Abbreviation for alcohol by volume (see below),


For more info on Aftershots see “Feints”,

n.b. Not to be confused with aftershock, a drink which is drank as a shot and can be found in many clubs and bars of a poor standard!


The age statement on a bottle of Scotch (and most other whiskies from across the globe) indicates the age of the youngest spirit included in the blending process. Age is denoted by the time the spirit has matured in the cask,

This applies to vatted, blended, and single cask whisk”e”y.

n.b. unlike wine whisky ceases to age once finally bottled.


This is the process of storing spirit in oak casks to impart some of the wood complex flavour into the spirit. Once bottled, the ageing process ends.


Alcohol accumulates whenever yeast ferments and since yeast cannot utilise alcohol, it becomes one of the major by-products of fermentation, which may be summarised as:

C6H12O6  =  2C2H5OH  +  2CO2

Glucose     Ethanol        Carbon Dioxide

The word “Alcohol” is derived from the Arabic.

Alcohol By Volume

Usually abbreviated to “abv”, “ABV”, “av” or “AV”. This is the proportion of alcohol in a liquid expressed as a percentage of the total volume of liquid. For example, a liquid at 43% abv is a liquid that has 43% alcohol and 57% water.

American Barrel

See “Casks”.


Enzyme in barley that converts starch into maltose in the mash tun. See also “Cytase”, “Diastase” and “Zymase”.

Angels’ Share

A distiller’s term for what accountants in the trade more prosaically refer to as maturation losses. Customs and Excise allow for a maximum loss during maturation of two percent by volume per year. This loss happens due to evaporation and the loss of alcoholic vapour through the porous wooden casks.


The Latin for “water of life” from which the Gaelic “uisge beatha” and “usquebaugh” were derived. The modern “whisky” is just a corruption of “usque”.



In North American whiskeys, the alcohol-free liquid left at the bottom of the still and is added to both the Mash Tun and fermenter (or Washback) to ward off bacterial contamination. Also known as thin stillage.

Ball of Malt

A peculiarly Irish expression for a glass of whiskey.


The only cereal grain used to produce malt whisky. Is also used in the production of Bourbon and other whiskies/whiskeys

Barley Intake

The Barley Intake is the piece of machinery used to transfer the barley from the Delivery Bay to the Barley Loft. In earlier days, this was basically a sack lift as the barley would have been delivered to the distillery in sacks on a horse and cart. Nowadays, this would be some form of vacuum tube as deliveries are now usually made by road-going bulk grain tanker lorries.

Barley Loft

The Barley Loft is the place where the unprocessed barley is stored upon receipt by the distillery and before it starts going through the whisky-making process. Typically, this store is on the topmost floor of the Malt House.




A rough method used to tell the alcholic strength of a whisky. When a bottle is shaken, bubbles or beads will form. The bigger they are and the longer they last, the greater the alcholic strength of the spirit.

Bear, Bere, Bigg

The strain of four-rowed barley in common use throughout the Islands and Western Highlands until superseded, as the Rev James MacDonald observed in 1810, ” . . . . with the real barley with long two-row grained ears. The reason urged for preferring the inferior species to the better kind is, that it is fourteen days or three weeks earlier in ripening, and that it does not require such rich manure, or as fertile a soil as the genuine barley.”


The alcoholic liquid that goes into the still. Also known as brew or wash.

Beer Still

The first still used in the distillation process. Also known as the wash still.

Blended Whisky

Blended Malt Scotch Whisky” means a blend of two or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies that have been distilled at more than one distillery;
“Blended Grain Scotch Whisky” means a blend of two or more Single Grain Scotch Whiskies that have been distilled at more than one distillery; and
“Blended Scotch Whisky” means a blend of one or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies with one or more Single Grain Scotch Whiskies.


The mixing together of different spirit in proportions determined by a whisky blender who is attempting to achieve a particular style of whisky or consistency of character across a number of years.


An arbitrary unit used to measure grain, but generally the measures in common use were:-

1 boll   = 6 bushels = 24 pecks   = 48 gallons

1 bushel = 4 pecks   =  8 gallons

1 peck   = 2 gallons


Whisky stocks held in the Bonded Warehouse which are yet to have excise duty levied on them.

Bonded Warehouse

A Bonded Warehouse is a secure store where maturing whisky is stored. It is cool and earth-floored to provide an even temperature and humidity. During its period in bond, a cask will lose about 2% of alcohol per year – the so-called “angel’s share”. With each warehouse holding many hundreds of casks and each cask holding up to 500 litres of whisky, it can be seen how much of an investment is tied up in one of these warehouses. No excise duty has yet been levied on this whisky. Once the whisky is removed from the warehouse, duty becomes payable.


