the scottish whisky
That feels right at home
The Scotch whisky that goes with everything – that is not an empty claim. At a party, during a dinner for two, at a reception, to celebrate and make a toast or to relax in the comfort of your own home after a long day. On your sofa. After a single sip, you will be transported to a lush green meadow, surrounded by sheep. Glen Talloch feels at home anywhere. Its soft flavour is perfectly compatible with any occasion or mood. It is all about the smooth taste of the crystal-clear water from the Scottish Highlands. The best wheat and none of the chaff. The simplicity of the most delicious malts, blended and ripened in oak barrels. Personally bottled to create four unique yet affordable whiskies that will surprise you again and again – and again.
Pouring rain, ocean winds freely smashing against the steep cliffs, the lost and lonely bark of a collie driving its flock of sheep together and every imaginable shade of green visible on the hills for as far as the eye can see. As soon as you enter the pub, the rich and spicy scent of haggis enters your nostrils. You take off your wool cap, blow some warmth onto your wet hands, kick off your rubber boots and hang your wax coat on the last available peg. You forgot to bring an umbrella again; you’ll probably never learn. As if people knew you were coming, your favourite stool at the bar is still empty. You join the crowd and the hustle and bustle of the pub embrace you. There is a fire burning in the hearth in one corner. Then a hand appears. Unbidden. It offers you a delicious glass of Glen Talloch. You are home. More than ever.
In this barren Scottish land that produces such wonderful wheat and where the water is purer than you ever thought possible, the locals have mastered the noble art of making whisky for centuries. This is a craft that must intrigue you. The knowledge and expertise it requires are passed down from one generation to the next. These people have been braving the pouring rain for centuries. Their famous whisky was originally invented as a way to make some use of rain-soaked barley. However, the work doesn’t end there. In fact, it takes years of work before you can open a beautiful bottle of Glen Talloch in your own home. Let us take you on a tour of the six steps it takes to turn water, barley and yeast into an excellent, flavourful Scotch whisky. Have a seat and pour yourself a glass.
We begin by “malting” the barley. Barley contains starch, which must be turned into sugars. During the malting process, the starch is converted into maltose, which is then converted into alcohol during fermentation. This is quite a lengthy process, but we knew that already. You simply cannot rush the production of a delicious Glen Talloch. The barley is steeped in warm water for a few days, during which it swells and finally begins to germinate. Next, it is spread out by hand on a large surface known as the malting floor. The germinating barley is turned over a few times to achieve the best possible result. This process of germination takes just under one week. By that time, the green malt has absorbed the natural sugars, which means we can move on to step two.
Once the germination has gone on long enough, it is time to halt the process. This is usually done in a special type of oven that bears the magical name of “kiln.” While we’re talking about magic: this kiln is fired in a traditional manner using peat, which is the main reason why whiskies often have that characteristic “smoky” flavour. The type of peat and the specific technique that are used (which often differ from one distillery to the next) largely determine how the whisky will ultimately smell and taste. Well then; now that we have turned barley into malt, it is high time to move on to step three.
The first thing to do is clean the malt with a sieve. Next, the malt is grounded into a flour known as grist. Now for the magic touch: we’re adding water. That is the reason why so many distilleries are located near the purest freshwater springs or alongside streams. After all, the water you use will have a significant impact on the final product. For example, the type of soil determines what minerals are found in the water. When we’re done, we’ll be able to taste the difference. This is an important task! The water is heated and mixed with the grist in a so-called mash tun. Then it is time for a few hours of mashing, which is a fancy way of saying: stir, stir and stir some more. During this process, the sugars dissolve and are extracted from our mash tun. The maltose dissolves in the flour and we are left with a liquid that is cooled and then mixed with yeast. The resulting liquid is known as wort.
The wort is cooled and then transferred to large tanks called washbacks. These washbacks used to be made from wood, but these days it is increasingly common to use stainless steel models. After pumping the wort into the washbacks, we add yeast. Then it is time for the fermentation process to begin. The yeast helps turn the sugars in the wort into alcohol. As with the water and the other ingredients, your choice of yeast will affect the final taste and flavour of your whisky. Choosing the right yeast is the responsibility of the Master Distiller, the highest authority in the distillery. The fermentation process usually continues for a day or two, resulting in a liquid known as wash. Wash has a relatively low alcohol content, similar to beer or wine. We still have quite a way to go.
Now that we have our wash, it is finally time to move on to the distillation process. This is done in large copper kettles known as stills; those well-known and characteristic semi-circular copper boilers. The shape of the stills directly affects the flavour and the body of the whisky produced in them. Whereas taller stills will generally produce a whisky with a more delicate, lighter flavour, broader stills are used to create a fuller, richer whisky. The wash is pumped into the first still and heated. The liquid vaporises and condenses in the neck of the still. This produces a liquid known as low wines. However, this is little more than an intermediate stage that still requires a lot of refinement. The low wines is then pumped into the second, smaller still (officially called a spirit still). The alcohol produced from the first batch usually has quite a sharp flavour and contains far too much alcohol by volume. For later batches, the reverse is true. The trick is to find the perfect middle batch. Once we have that, we can settle in for a long wait.
This “whisky” (although it doesn’t really deserve to be called that at this point) is cooled and poured into oak barrels. These barrels are stored in large storage rooms known as warehouses. Now begins the lengthy process known as maturation. Believe us when we tell you that it will take years. During maturation, the wooden barrels affect the flavour and the aroma of the whisky stored inside them. Since wood is a naturally porous material, it is not 100% airtight. This means that “outside influences” also affect a whisky’s ultimate flavour profile. For example, many distilleries are built near the sea to allow the salty sea air and the brisk temperatures to subtly affect the whisky as it matures. To be officially classified as a Scotch whisky, it must mature for a period of at least three years. At Glen Talloch, we like to give our whisky a bit more flavour, so we wait another eighteen months.
