The WHISKEY secret in three words
Whisky, or at least Scottish and Japanese, are essentially made of three ingredients: water, barley and yeast. Only that, and that much is enough, to prepare one of the most recognizable spirits in the world. The problem is, that each of these three ingredients is crucial: there are no more and less important, they are all equally important.
The malt for whiskey is nothing more than just sprouted barley. Germination is necessary here, because yeast cannot break down starch, and this is the form of sugar in cereal grains. Plant enzymes are activated during germination, which break down starch into simple sugars and allow fermentation to begin.
In Europe, there are no regulations on the use of genetically modified barley - they are beneficial for producers, because they contain more starch, for example, thus fermentation is faster and more efficient. The most commonly used variety of malt barley is Golden Promise, but Scottish distilleries don't buy grains, most often malt. The effect is this, that barley, from which Scotch is made, usually grows in France or England.
Water is the basic ingredient of whiskey. Maybe you can't see it, but it definitely feels like it. Water of the right quality is essential at every stage of production: for the production of mash, for cooling the condenser and for filling up shortages in barrels, and also to standardize the amount of alcohol. Each of these steps has a big impact on this, what the end product will taste like. After all, it is important to remember, that the water used to make whiskey is not a chemically pure compound, but a mixture of the most diverse solutes, which can also react with each other, mash ingredients and particles released from the barrel during aging. So the importance of water cannot be overestimated.
Without whiskey yeast, there would be no fermentation. It is the properties of these unicellular fungi that determine the pace and the exact shape of the fermentation curve. The yeast is also, to some extent, responsible for the taste of the whiskey (after all, they exchange certain substances with the environment, and eventually they also die and decay). Each distillery selects its own distillery yeast - this is the company's best kept secret. This is often an important component, that a certain amount of yeast is stored in different places, even outside the country, spare parent colonies to be used in every situation. Keeping the same yeast strain all the time and using it constantly in the fermentation process is a guarantee of maintaining a constant taste and color of the drink.
All the rest of the extras
Of course, not all barley, water and yeast will form whiskey. Many years of experience and favorable conditions for all processes are still needed. From malting to fermentation, distillation up to aging, the whiskey production process is strictly controlled and a proper procedure should be taken at every stage. If it were otherwise, each bottle would have a different flavor, which is obviously unacceptable. However, in practice, without adequate water, malt and yeast, despite even the most wonderful recipes, you can't get a sip of whiskey. So it's not surprising, that although everyone knows the recipe, the details are the best kept secret of all distilleries in the world, regardless of, what kind of whiskey is produced in them.