Great whisky is made by distilling a fermented brew called distiller’s beer, made from grains including barley, corn, wheat, rye and oats.
Like any seed, grains need nutrients to grow. Nature provides nutrients for early growth in the form of starch that can’t be consumed without an initial conversion. Being difficult to consume protects the starch from bacteria and other organisms that would attack the seed.
Before fermenting, we convert the starch to an easily consumed state through a process called malting. The grains are brought to the start of germination until the seed embryo, called an acrospire grows out from the seed. Growth is stopped by drying the seeds and applying heat, leaving the remaining starch and enzymes from the seed.
Now the grains are ready for mashing.