|How are spirits made|
Distillation has existed for centuries and is related to alchemy. The earliest distiller—the distiller, the predecessor of today’s pot distiller—was probably invented around 200-300 AD.
Today's wineries range from the single pot belly of the craftsman who is still pieced together with spare parts, to the vast, gleaming wonderland, the silver pillar still extends to the height of the story. However, everyone makes spirits in basically the same way
Anyone can become a winemaker
The following is a brief overview of how to make spirits. Since the range of traditions and regulations is very wide, depending on the type of spirit and the place of origin, please consider this as a very general guide. Encourage an in-depth understanding of the nuances of rum, whiskey, and other spirits categories.
In other words, most spirits go through the following steps.
Raw materials are grown, harvested and processed
Whether it is grapes, grains, agave, or other things, most of them start with agricultural products. The raw materials are planted and harvested, some are manual and some are mechanical, and then transported to the winery.
From there, some ingredients are chopped or ground (agave, sugar cane); pressed (grapes, apples or other fruits); malt (barley, which encourages germination during this period) or smoked with peat (grains, mainly barley) .
Add yeast to start fermentation
Although some raw materials (fruit, sugar cane, agave) contain sugar, other raw materials (such as grains) first need to convert starch into fermentable sugar. This is achieved by cooking the grains in hot water containing enzymes. In whiskey and beer making, this process is called saccharification, and the resulting liquid is called wort.
At this time, fruit juice, wort, etc. are transferred to the fermenter, and yeast is introduced. Some producers buy commercial yeast varieties, others produce proprietary yeast strains, and some rely on naturally occurring wild yeast. Fermentation usually lasts 3 to 5 days, but some stills can last as long as 7 to 9 days.
Fermentation is considered to be the key process to produce aroma and flavor. For example, rum manufacturers state that at least 50% of the rum flavor is caused by fermentation.
Distillation turns liquid into spirit
The distillation process heats the fermentation liquid to the boiling point, captures the vapor in the boiling liquid, and then condenses it back into a liquid when it is cooled.
This will concentrate the alcohol content, but it also requires separation of needed and unwanted elements.
The first and most volatile compound, called the "head", evaporates first. These undesirable compounds are often compared to nail polish removers. Next comes the ideal flavor compound, called the "heart". The last thing left is the "tail", which smells a bit like rubber or the vegetable smell of overcooked broccoli. Separate the tail, discard or re-distill. Deciding when to make the first "cut" to capture as much of the heart as possible while cutting off the tail is considered part of the winemaker's art.
Usually, spirits are distilled multiple times. For example, in Scotch and Irish whiskey, it is common practice to distill 2 to 3 times to create lighter, smoother properties. At the same time, vodka is famous for its multiple distillations, pursuing a spirit that is as neutral as possible.
Generally speaking, spirits are made with two types of stills. The kettle still has a round body similar to a kettle, usually made of copper, and usually produces stronger, more delicious spirits. At the same time, the column distiller has a tall and thin chamber similar to a column, can be made of copper or stainless steel, and is known for its lighter distillate style.
Distillate matures in wooden barrels or other containers
After distillation, spirits such as whiskey, brandy and other "brown spirits" are transferred to oak barrels to mature. This step creates the familiar amber color of many spirits, as well as the aromas and tastes of vanilla, dried fruit or spices.
After the initial aging, some manufacturers transfer the distillate to another barrel for "finishing."
Some spirits are placed in glass or clay containers, rather than wood, as a way to thicken the spirits without adding color, flavor, or aroma. Many sakes (vodka, gin) completely omit the maturation process.
Mix and match proofing to refine the spirit
Except for single barrel products, most manufacturers mix distillates together for consistency. The process also adds flavor and complexity. For example, a whiskey manufacturer may mix different liquids from different barrels together to create a whiskey that is significantly hotter or sweeter. It is also common for rum and cognac producers to mix distillates from different years.
Although some spirits are bottled at cask strength, most spirits are diluted with water to a delicious alcohol level in a process called proofing. A few manufacturers are also trying to use liquids other than pure H2O for proofing.
Filter to increase polishing
Before bottling, the spirits are filtered to remove large and small particles and "polished" the liquid. This may include a simple metal screen used to remove charcoal flakes or carbon (charcoal) filtration when pouring bourbon from the barrel. This removes color, taste and impurities. This technique is suitable for all kinds of spirits. .
Vodka, in particular, is known for multiple filtrations using complex and often exotic materials: quartz, lava, diamond powder, coconut shells, everything.
In addition, many manufacturers cool the spirits, especially canned distilled whiskey, by lowering the temperature of the spirits to a few degrees below the freezing point and then passing the liquid through a series of filters.
Some finishing touches
At this point, some spirits are ready to be bottled and shipped out of the gate. But for others, the original spirit is just the starting point. For example, to make gin, gin and other botanical medicinal neutral spirits are soaked or re-distilled. Spiced rum, flavored whiskey and other spirits, as well as liqueurs and other sweet spirits, also start with spirits, which are then infused or mixed with other ingredients. Regardless of the technique used, the goal remains the same: to create a pleasant pour.
A wide range of models can meet the various requirements of each market and ensure that you can always find a solution that suits you. If you want to know more detailed information about our equipment, please contact us.