Bourbon Is Always Aged In New Charred Oak Barrels
Bourbon also must be aged in new charred oak barrels, and cannot include any additives or colorings. Other whiskeys can be aged in barrels previously used to age other spirits, and they don’t necessarily need to be whiskey barrelsport, sherry, and rum casks are used in the aging process for non-bourbon whiskeys. To be designated “straight bourbon whiskey,” bourbon has to have been aged in new charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years.
Bringing It All Back Home With Barrel Aging
If you want to call your fresh new batch of alcohol real “whiskey,” you need to let it age in a barrel first. For a smaller volume batch of alcohol, barrel size definitely matters. “A smaller barrel means a decreased surface area. So the alcohol will be able to absorb the qualities of the wood, like the notes of oak, cedar, or other components that come directly from the wood itself,” Katz said. So, small batches require smaller barrels to be fully effective. You can leave it in as long as you want, but if you are making your own small batch, you probably want to try it sooner than later, right? This will give you the most flavor, in the shortest amount of time.
What Does Irish Whiskey Taste Like
Smooth and less sweet than bourbon. Doesnt have the smokiness usually associated with Scotch, although there are a few exceptions to that, and that lack of smokiness combined with the smoothness from the triple distillation, makes them easier to consume than Scotch.
Things to Consider: There are only 3 working distilleries in Ireland, however each of them make multiple spirits. For example there is the Midleton distillery which makes Redbreast, Midleton, Paddy, Powers, and Jameson and all of their individual brands variations. And remember, it isnt Irish Coffee unless you use Irish whiskey. Otherwise it is just a coffee with whiskey ).
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Aging Your Rye Whiskey
Now at this stage in making your own rye whiskey, you have a choice to make. Whether to age your whiskey or not. If you do decide to simply skip the aging process and bottle up the distillate, you have technically made a moonshine or white whiskey. However, since the goal of this guide is to make a true golden rye/corn whiskey, were going to cover a bit on the aging process as well.
The aging process will drastically affect the overall flavor profile of your rye whiskey. By aging your whiskey in a charred oak barrel or using oak chips for a given period of time, it will give the whiskey its golden coloring and it will absorb the oaky flavors. A chemical process called adsorption also takes place during aging. This process is when the molecules that make a young whiskey harsher are drawn out to the barrels wall, and result in a smoother overall spirit. Many distillers will use barrels which have been used to age other spirits such as rum or brandy to give their whiskey a distinct flavor profile.
Bourbon Has To Hit Certain Abv Marks
When bourbon is barreled, it also has to hit a certain proof, or alcohol content in the spirit. The mash must be distilled at 160 proof or less, and aged in barrels until it is no more than 125 proof or less. Before bottling, bourbon is filtered and diluted down to no less than 80 proof . Other whiskeys have different ABV standards for barreling and distilling. The minimum bottling strength for Scotch whiskey, for example, is also 80 proof or 40 percent ABV, but there is no maximum or minimum ABV for the distillate.
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Bourbon Is Made With At Least 51 Percent Corn
What makes bourbon distinct from other whiskeys is the way it is manufactured and aged. All whiskey is spirit made from fermented grain and then aged in barrels. But the kind of grain and the kind of barrels determines the variety of whiskey. Per the American Bourbon Association, in order to be classified as bourbon, a whiskey needs to be distilled from a mixture of grains, or mash, that’s at least 51 percent corn. That corn gives bourbon its distinctive sweet flavor.
Corn: Bourbon And Corn Whiskey
All bourbon is predominantly made from corn . Aficionados of this style tend to prefer it for its sweeter, robust flavors of vanilla and maple syrup. It can give way to a pleasant, leathery finish with further aging. Whiskeys labeled as corn whiskey are either unaged, or aged in used barrels. In these whiskeys you can really taste the influence of the corn as there is little or no barrel flavors involved. The rich, syrupy corn sugars really shine in such bottlings as Georgia Moon and Mellow Corn. For something more shall we say sophisticated, Balcones True Blue.
Balcones True Blue 100 Proof / Photo Credit: Balcones
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The Distillation In Pot Stills
The wash is filled into the first copper pot still, called wash still, and is heated from below and from the inside respectively. Today mainly hot steam is used for heating. Using an external gas flame has become rare. In the first case, hot steam is lead through specially shaped heating tubes inside the pot still, thereby heating the wash. At 78Â° C, the alcohol starts to evaporate before the water does. The alcohol steam rises in the tapered tube.
