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Posted by Kevin Beaubien on

This Is How Single Malt Whiskey Is Made.

The production of the whiskey is comparatively easy. The barley is allowed to germinate until the starch of the grain has turned into malt sugar. The malt is then kilned and coarsely ground. The sugar is leached with hot water, and the liquid is prepared to ferment. The result is a beer without the addition of hops. This beer is then distilled twice on copper stills, the pot stills. It comes in barrels made of oak wood for maturation before it goes for at least three years in the bottle. High-quality single malt whiskeys sometimes mature for decades.

Malting the barley

When the barley has a water content of 45% after soaking, starch to sugar works best. The barley must be turned by hand at precisely defined intervals so that all the grains germinate evenly. The process of germination takes about 5 days.

The mashing

The malt pulp in the Mash Tun is leached with water three times before the sugar solution is cooled down in a cooler. The first time you use hot water with a temperature of around 65 ° C. The second time the temperature is already 80 ° C. The last time the temperature is increased to just under the boiling point (95 ° C). The third and final time, the sugar is so little dissolved that you let the weak sugar solution cool down a little and use it for the first run of the next batch. The water is extracted from the leached mash in separate factories, and the remainder is processed into animal feed. You can smell the exhaust air from these factories for miles.

The alcoholic fermentation

The washbacks are provided with lids so that no vinegar bacteria penetrate and the fermentation foam does not overflow. In addition, the washbacks have a large, horizontally running propeller at the top, which repeatedly knocks the foam down. The fermentation vats are usually made of Oregon Pine or Cypress, as these woods are particularly resistant to fungi. More recently, stainless steel has also been used as a material, as it does not have to be impregnated or cleaned so much with chemical agents.

The distilling

The wash is poured into the first copper still, the pot, and heated from below or inside. The heating is mainly done indirectly with superheated steam, more rarely with an external gas flame. In the first case, highly heated steam is passed through specially shaped heating pipes inside the pot still. This heats the surrounding wash. From a temperature of 78 ° C, the alcohol begins to boil before the water. The alcohol vapor rises the tapered tube.

The wash stills usually hold between 20,000 and 30,000 liters, whereas the spirit stills only hold 10,000 to 20,000 liters of the more concentrated low wines.

It is even said that dents and dents are carried over from the stills to the renewed stills. But this belongs in the fairytale hour.

The first distillate from the pot still could theoretically contain the volatile and poisonous methyl alcohol (methanol), which, if consumed in abundance, leads to blindness and even death. However, today’s modern yeasts were all bred so that they no longer produce methyl alcohol. The separation of the forerun, therefore, only has a taste character. The caster from the pot still contains the fusel oils that are responsible for the headache. Since the after-run of single malt whiskeys is stopped quite early, almost no people tend to have headaches after consuming single malt whiskey.

The bottling in barrels

According to the law, every barrel must be marked with a unique number, the distillery’s name, and the year of distillation. In the past, this was done with a stencil, along with paint and a brush. For some years now, distilleries have been increasingly using barcode labels that only a computer can read.

With the filling of the water-clear and colorless raw whiskey in barrels, the single malt whiskey production is completed. It is then matured in barrel storage.

The maturation in the barrel

The origin of the drums is for later whiskey – taste crucial. Most distilleries store their whiskeys mainly in American bourbon barrels. These barrels were made from American white oak and have already been used once to store bourbon whiskey. Many distilleries such as The Macallan or Bowmore, on the other hand, rely on barrels in which Spanish sherry was previously matured or another wine. The barrels must always be made of oak exist. A malt from Springbank, stored in rum barrels from the Caribbean and took on a greenish color, is legendary.

Barrels are regularly refurbished in the barrel makers so that some barrels are used several times and over decades. Naturally, the whiskey from a sherry cask used for the second time to store whiskey will absorb less sherry flavor than in a fresh one. Due to these many different influences, an individual whiskey is created in each barrel over time.

Posted by Kevin Beaubien on

Whiskey Production: How Does The Taste Get Into The Whiskey?

