Over 200 years ago, wood was replaced in favour of more efficient fuels such as coal. Once gas and electricity became available, these much easier sources became preferred for heating stills. Today, there are a handful of Scotch distilleries using direct gas heating. The rest use steam and electricity to heat their stills.
In contemporary, large-sale whisky production, the focus is on efficiency – converting as much starch into alcohol as possible. Even a slight drop in yield can cost a distillery thousands of pounds per day.
Producing wood-fired whisky requires a shift in thinking. Our wood-fired still comes into its own when there are sugars and proteins available for caramelisation and Maillard reactions. We believe that a small sacrifice of yield – by creating non-fermentable sugars in the wort – is more than compensated by the flavourful effects caramelisation of sugars and the action of reducing sugars on the amino acids which occurs on the bottom of the copper still. This is where a range of potential flavours lies unexplored and undeveloped.
Our process allows the copper wash still to be caressed by living flames from a log-wood fire, transforming the proteins and unfermented sugars – giving our spirit a unique depth of character.