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.
Scotch Whiskey Single Malt Served Neat
Whiskey neat means it is served without any mixer, dilution, or additional flavour. Two ounces of whiskey is the correct size to serve at room temperature. Neat whiskey is supposed to be had slowly while appreciating all the flavours it possesses.
The drinking vessel should also be perfect for whiskey. Few options in this category are Solo cups, rock glass, whisky snifter, etc. One might wonder the logic behind having a perfect whisky glass?
For example, lets take a whiskey snifter. It has a large bottom, and the glass gets thinner as you move up. The thin nose traps the whiskeys aroma and collects those aromas in one place, while the large bottom allows the Whisky to air a bit, which enhances both flavour and aroma.
How To Make Single Malt Whiskey
To make single malt Scotch whisky, barley must first be malted by soaking it in water and spreading it on a malting floor. Through this process, the starch within the barley is converted into sugars. When these sugars are mixed with yeast, alcohol is formed.
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How To Make Your Own Whiskey At Home
Ill admit it Ive been watching way too much of the Discovery Channel docudrama Moonshiners during quarantine. Theres something very compelling about the idea of producing a unique bottle of whiskey, one where your own heart and soul was poured into the glass alongside the alcohol. Thanks to the laws here in the United States, though, distilling and bottling your own spirits is difficult at best and an illegal and impossible task to accomplish at worst. But you can still technically make your own whiskey at home, unique to your personal taste and style, without breaking any laws.
American Single Malt Producers To Know
1) Balcones Distilling: Now steered by head distiller Jared Himstedt, Balcones produces an array of whiskeys, including their Balcones “1” Texas Single Malt. One regional difference here is the need to combat that Texas heat and avoid over-aging the whiskey. The “1” Texas Single Malt is big and bold, with a mixture of rich malt and toffee, dried fruits, and dry, oaky spice.
2) Corsair Distillery : Corsair’s original distillery was located in Kentucky, and that space is now dedicated to their non-whiskey spirits. Nashville is where their whiskey gets made, and founder Darek Bell is known for his wildly inventive and experimental releases. Perhaps their most well-known whiskey is Triple Smoke, a single malt made with three types of smoked malted barley, using peat, along with cherrywood and beachwood. It tastes big and smoky, but with a rather fruity and sweet side from the cherrywood.
3) FEW Spirits : FEW is best known for their bourbon and rye, along with an exciting lineup of gins. FEW also makes a single malt, as well. According to founder Paul Hletko, they also use a portion of cherrywood-smoked malt, along with un-smoked malt. FEW Single Malt is spicy and malty, with a prominent wood influence.
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Pertaining To The Topic Of Still Types
Single malt whiskies are traditionally distilled in copper pot stills. Copper, an excellent conductor of heat, is also helpful in removing undesirable sulphur compounds from a spirit. The shape, height and size of a still can play a large part in determining the character and flavors of the final spirit.
Pot stills work through a batch process where a fermented beer or wash is heated up in the still. Because alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, it separates in a gradual reflux, turning into a vapor, before condensing back into a liquid to be gathered and then sent on to a second distillation. Many distilleries have multiple pot stills and refer to the first still as the wash still, and the subsequent still as the spirit still.
Other smaller distilleries clean out their single pot still before reusing for a second distillation. Some distilleries, particularly in Ireland, but also some Scottish distilleries like Auchentoshan, triple distill their whiskies. Each distillation increases the ABV of a spirit, but distilling more than three times is generally thought to strip out more character and flavor in a spirit than would be desirable.
The column or continuous still is an efficient way to achieve a high proof spirit in a relatively hands off manner. This is most ideal for vodkas and gins, as spirits distilled in this manner typically have fewer congeners than their pot distilled counterparts, and thus less flavor character.
