The Congener of Husky and Bran are combined in this blog. The reason being is that I found out these terms are almost interchangeable.

Husky is not related to the dog with the same name.

As the group name suggest it is related to the Grain. Since we are talking Scottish Whisky the only grain we are talking about is barley.

Sometimes the outer layer of a barley kernel is called bran, sometimes it called husk.


As nouns the difference between bran and husk is that bran is the broken coat of the seed of wheat, rye, or other cereal grain, separated from the flour or meal by sifting or bolting; the coarse, chaffy part of ground grain while husk is the dry, leafy or stringy exterior of certain vegetables or fruits, which must be removed before eating the meat inside.The smell of

I found an image explaining the difference between husk and bran using a diagram of a rice seed.


When looking at the general layout of a barley cereal kernel one can identify several parts.

  1. The Endosperm,
  2. The Aleurone layer,
  3. The Bran or Husk,
  4. The Scutellum,
  5. The Root,
  6. The Shoot,
  7. The Germ,

I can explain how a kernel looks like but I can better Quote the experts:

In a longitudinal section of the barley, two distinctive components of the corn are apparent; the small embryo and the large starchy endosperm. The scutellum separates the embryo and the endosperm. The aleurone layer surrounds the endosperm, and the pericarp-testa and husk enclose the entire kernel. Embryonic axis and scutellum comprise 3 per cent of the grain dry weight. These tissues are rich in lipids (15 per cent), proteins (34 per cent) and soluble carbohydrates (23 per cent). The dry matter balance is made of minerals and insoluble cell wall material. Of the dry weight of the kernel 75 per cent is endosperm tissue, and this contains starch (85 per cent), protein (10 per cent) and cell wall material (mainly b-glucan with pentosan). Only 12 per cent of the kernel weight is accounted for by the aleurone layer, over 40 per cent of which is made up of cell wall material (mainly pentosan) and 20 per cent each of protein and triglycerides, while the balance is mineral constituents. Husk and pericarp make up the final 10 per cent of the dry weight. Husk materials originate from dead cell walls and contain high levels of silica.

So the husk is the dead stuff on the outside of the barley kernel.

When would people be able to smell the husk during the whisky making process. Well it begins when the barley is growing. The barley is growing on fields so one could smell the husk then. One can smell it during harvest. During separation from the plant. During transport to the maltings. One can smell it before, during and after germination. During and after drying / peating. During milling of the grist. During the mashing. After steeping.

The reason I am listing all these times when one could smell it is because the term “Husky / Bran” is not very particular to when. Also the word “Husky” is used, not “Husk”. So it implies “like husk” but not quite?

photo found on

The best time for smelling the Husk by itself would be during the milling process when the husk is being separated from the starch/flour of the endosperm. It is in its dry form at that point in time.


I took some barley from the counter of the Bruichladdich Laddie-shop and grounded that with my hands. As one can see its quite hard to separate the husk from this mess.

I have decided to to go any deeper into husk / bran as a congener. There is no way to tell what smell was in the minds of the people adding this congener to the chart, or when they smelled it during the process. Since most of the whisky drinkers won’t be in the process ever it is sort of a moot point. Try finding some barley, dried and get a smell of it. If you ever smell something alike on your dram you are perfectly within you right to write down the note. Maybe add in which point of the whisky making process you smelled it would help others that have smelled husk during all the whisky making steps.

I am sure Graham, the master mash-man of Bruichladdich would smile if he reads this blog. Graham, if you do, say hi!