Just In 👉 Rampur Readies Kohinoor Reserve Indian Dark Rum M...

Books

Chapter 5: Making The Spirit; "Heavenly Peated"

 

 

Having met the whisky-makers of Ardbeg it is now time to find out how exactly they go about creating its unique spirit. Although malt whisky is made from a small number of ingredients, using equipment that is really very similar in every distillery, there is a surprisingly vast stylistic spectrum in the whisky we ultimately drink.

Variables that influence the spirit's final style include the water source, level of peating introduced during making of the barley, the duration of the fermentation process, and the shape and style of stills and the manner in which they are run. Once ‘newmake’ spirit flows from the stills it is then subjected to the many and varied influences of maturation in oak casks. A plentiful supply of pure water is essential for whisky-making, and Ardbeg's ‘process’ water flows some three miles from Loch Uigeadail via the small hill loch of Airigh Nam Beist to Charlie's Dam at the distillery. The water absorbs minerals and particles of peat during its travels, and this is believed to contribute in a modest way to the peatiness of the whisky with which it is made.

"From our perspective there are more important things than price and in my view there is absolutely no doubt that the quality of Port Ellen malt is the best of that style"

MALTING

The first stage of whisky-making is malting, and this is the process that helps to define the essential character of Ardbeg more than any other. Traditionally, making took place in individual distilleries, though today only a handful undertake on-site making, with the others buying in malt prepared to their specification by commercial maltsters in large, automated plants. In the case of Ardbeg, malt is acquired from the local Port Ellen Makings, constructed in 1972/73 and owned by Diageo.

In distillery-based floor makings, barley is steeped in water for two or three days, then spread on a malting floor, where rootlets develop as germination begins. So that the malt retains the sugars essential for fermentation, the partially germinated ‘green malt’, as it is known, is transferred to a kiln for around two days and dried over a fire or by jets of hot air, usually with some peat used in the furnace to impart flavour. The amount of peat introduced during kilning has a major influence on the character of the finished whisky. In modern, dedicated ‘drum’ maltings the processes remain broadly the same, but the scale is larger and a greater degree of automation is involved. Phenol levels of peating are measured in parts per million (ppm), and Ardbeg boasts one of the highest peating levels of any malt whisky.

Ardbeg is peated to a level of around 54ppm, and according to ex-distillery manager Stuart Thomson, "It's all about using a phenol level that complements your ultimate spirit. It's not simply about high phenols. I always felt that Ardbeg at between 45-55ppm best complemented the final product." Bill Lumsden adds "It can range from 45-65 as is it very difficult to achieve consistency at this level. I do have another supplier on the mainland who can supply heavily peated malt but Diageo is committed to the future of Port Ellen Maltings. From our perspective there are more important things than price and in my view there is absolutely no doubt that the quality of Port Ellen malt is the best of that style. Nobody quite does it like Port Ellen."

Former Ardbeg manager lain Henderson recalls that when Allied Distillers were operating the site between 1989 and 1996 "All the malt came from Port Ellen Maltings, and we maintained a phenol level of 45-50ppm, though Port Ellen struggled to make 50ppm. I thought it was essential to maintain the peating level at that if we were to maintain the whisky's character." However, in the days when Ardbeg produced its own malt, peating levels were usually much higher. Ex-master blender Robert Hicks notes that "In the days of the old floor maltings, the peating level of Ardbeg was up to 80 or even 90 ppm. It was like creosote—very much tarry rope. At that point it was the most pungent and powerful whisky in the world."

"If you got the peat shed full in the summer you could peat the malt properly, but sometimes you'd just about end up burning turf. So the level of peating could vary considerably"

Mickey Heads notes that "It is important to have the correct phenol level on the malt, as 50-55 per cent is lost during the mashing, distillation and maturation processes." Ardbeg operated two separate maltings, with two malting floors in each, known as East and West, and was the last distillery on the island to produce all its own malt up to 1972. Unusually, the makings were not equipped with fans in the roof top pagodas, causing the peat ‘reek’ to permeate the malt for a longer period than at other distilleries.