Over the neck and the lyne arm the steam is led into a condenser where the alcohol steam is liquefied again. The water mostly remains in the pot still. All Single MaltWhisky distilleries work with at least two series-connected pot stills. The first one, the wash still, distils the wash to 20% to 25% of alcohol. The resulting liquid is called âlow winesâ. The low wines are then transferred into the second pot still, called low wines still or spirit still, where they are distilled to an alcohol content of 65% to 70%. In the Scottish Lowlands, a lot of distilleries used to use a third still. This third pot still produced even purer alcohol at more than 75%. Today there are only a few distilleries left in the Lowlands , and only Auchentoshan still has three pot stills.
An Inside Look At What It Takes To Make Bourbon
o be called Champagne, sparkling wine must come from a certain region of France. Tequila, similarly, must be made in Mexico.
Whiskey is distilled all over the world but by federal law, only whiskey made in the United States with adherence to very specific guidelines can be called bourbon.
You can do the exact same process in Canada and it would just be Canadian whiskey, says Philip McDaniel, co-founder of St. Augustine Distillery in St. Augustine, Florida. Bourbon is Americas whiskey.
The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureaus Spirits Beverage Alcohol Manual details the guidelines as designated by Congress in 1964. To be called bourbon, a spirit must be Whisky produced in the U.S. at not exceeding 80% alcohol by volume from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn and stored at not more than 62.5% alcohol by volume in charred new oak containers.
Lets break that down, shall we?
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The Angels Share During Maturation
Usually, the Whisky is filled into the cask with an alcohol content of 63.5%. Over the years some of the cask content evaporates through the cask walls. Alcohol is more volatile than water so it evaporates more quickly. The alcohol content of the Whisky decreases by 0.2% to 0.6% annually. The Scots call this evaporated alcohol the Angelâs Share. The fluid level decreases by 2% each year. It is measured with a square wooden ruler that has four scales on each of its four sides corresponding to the various cask sizes. The scales indicate the target level for each year. With this method, even the smallest leaks can be detected. Experienced controllers tap on the cask ends with a long-handled wooden hammer and deduce the fluid level by the resulting sound. Due to the evaporation and the absorption of flavours from the cask wood, the Whisky becomes mellower each year. Samples are taken regularly from each cask to find out when the Whisky has reached its prime. The size of the cask is important, too. Larger casks have a smaller surface in proportion to the content, and fewer flavours can be extracted from the wood. Therefore Whisky in large casks must be stored longer in order to reach the same level of maturation!
How To Make Your Own Whiskey
1. Select which grains to use as the base for your homemade whiskey. There are a variety of different grains which you can use. Popular examples include rye, barley, corn or wheat. The mixture of grains that you use is referred to as the grain bill or mash bill. Some whiskies use just a single grain. In the case of barley, this is referred to as a single malt whiskey.It is a good idea to use malted grains when making whiskey because they contain a higher sugar content than grains which have not been malted. Malting is the process of allowing grains to germinate and then drying them afterwards. This process converts the grains starches into sugars which can easily be fermented. Malted grains are available on our online shop.
2. Mill your malted grain. Grinding or crushing your grain is an important step because it releases and exposes the sugars, starches, and enzymes inside of the grain. This can be done in a number of ways, but common methods include using a grain mill or even a food processor.
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How To Make Whiskey Still
6. Distilling your whiskey. Whiskey is traditionally distilled using a pot still, however modern reflux stills and flute towers can also be used to make high quality whiskey at home. As with any type of distillation, on the first run you will want to throw away the first 50 milliliters for every 20 liters of mash in your still. For example, if you are using a 100 liter still, you will discard the first 250 milliliters. After that it is your choice of how to blend the heads, hearts, and tails cuts to your liking.
7. Aging your whiskey. Once you have decided on the cuts of whiskey that you would like to keep, you can either drink it unaged like a traditional moonshine, or age it. Aging will drastically improve the flavor and smoothness of your whiskey. Traditionally, whiskey is aged in charred oak barrels, however if you dont have any barrels, you can emulate this at home by aging your whiskey on toasted oak chips. We recommend putting your whiskey on oak at 60% ABV or less. Putting your whiskey on oak at a higher ABV than 60% will bring out unpleasant woody flavors, while 40%-60% ABV will bring the more desired notes out of the wood. Whiskey generally needs to be aged for a minimum of three years before it can legally be sold at stores with Whiskey on the label.
A Craft Handed Down Through Generations
The production of single malt Scotch whisky is a craft perfected by time. Many of the masters youll meet on The Malt Whisky Trail are from families who have been making Scotch whisky for generations from the stillmen and women who harness the power of the spirit, to the coopers who make the casks which underpin whiskys flavour.
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Example For Bottling: Scottish Liqueure Center
The Scottish Liqueure Center is a small bottler near Perth. It is one of the bottlers, where the distilleries send their casks, in order to bottle them. The first step is the batting tank, where cask are being mixed in order to have the same taste and aroma in one bottling. The Whisky is then transferred through tubes to the bottling station where the machine is filling the Whisky into single bottles. Before the bottles are filled, they are washed out with the same Whisky, that gets filled into it.
