Scottish Coffee

by Andrew Stein

From mashtuns to worts to washbacks finally to distillers, we learn how malted barley, water and yeast are processed to become moonshine. Little flavor is added at this stage other than peatiness, while most of the taste comes from the maturation process. Maturation happens in wonderfully stacked casks, and the process which coopers use to create the watertight oak casks without anything other than natural wood and several metal hoops is a trade that takes decades to master. Master coopers practice their crafts for forty years and teach the art through an apprenticing system to new coopers. The distilleries we visit are beautiful, whether they are polished ones of Glenfiddich and Macallan or the more authentic kind like Tomintoul. After many years in the casks, the moonshine from before becomes Scotch.

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