Some terms used

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Scotch whisky 

Grain spirit distilled in Scotland, bottled at a minimum strength of 40%, matured in oak casks for a minimum of three years in Scotland.

Proposed definitions for Scotch Whisky

(SWA: Scotch Whisky Association)

Single Malt Scotch Whisky

means Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery

  • from water and malted barley without the addition of any other cereals;
  • by batch distillation in pot stills and
  • which is bottled and labelled in Scotland for sale to the final consumer 

Single Grain Scotch Whisky

means Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery

  • from water and malted barley with or without whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals, and 
  • which does not comply with the definition of Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Blended Scotch Whisky

means a blend of one or more Single Malt Scotch Whisky with one or more Single Grain Scotch Whisky 

Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

means a blend of Single Malt Scotch Whisky which have been distilled at more than one distillery. 

Blended Grain Scotch Whisky

means a blend of Single Grain Scotch Whiskywhich have been distilled at more than one distillery. 


The age which is generally indicated on the bottling is a reference to the youngest whisky entering in the composition of a single malt or a blend. In case of a single cask, the indicated age is the number of years the whisky spent in the cask.
It happens sometimes that the age of the whisky is not indicated. "No age statement" is then indicated near the bottling on this site.

Angels Share

The oak casks are porous, and about 1 to 2% of their content evaporates each year. This is what is called "Angels Share"

Blended Whisky

A blended whisky is a mix of single malts from different distilleries and grain whisky. The proportion of grain whisky used in the mix determines the quality of the final product. The more grain whisky, the less quality... Blended whisky has been created in order to put some standardize spirit on the market. The taste stays the same, from one year to the other. Lovers of blends use to say that the sum of components is superior to the whole. But this is just a matter of taste .

Cask Strength

A cask strength whisky has not been diluted with water before bottling. A cask strength can be between 50 and 62%

Excise Act

Promulgated in 1823 The Excise Act of 1823 authorized production of malt whisky against the payment of a licence of 10 pounds, and a tax by gallon of pure spirit.This law is due to the Duke of Gordon, and it was the end of moonshine distillation. It was good for excellent revenues for the government as well as for the distillers.

Grain whisky

Unlike malt whisky which is exclusively produced from malted barley, grain whisky can be made from wheat, or corn. This kind of distillation was made possible by the invention of the Coffey Still. Production of grain whisky, which is an essential part of blended whisky, is much higher than the production of malt whisky. In 2001, the whisky industry used 550.000 ton of grain (wheat and corn), against 400.000 ton of barley for the single malt industry.

Green malt

Barley that has started to germinate and has not yet been dried.


Result of the grinding of dried malt, which will be used in the brewing stage. It's a kind of powder, like muesli.

Independent bottler

An Independent bottler is a firm who buys whisky to several distilleries, matures an bottles it. It could be compared to a tuner in the cars world. See also the page about Independent bottlers on this site. 


Traditional oven for drying germinating barley to produce the malt. The kiln is topped by a pagoda roof. Even if most of the distilleries stopped producing their own malt, the pagoda roof stays on each of them and is still the symbol of the whisky distillery, 


A Lomond still is different from a traditional pot still. The lyne arm is replaced by a system of horizontal parallel plates, just like in the Coffey still. Unlike the Coffey still, the distillation process not continuous.

Low Wine

Result of the first brewing, the low wine is about 21% of alcohol. This will be used in the second distillation to produce a spirit between 65 and 70%

Lowland Licence Act 

promulgated in 1788 This law obliged the Scottish Lowlands distilleries to give 12 months notice before exporting whisky to England. This act hat disastrous consequences on the Scottish economy. See history of distilleries 

Malting floor

Floor (generally in concrete) where the distilleries use(d) to spread out their barley during the germination to produce the malt.

Mash tun

This tun is used for the brewing are enormous and can contain more than 30.000 litres . The fermentation of the grist can sometimes shake them, despite their size.

Official bottler

The term of "official bottling" is used when a distillery bottles its own product. This does not necessary mean that the distillery owns its own bottling plant. "Official bottling" is opposed to "Independent bottling"

Non chill filtered

When the whisky is bottled, producers use to filter whisky with cold water, to avoid a kind of veil giving a strange aspect to the spirit. If filtered whisky is cleaner, and generally sells better, it loses some of its fragrances. That's why more and more distilleries market their whiskies without that chill filtration. Those whiskies are richer and more complex, but are reserved to people used to it. The first tasting is sometimes surprising.

Pot Still

Open fire still used for the distillation of single malt. Each distillery uses it's own stills, with their own shape and size. The influence of the still is determining in the quality and the taste of the whisky. The stills on the left are those of the Glengoyne distillery.

Pure Malt

"Pure Malt" or "Vatted Malt" is a mix of single malt from different distilleries. Unlike blended whisky, only malt whisky is involved. 

Saladin Box

Charles Saladin, a Frenchman, invented a process able to rationalize the production of malt. He substituted a kind of box (50 meter long and 1,5 meter deep) to the traditionalmalting floors. This box has metallic mixers to avoid destruction of the grain by the warmth produced by the germination. Aeration happens by micro perforations in the bottom of the box. Some distilleries installed such a system, even if most of the distilleries stopped producing their malt. Tamdhustill uses such a system nowadays.

Scotch Distillery Act

promulgated in 1786

Gin producers suffered a lot of the Wash Actbecause of the big concurrence of the scotch whisky. That's why the government decided to tax heavily the scotch whisky in England. 

Single Cask

Single cask means the whisky in the bottle is coming from one cask and has not been mixed with whisky issued from other casks.

Single Malt

Single malt means the whisky in the bottle comes from one distillery. This does not mean there have been no mixes of several casks.

Solera Method

This operation consist in a mixing of young and older wine. For example, the Solera medium oloroso from the sherry house Valdespino is based on Xeres dating from 1842. Glenfiddich has applied this method to its edition "Solera Reserve"


Sugared liquid produced by brewing

Vatted Whisky

See Pure Malt


Wash is the result of the fermentation of the grist, and is like a kind of beer at 8%. This liquid will be distilled to produce the "low wine".

Wash Act

promulgated en 1784

This English law from 1784 lowered the taxes on spirit production. This law was applied in England and in the Lowlands, dominated by England in those times. The principle was that taxes were based on the quantity of washreally produced. Previously the tax was based on the size of the stills. This old calculation method continued to be applied in the Highlands. The idea of the Wash Act was to simplify the tax calculation, and its effect was a grow of legal spirit produced in those areas. 


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