Hamish Scott was manager at Ardbeg in the days when the floor makings last supplied 100 per cent of the distillery's requirements, and he says " A t that time there were 12 or 13 men working solely on the makings. We used mainly English and Australian barley, not much came from Scotland, whereas today distillers tend to use as much British barley as they can get hold of. We had a total of 30 production staff, working on a four-shift cycle. The makings worked from 8am to 5pm, but the kiln men worked on shifts, and the kiln operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Cutting peat from the distillery's own peat banks or ‘lots’ was an essential task in the distilling calendar, with the peat usually being harvested manually. Hamish recalls that "If you got the peat shed full in the summer you could peat the malt properly, but sometimes you'd just about end up burning turf? So the level of peating could vary considerably. Even in the 1960s it was hard to get people to cut it, so I set up a mechanical peat cutting company, called Islay Peat Developments, which sold peat to Ardbeg." The makings were closed in 1981 when Hiram Walker shut the distillery down, but the ‘in-house’ floor makings had been supplemented since 1973 by around 12.5 per cent of bought-in malt, and this quantity increased to 15 per cent in 1974. It was sourced from Kilgour's commercial maltings at Kirkcaldy in Fife.

Whether produced in the distillery or in dedicated malting plants, the dried malt is ground in a mill to produce ‘grist,’ and at Ardbeg, as at many distilleries, grinding takes place in an old Boby mill. Ardbeg's mills is thought to have been manufactured just before the First World War.

 

MASHING

Once grist has been produced, the process of mashing begins. During ‘mashing’ the grist is mixed with hot water in a mash tun. This is a circular, metal vessel, and since the 1960s, many distilleries have adopted Tauter' or ‘semi-Lauter’ tuns, made from stainless steel, and fitted with revolving arms which stir the mash gently. Ardbeg's mash house is fitted with a 16-feet, ‘semi-Lauter’ tun. Unusually, the modern, stainless steel semi-Lauter tun at Ardbeg is fitted into the characterful, cast iron base of its predecessor.

Bill Lumsden notes that "The old fashioned plough system that used to be installed at Ardbeg mashed up the mashbed. Once you have mashed it you want to leave it and very gently have your lauter gear rotating through it just to ease the drainage. Otherwise you force lots of solids through the plates as well. If you get a very cloudy wart, the particle, particularly the fatty acids, will suppress the formation of fruity esters which is not what you want. You want crystal clear wort which is good for spirit character." In the mash tun the starch in the grains is converted into a variety of sugars by enzymes within the grains, and the sugar goes into solution in the hot water, to be drained off through the base of the mash tun. This liquor is called ‘wort’. The husks of the malt create a ‘bed’ in the bottom of the mash tun, through which the sugary wort can drain.

The temperature is crucial, for if it is too hot, it will kill the enzymes, and if it is too cool extraction will be limited

Usually, three waters or ‘extractions’ are used for mashing. The first water of 17,500 litres, (which is the third water from the previous mash), is heated to 68°C, then mixed with the grist as i t is fed into the semi-Lauter tun, with the temperature dropping to 63-64°C in the process. The temperature is crucial, for if it is too hot, it will damage the enzymes, and if it is too cool extraction will be limited. After 10 minutes standing time, the first water is drained off to one of the washbacks after being cooled to 18°C, the second water is sprayed onto the mash at 80°C, this water is again cooled to 18°C, all the cooled sugary worts are drained off to the same washback. To ensure there are no useable sugars left in the mix, a third water, called ‘sparge’ is then added at around 85°C and this is finally transferred to No 1 heating tank at 68°C, to be used as the first water of the next mash. According to mashman and stillman Ruaraidh MacIntyre (‘Mackie’) "The mashing temperature at Ardbeg is between 63.5 and 64°C, with the water going in at 68°C. The temperature of the grist brings it down to 64°C. It's a five tonne mash and we now fill it to its maximum capacity, Meanwhile, the wort passes through a heat exchanger to reduce its temperature to 18°C, which is necessary in order to prevent the yeast being killed off immediately during fermentation. The whole mashing process lasts for seven and a half hours. We now do 16 mashes a week, provided the barley is of the highest quality and yield. Lagavulin can do 25, because they have more washbacks and more stills. The same mash tun we have here at Ardbeg could do nearly twice as much if we had more washbacks and a second pair of stills!"

Once mashing is complete, the husks and other solids remaining in the mash tun - known as 'draff’ - are removed and sold as cattle food as they are high in protein.

 

FERMENTATION

From the heat exchanger, the wort is pumped into a number of ‘washbacks,’ traditionally made from Oregon pine or larch wood, but now frequently constructed of stainless steel. At Ardbeg, tradition is maintained, with the tun room containing three Oregon pine and three larch washbacks, each with a capacity of 23,000 litres. The use of wooden washbacks is said to add a ‘waxiness' to the character of the spirit ultimately produced. Distillery manager Mickey Heads explains that "It
is virtually impossible to sterilise wooden washbacks completely, so there is a small amount of bacteria left which gives a malolactic type fermentation, and results in a waxy note in the whisky."

