Raw materials

The major raw materials for whisky, bourbon, vodka and gin production are the cultivated cereals. These include barley, wheat, maize and rye. Other materials of agricultural origin include sugar cane (molasses and cane juice), potatoes, sorghum and grapes.

While enzymes are often used for the hydrolysis of starchy cereals for neutral spirit production, most whiskies and beers utilise a proportion of malted cereals in their mash bills.



Our general certificates of analysis show the determinations of alcoholic strength, acidity, esters, methanol and the higher alcohols. These certificates are often augmented with calcium and magnesium levels using ion chromatography, plus a range of metals including transition metals and heavy metals.

Elemental analysis is accomplished using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) which facilitates direct injection determinations down to sub parts per billion levels with no artefact generation or loss of volatile metals as was the case with the previous but now outmoded atomic absorption techniques.


General certificates of analysis for production wines include alcohol strength, reducing sugar analysis, pH and acidity, transition metal analysis and sulphur dioxide (free and total).

Some of the analytical techniques developed for spirits analysis have been adapted for wines. These adaptations include full organic acid profiling using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled to chemical ionisation procedures.



High quality natural water is clearly the major component of all drinks. While in bottled distilled spirits it generally comprises around 60 per cent by volume of the consumed product, in the earlier pre-distillation stages the percentage will be between 85 and 95 per cent.

Further, during the distillation process itself, significant quantities of cooling water are required and quality distillates require consistent cold temperatures for the condensation process.



The latter part of the first decade post-millennium saw the dawn of what is now perceived to be a new golden age for distilled spirits production. While there have been a number of small scale new start pot still distilleries, the major brands have led the way in the current wave of expansion.

In Scotland, new malt whisky distilleries with capacities approaching 10 million litres of alcohol per year have been built. Existing plants have been expanded and pro-active sales and marketing divisions have successfully developed the sales of quality single malt whiskies.

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