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22 Jun 2023

3 is the Magic Number: A Look at Whisky's Fundamental Ingredients

Welcome to the captivating world of Arran Whisky, where the spirit of the island is distilled into every drop. In this article, we embark on a journey through the fundamental ingredients that define the unique character of Arran Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Join us as we unravel the secrets behind the artful combination of malted barley, pure Scottish water, and the transformative power of yeast.

Malted Barley: Scotland's Golden Grain

Malted barley, Scotland's golden grain, is a key component and fundamental ingredient in the production of Arran Whisky. Sourced fromboth local fields and Highland malsters, this barley sets the foundation for crafting the exceptional whiskies that Arran is renowned for.

The journey of malted barley begins with a meticulous process that transforms it from a simple grain into a crucial element of whisky production. The first step is soaking the barley in water, initiating the germination process. This soaking, known as steeping, allows the barley to absorb moisture and kick-start the enzymatic activity within the grain.

Once sufficiently hydrated, the barley is transferred to a germination vessel, where it undergoes controlled conditions that encourage the sprouting of new shoots. During germination, the barley releases enzymes that break down complex starches into fermentable sugars, providing the necessary fuel for yeast to later convert into alcohol.

After the desired level of germination is achieved, the malted barley is carefully dried to halt the growth of the shoots. Traditionally, this drying process takes place in a kiln, where warm air circulates around the barley, gradually reducing its moisture content. The choice of fuel used in the kiln, such as peat or wood, can impart distinct flavours and aromas to the barley, further influencing the character of the final whisky.

Even if malted barley varieties can change from time to time (depending on general availability and yield), we have always pledged to use only the best unpeated Scottish barley we can source to ensure the high quality of our whiskies. 

The drying process not only halts germination but also develops and enhances the flavours within the barley. It is during this stage that the barley gains its signature malty sweetness.


Pure Scottish Water: Nature's Gift

Scotland, a land known for its breathtaking landscapes, is truly blessed with an abundance of pure, pristine water. We recognize the significance of this natural gift and harness its intrinsic qualities to produce our very own water of life. 

The journey of our whisky begins with the soft and crystal-clear water of Loch Na Davie that flows from the top of the hills behind the distillery, to the shores of the village of Lochranza. As the Easan Biorach burn meanders its way towards Lochranza, via six waterfalls, this flowing water get purified even further thanks to the cleansing power of the falls and the granite bed of the burn.  This water, untouched by pollutants and enriched by the natural elements, arrives at our distillery in a state of perfect purity.

The role that this pristine Scottish water plays in the whisky-making process cannot be overstated. It acts as a vital ingredient, working in harmony with the malted barley to help shape the character of our whiskies from the beginning. As the water mingles with the barley during mashing, it interacts with the grains, extracting their flavours and essential compounds. This infusion of water aids in the conversion of starches to fermentable sugars, providing the foundation for the subsequent fermentation and distillation processes. 

Yeast: The Flavour Alchemist

In the dance of barley and water, it is the remarkable role of yeast that takes centre stage, wielding its transformative power as the true flavour alchemist.

The "wort" (non-alcoholic malt liquid) will turn to "wash" (alcoholic malt liquid) at the end of the fermentation process. During fermentation, the yeast strains comes alive, converting the sugars within the wash into alcohol, all the while releasing a captivating array of flavours and aromas that will be concentrated during distillation and develop even further during the maturation process. 

The contribution of yeast to our whiskies is nothing short of enchanting. It creates innumerable chemical reactions within our wash that will be translated into depth, complexity, and an irresistible tapestry of delightful tasting notes in oak, and eventually in your glass. At Lochranza Distillery, we are always in conversation with our yeast providers to make sure that only the right strain is used for maximum yield and to ensure the continuity of the sweet, fruity and creamy character our whisky is famous for. The usage of ten traditional Oregon Pine wooden washbacks also helps us create a unique setting for our wash, which is very much exclusive to our distillery.  

Next, the wash is slowly distilled in traditional copper pot stills which involves separating and collecting the spirit, discarding the impurities, and capturing the pure essence of Arran Whisky. Finally, the spirit embarks on its maturation journey, where it rests patiently in fresh casks for many years. At Arran, we use a variety of casks, including bourbon, sherry, port, and wine, each contributing its own unique influence on the final flavour profile of our whiskies.

Discover our expressions

Whether you're enjoying a dram by the fireside, raising a glass in celebration, or sharing a memorable moment with friends, Arran Whisky invites you to be part of our story.

Explore our collection, learn more about our distillery, and discover the diverse range of expressions that make Arran Whisky stand out from the crowd.

Slàinte mhath!