WHISKY PRODUCTION PROCESS

PREPARING THE GRAIN:
Grains are shipped directly from farms to the whiskey manufacturer to be stored in silos until needed. The grain is inspected and cleaned to remove all dust and other foreign particles.
All grains except barley are first ground into meal in a gristmill. The meal is then mixed with water and cooked to break down the cellulose walls that contain starch granules. This can be done in a closed pressure cooker at temperatures of up to 311°F (155°C) or more slowly in an open cooker at 212°F (100°C).
Instead of being cooked, barley is malted. The first step in malting barley consists of soaking it in water until it is thoroughly saturated. It is then spread out and sprinkled with water for about three weeks, at which time it begins to sprout. During this germination the enzyme amylase is produced, which converts the starch in the barley into sugars. The sprouting is halted by drying the barley and heating it with hot air from a kiln. For Scotch whiskey, the fuel used in the kiln includes peat, a soft, carbon-rich substance formed when plant matter decomposes in water. The peat gives Scotch whiskey a characteristic smoky taste. The malted barley is then ground like other grains.

MASHING:
Mashing consists of mixing cooked grain with malted barley and warm water. The amylase in the malted barley converts the starch in the other grains into sugars. After several hours the mixture is converted into a turbid, sugar-rich liquid known as mash. (In making Scotch malt whiskey the mixture consists only of malted barley and water. After mashing the mixture is filtered to produce a sugar-rich liquid known as wort.)

FERMENTATION:
The mash or wort is transferred to a fermentation vessel, usually closed in Scotland and open in the United States. These vessels may be made of wood or stainless steel. Yeast is added to begin fermentation, in which the single-celled yeast organisms convert the sugars in the mash or wort to alcohol. The yeast may be added in the form of new, never-used yeast cells (the sweet mash process) or in the form of a portion of a previous batch of fermentation (the sour mash process.) The sour mash method is more often used because it is effective at room temperature and its low pH (high acidity) promotes yeast growth and inhibits the growth of bacteria. The sweet mash method is more difficult to control, and it must be used at temperatures above 80°F (27°C) to speed up the fermentation and to avoid bacterial contamination. After three or four days, the end product of fermentation is a liquid containing about 10% alcohol known as distiller’s beer in the United States or wash in Scotland.

DISTILLATION:
Scottish whiskey makers often distill their wash in traditional copper pot stills. The wash is heated so that most of the alcohol (which boils at 172°F [78°C]) is transformed into vapor but most of the water (which boils at 212°F [100°C]) is not. This vapor is transferred back into liquid alcohol in a water-cooled condenser and collected. Most modern distilleries use a continuous still. This consists of a tall cylindrical column filled with a series of perforated plates. Steam enters the still from the bottom, and distiller’s beer enters from the top. The beer is distilled as it slowly drips through the plates, and the alcohol is condensed back into a liquid. With either method, the product of the initial distillation—known as low wine—is distilled a second time to produce a product known as high wine or new whiskey, which contains about 70% alcohol.

AGEING:
Water is added to the high wine to reduce its alcohol content to about 50% or 60% for American whiskeys and about 65% or higher for Scotch whiskeys. Scotch whiskeys are aged in cool, wet conditions, so they absorb water and become less alcoholic. American whiskeys are aged in warmer, drier conditions so they lose water and become more alcoholic. Whiskey is aged in wooden barrels, usually made from charred white oak. White oak is used because it is one of the few woods that can hold a liquid without leaking but which also allows the water in the whiskey to move back and forth within the pores of the wood, which helps to add flavor. In the United States these barrels are usually new and are only used once. In most other countries it is common to reuse old barrels. New barrels add more flavor than used barrels, resulting in differences in the taste of American and foreign whiskeys. The aging process is a complex one, still not fully understood, but at least three factors are involved. First, the original mixture of water, alcohol, and congeners react with each other over time. Second, these ingredients react with oxygen in the outside air in oxidation reactions. Third, the water absorbs substances from the wood as it moves within it. (Charring the wood makes these substances more soluble in water.) All these factors change the flavor of the whiskey. Whiskey generally takes at least three or four years to mature, and many whiskeys are aged for ten or fifteen years.

BLENDING:
Straight whiskeys and single malt Scotch whiskeys are not blended; that is, they are produced from single batches and are ready to be bottled straight from the barrel. All other whiskeys are blended. Different batches of whiskey are mixed together to produce a better flavor. Often neutral grain spirit is added to lighten the flavor, caramel is added to standardize the color, and a small amount of sherry or port wine is added to help the flavors blend. Blended Scotch whiskey usually consists of several batches of strongly flavored malt whiskeys mixed with less strongly flavored grain whiskeys. A few blends contain only malt whiskeys. Blending is often considered the most difficult and critical process in producing premium Scotch whiskeys. A premium blended Scotch whiskey may contain more than 60 individual malt whiskeys which must be blended in the proper proportions.

