Making Scotch: the Malting Floor

the process that puts the MALT in malt whisky


A characteristic difference between Scotch MALT whisky and some other forms of whiskey is that Scotch is distilled from barley that has been forced into sprouting in a  process called malting (or the maltings).

At Springbank, this whole multi-step process is still done 100% on site by hand. Highland Park, Bowmore, Laphroaig, Kilchoman, the BenRiach, and the Balvenie also maintain traditional malting floors where they malt some of their own barley. It’s backbreaking work — at least for someone usually writing and talking. The repetitive strain injury one can develop working the maltings is called “monkey shoulder.” Think shoveling snow all day, every day. Even at Springbank, where every bottle of Scotch comes from barley that's been malted on the floors in these pictures,  these days the maltsters rotate through other production jobs. But it’s still hard work.