As more distilleries choose to share their new make with an intrigued public, Joe Rogers explores whether this rising interest is enough for the spirit to carve out its own niche within Scotland’s distilling scene. Before there is single malt, there is new make spirit – a clear, aromatic liquid that runs off the still and into the receiver below, at about 68% alcohol by volume (abv). In recent history, few people got to taste Scotch in this immature form, except distillery employees ensuring consistency, or visitors moved by curiosity. The odd pop bottle of the stuff might be found under the sink in some Scottish households, but just for cleaning the windows, mind. After all, the clearic, as it’s known at home, isn’t really meant for drinking. It’s made to rest in oak for at least three years before emerging as the finished article, but today an increasing number of distilleries are choosing to share their un-aged malt spirit with the public. It’s a time of expansion in the Scotch whisky industry, with 10 new distilleries coming online since 2016 and six more due before the year is out. For these fledgling operations, bottling new spirit can be a way to communicate their house ...