A Glossary of Whisky Words




ABV (acronym)

An abbreviation of Alcohol By Volume. This is the standard method of measuring the alcohol concentration in a liquid, measured by percentage. Many of our core range malts have an ABV of 50% in order to showcase the most essential compounds in the whisky.  Find out more about why we bottle at 50% ABV here.

ACE  (acronym)

A laddie-made acronym which stands for Additional Cask Enhancement. You may see this acronym used in our product spec pages, it refers to any additional maturation of our whisky where the spirit is transferred from one cask to another to develop supplementary character and complexity. ACEing and all other aspects of maturation are the sole responsibility of Head distiller Adam Hannett.

Bere Barley  (noun)

[ beərˈbɑːr.li ]

Often referred to as an ancient grain, Bere barley (pronounced “bear”) is one Scotland’s oldest remaining cereals in cultivation.  Bere barley is a six-row strain opposed to two or four strain conventional barley varieties.  It’s a robust grain that can withstand poor soil conditions and harsh climates and has been growing in the North of Scotland for over a thousand years. This variety of barley not only ticks our boxes of provenance and heritage, but also flavour.

Buggered  (adjective)

[ ‘bʌɡərd ]

A technical term used by the engineers when something, usually on the bottling line, is needing to be replaced.

Distillation (noun)

[ dɪs.tɪˈleɪ.ʃən ]

The purification process of heating alcohol until it evaporates into vapour and then cooling to condense it back into a liquid state. Most Scottish distillers distil twice to further purify the alcohol and create a stronger spirit. In the Bruichladdich Still House, this is done in our long swan-necked copper stills. The distillation is controlled manually at a trickle to achieve the light, smooth and floral character of our whisky.

Draff (noun)

[ dræf ]

Also known as spent grains, this refers to the leftover grain in the mash tun after the sugars have been extracted. The draff from the distillery is never wasted and is in fact a useful co-product for our farming community, who collect and use as cattle feed.

E150 (noun)

An ingredient you will NOT find in any of our whiskies. E150 is the name of the colouring agent used widely in the whisky industry that imparts a caramel colour to the spirit. Colouring is added during the bottling process and can vary in shade from brown to red depending on usage.

At Bruichladdich, we NEVER use E150. We understand that whisky it a natural product and believe that the colour should be attained exclusively from the oak of the casks the whisky was matured in. In Germany, if any whisky has added colouring it must be stated on the label however this isn’t the case for most other countries.



Gravity (noun)

[ ɡræv.ə.ti ]

A measurement which identifies the density of a solution compared to the density of water, which is rendered as 1.000 on a hydrometer scale. Gravity of the wort, wash and spirit are recorded throughout production.

There are a few specific terms when referring to gravity. Firstly, Original Gravity (OG) measures the density of the wort before fermentation, final gravity (FG) is recorded after the fermentation stage and specific gravity (SG) is taken during any time throughout the fermentation or distilling process.

Grist (noun)


A term used to describe the malted barley after it has passed the mill. Grist is made up of three parts: husks, grist (also knows as middles) and flour. The ratio of the grist is important to allow maximum sugars to be extracting during the mash. Our grist ratio is altered by hand and varies to accommodate the variety of barley types we use.

Hydrometer (noun)

[ haɪ-drɒm-ɪ-tər ]

An instrument found inside the spirit safe used to measure the correct density or gravity of the liquid in order to test the amount of alcohol. This information is recorded by our skilled production team to assist them with finding the optimum times to cut the spirit into foreshots, middle cut and feints. Our warehouse team also use hydrometers to check the alcohol strength in our whisky during maturation.

Jurançon (pronoun)

A historic wine appellation in the South West of France known for both dry and sweet white wine. Their native grapes are Gros Manseng, Petite Manseng and Camaralet de Lasseube.  As one of the first distilleries to mature whisky in wine casks, we have an opulent number of casks in our warehouses from wine regions all over the world.

Kilning (verb)

[ kĭlnɪŋ ]

This is part of the malting process which involves drying malted barley or grain. At the moment all of our malting is completed in Inverness through our partnership with Bairds. However this process is the missing piece of our fully Islay production process.   We intend on building our own malting facility by 2023 that will allow us to dry all of our Islay grown barley. As we grow the majority of our barley as well as mature and bottle everything on the island, this is the natural next step for us.