If that is too much for you, we have some good news. You can find many bottles of Glen Talloch in stores right now to make the wait a bit easier. Here they are all lined up.
Glen Talloch is the finest blended whisky for the most affordable price. We have managed to preserve this status quo to this very day. Speaking of preservation, did you know that we have had the DNA that we were just talking about officially turned into a Tartan? A Tartan is a traditional Scottish design that belongs to a specific clan. New Tartans are only rarely approved by an extremely strict Scottish society. Since the 1980s, our official colours (ochre, gold, yellow, red and black) have been registered under strict conditions. We could even use this design to make kilts if we were so inclined.
Although we are (and will remain) affordable, that does not mean we are cheap. In fact, we often go the extra mile during the production of our incredible whiskies. Allow us to illustrate what we mean. We will show you the steps involved in the distillation of a delicious bottle of Glen Talloch. First, however, we want to tell you more about the history of Scotch whisky. After all, you can only truly know what you are talking about when you know where you come from.
As with so many things in the world, monks and Christianity play a big role in the history of Scotch whisky. Those monks are the ones who first introduced the distillation process in the fourth or fifth century. After that, things remained quiet for a long time. The first official records of distillation date back to 1494, when friar John Cor of the abbey of Lindores in Fife was ordered by the king to produce aqua vitae – a Latin phrase meaning “the water of life.” That set the ball rolling. The first official taxes on the production of whisky were levied in 1644, which resulted in an increase of the number of illegal whisky distilleries in Scotland. Around 1780, there were around eight official and 400 illegal distilleries. In 1823, the Parliament eased its restrictions on licensed distilleries with the introduction of the Excise Act. This made things more difficult for illegal distillers and marked the dawn of the modern era of whisky production. Two factors contributed to the increased popularity of “Scotch”: first of all, a new production process was introduced in 1831 that makes use of a Coffey or patent still. The whisky produced using this process has a less strong and milder flavour. Secondly, grape phylloxera (a species of louse) destroyed the French wine and cognac production in 1880. As a result, existing stores of both beverages were all but drained all over the world. Since then, whisky has been produced on an increasingly large scale, it survived the Prohibition in the United States, as well as two World Wars and economic recessions in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. These days, Scotch whisky is consumed in more than two hundred countries all over the world. Glen Talloch is the most popular whisky in the Netherlands (a fact we are quite proud of).
As you know, Glen Talloch (all four variants) is a blended whisky, which means it consists of a careful mixture of different types of single malts and grain whiskies. Grain whiskies are relatively cheap to produce, but they also usually have a more generic and less flavourful profile. In fact, it is the malt that imparts the most flavour to a whisky, which is why we add such a high percentage – 30% – of malts to our blend. For years, the Glen Talloch blend has offered a unique combination of malt and grain whiskies from every corner, matured in different types of barrels and for various lengths of time (with a minimum of 4.5 years). This blend gives Glen Talloch its characteristic colour, nose and flavour that we all love so much. All this is the responsibility of our Master Blender – and it is certainly no easy task. You’ll understand why we intend to keep him around for a long time to come.
People in the Champagne region are strict. It takes a lot of hard work before a beverage can earn the name “champagne.” However, only few people know that the Scottish regulations are even stricter than the French. In fact, most whiskies coming out of Scotland are not even worthy of bearing the acclaimed title of “Scotch whisky.” A law has been drawn up for this express purpose, ratified by the British Parliament and signed by Queen Elizabeth II (although that probably didn’t impress the Scottish people much). Genuine Scotch malt whiskies all come from Campbelltown, Islay and the three protected regions of Highland, Lowland and Speyside. Our single malts – which give the Glen Talloch blend its characteristic smooth flavour – all come from these Scottish regions. To earn the title of Scotch whisky, it must mature in oak barrels for at least three years. During this maturation process, the whisky develops its unique (natural!) scent and flavour – more on those later – and the long wait gives the whisky its characteristic golden hue.
We won’t tell you exactly how we make our unique blend. That secret belongs to our Master Blender. What we can tell you, however, is what famous corners of Scotland’s well-known whisky regions our single malts and grain whiskies come from. There are six in total.
This is the most successful member of the Glen Talloch family. Thirty percent of its blend consists of world-famous single malt whiskies, each of which has matured for at least five years. This is a delicious, easily drinkable and smooth whisky that is perfect for every occasion.
For a slightly more complex flavour (i.e. a deeper, richer flavour profile), we recommend our “12 years old.” This beautiful Scotch whisky has matured for twelve years (!) and consists of forty percent malt whiskies from various distilleries. Experienced whisky drinkers often call it complex and harmonious, which we fully understand.
True connoisseurs call the Glen Talloch Blended Malt a “vatted malt.” That is because this blend only consists of single malt whiskies – and good ones, at that! This also makes it the most complex whisky in the entire Glen Talloch family.
This smoky peated malt is a bit of an odd duck. Peat is soil that consists of grass, moss, tree roots and earth that has been tightly compressed for more than a thousand years. The longer the peat is left in the kiln, the stronger the whisky’s smoky flavour will become. This familiar Glen Talloch blend has been enriched with another 20% extra peated malts. After blending, the Peated Finish has been left to mature for another three months.