We are here in the first step of whisky making (see our article on this subject). Malting is the extraction of starch from cereals. We talk about barley because it is the ingredient of Single Malt but it is quite possible to malt wheat, rye or buckwheat. 4 steps for the malting before being sent to the distilleries for the famous mashing! We explain all that …
If in the past the distilleries took care of this stage, today they prefer to give this process to malting factories mainly for economic reasons, space and know-how.
1 – soaking
It’s a relatively simple step of soaking barley in water for 2 or 3 days.
2 – germination
Barley is a seed and the purpose of soaking is to germinate it in order to extract the starch. For this, the barley is spread over large malting areas. About thirty centimeters thick and in a poorly lit place to promote this germination. Every day, the maltmen will work to turn around and aerate the germinating barley. This step is stopped when the germs have reached 2 to 3 mm in length.
3 – drying or kilning
As the name suggests, this step involves drying the barley that has been soaked and germinated. Drying will also stop the germination of barley. The second advantage of kilning will depend on the type of combustion used to dry the cereal. Simply hot air, charcoal or the famous and traditional peat … the combustion will greatly influence the final product and the aromatic “palette” of the future whisky. It’s a very important step!
4 – crushing
This is the last step before sending the malt to the distilleries. It consists in crushing or grinding this time not barley but malt. This crushing will make it possible to recover a kind of flour which one names “grist“. The grist will be mixed with hot water to make the mashing … but that’s another story
Next step… the mashing !
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