Any germinated grain can be used to make malt. In rare cases, rye malt is used to make rye whiskey. However, because malted barley has the highest enzyme activity, barley is almost exclusively used in the distillation industry. Barley malt contains enough enzymes to convert about 10 times its weight in other unmalted grains. In addition to converting starch from other carbohydrates into sugars, barley malt also contains soluble proteins (amino acids) that provide flavor to the distillate obtained from the fermentation and distillation of the grain malt mixture.
During the fermentation process, monosaccharides, including glucose and maltose, are converted into ethanol by yeast enzymes. Before the final ethanol is obtained, several intermediate compounds are formed in this complex chemical process.
Yeast functions best in a slightly acidic medium, and the prepared granules, juice, molasses, or other mixtures must be checked for sufficient acidity (pH). If the acidity is insufficient, add acid or acid-containing materials to achieve the necessary adjustments. Then add the previously prepared yeast and make the final dilution of the mixture. Adjust the final sugar concentration so that yeast fermentation will produce a final fermentation mixture containing 7% to 9% alcohol.
Commercial fermentation takes place in vats. In the past, these were open and made of wood, usually cypress. Now most factories use enclosed stainless steel vats for easier cleaning, and many vats are equipped with jackets or cooling coils for better temperature control. The time required to complete the fermentation mainly depends on the temperature of the fermentation mash. Ordinary yeast decomposes all fermentable sugars most efficiently in the temperature range of 24 to 29 °C (75 to 85 °F). Within this range, it takes 48 to 96 hours to complete the fermentation. Fermentation at lower temperature takes longer. After the fermentation is complete, the mash can be distilled. If the fermentation is allowed to continue beyond this time, it will be adversely affected by the action of bacteria. The ethanol content will be reduced, and the flavor and aroma of the finished product will also be contaminated.
Wooden Barrels for fermenting wort
The difference in boiling point of alcohol and water is used in distillation to separate these liquids from each other. The basic distillation apparatus consists of three parts: static or boiling, used to heat the liquid; condenser, used to cool the steam; and receiver, used to collect the distillate.
Beautifully shaped pot still
One way to classify distilled spirits is aged or unaged. Vodka, neutral spirits used in various products, most gin, and some rum and brandy are not aged. Aged products are mainly whiskey and most rum and brandy.
The maturation process for brandy is similar to some whiskies, but brandy is usually matured in fairly large wooden barrels or oak containers. Most brandies have an aging time of three to five years, but some brandies have an aging time of 20 to 40 years or even longer.
Rum is usually aged in reusable oak containers; high concentrations of oak extract are considered undesirable. The normal maturity time is two to three years, but rum, usually a mixed product, may contain a certain percentage of old rum.
Most governments regulate the storage time of various products. The United States requires the storage period of most whiskeys to be two years, but does not require any pure alcohol or neutral spirits (close to 100% alcohol) to be added to this type of whisky when producing blended whiskies. Canada requires all distilled spirits to be stored for two years. Scotland and England require all products classified as whisky to be stored for three years, and Ireland requires five years; there are no requirements for vodka and gin.
Blending is another way to obtain a balanced product with precise flavor profile. The mixed product is composed of one or more strong-scented ingredients, a high-strength ingredient with low congener content, a color adjusting ingredient, and possibly an additional flavoring material. An example is a blended whiskey, which can contain several whiskeys, a crystal grain spirit of 90-95% alcohol, caramel color distillation, and perhaps a small amount of flavored blender (some of which can be sherry or port wine) . Blended Scotch whisky is composed of several flavorful malt whiskies produced in a tank distiller and a basic whiskey made from grains in a continuous distillation system.
Distilled wine reacts when it comes in contact with a variety of substances, and substances that can destroy the aroma and flavor of the wine are extracted from the container. For this reason, non-reactive glass has always been a universal container for packaging alcohol. (Some products are now packaged in plastic bottles, but these are mainly 50ml miniature products, which are light in weight and especially suitable for airlines.) Packaging economics requires containers to be standardized in size and shape and suitable for automated processes.
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