End of the line

Whisky Production Flow ChartImage: http://www.garrett-gardner.com
Whisky Production Flow Chart
Image: garrett-gardner.com

Scotch whisky has its own production process, but in many ways it resembles the process of most other distilled spirits. For this story, the only important element to note in the above illustration is that the bottling step takes place at the very end, and that most whiskies have been aged for at least 3-4 years before they reach the bottling plant. Some for much longer. It’s not a speedy process.

As any Scotch whisky fan probably knows by now, the Chivas Brothers bottling plant in Dumbarton suffered a mishap on Feb. 26, when around 5000 gallons/18,000 liters of bulk whisky was accidentally flushed out of bottling vats during a routine cleaning process. The washout is meant to clean equipment for a changeover between different products, but instead of draining out water and cleaning solution, vats containing whisky were emptied into the sewage system instead. Workers opened the vats during a night-shift and apparently the mistake was only noticed late the following morning due to the strong and pervasive odor of whisky coming from the drains.

Chivas Brothers Ltd. spokeswoman Jennifer Stevenson declined to say which product line the lost whisky had been destined to fill. Chivas Brothers Ltd. is owned by parent company Pernod-Ricard, and the Scotch whiskies produced include Chivas Regal, Ballentines, The Glenlivet, Royal Salute, Something Special, Aberlour (a personal favorite of mine), Longmorn, and many other smaller brands.

Stevenson said Friday she did not want to comment on the spill’s circumstances until the company had completed its investigation.

More on the production process itself:

How whisky is made

Production of Scotch whisky