Distillation of malt whisky is a complex process which involves all the senses. Hannah Thaxter spent a day with stillman Duncan MacFadyen (better known as Budgie) to discover some of the secrets of running the stills. Here's 5 things she found out.
1/ ALCOHOL WILL SMELL DIFFERENT AS DISTILLATION GOES ON
It will be acetone at the start, says Budgie, like nail polish but when that smell goes it’s the end of the foreshot. After that it starts to get fruity smelling, then grassy, mossy and woody – there are 15 main types of smell – and by the end it’s an oak tannin smell, something I associate with warm wet trainers.
He demonstrates by showing me how to rub some of the spirit in my hands, letting the alcohol burn off and cupping my hands over my nose and mouth – sharp at the start, moving through florals and grasses and woodlands down to a whiff of wet leather – the sweaty but comforting shoe.