After the wort has entered the washback and the temperature is close to 18°C, yeast is added at approximately 1kg per 1,000 litres.

"In the mash house there's a control panel telling me all the temperatures and what's happening everywhere, but it's not computer-controlled, I'm controlling it,
 I'm making all the decisions"

Dry yeasts survive for years in a dormant state, but in the presence of sugars, warmth, moisture and an absence of air, they multiply at an extraordinary rate. They consume the sugars in the wort, converting it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. At this point the wort becomes ‘wash’. The reaction during fermentation is violent, with the temperature increasing to around 33°C. The wash froths dramatically, and mechanical ‘switchers' revolve over the surface, breaking the foam and preventing the wash from overflowing.

The increasing temperature and rising alcohol level cause the yeast multiplication to slow down after some twelve hours, and results in a considerable increase in the amount of bacteria present, principally lactobacillus. There follows a period of bacterial fermentation, which is important for the development of flavour compounds and the degree of acidity in the wash. Longer fermentations produce amore acidic wash, which reacts beneficially with the copper in the wash still, producing a cleaner, more complex spirit.

Neil Johnston (Philco') notes that "At Ardbeg we do 50 to 55 hour fermentations. The older the wash is, the easier it goes through the stills. It doesn't stick to the heating pans and it distils more quickly." On each shift at Ardbeg one operator runs the mashtun and washbacks while the second controls the stills. James Gillespie (The Gow') said that "In the mash house there's a control panel telling me all the temperatures and what's happening everywhere, but it's not computer- controlled, I'm controlling it, I'm making all the decisions. But it does make it easier to look after."

By the time fermentation is complete, the wash contains eight per cent alcohol, acidity has increased, and around 80 per cent of the solids in the wash have been converted into alcohol, carbon dioxide and new yeast cells. The remaining 15 per cent of solids passover with the wash into the wash still, ready to be distilled.

 

DISTILLATION

Distillation is the defining aspect of whisky-making. Up to this point, the production process has been broadly similar to brewing beer, but now the strength of the alcohol is dramatically raised in copper pot stills. The design of these stills is crucial in determining the style of spirit they produce, and very few distilleries ever tamper with their basic still format, replacing worn out stills with exact replicas.

Ardbeg has one pair of wide-necked stills, now heated by internal steam pans, but previously fired by coal. Former master blender Robert Hicks notes that "Around 1975 steam coils were fitted to the stills, which made the spirit more constant. When the stills were hand-fired, they were much harder to control precisely." The fires beneath the stills were originally manually fed by shovelling in coal, however, recalling his early days at Ardbeg, Alexander Woodrow (Wardie') says, "When I was in there, the stills were coal-fired, but had automatic feeders. Before the automatic feeders were put in you would have had to control the stills with dampers and the doors—opening and closing them. It was much more difficult then."

The crucial skill is to know exactly when 
to start saving spirit, and when to stop, though in many modern distilleries, cut points are dictated by computer programme

Ardbeg's wash still was installed in 1989 and has a capacity of 18,279 litres, while the spirit still dates from 2000, and can hold 16,957 litres. However, stills are never completely filled, and the ‘charges’ for the wash and spirit stills at Ardbeg are 11,775 litres and 13,660 litres respectively. Stillman Alistair Johnston (‘Asha’) notes that "After about 15 years, we keep an eye on the stills because the copper gets thinner. We can check with ultrasonic equipment to know how thin it is. "The head of the wash still was replaced four years ago now, although the bottom half dates back to the late 1970s. The spirit still was installed during 2001 and is about to be replaced." Mickey Heads adds that "The copper in the modern stills is not as thick as it used to be, so need to be replaced more frequently."

The distillation process begins when the wash is pumped into the first or ‘wash still’, and is brought to the boil. The boiling liquid forms foam which ascends the neck of the still, and the stillman adjusts the heat to make sure the foam does not reach the top of the still and ‘carry over’ into the condenser. After a short while the foam subsides and the operator can turn up the heat and ‘drive off’ the spirit as vapour until the strength of the liquid left in the still (about 60 per cent of the original charge) has fallen to about one per cent alcohol by volume (abv) on the hydrometer, around 0.1 per cent in the still. This is called ‘pot ale’ and is transferred to the distillery's effluent plant.