Where To Buy Single Malt Whiskey
Single malt whiskey has a prestigious reputation, and the average liquor store should have at least a few options. For the best selection, seek out a store with a more extensive selection of high-end spirits or one that specializes in whiskey. Depending on the shipping regulations where you live, shopping online offers a nearly endless supply of single malts to explore.
In general, you can expect to pay more for a bottle of single malt whiskey than you will for a blended whiskey. The reputation of a distillery and the age of that particular bottle also play into the price. A 50-year old single malt Scotch whisky from a famous distillery will cost more than a 15-year-old single malt American craft whiskey, for instance.
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Defining American Single Malt Whisky
Like many other spirits, whisky and its varying subcategories are often defined by laws of the nations where its produced. The differences in definitions include minimum aging requirements and naming standards, to name a few.
To define what American single malt whisky is, lets break down each word, working backwards starting with whisky.
In summary, whisky is an alcoholic beverage made from distilling fermented grain mash thats at least 40% ABV. Worldwide, this is a fairly agreed upon standard.
To classify what defines a malt whisky, it depends on the country where the whisky is produced:
- In Scotland and Ireland, for a whisky to be called a malt whisky, the spirit must be produced using 100% malted barley.
- In the United States however, according to the Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, a spirit defined as a malt whisky must be produced using a mash bill of at least 51% malted barley.
SINGLE MALT WHISKY
To classify as a single malt whisky, its generally accepted that the whisky must be produced at a single distillery.
According to the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009, Single Malt Scotch Whisky is defined as a whisky with a mash bill consisting of 100% malted barley, produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in pot stills.
AMERICAN SINGLE MALT WHISKY
Confusing, right? Thats where the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission steps in.
Combining Whiskey With Other Ingredients
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What Is Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The difference between a single malt and every other style of whisky is not so vast, yet the final product is celebrated with good reason. Single malts are those which have been made entirely from malted barley , and made within a single distillery. Different ages of whisky can be used in the final package, but the youngest whisky is the one which must be displayed on the label .
Another big difference that comes with a beautifully aged single malt Scotch whisky is the naturally rich colour. While it can vary between straw, golden hues to rich woody brown and even ruby red as the light passes through it, single malt whisky seldom displays one colour which is common in blends: yellow.
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!
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Lets Talk About Barrel Aging
First, why do we age whiskey in charred barrels?
Barrel aging is a process that originates from the wine and beer makers of centuries past. Once the liquid is inside the barrel, it actually moves into and out of the wood as the barrel breathes in the environment. When the temperature heats up during the day, the barrel expands and allows some of the liquid into the structures of the wood itself. That liquid breaks down some of the elements of the wood, which then releases flavor. And when the barrel contracts with the cold temperatures at night, that liquid is pushed back out of the wood and the flavors mix with the rest of the liquid.
Some of the flavors you eventually get in a whiskey come from the grains that are used, but the majority of the flavors are imparted from the barrels. There are a ton of variables in this part of the process: from the material the barrels are made from, to the climate they are stored in, even down to the aromas wafting through the local environment. Whereas wine gets most of its flavor from the grapes themselves, whiskey gets most of its character after the spirit has already been distilled.
The impact that has on the price of the whiskey is pretty dramatic. Every year that the whiskey isnt on the store shelves, the distillery is paying to maintain the warehouse, paying people to tend to the barrels, paying insurance, taxes theres a lot of money that goes into a lengthy aging process. Which is why well aged spirits are expensive.
Other American Single Malt Whisky Resources
American Single Malt Whisky Commission – formed in response to the growing need for American-based producers to define the category of American single malts. .
LIST OF AMERICAN SINGLE MALT RELATED PODCAST EPISODES
Single Malt Matters: The American Single Malt Whisky Podcast – A new and up-and-coming podcast about the people, culture and evolution of American single malt whisky. Every episode is devoted to the category of American single malt whisky.
WhiskyCast: Cask Strength Conversation
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The Glenlivet 12 Year Old
Hailing from bonnie Speyside, The Glenlivet 12 Year Old is one of Australias, nay, the worlds best loved whiskies, though its been on a mysterious hiatus for a short time..
