Scotland is renowned both for its single malt and its blended whiskies. A single malt whisky is a product of a single distillery made using a local source of water and malted barley, aged for at least 3 years in oak barrels, and of an alcoholic strength of at least 40% vol. The great strength of Scottish single malts is that it often reflects perfectly its environment. For example, Islay and island malts often bear the briny imprint of maturation in warehouses close to cold northern seas, whereas the softness and smoothness of lowland malts reflect the gentler climate of southern Scotland. Blended Scotch is a product of blending malts and grain whisky from different distilleries. The aim is generally to produce a smooth, easy to enjoy whisky for both drinking and in some cases mixing. The production of Scotch whisky can be broken down into seven key stages commonly known as the “seven steps to heaven” – Malting(converting starch into sugar), Kilning( stopping the conversion), Milling(grinding the barley), Mashing(extracting the sugar from the barley), Fermentation(turning the sugar into alcohol), Distillation(turning the alcohol into high proof spirit), Maturation(turning the spirit into whisky). If the kilning is done using a peat fire, the whisky will have a smokey/peaty flavour. If maturation takes place in a barrel formerly used to mature Bourbon, the whisky will have flavours of caramel, toffee and vanilla. If the spirit is matured in former Sherry barrels it will have flavours of rich fruits such as raisins, dates and sultanas.