The vaporised spirit driven off the stills must be condensed back into liquid form, and this takes place either in modern ‘shell and tube’ condensers or in ‘worm tubs.’ Shell and tube condensers are tall, copper drums filled with dozens of narrow-bore copper pipes, through which cold water runs. The spirit vapour enters the drum and condenses on the cold, copper pipes. The worm tub is a coiled, copper pipe of diminishing diameter, set in a deep vat of cold water outside the still house. Until the 1970s, some distilleries used worm tubs, but today only around a dozen Scottish distilleries still employ them. Ardbeg dispensed with its worm tubs back in 1960.

The liquid produced by the wash still is called ‘low wines,’ and is pumped into a ‘low wines receiver’ before passing into the second, ‘low wines’ or ‘spirit’ still, along with the ‘top and tail' (foreshots and feints) of the previous spirit distillation. The liquid is boiled in the same way as in the first distillation, but with two significant differences. The first spirits to come off, known as ‘foreshots,’ are high strength (around 75-76% abv), pungent and impure, and are directed to a separate receiver tank, while the later spirits, known as the ‘aftershots’ or ‘feints,’ are also unpleasant in aroma and flavour, and join the foreshots. Both are added to the next batch of low wines for re-distillation.

Only the ‘middle cut’ of the run from the spirit still is directed to the ‘intermediate spirit receiver’ to be filled into casks. The ‘cut points’ vary from distillery to distillery. The crucial skill is to know exactly when to start saving spirit, and when to stop, though in many modern distilleries, cut points are dictated by computer programme.

We had to alter the length of the run to make sure we got the peatiness but not the nasty stuff so it was a balancing act to get it right

This is not the case at Ardbeg, however, as ‘The Gow’ explains. "The stills are even more ‘hands on’ than the mashing. All the cuts are made manually. I think people out there who drink the whisky like the fact that it's made by people, not by computers." Philco' adds "I like the fact we have manual cut points still and it takes a degree of skill to run the stills properly. Nobody I know would just like to click a mouse to start a computer programme. You don't care what's happening if that's what you're doing. Fortunately, everybody we've spoken to in the company says they want it to stay the way it is."

The spirit run from both stills pass through a locked brass box with a glass front, called a ‘spirit safe,’ inside which are glass jars containing hydrometers. If the stills are being run manually, the stillman manipulates handles on top o f the safe to fill these jars and uses the hydrometers to measure the spirit's strength. When the optimum strength is achieved, he turns another handle and begins to save the middle cut. The same practice is observed when the feints begin to flow, and the stillman comes ‘off spirit.’ This mix of ‘pure spirit’ and impurities, or ‘congeners’, is different in every distillery, and plays a vital role in determining the character of the individual spirit. ‘Asha’ says "In the old days they used to mix water with the spirit in the spirit safe, instead of using a hydrometer, and if it wasn't clear it wasn't ready to cut from foreshots."

According to Mickey Heads, "At Ardbeg we run for ten minutes on foreshots. That way you get sweetness, with phenolics in the background. You are getting more esters at the start of the spirit run by not running foreshots for too long. The operatives are instructed to time for 10 minutes once the spirit has entered the safe and is settled down to its normal run speed. The start cut point is around 76% abv and cut off at 62.5% abv, resulting in the strength being pretty constant at around 69% abv. However, this does depend on the ambient temperature, which varies from 20°C in summer to as low as 6-7°C in winter. The strength can also vary slightly according to the original and final gravity of the fermented wash, so, with good quality barley and a higher original gravity and good final attenuation, you will get a higher strength distillate."

Recalling earlier days, Robert Hicks points out that "The cuttings points were governed not by strength but by time. At Hiram Walker we looked at the actual flavours, not just how things had traditionally been done. The peat in Ardbeg comes through at the tail end of the main run, and we had to make sure we kept that peat flavour in as we adjusted cutting points. We had to alter the length of the run to make sure we got the peatiness but not the nasty stuff, so it was a balancing act to get it right.

Stuart Thomson says that "When Glenmorangie took over the distillery, Ed Dodson came over from Glen Moray in Elgin to get the place up and running again before I was appointed manager, and he took the decision to slow down the speed of distillation, to run the stills slower. The resulting spirit was more delicate and subtle. The boys will tell you that in the past the wash still had been filled half way up the neck. That's going to affect the quality, as there is less impact in the spirit against the copper, and there's a chance some of the wash won't even be distilled."

