William M. Dowd photosWhen it comes to producing new make spirits, it really doesn't matter whether you're high- or low-tech. The initial result is the same, as these photos show.
The differences between a "moonshine" operation and a commercial facility are a matter of scale, then the process of aging and, in some cases, combining aged spirits to create a special blended whisky. However, the chemical process remains the same.
Ian Logan (below), brand manager for The Glenlivet, put on a demonstration of scaled-down distilling for visiting U.S. journalists on a recent tour of Scottish distilleries co-sponsored by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS). The first step was showing off The Glenlivet's towering stills (top photo); the second was setting up a specially-licensed "personal" still for comparison purposes.
Large amounts or small, this is the final pre-aging product -- a crystal clear distillate with a rich nose of spicy grain and a hint of sweetness on the palate. The raw whisky begins with a light strawberry note, then moves to banana. At this point it is about 70% abv, or 140 proof, obviously far from the finished product consumers will find on shelves.
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