44384RE: [Distillers] Whiskey making
- Jan 29, 2009Hi Geoff,
My reply is inline.
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 09:52:04 +0000
Subject: [Distillers] Whiskey making
Can you explain why the master distillers from 150 to 250 years ago in Scotland and Ireland could make such good whiskeys without access to the highly refined sugar like we have today?
While I'm sure no master distiller, some days I *feel* like 250, and until this last continuous sourmash experiment, I've used no refined sugar in *my* whisk(e)ys, and I think my whisk(e)ys are good.
Seems to me to get any appreciable amount of usable sugars for a wash from grain they must have used a hell've' lot of malted grain and water and when fermented out, it couldn't have been much stronger in % Abv than a good pint of Heavy. Would this be correct?
It's correct for *my* washes. It's axiomatic that the higher the ABV of the wash, the worse it tastes (loosely translated) and yes it *does* take a helluva a lot of grain, and work too. After starting to distill grain whisk(e)ys, I've never understood how whisk(e)y could be sold so cheaply.
Oh yeah for those that don't know what a pint of Heavy is, this a full bodied or heavy malt flavoured stout served in Scotland's working class pubs and an easily acquired taste it was a good substitute to Guinness also an easily acquired taste when I lived in Scotand for a while, these stouts can be a tad strong for nearly all non Gaelic races who weren't reared on them.
As an allgrain homebrewer, one of the family favorites is a Foreign Extra Stout from a recipe in Brew Your Own magazine. For a woman who didn't used to like beer, my wife took to that like a kitten to cream. Me too, for that matter.
Anyway to get a reasonable amount of good whiskey doing double and triple distilling through those huge pot stills they must have been dealing with huge low alcohol washes and the work and materials, turf and wood in the early years and coal or or gas in the later years time spent in the barrel and whatever was involved to do this must have been very expensive
It is for me, and I'm guessing it was for them.
I suppose this outlay needed clawing back hence the hefty price tag on some of the better whiskeys of old?
Where these huge volumes of low alcohol washes', when distilled, the reason why they tasted so good?
I think so, and it's why I prize my own whisk(e)ys and almost never have any left after aging and tasting. That's why this continuous sourmash bourbon batch I just did is such a big deal to me. I'll have enough to age, taste, keep on my shelf, and maybe give a bottle or two to my kids.
I hope this helps put things in perspective.
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