‘Wardie’ adds that "Now they use two lots from the wash still and one from the spirit still to make acharge. Previously, they would run the wash still off in three hours by bashing it through, but now they do it in around four hours."

"The wash still generally takes three hours to run," notes 'Philco,' "and with the spirit still, you fill it, put the steam on for 30 minutes to get it running. You then run it for ten minutes on foreshots, then four and a half hours ‘on spirit,’ as we call the middle cut, and finally three and a half hours running on feints."

"Ardbeg has a sweetness and also a powerful smoky, salty flavour," according to Mickey Heads. "This is due to a combination of the tall stills with a large surface area giving more copper contact, and the purifier which makes the spirit lighter, with a fruity sweetness." The spirit is greatly influenced by the presence of this purifier (almost unique to Ardbeg), which is fitted to the end of the lyne arm which leads from the top of the spirit still towards the condenser. As Stuart Thomson explains, "The lighter alcohols travel along the top o f the lyne arm, while the heavier ones go along the bottom of the arm and are captured in the pot of the purifier. With the purifier, the whisky is nearly triple-distilled and this makes the spirit more delicate."

‘Asha’ says "The heavier spirit going over the neck of the still goes through the purifier and back into the still to be redistilled. That way you're not getting such heavy spirit," while ‘The Gow’ adds that "The purifier on the spirit still makes the spirit sweeter." Gleninorangie's master distiller Dr Bill Lurnsden says "The purifier is undoubtedly what gives Ardbeg its fruity, floral sweetness, and gives complexity to the spirit."

The spirit still is run until its contents are around 0.1% abv, and this waste residue is known as 'spent lees.' The product from the spirit still is usually referred to as ‘new make’ or ‘clearic,’ and is a clear liquid which is reduced with water from its natural strength (between 68.5 and 69.5% abv at Ardbeg) to around 63 or 64% abv prior to filling into casks, as this is considered the optimum maturation strength.

In terms of annual output, the distillery is working flat out to produce up to 1.4 mla, compared to less than one million litres a decade ago. Mickey Heads reassures that, "This is not at the expense of quality or the flavor profile, but rather down to increased efficiency and productivity. For example, we're now doing 16 mashes per week, whereas previously it was 10-12. There's been a gradual increase. As is usually the case when you increase production in a distillery, the bottleneck is the stillhouse. The turnaround time between distillations is quite tight and the stillhouse dictates our production level."

The influence of maturation in the creation of good whisky is immense, and some authorities consider that whisky acquires up to 80 per cent of its final character in the cask

 

MATURATION


Once the spirit has been produced, external influences play a vital role in determining just how it will look, smell and taste when it is bottled in several years' time. The influence of maturation in the creation of good whisky is immense, and some authorities consider that whisky acquires up to 80 per cent of its final character in the cask.

At Ardbeg some 90 per cent of new spirit is filled into ex-Bourbon barrels, and warehouseman Andrew Mullen (‘Drew’) observes that "We mainly fill into first and second refill Bourbon casks [capacity of 185 litres], with a few ‘hoggies’ [hogsheads, with a capacity of approximately 250 litres] and Sherry butts [capacity of approximately 500 litres] now and again." Stuart Thompson declares "I always felt that Ardbeg in many ways was better in a second fill cask. The first fill will give you more of the sweetness and tannins, and second time around you get more aldehytes, which means that you get more cereal, floral notes—hay, roses and chrysanthemums."

Speaking of the Hiram Walker and Allied Distillers' days, Robert Hicks recalls that "Virtually all the spirit being produced at Ardbeg was filled into ex-Bourbon barrels, as Hiram Walker was a ‘barrel’ company. They were usually first and second fill. Too much first fill wood tends to overpower a blend. I would say we were filling into a mix between good and ‘decent’ wood. We could always get plenty of casks from the USA, as we had a deal with Makers Mark, so we never had to use bad wood."

Dunnage warehouses have fewer temperature variations due to their stone and slate roof construction, and are usually considered by distillers to be the best kind of warehouses for maturing their choicest spirit

At Ardbeg the casks are labeled with both a stencil and a barcode, stencil to keep with tradition and a barcode to help with stock control. Stuart Thomson noted that "bar codes can get knocked off, and it's much easier to see the details of a stencil when you're unloading and stowing casks than it is to have to keep getting down and peer at a bar code." ‘Wardie’ pointed out that "We try to spread the casks around so we don't have all one year's production in one warehouse, just in case there's a fire, but we're pretty short of space, and basically we put newly-filled casks in wherever stuff comes out and leaves a gap."

