Like all malt whiskies the barley (Glengoyne uses the notoriously low yielding, but famously high quality Golden Promise; the only other whisky to use Golden Promise is Macallan), is soaked in water and spread out on the floor of the malthouse and turned regularly.
Usually once germination has taken place it is dried using the smoke from peat fires which imparts an aromatic smoky flavour to the drying malt. However, the Glengoyne distillery is different as it uses only barley that has been dried using warm air.
Once dried the malted barley is ground into ‘grist’ and mixed with the crystal clear, soft water off Dumgoyne Hill in a mash tun. The resultant liquid or ‘wort’ is then piped into one of six large wooden Washbacks made from traditional Oregon pine where yeast is added to convert the malt sugars into alcohol. Fermentation then takes place for a period of between 40 – 50 hours. When this process is complete the liquid or ‘wash’ as it is now called is distilled (we nurse the spirit through our stills more slowly than any other distillery for a smoother taste) to produce the spirit that will mature slowly in oak casks to become the high quality Glengoyne Single Malt.
The final character of this special malt is affected by the wood of the cask in which it matures. Glengoyne carefully selects Spanish and American oak casks, (some of which will have been seasoned with sherry in Spain before shipping to Scotland) from which this malt slowly extracts unique flavours during the ten years or more in which it is maturing in the distillery’s dark airy warehouses. The milder climate of the southern Highlands effects the maturing whisky over time and results in the fresher lighter taste associated with this special malt.
However it is the lack of harsh peat smoke to dry the barley which has the greatest effect on the final malt . It ensures that the natural flavours are allowed to freely express themselves and do not get overwhelmed. Glengoyne could be considered to be at one end of the malt whisky spectrum – clear, bright, subtle, complex yet delicate a contrast to the rugged malts of the northern Highlands or the pungent, medicinal heavy malts of Islay.
Character and Style of Glengoyne