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The water (sources) of life

The water (sources) of life

As you might expect, there’s a lot of water involved in whisky making. For distillers, the basic requirements of water supply are that it is a) adequate and b) available. Water must be in plentiful supply and be available all year round.

So where does it all come from? And do different water sources affect flavour?

All water used during the production processes in the Scotch whisky industry is derived from rain or snow, meaning it is fresh water. Seawater is not used during the process due to the expense of desalination, but it can be used for cooling purposes during distillation (Caol Ila do this, for example).

Distilleries have always been situated in places where water is easily available. Traditionally, much has been made of the uniqueness of a distillery’s water source and it often forms a big part of their brand identity.

Each site has its own water source and there are a number of different possibilities:

1. Spring
e.g. Glenfarclas, Highland Park

2. Burn or river
e.g. Dalwhinnie, Benrinnes

3. Loch
e.g. Ardbeg, Old Pulteney

4. Well
e.g. Auchroisk, The Macallan

5. Borehole
e.g. Roseisle

6. Mains
e.g. Oban

So, what about flavour? Let’s just say if your water source makes for a good story, marketers will seize the opportunity. While you might love to hear that story, you’re unlikely to be able to taste it.

Slàinte 🥃

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