A building that housed an illicit still in the Scottish Highlands. Most had only a single room or were even hidden underground.

Bottled in Bond

North American whisky, usually bourbon, bottled after four years in the cask, at 50% abv or more..


U.S. Whiskey (note the “e”) that is produced from a mash of not less than 51% corn grain, distilled to a maximum 80% abv (160° American proof) and put into charred new oak barrels at a strength of no more than 62.5% abv. Bourbon casks are charcoaled on the inside before use to impart flavour to the maturing spirit.


See “Wash”.


The process of mashing grain in hot water and fermenting the result with yeast to produce beer or wash.

Burnt Ale, Pot Ale

The liquor len the Low Wines osh Still after the f distillation. It is either discharged as waste, or converted to animal feed.


Traditionally the dry measure of 8 imperial gallons, although the Scotch Whisky Association regard it as equivalent to 25.4 Kg. See “Boll”.


See “Casks”.



One of the four whisky-producing regions of Scotland, Campbeltown is a region lying at the southern end of the Kintyre Peninsular in Argyllshire and is, by far, the smallest of the regions (see “Malt Whisky Regions Map” and “Campbeltown Map”). Although there were once more than thirty distilleries in the region, there are now only three, one currently mothballed (Glen Scotia – light, intense, hint of peat) and two currently in operation (at Springbank – peaty, salty, fruity; and at Longrow, which is a particular type of malt produced occasionally from one of the stills at Springbank – dry, smoky, salty) (compare with “Islay”, “Lowlands” and “Highlands” region characteristics). It is not considered necessary to sub-divide the distilleries into Districts. Among the lost distilleries from this region are such as Hazleburn, Dalintober, Benmore, Ardlussa, Dalaruan, Lochead, Glen Nevis, Kinloch, Burnside, Glengyle, Lochruan, Albyn, Scotia, Rieclachan, Glenside, Kyntyre, Campbeltown and Argyll


A dark brown substance made from sugar is added to some whisky as a colouring agent. Nowadays, most, if not all, Scottish distilleries have ceased this practice.

Cask Strength

Whisky bottled at, or near to, the strength it comes out of the cask. This depends upon age and can vary considerably, distillery to distillery, age to age. Some are as low as 55% abv or under whilst others can be as high as 65% abv or more.


Constructed of oak, casks used for whisky maturation come in a variety of sizes:-

Butt               500 litres

Hogshead           250-305 litres

American Barrel    173-191 litres

Quarter            127-159 litres

Octave             45-68 litres

Casks made from new wood are sometimes but very seldom used, preference being given to the re-use of ex-bourbon casks made from American oak and ex-sherry (usually Oloroso) casks made fron Spanish oak because of the additional characteristics they give to the matured whisky. These foreign-sourced casks can arrive as complete casks or broken down into their seperate staves. At the cooperage, either the distillery’s own or an independent one, the casks are remade and maintained, sometimes being charred on the inside to improve the release of vanallin fron the wood. When used for the first time for whisky, they are called First Fill casks. They may be re-used again when that fill of whisky has matured. Second Fill and Third Fill usage is not uncommon. A cask can, therefore, have a life of some 30 – 40 years or more in addition to its time maturing bourbon or sherry.

Charcoal Mellowing

See “Leaching”.

Charger, Receiver

A tank usually used to store a liquid prior to passing it on to the next stage of the process. See “Wash Charger”, “Low Wines and Feints Charger” and “Spirit Receiver”.


The insides of new oak casks are briefly set alight, thus charring them, which adds colour and a smoky flavour to the resultant spirit. It is sometimes necessary to apply the charring process at cooperages for remade or rebuilt casks.

Chill Filtration

Filtration of the spirit at low temperature to remove the congeners that cause the clouding which occurs if whisky is allowed to get too cold. However, many would argue that it also filters out some of the individual characteristics that a particular whisky has developed during its progress through the distillation process.


The latter day equivalent of the Steep.


Another name for new or new-make spirit. New, unmatured spirit, clear in colour.

