It is really not easy to tell the production phases of a spirit which has been ruling the world for hundreds of years. However I will try to give you a summary of whisky production.
To start whisky production we firstly need 3 main ingredients, namely water, grain and yeast. For the grain source, Scotch whiskies often use barley for single malt production and the US distillers widely use corn and rye are as you can remember from my Whisky Or Whiskey? post. Of course there are other materials which are used in the production phase like peat. Below you can find the production steps based on making a Scotch single malt whisky.
Whisky production is operated at places where we call distilleries. These distilleries are generally located in the proximity to pure water sources. The reason is to add water into the process without playing with it too much. Just a little research will show you that most of the distilleries claim to have the purest water in the industry. Moreover, distilleries like The Glenlivet and Bowmore released their bottled water. However, there is a generous amount of filtering and pH modification going on during the production.
In traditional manufacture, barley is harvested from nearby farms. Though today, the uprising demand resulted in the mass purchase of barley. For some Scotch single malt whiskies, barley is imported from high quality vendors in Germany and Slovenia.
Finally, yeast is of big importance when it comes to alcohol extraction. The ultimate goal would be to store and create their own house yeast like at some Belgian breweries, however, most of the industry uses M1 distiller’s yeast.
The arms of germinated barley should not tangle with each other. Therefore, during germination, barley is aired by big shovels or ladles about 3-4 times a day for 6 to 7 days. A physical disease on workers’ dislocated shoulders which happened during this operation is called Monkey Shoulder, which is a popular blended malt whisky nowadays. The next step happens at kiln which is composed of two floors. The second floor has a big steel ground with tiny holes. On the first floor fire is made by anthracite coal and peat. In simple terms, the longer the peat is used, the smokier your whisky gets.
Maturation & Bottling
Aside from the stages I stated, processes like caramel coloring, mechanical and chill filtration can be applied to the spirit. Moreover, micro climate of whisky region, climatic characteristics saturated in the peat that is used, water characteristics can differ the taste and joy we get from whisky.
How Whısky Is Made