Non chill-filtered (verb)

[ nɒn-tʃɪl-fɪl.tərd ]

Chill filtration is an industrial process which removes esters and other haze producing compounds from whisky. The process involves lowering the temperature of the whisky (between -2’c and +10’c) until the haze-producing compounds bunch together. The spirit is then passed through several filters to remove these compounds resulting in a whisky which doesn’t look cloudy when stored at a low temperature or when water is added.

Chill filtration takes out the haze of whisky, but it can also take out aldehydes and fatty acids which give flavour, aroma and texture. Added character is something we’re not prepared to sacrifice for the sake of aesthetics. Our whisky is not just non chill-filtered, it’s NEVER chill-filtered.

Maturation (noun)


After the new-make spirit is transferred into a cask it is moved to a bonded warehouse to begin maturation. For a spirit to legally be named whisky it must remain in a cask for a minimum of three years and one day. At Bruichladdich, this entire process is done on the island across 15 warehouses.

Time in the cask brings about many changes to the taste, colour and aroma of the new make spirit. Character is added from the contact with the wood and also through evaporation of the spirit through the wood and into the atmosphere, known as the Angel’s share. The exact process of maturation is remarkably complex, and a full understanding is yet to be obtained. Ten of our casks are currently being analysed by Professor Otto Hermelin of Stockholm University to gain a more scientific understanding of what happens during maturation and how certain conditions in the warehouse affect it. Read more about his study here.

POPMASTER  (radio show)

[ pɒp ˈmɑːstə ]

A quiz about popular music broadcast on BBC radio 2 every weekday morning since 1998. Usually coincides with tools-down on the whisky bottling line, as they unleash their phenomenal brain power, competitive instincts, and taste for obscure music.

PPM (acronym)

Abbreviation of Phenol Parts per Million. Phenols are chemical compounds which attach to the barley when being smoked over a peat fire in the kiln. This number is found on any of our heavily peated whisky bottles. Octomore aficionados may notice we divulge the readings to the decimal point in our commitment to be as transparent as possible. The number refers to the phenol content of the malted barley before distillation and is measured in parts per million. This data is measure by our malting partners in the north of Scotland, Bairds, using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).

Rye (noun)

[ raɪ ]

For Scottish distillers, rye is tricky to work with especially when it comes to mashing. The grains are much smaller than those of barley and the kernels have no husks. This, along with its high sugar content means that during mashing it retains more water resulting in a gloopy consistency which proves difficult to drain.

So why use it? As Progressive Hebridean Distillers we have a duty to explore new flavours and grain varieties. Curiosity is in our DNA. The first Islay grown rye was distilled in 2017, grown by Andrew Jones at Coull Farm. We are since coming to understand the interesting benefits rye presents to farmers such as improving soil quality.




Terroir (noun)

[ terˈwɑː ]

A French term, used commonly in the wine industry, relating to how a particular region’s climate, soil and terrain affect the final character of the wine. For whisky production this could allude to where the barley was grown, the weather and soil conditions of the farm, the location of the warehouses in which the whisky was matured and many other influences.

At Bruichladdich we believe terroir matters; whisky should speak of where it was made. This imparts subtle nuance and variety to the flavour, aroma and texture of our whisky.

Vatting (noun)

[ væt-ɪŋ ]

Also described as blending, this process involves the marriage of multiple different casks hand selected by head Distiller Adam Hannett for a specific whisky. Blending combines different ages, cask types and barley varieties to give a batch of whisky a broad spectrum of character and flavour. Our flagship unpeated whisky The Classic Laddie, for example, is made up of around 80 casks aged between seven and twelve years. Once the vatting is complete, the batch of whisky is transferred into a neutral cask for up to three months to allow all the flavours to combine.  Read more about vatting here. 

Yeast (noun)

[ jiːst ]

A micro-organism used to ferment the sugary water called wort after mashing. Wort is cooled down to around 18’c and transferred into one of our six wooden washbacks. The addition of yeast to the wort is often referred to as ‘pithing’. After several controlled experiments to decipher the best choice of yeast, we use a mix of fast and slow acting compressed wet varieties in order to extend the activation stage.

Yield (verb)

[ jiːld ]

The amount of an agricultural or industrial substance produced. For many distillers when buying barley, yield is often the most significant factor in the production of whisky. However, at Bruichladdich, we pursue a farmer and flavour first mentality.

Zinfandel (pronoun)

A dark skinned red wine grape variety grown throughout California making both dry and sweet wines. Casks from this wine region are shipped to the distillery to mature spirit in our warehouses.


Ready for a deeper read? Try our whisky making articles below

Bruichladdich Distillery
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