The type of warehouses in which the spirit is stored and the location of those warehouses are also factors which influence the maturing spirit. During maturation there is evaporation of ethanol and water, and the ingress of oxygen through the cask. The amount of bulk loss varies according to temperature and humidity levels, as does the speed of maturation. In a warehouse with a high level of humidity a greater amount of ethanol is lost than water, so the strength decreases. Conversely, low levels of humidity lead to a greater loss of water, and a consequent increase in strength. The environment of Scotland is comparatively cool and humid, so strength falls during maturation, while the liquid loss or ‘angels’ share' of evaporation is around two per cent per annum.

Traditional dunnage warehouses, usually constructed of stone, with an earth or cinder floor, feature casks stacked three high on wooden runners. Due to constraints of space, large, multi-storey warehouses have been constructed in more recent times. They are fitted with steel racks to hold casks, up to twelve rows high, closely packed together. For ease of operation, palletisation has also been introduced in many warehouses. Here casks are stacked not on their sides, as tradition has dictated, but on their ends on wooden pallets, up to six high.

Compared to modern, racked or palletised facilities, dunnage warehouses have fewer temperature variations due to their stone and slate roof construction, and are usually considered by distillers to be the best kind of warehouses for maturing their choicest spirit. Racked warehouses tend to be prone to greater seasonal fluctuations of temperature, but there are also temperature differences between casks stored close to the ground and those stored near to the roof. This is because maturation is fastest in the warmest area of a warehouse, which is invariably the highest part. According to ‘Dugga’ "In the bottom three or four stows the temperature remains pretty constant, but it varies a lot up the racks. You can feel it change as you climb up."

There is an ongoing debate about whether the location of the warehouses affects maturing spirit, with one school of thought insisting there is no detectable difference between spirit matured, for example, by the sea on Islay, and that transported to the mainland for maturation in the Central Belt of Scotland. However, those closely associated with Ardbeg over the years have little doubt that this is not the case.

"For me, where it's matured has got to matter. The salt is in the air. The sea is just 100 metres away. The spray is hitting the walls of the warehouses at times, and you can taste it on your lips. You can feel the salty air in the warehouses."

"The optimum place to mature Ardbeg is in a dunnage warehouse close to the sea," says Stuart Thomson. "You're going to get a lot more salt. The people that say it makes no difference are the people who want it to make no difference. Warehouse No 3 is 50 yards from the sea, so of course you're going to get an effect from all the salt air. Casks breathe. Where you mature the spirit has to be significant if you're using dunnage warehouses. About 30 per cent of what Ardbeg matures goes into dunnage warehouses."

Mickey Heads is in agreement, saying "For me, where it's matured has got to matter. The salt is in the air. The sea is just 100 metres away. The spray is hitting the walls of the warehouses at times, and you can taste it on your lips. You can feel the salty air in the warehouses." ‘Wardie' notes that "The effluent plant that now occupies warehouse No 1 was always one of the best for maturing whisky. It's right next to the sea, so maybe that's what did it. No 3's currently the best, and that's now the closest to the sea."

However, former Hiram Walker and Allied Distillers group distilleries manager Ian Miller recalls that 'When production levels were high lots of the whisky made at Ardbeg was brought over to the mainland to mature. Once we had knocked down a lot of the old dunnage warehouses much of the spirit was being matured in racked warehouses. So you can argue that there was less difference between racked warehouses on the mainland and racked warehouses at the distillery once many of the old dunnage warehouses by the sea had gone. It's all a matter of opinion what happens when whisky is matured in different locations."

 


Ruaraidh MacIntyre checking the temperature of the mash in the mashtun

 

 Newly-distilled, clear spirit

 



The magical purifier

 


 Benjamin Ayres unloading casks

 


Colin Campbell disgorging casks

 

The courtyard, filling store and rear od the Old Kiln Cafè and Visitor Centre

 


Casks sleeping in a cool, damn dunnage warehouse

 

 

 


Written by Gavin D Smith & Graevie Wallace

 

The text is an excerpt from "Ardbeg: Heavenly Peated" (pp. 109 - 142), written by Gavin D Smith & Graevie Wallace, published 2018 by Hogback Publishing.