How we make our whisky
Tucked away on the edge of the River Livet, the small group of skilled, time-served craftsmen and women at Tamnavulin Distillery began creating our signature Speyside malt over 50 years ago using the finest ingredients combined with age-old distilling expertise and sophisticated techniques.
When the barley has been malted and dried, it then passes through the mill in small batches to grind it into ‘grist’. This releases the starch inside the grains of barley which we use in the mashing process.
We draw our water from underground springs in the Easterton hills formed by snowmelt from the surrounding Cairngorm mountains. This water is naturally filtered through ancient limestone rock before reaching the distillery, resulting in some of the purest spring water to be found in Scotland.
We add heated spring water to the grist and gently stir the mixture in the ‘mash tun.’ This converts the starch in the grains into sugar. The sugary liquid collected is now called ‘wort’ and will be transferred to the following stage.
The spring water at Tamnavulin Distillery is naturally filtered through layers of ancient limestone rock, resulting in some of the purest water to be found in Scotland.
The wort is transferred into ‘washbacks’ where the yeast is added. It is then left for a number of days while the yeast converts the sugar in the wort into alcohol. Once this part of the process is completed, we are now left with a low alcohol liquid called ‘wash’ ready to be distilled.
The wash then goes through the distillation process in order to increase the strength of the alcohol. The stills are heated to boil the liquid inside causing it to evaporate. Once the vapours reach the top of the still they are condensed and transferred to the ‘spirit still’ where the same process happens for a second time.
Then, once this is finished, the strong alcohol passes through a ‘spirit safe’ where the Stillman separates the liquid into three sections; the head, the heart and the tail. The ‘heart’ of the run will be used for maturation and the ‘head’ and ‘tail’ will be re-distilled until they too reach the optimum strength for maturation.
We hand select our oak barrels, including Bourbon casks from North America and Sherry casks from Spain, to ensure their influence will perfectly complement and enhance the characteristics of Tamnavulin; rich, smooth, mellow and refreshing. Our cask collection goes back to the 1960s when the distillery was first built.
Once filled with new-make spirit, the casks will rest in our cool, dark warehouses for a number of years. Over time, the whisky gains its colour and flavour from these casks until it has achieved an exquisite flavour profile.
During maturation, a percentage of the contents of the cask are lost each year to evaporation, a naturally occurring process known as ‘the Angel’s share.’
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