Unlike most distilleries, Bowmore still has its own Malt Barn, an airy shed where we malt our own barley and start the process of germination. This is where the starch locked inside each grain is broken down into fermentable sugars.
First, the raw barley is steeped for 27 hours in fresh water sourced from the nearby River Laggan. Then the soaked grains are spread out across the stone floors of the Malt Barn.
After 24 hours the barley is ready for turning, a vital step that keeps the grains aerated and cool, and the rate of germination slow and consistent. For the next six to seven days, our Maltmen will turn the damp barley every four hours, day and night, using large wooden shovels. Once it’s ready, the barley – now called “green malt” on account of the tiny shoots beginning to show – is taken to the kiln for drying.