27 Mar 2024

International Whisk(e)y Day

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Categorized under: Distillery / Whisky

Today is International Whisk(e)y Day! Celebrated on the 27 March every year, it’s a worldwide celebration of ‘the water of life’, an opportunity to celebrate all forms of whisky from around the world and an excuse to enjoy your favourite dram.

The word whisk(e)y is spelled differently, depending on where it’s from. If we’re talking about Scotch, Japanese or Canadian whisky, it’s spelt without an ‘e’, but if we’re referring to whiskey from the U.S. or Ireland, it’s with an ‘e’.

So, to mark this special day, we thought we would go back to the basics of Scotch whisky, and answer one of our most commonly asked questions, i.e. how is the Borders Distillery whisky made?

Let’s find out…


How is the Borders Distillery whisky made?

First and foremost, our whisky is made entirely in the Borders region by Borders people and that’s something we’re really proud of (just look at our wonderful team!).

The Borders Distillery Team

Beyond that, many people are surprised to learn that malt whisky is made from just three natural ingredients – yes, just three! Water, yeast and barley.

And that’s where we start…



At the Borders Distillery we only use locally grown Scottish Borders barley, all harvested from 12 farms lying within 35 miles of our distillery here in Hawick. This helps to keep the delivery of our barley as eco-friendly as possible, whilst also supporting the local economy.

Here’s a map of where our farmers are:


Where our Borders growers are based.


Milling & Mashing

Our Mash Tun.When the malted barley arrives, we mill it, breaking it down into a kind of rough flour called grist. The grist is then placed into a huge aluminium container known as a Mash Tun, where it is mixed with hot water to produce a sweet liquid, which is now referred to as Wort.

The Wort remains in the Mash Tun for approximately 5 hours to ensure that all the sugar has been extracted. From here, it is transferred to a large vessel known as a Washback ready for the next stage.



Washbacks at the borders distilleryAs far as we’re concerned, this is where the magic begins. In the washback, Pinnacle-M yeast is added to the Wort to kick off a process known as fermentation. Here the mixture slowly heaves and bubbles as the yeast feeds on the sugars to produce alcohol, as well as some of the initial flavours. This process can take from 55 hours to 150 hours, but the average time is around 80 hours.

Following fermentation, the now frothy beer-like liquid is known as Wash and is transferred to the Wash Still to begin the distillation process.



The Wash Still

wash stillIn the Wash Still, the mixture is heated, and the spirit vapours begin to rise and interact with the copper, eliminating impurities and unwanted flavour components.

As the mixture becomes hotter, the vapours rise higher until they reach the top of the still. There they are captured in the Lyne Arm before running into a Condenser, where they are transformed back into liquid form. This liquid is now known as Low Wine and is transferred to the Spirit Still.


The Spirit Still

the borders distillery still houseInside the Spirit Still, the Low Wine is heated again to increase the concentration of alcohol, enhancing all those wonderful flavours. At this stage any remaining impurities are now also removed.

The first liquid that comes from the still is known as the Heads, which contain all the unwanted flavour components. However, the ideal combination of alcohol strength and flavour lies in what is known as the Heart. The Heart is collected in the Spirit Safe and we now call the liquid New Make Spirit.

You’ll notice we’re not referring to it as whisky yet – that’s still to come!



Whisky casks for sale.Now the new make spirit will begin the slow process of maturation.

The spirit is transferred into ex-bourbon oak casks where it will ‘sleep’, quietly soaking in all the nuances of flavour from the wood (usually notes of sweet vanilla and toasted coconut).

The spirit will stay in its cask for no less than 3 years and 1 day. From this point the new make spirit legally becomes whisky.

And there you have it! The full process, barley to cask.


The Borders Distillery Workshop Series

At the Borders Distillery we are on the road to producing our very own Single Malt Whisky in the next few years. We’re very excited about sharing it with the world when it’s ready, but in the meantime, our expert distillers have produced a range of exciting and experimental whisky blends in our Workshop Series.


WS:00 New Make Spirit

WS:00 New Make SpiritYes, you can drink it! Our award-winning WS:00 New Make Spirit comes straight off of the spirit still in the final phase of distillation. It’s the building blocks of everything we do here at the Borders Distillery, and we’re absolutely thrilled that it has been awarded ‘Best New Make & Young Spirit’ in Scotch at the 2024 World Whiskies Awards.

It’s a robust spirit with a hint of peppery fire. The palate reveals rich apple and pear before a smooth buttery finish.

ABV 63.5%



WS:01 Borders Malt & Rye

WS:01 Borders Malt and RyeThe first whisky in the series, WS:01 Borders Malt & Rye became the first Scotch whisky to leave the Scottish Borders since 1837 when it was released in 2022. We distilled a small batch of rye spirit and matured it in the same fresh-fill bourbon casks as the malt to create a remarkable and aromatic whisky.

You’ll find notes of soft spice and toasted wood leading to a palate of baked fruit and shortcrust pastry before a lovely warm custardy finish.

ABV 40%


WS:02 The Long & Short of It

WS:02 The Long and Short of itReleased in late 2023, WS:02 The Long & Short of It was born from our distillers’ experimentation in fermentation. Our distillers experimented with very short fermentation times of 55 hours and very long ones of 150 hours. Both batches were then distilled twice and matured in first fill ex-bourbon barrels, before being married with single grain whisky.

On the palate, the short fermentation reveals fresh bursts of gooseberry skin, citrus zest, and green apple which plays perfectly with the notes of fig pudding, butterscotch, and sultanas from the long fermentation.

ABV 40%


Final Thoughts

So, in honour of International Whisk(e)y Day, why not take a moment to appreciate Scotch whisky and raise a toast with one of our Borders Distillery Workshop Series whiskies?

If you would like to see how our whisky is made for yourself, perhaps book onto our distillery tour, where you’ll be able to see the full production process and afterwards enjoy a dram of our whisky in the bar.

Slàinte mhath!


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