After the bottles are filled they are brought to the corking machine. Here the machine is putting the corks in and tightens them. Is the bottle closed, the label is being put on. In the last step, the capsule is being put on, above the cork, to seal the bottle of Whisky. Then the bottles are placed on palettes and are ready for being shipped.
Also interesting is the storage of the casks, which are brought by the distilleries. Those are being checked for their mass of spirit. A rod is put into the cask via the bunghole. With that, two points are measured: The âheightâ of the spirit, and the height of the cask. With the difference between those two points, it can be said, how much spirit is in the cask. The scale on the rod is not linear, since the sides of the casks is round.
Making Sure Your Liquor Is Tasty And Safe
The first 100 milliliters or so from a 5-gallon batch should probably be tossed. Not only is it potentially dangerous to drink , it also might not be that great, taste-wise. “On a smaller scale, tossing this first yield is going to be primarily flavor-focused,” Katz said, “but you take that cut for a couple reasons. One, you’re flushing the still of its previous run — whatever was distilled before is through the system, and you’re on a clean, new run. And that can also impart off notes and off flavors and aromas. Also, it could be unsafe to drink, in general.” So for safety and flavor, you would probably want to toss the first 100 milliliters or so you collect from your still.
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Wheat: Wheated Bourbons & Wheat Whiskeys
Why do people go crazy-go-nuts over Pappy Van Winkle? One of the things that distinguishes it from other bourbon is the wheat in the mash, which really does taste a bit like whole wheat bread with honey However, you dont need to drop mad cash on Pappy in order to taste a wheated bourbon whiskey. Try any of the range of solid W.L. Weller bourbons, , and if you cant find that, good ol Makers Mark or Rebel Reserve, will fit the wheated bourbon bill.
Pappy Van Winkles Family Reserve 20 Year / Photo Credit: Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery
For the full wheat experience opt for wheat whiskey with very high percentages of wheat in the mash bill: Bernheim Original Wheat, 1792 Sweet Wheat, or Mastersons Straight Wheat Whiskey. You could also take a trip across the pond and seek out Haig Club Single Grain which is made from 90% wheat.
Collecting Your Rye Whiskey Distillate
Collecting your rye whiskey distillate is the best part of this entire process. This is where the magic happens! A mixture of accurate calculations and good instincts, this step takes an experienced distiller to get this process down perfectly. That being said, dont let this deter you if youre new to distilling whiskey. After you run a few batches with your whiskey still, youll be able to dial the process in by taking notes and making the necessary adjustments. As the old adage goes, Practice makes perfect.
Congratulations, youre well on your way to making your own rye whiskey! As youre producing the distillate in this step, be sure to use a glass container. Never use plastic containers for this step because they may lace your product with BPA.
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How Long To Age Your Whiskey
The amount of time that you decide to age your whiskey is completely up to you. Generally, a rye whiskey will be aged from 1 to 3 years. In this time the barrel or bottle that youre aging your whiskey in should be kept in a cool and dry environment.
At Mile Hi, we have a variety of different oak barrels, oak chips, and oak spirals to allow you to capture the exact aged flavor profile for your spirits.
Five Distillers You Should Know
Meet the brains behind some of your favorite whiskies, the folks who tweak the stills, innovate products, and ensure quality behind some of the world’s most beloved brands. They’re often out hosting events and tastings too, so say hello next time they’re in your town.
Jimmy Russell, Master DistillerWild Turkey Range, Russell’s ReserveFor over 61 years, Jimmy Russell has been making whiskey. As such, he’s the longest-tenured active master distiller in the world. The most famous brand he’s behind Wild Turkey you’ve probably tasted, so check out his Russell’s Reserve six-year-old small batch Kentucky straight rye whiskey. Russell, along with his son, hand selects casks to marry and bottle. The whiskey is distilled at a lower proof than most bourbons in Kentucky, which means that during final bottling, less water is needed to bring the proof down, as is often customary.Still style: Column
Mike Miyamoto, Master DistillerSuntoryTrace the elegance, finesse, and popularity of Japanese whiskies to the mastery of a variety of stills. Master distiller Mike Miyamoto continually fine-tunes all parts of the whisky-making process to subtly improve the taste of his whisky over time. “If the Yamazaki you hold in your hand tastes the same in ten years, we have failed,” he told me.Still style: Pot and Column
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Sprouting The Corn And Making The Mash
Sprouting kernel corn is a simple matter of getting it wet and allowing small sprouts to grow. Once the corn is sprouted, it’s ready to be made into a mash. A mash is a combination of warm water and grain. The enzymes in the mash break down the starch in the grain and produce sugar.