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It’s been a typical Manx summer: pretty decent weather in June and July which then gave way to the usual soggy August.
So, we were on tenterhooks waiting for a warm, sunny stretch with a gentle breeze to dry out the barley which had become very ripe and ready for harvest. Another week of rain and a hoolie thrown in for good measure could easily have been disastrous!
Thankfully we were blessed with a ‘weather window’ and after a long, hot dusty day for Pentti and his team, the Barley was in - all 50 tonnes of it! A yield that far surpassed all our hopes and expectations. Phew!
So very exciting times, but we can’t celebrate just yet…
This bountiful harvest means we are one step closer on our journey to creating the Isle of Man’s first commercial scale Manx Malt Whiskey — but we now need to establish if our barley makes the high grade needed for achieving a successful yield at malting. Having chosen a strain of barley that lends itself to malting and distilling, and having managed to harvest the crop in good condition, we have everything going for us. However, we believe this is the first time that Laureate Barley has been grown on Manx soil and we can’t be sure what the effect of our “Manx Terroir” will be on this grain’s typical composition.
To create a premium Manx Malt from our grain we have chosen to work with the specialist team at Warminster Maltings in Wiltshire (who have connections already with the Isle of Man due to their supply of Malt to local brewery, Bushys) who have been floor malting in their historic maltings since 1855.
Initial tests locally have confirmed that our grain’s moisture content is ‘spot on’ for malting requirements, however we are now awaiting analysis on our sample to come back from Warminster to confirm that we meet their strict conditions. They will be testing for a low nitrogen content, vigorous germinative energy and very high extract values.
Having achieved a yield of barley that qualifies us for “Manx Origin Preserved” malting, on making the grade we will transport our entire crop to Warminster where it will be traditionally floor malted and then sent back to us ready for “mashing” — the first part of any whiskey making process!
So, we will keep you posted. We hope to be following our crop of barley down to Warminster to watch in person the fascinating process of it being Floor Malted and look forward to sharing this with you soon (we hope!).
A tremendous thank you to Farmer, Pentii Christian for all his hard work... AND for letting Tiffany ride in the combine which she enjoyed far too much! (Just don’t give her the key!)