Barley and the Scotch whisky production process
Make sense of how barley – a cereal packed with starch – is used by distillers in the Scotch whisky production process in this barley explainer video from one of our whisky lecturers, Vic Cameron.
Barley is a type of grass. It's a cereal that produces lots of seeds with lots of starch in it, so it's very useful for the distilling industry.
There are many types of barley used in different industries, but in the Scotch whisky industry we primarily use 2-row spring barley. Before it comes to the distillery, the barley will be dried, it will be malted. Then in the distillery it will be milled and mashed.
The purpose of mashing is to utilise the enzymes and the starches from the malting process. And we do that by mixing the ground up malt with hot water. That gelatinises the starch and lets the enzymes come in and break the starch down into simple sugars. The key parameter in mashing is the temperature. It's got to come in at the correct temperature to allow the gelatinisation and the enzyme action to take place.
At the end of the mashing process we get out a sticky sugary liquid called wort that's cooled down and then put into the washback where we add the yeast.