Distilled alcohol based on grain is called schnapps for us and vodka for the Russians – neutral alcohol that has absolutely nothing to do with Scottish whiskey in terms of taste.

Because when whiskey connoisseurs talk about taste, they talk about peat, smoke, honey, vanilla, chocolate, and many other flavors that they think they recognize in them.

The three starting products, barley, water, peat, and finished whiskey, were used to determine the location of many distilleries.

There are many aspects of not only the production process but also the commercial distilling equipment that impact the flavor profile of whiskey.  This is something most enthusiasts do not realize, because it’s not as romantic or interesting as talking about the terroir of the ingredients like the grain, water, or barely.

MALTING THE BARLEY: turning starch into sugar

The barley contains a lot of starch. The yeast, which is supposed to ferment later, will not do anything with this. It needs sugar, such as malt. That is why the barley is first malted.

The countless grains are watered and laid out on a floor. Or, as Andrew Jefford describes it in his book “Peat, Smoke and Spirit,” you are being fooled: you are being fooled into spring. Hopefully, they will begin to germinate and form a first tiny sprout.

Whether barley is meant or the finished whiskey is essential because the phenol loses itself over time. Both in the firing process and storage. That’s why some peaty whiskeys are pretty young.

GRINDING THE MALT: Not too fine and not too coarse

Then the malted grain is sent through a mill, where it is crushed. The art is to find the proper fineness. If the grind is too coarse, the following process will not release the optimal amount of sugar. However, if it becomes too floury, it can clump and clog the mash tun.

WASHBACK: Yeast turns sugar into alcohol

The wort ends up in a container called a washback. Here brewing yeast is added to the liquid, which pounces on the sugar and converts it into alcohol. That also means fermenting. Depending on the distillery, this takes between two days and up to 120 hours.

The result is a beer, the “wash,” which then collects in the washback.  If you would like to learn more about washbacks, there is an excellent article here.

BURNING: Now the spirit becomes more strong

Distilling is the basis of many schnapps, the water of life, etc. What happens there? In short: alcohol has a lower boiling point than water. So its vapors rise before water vapor is created. Heating separates the alcohol from the beer mixture.

In classic whiskey production, there are usually two, sometimes three consecutive, distillation processes. And although there are now mature processes, the distillers hold on to old copper stills.

First, the beer comes to the wash still, where a straightforward distillation process is carried out that produces the low wines with around 25 percent alcohol content. Two-thirds of the wash ends up as a waste product, the so-called pot ales.

On the one hand, alcohol does not only include the coveted ethanol. When it burns, for example, the methanol rises earlier – alcohol which, in too high a concentration, can blind people. The master distiller doesn’t want that.

SPIRIT-SAFE: Find the heart of the distillate

The liquid now enters the spirit safe. A case made of brass and glass in which the master distiller determines when the distillate should be used in the distillation process. To do this, he swings the arm with the spout over one of the collecting containers or the other.

MATURATION PROCESS: Aromas from used barrels

After this challenging tour through heat and cold, the distillate can now rest for a few years. Single malt is aged for at least three years. During this time, the whiskey gets the long finishing touches.

For this purpose, the distilled alcohol is poured into wooden barrels. These barrels are not new; sherry, bourbon whiskey, or even port wine has been stored in them before. And the new whiskey inherits part of the aroma from these spirits.

The oak barrels have the most influence on the look and smell of whiskey.

Why is this?

Well the barrels are toasted.  Toasting a barrel is the process of firing the inside of the oak barrel.  A bunch of wooden staves will be placed in a circle and held together with metal straps.  Then the barrel will be place on top of a large flame for a certain period of time.

Depending on what is needed, a barrel can have a light, medium, or dark toast to it.  The toast is the charred inside the barrel.  So between the properties of the oak wood, and the chemical reaction that creates the toasted wood, this has a huge impact on the final way a whiskey tastes and smells.

