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HMRC internal manual

Spirits Production Manual

Technical guidance: Stages of production: Materials

The basic materials are cereals, yeast and water.

The cereals used will depend upon the type of spirits produced. Malt spirit is produced only from malted barley, which contains enzymes (diastase) capable of converting cereal starch to fermentable sugars. Barley is malted by a maltster to each distiller’s individual specification.

The diastase in malt is also capable of fermenting the starches contained in unmalted cereals (for example, wheat or maize). For this reason grain spirit is normally produced from amixture of malted barley with at least one other cereal (generally 20-25% malted barley and 75-80% wheat or maize).

The whisky definition outlined in Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89 (see SPIR3250 - Whisk(e)y definitions) permits only natural enzymes tobe used in the production of whisky. Synthetic enzymes may, however, be used to convert cereal starches during the manufacture of neutral spirits. These spirits are normally made from either wheat, maize or molasses.