From barley to the bottle
1. Growing the barley
The spring barley is harvested in fields just a few dozen metres from the distillery, in Hesbaye, where the soil is renowned for its richness in oligo-elements. The Hesbaye region is one of the best places in the world for growing cereal crops.
The harvested barley is then sent to a maltery where the seeds are moistened to make them germinate. The malt obtained is dried and sent back to the distillery. Our Belgian Owl is not currently peaty.
The malt is ground in the distillery’s mill. Once it has been ground, the malt releases the sugar that it contains more easily. This stage is essential for obtaining a perfect grist - ground malt.
The ground malt is mixed with hot water in the mash tun for six hours. During this stage, the malt’s sugars are dissolved in the water. The water used is collected in wells located next to the distillery and comes from a water table 38 metres deep.
The slightly sweetened liquid - also called wort - is then transferred into a fermentation tank where the sugars are transformed into alcohol over a 72 hour period. The fruity and floral aromas typical of our region appear at this stage.
A double distillation. is then carried out. Over 8 hours, the fermented wort is successively heated in two stills that came from the former Caperdonich distillery in Scotland. Once again, we prefer using a slow process for this stage. The alcoholic vapours are cooled and then collected which creates the distillate.
7. Ageing in casks
The distillate collected is then transferred to oak casks. The casks came from the United States where they were used once for ageing American Bourbon whiskey. We also only use them once. In order to obtain the European “whisky” Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée label, a minimum ageing period of three years is required.
So as to preserve all of its flavours, Belgian Owl is non-chill filtered bottled at 46% volume with no colourings. As each cask is unique, this natural colouration can vary from one bottling to another.