own style. Each step affects the character of the malt. Let’s find out how Uisge Beatha is made and how the flavors get into the whisky. Ingredients whisky consists of surprisingly few basic ingredients; grain, water and yeast.
A Mortons Refrigerator is a device used to cool wort drawn from a mashtun using only cold water. Largely abandoned as a technology in favour of modern heat exchangers these used to be prevelant across the whisky industry. After boiling water is fed through the ground barley in the mash tun the resulting wort must be heated before fermentation can begin. At Edraduor distillery this cooled in the Morton refrigerator only with cold water.
The Lomond still The shape of a whisky still has a profound impact on the spirit created, small squat stills such as those found at Edradour will result in a waxy, oily and estery new make. The reduced surface area results in more of the heavy oils, fats and congeners being carried over into the lyne arm and condenser. In contrast large stills, such as those at Glenmorangie distillery, create far more copper contact and allow for far greater reflux (when some of the spirit vapour meets a cooler surface inside the still, coalesces back to liquid, and falls back down the still for re-distillation).
The Whisky Loch The history of the Scotch whisky industry, like any others under capitalism is one subject to periods of boom and bust. The 1820s saw a glut of whisky result in a wealth of distilleries halting for years, amalgamated or being lost entirely, it was in this backdrop that the famed Kennetpans Distillery was lost in 1825. By the 1840s the boom had come again and would last for the next few decades, a further slowdown and subsequent boom ended with the Pattison whisky crisis.