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Whisky Words: New Make Spirit

Whisky Words: New Make Spirit

New Make Spirit (NMS) is the clear distillate that comes off the still during the initial stages of Scotch whisky production. It is essentially the raw, undiluted spirit that emerges from the distillation process before it undergoes maturation in oak casks.

Vic Cameron, one of our whisky lecturers says: “New Make Spirit is the actual final product that we get out of a distillery. So, when we do double distillation and we collect the heart, the middle cut, of the spirit still, that's called New Make Spirit. And that's what we then put into casks to mature and - after three years - will eventually become Scotch whisky.”

Here's a quick breakdown of how New Make Spirit figures in the Scotch whisky production process:

1. Distillation
After the fermentation of malted barley or other grains, the resulting liquid, known as "wash," is distilled in copper pot stills. The distillation process involves heating the wash to vaporise the alcohol, which then passes through the still and condenses back into liquid form.

2. The Spirit Safe
The liquid that condenses during distillation is collected in a receiver called the spirit safe. Initially, this liquid is the New Make Spirit. It is colourless and typically has a high alcohol content, ranging from around 60% to 70% ABV (Alcohol By Volume).

3. Maturation
Once collected, the New Make Spirit is transferred to oak casks for aging. During maturation, the spirit interacts with the wood, extracting flavours, colours, and other characteristics from the cask. This process gives Scotch whisky its complexity and depth of flavour over time.

The quality and character of the New Make Spirit influence the taste and aroma of the final whisky. Distillers pay close attention to factors such as raw materials, fermentation and distillation techniques to ensure a desirable spirit that meets the required flavour requirements.

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