Closed Distillery

A distillery which has been permenantly closed down, probably because it was uneconomical to run at the time of closure. However, there could still be stocks of whisky from such a distillery maturing in bond which would be bottled and sold at the appropriate time, quite probably with the addition of the word “Rare” on their label. When closure happens, normathe equipment is dismantled and sold off, so it bes very unlikely that the distillery could re-open in its usual form. The buildings and land can be sold off for other use but this then becomes a lost distillery. Whilst the buildings are still present, one can only hope that the distillery could, in the future, be revived.

Column Still

See “Patent Still”.

Coffey Still

See “Patent Still”.


Chemical compounds produced during fermentation and maturation, Congeners include esters, acids, aldehydes and higher alcohols. Strictly speaking, they are impurities, but they give whisky its flavour. Their presence in the final spirit must be carefully judged – too many would make it undrinkable.

Continuous Still

See “Patent Still”.


A distillery worker who is responsible for the assembly and maintenance of the casks. In the nineteenth century, probably the highest-paid man at the distillery.


A workshop where the casks are made and maintained. Also used as a general term for the casks themselves

Copper (1)

The traditional metal from which Pot Stills and some Mash Tuns are made.

Copper (2)

The Copper is the vessel in which water is heated, in the Mash House, prior to it being mixed (sparged) with the malt grist either in the steel’s masher at the bottom of the Grist Hopper or directly in the Mash Tun itself.

Corn Whiskey

(US term) A whiskey made from a mash containing at least 80% corn and, if it is aged at all, must be done so in used or un-charred oak barrels.


(US term) After barley has been soaked in water in the steep to make it germinate it is put into a second tank, the couch, to dry. This stops further growth.

Couch Frame

The tank present in some distilleries whereeped barley is stored until it has dried to the correct water content for it to be spread on the floor in the Floor Maltings.


Dried rootlets still attached to the malt grains after they have been dried in the Kiln.


See “Middle Cut”.


Enzyme in barley that breaks down the cell walls, thus making the starch accessible. See also “Amylase”, “Diastase” and “Zymase”.


Dark Grains

A cattle feed made from a mixture of draff and pot ale.

Delivery Bay

The Delivery Bay is the place where the barley arrives at the distillery. In the old days it would arrive in sacks on a horse and cart but nowadays it usually arrived in a road-going bulk grain tanker. In either case, the barley is then elevated by the Barley Intake, either a sack hoist or nowadays a vacuum pipe, to be stored in the Barley Loft which is usually the highest floor of the Malt House.

Demisting Point

The point at which spirit coming off the Low Wines or Spirit Still no longer goes cloudy when water is added. It is the point at which the middle cut begins.


Enzyme complex secreted during germination of barley which converts starch to soluble starch and sugars. See also “Amylase”, “Cytase” and “Zymase”.


The process of heating the wash in the Wash Still, selecting the non-water condensate (the low wines), re-heating the low wines in the Low Wines or Spirit Still and selecting out only the middle cut of the condensate. Some distilleries re-heat, yet again, this middle cut to further exclude all but the purest ethanol from the new middle cut (triple distillation).

Distiller’s Beer

(US term) The fermented mash that is transferred from the fermenter to the beer still for the first distillation.


A sub-area of one of the four whisky Regions of Scotland.

Dona Tub

(US term) A vessel in which jug yeast is grown to produce enough yeast to ferment a whole batch of mash.


(US term) See “Low Wines or Spirit Still”.


The spirit produced by a secondary distillation. Often referred to as high wines (but in US, confusingly, high wines are the product of the first distillation).


The spent grist left at the bottom of the Mash Tun which is removed and sold to farmers as cattle feed.


In Gaelic, a drink, commonly a large glass of whisky.


A rebate or reduction in the level of duty commonly applied to malt made from bear in the 19th Century.


Colloquial name for the residual leftovers from distillation – formerly bought by farmers and used as fertiliser.


The Dresser is a machine that removes the rootlets, shoots and other impurities from the malted barley prior to it being milled in the Roller Mill.

Dried Grains

Cattle feed made from spent mashed cereal.

Drum Maltings

A type of maltings in which the barley is germinated in large revolving drums through which air is drawn. A drum will usually have a capacity of 20 to 50 tons of barley.


In gaelic, a fort or castle.


The traditional means of racking casks in a Bonded Warehouse. Two wooden rails are laid in parallel along the top of a row of casks (or on the ground) and the next row of casks is rolled into position along the rails. Each cask is secured in place with wooden wedges on each side. Depending upon the height of the Bonded Warehouse, casks may be stacked up to five rows high. Although it appears precarious, dunnage is still in common use in many warehouses in Scotland.

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