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Whisky Words: Low Wines

Whisky Words: Low Wines

In the intricate world of Scotch whisky production, every step holds significance and contributes to the rich tapestry of flavours that enthusiasts cherish. Among these steps, the role of low wines stands out as a crucial yet lesser-known element in the journey from grain to glass.

Low wines are essentially an intermediate product in the distillation process, emerging after the first distillation run. 

Vic Cameron, one of our whisky lecturers says: “Low wines is distillate collected from a wash still. So, we charge up a wash still with wash. We run the still and collect all the distillate as low wines. This run takes the liquid from about 8% or 9% alcohol up to about 22% or 25% alcohol."

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So, low wines is a raw spirit with a higher alcohol content than the wash but still far from the refined character we know and expect of Scotch whisky.

Low wines contain impurities and undesirable compounds that must be removed through a careful process of redistillation. The second distillation, often referred to as the "spirit run," is where the magic truly begins. The low wines are heated once again in the pot still, allowing the distiller to separate the alcohol from unwanted elements, including methanol and fusel oils.

As the bridge between wash and refined spirit, low wines play an important part in the Scotch whisky production process and help to shape the character of the  final product you enjoy. So, the next time you raise a glass of your favourite dram, take a moment to appreciate the role of low wines in bringing that liquid gold to life!

Image credit: Borders Distillery / VisitScotland / PRImaging

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