Now, most distillers use fairly neutral barrels, which means the barrels have been used in the production of some other type of alcohol and have lost most of their flavor, but even used barrels will influence the whiskey as it ages.  This is also where whiskey picks up it’s brown color, from the burned inside of a barrel.

There is an entire industry that makes oak barrels specifically for the alcohol industry.

At some point, the bottle will finally end up with us consumers. And we can still influence the taste. The right nosing glass, the addition of some water (very little!) Or simply taking the time for it and letting some alcohol evaporate, all of this can change the taste experience for us.

Posted by Kevin Beaubien on

These Are The Fascinating Similarities Between Whiskey And Beer.

Let’s start with the beer. It is an alcoholic beverage, not distilled, with a bitter taste, which is made from sprouted barley grains or other cereals and whose starch is fermented in water with yeast and is often flavored with hops among other plants. Its production process is distinguished by a critical step that is malting: the barley grains are germinated, dried, and roasted until they reach the desired color and aroma. This is worth mentioning when the starches are transformed into sugars and are available to generate alcohol. The must is prepared by grinding and macerating the ingredients, filtering, and cooking, and the last step is fermentation.

Differences between beer and whiskey:

  • Alcoholic graduation: eleven ounces of beer (325 ml) contain 5% alcohol, compared to 40ml of whiskey that contains 40% alcohol (depending on the variant, they can have much more).
  • Beer is associated with medicinal benefits (in moderate amounts) thanks to its content in a heart-protective antioxidant compound: flavonoids. It is valued for being hydrating thanks to its high water content, it is diuretic due to its potassium content, antioxidant due to its vitamin content, cardiovascular due to its vitamin B6 content, a good preventive of bone diseases due to its hops and mineral content, and as if that were not enough, a cell regenerate due to its folic acid content.
  • The whiskey is similar to a beer that has been distilled and does not contain hops.
  • Whiskey and beer are made from starchy grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, millet, and oats. Some more specific examples: single malt whiskey is made from barley and distilled in a single distillery, while bourbon or American whiskey is 51% corn, plus other ingredients and grains.
  • The whiskey has a light color when it is distilled, and before being stored in wooden barrels for the aging process, this is the step in which it acquires its characteristic brown color.
  • One of the primary defects in the manufacture of whiskey, and to which manufacturers of cheap brands resort, is adding caramel or molasses to provide that brown color artificially.
  • Beer is a fermented drink with low alcohol content, distinguished by its other beneficial compounds for health, such as antioxidants, calcium, potassium, biotin, and B vitamins.
  • Another big difference between the two, of course, is the price. Although there are different quality beers, they will never be expensive, depending on their production process and country of origin. In comparison, whiskey is another drink with all kinds of qualities depending on its preparation and can be accessible to practically impossible to pay.
  • In Scotch whiskeys, the barley must is known as “wort” and is fermented with yeast for a couple of days or more until it is ready to go into the famous copper stills.
  • In the world of whiskey, master distillers play a fundamental role; they are the master of stills and have the vital task of keeping only the best part of the precious liquid. During this first distillate, the wort is heated instills up to 78º C. At this temperature, the alcohol boils, and the steam rises through the condenser. After this process, the liquid passes to another alembic for a second distillate, giving rise to the drink that passes to the final phase: aging.

The aging process is one of the main elements that differentiate whiskey from classic beer. For example: for a whiskey to be considered Scotch, the liquid that comes out of the distilled process must age in oak barrels for a minimum period of 3 years. The type of wood (sometimes used in barrels that have aged sherry or wine previously) will also significantly affect the aroma and final palate of the whiskey.

Posted by Kevin Beaubien on

In The Beginning

Bob and Samantha Crouch established Crouch Distilling in 1992. Before opening Crouch Distilling, Bob was a brewer for a local organic craft brewery.

While there his interest in hops evolved from milling barley and yeast to brewing beer. One thing lead to another and pretty soon Bob and Samantha were distilling whiskey in their kitchen with a small copper pot still. Bob was inspired to open a distillery where he could use his experience to create a unique line of craft spirits.

We take pride in every step of our craft, all the way from the grain to your glass.