Luckily for whisky imbibers the world over, this delicious single malt is back on the shelves after its brief holiday The distillery had previously released Founders Reserve, an equally delicious but distinctly different no-age-statement whisky, to keep the masses satisfied in the meantime, and while nobody grabbed a torch and pitchfork, it was clear that savvy drinkers wanted their favourite twelve year old single malt back on offer.
Now, The Glenlivet 12 Year Old, is back to its original form.
A nose that shows coffee, caramel, vanilla and stone fruits opens up to one of the most balanced front palates of any twelve year old single malt youll likely find. Rich, slightly oily, and with a pleasant sweetness, the mid-palate is just the right amount of chewy, and complements the classic Glenlivet balance between fruity and creamy, with a clean finish that wont leave you wanting anything other than another glass.
American Single Malt Keeps Climbingbut Not Everyone Agrees On Its Definition
November 5, 2020 | Zak Kostro
Virag Saksena had already been brewing beer for a couple decades when, in 2011, he began dreaming up a plan to make American single malt that could stand up to the finest whiskies from Scotland and Japan. In order to do that, the first step was to understand how the old masters made it, Saksena says. He traveled to the source of the big peated malt whiskies he most adored, apprenticing at an Islay distillery before he and business partner Vishal Gauriboth engineersopened 10th Street Distillery in an industrial part of San Jose, California in 2017. Using a pair of 500-gallon copper pot stills that are dwarfed by their lofty 6,500-square-foot space, theyre making peated and unpeated malt whiskey that is rooted in European tradition, but with unmistakable California provenance.
10th Street Distillery partners Vishal Gauri and Virag Saksena make peated whiskey from San Joses alkaline, mineral-rich water and custom-peated malt sourced from the Highlands of Scotland.
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The Importance Of The American Single Malt Whiskey Commission
Bourbon whisky is held to a strict definition by a document called The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits. Trade agreements between the United States and other countries help maintain that standard of Bourbon, reserving the term Bourbon for products made in the United States.
Similarly, Scotch is held to strict standards by a document called The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009. In order for a distillery to call their product Scotch, distilleries in Scotland must follow the guidelines outlined in this document. This document also outlines various Scotch subcategories such as Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Blended Malt Scotch Whisky to name a few.
But when it comes to American single malt whisky, there are no identity standards. The American Single Malt Whiskey Commission was formed in 2016 to try to make that happen. From their website:
The American Single Malt Whiskey Commission serves to establish, promote and protect the category of American Single Malt Whiskey.
The American Single Malt Whiskey Commission has been formed in response to the growing need for American-based producers to define the categoryboth domestically and internationallyin order to protect, educate, promote and ultimately grow it.
Thus, the commission defines American single malt whisky by the following six guidelines:
Vatting Dilution And Bottling
To be called a single malt whisky in Scotland, a bottle may only contain whisky distilled from malted barley and produced at a single distillery. The regulations of other countries may allow malted rye.
If the bottle is the product of malt whiskies produced at more than one distillery, the whisky is called a blended malt or vatted malt, or pure malt. If a single malt is mixed with grain whisky, the result is a blended whisky. Single malts can be bottled by the distillery that produced them or by an independent bottler.
The age statement on a bottle of single malt whisky is the age of the youngest malt in the mix, as commonly the whiskies of several years are mixed in a vat to create a more consistent house style. On occasion, the product of a single cask of whisky is bottled without being vatted with other casks, and released as a “Single Cask” offering. However, it is not always clear what the term “single cask” refers to. At least some producers release vattings of multiple barrels that have been matured together for one final period in a larger single cask as “single cask” whisky.
While cask strength, or undiluted, whisky has recently become popular, the vast majority of whisky is diluted to its “bottling strength” – between 40% and 46% ABV – and bottled for sale.
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