BOTTLING:
Glass is always used to store mature whiskey because it does not react with it to change the flavor. Modern distilleries use automated machinery to produce as many as 400 bottles of whiskey per minute. The glass bottles move down a conveyor belt as they are cleaned, filled, capped, sealed, labeled, and placed in cardboard boxes. The whiskey is ready to be shipped to liquor stores, bars, and restaurants.

WHISKY OR WHISKEY

Whisky or whiskey is a type of alcoholic beverage distilled from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barleymalted barleyrye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn). Most whiskies are aged in wooden casks, made generally of oak, the exception being some corn liquors.

STYLES OF RUM

The grades and variations used to describe rum depend on the location that a rum was produced. Despite these variations the following terms are frequently used to describe various types of rum:
# Light Rums, also referred to as silver rums and white rums. In general, light rum has very little flavor aside from a general sweetness, and serves accordingly as a base for cocktails. Light rums are sometimes filtered after aging to remove any color. The Brazilian Cachaça is generally this type, but some varieties are more akin to “gold rums”. The majority of Light Rum comes out of Puerto Rico. Their milder flavor makes them popular for use in mixed-drinks, as opposed to drinking it straight.
# Gold Rums, also called amber rums, are medium-bodied rums which are generally aged. These gain their dark color from aging in wooden barrels (usually the charred white oak barrels that are the byproduct of Bourbon Whiskey). They have more flavor, and are stronger tasting than Silver Rum, and can be considered a midway-point between Silver/Light Rum and the darker varieties

# Spiced Rum: These rums obtain their flavor through addition of spices and, sometimes, caramel. Most are darker in color, and based on gold rums. Some are significantly darker, while many cheaper brands are made from inexpensive white rums and darkened with artificial caramel color.
# Dark Rum, also known as black rum, classes as a grade darker than gold rum. It is generally aged longer, in heavily charred barrels. Dark rum has a much stronger flavor than either light or gold rum, and hints of spices can be detected, along with a strong molasses or caramel overtone. It is used to provide substance in rum drinks, as well as color. In addition to uses in mixed drinks, dark rum is the type of rum most commonly used in cooking. Most Dark Rum comes from areas such as JamaicaHaiti, and Martinique, though two Central American countries, Nicaragua and Guatemala, produced two of the most award-winning dark rums in the world: Flor de Caña and Ron Zacapa Centenario, respectively.

# Flavored Rum: Some manufacturers have begun to sell rums which they have infused with flavors of fruits such as mangoorangecitruscoconut or lime. These serve to flavor similarly themed tropical drinks which generally comprise less than 40% alcohol, and are also often drank neat or on the rocks.
# Overproof Rum is rum which is much higher than the standard 40% alcohol. Most of these rums bear greater than 75%, in fact, and preparations of 151 to 160 proof occur commonly.
# Premium Rum: As with other sipping spirits, such as Cognac and Scotch, a market exists for premium and super-premium rums. These are generally boutique brands which sell very aged and carefully produced rums. They have more character and flavor than their “mixing” counterparts, and are generally consumed without the addition of other ingredients
 

PRODUCTION OF RUM

DISTILLATION:
As with all other aspects of rum production, there is no standard method used for distillation. While some producers work in batches using pot stills, most rum production is done using column still distillation. Pot still output contains more congeners than the output from column stills and thus produces a fuller-tasting rum.

AGEING & BLENDING: Many countries require that rum be aged for at least one year. This aging is commonly performed in used bourbon casks, but may also be performed in stainless steel tanks or other types of wooden casks. The aging process determines the coloring of the Rum. Rum that is aged in oak casks becomes dark, whereas Rum that is aged in stainless steel tanks remains virtually colorless. Due to the tropical climate common to most rum-producing areas, rum matures at a much faster rate than is typical for Scotch or Cognac. An indication of this faster rate is the angels’ share, or amount of product lost to evaporation. While products aged in France or Scotland see about 2% loss each year, rum producers may see as much as 10%. After aging, rum is normally blended to ensure a consistent flavor. Blending is the final step in the Rum making process. As part of this blending process, light rums may be filtered to remove any color gained during aging. For darker rums, caramel may be added to the rum to adjust the color of the final product.

PRODUCTION OF RUM

FERMENTATION: Most rum produced is made from molasses. Within the Caribbean, much of this molasses is from Brazil. A notable exception is the French-speaking islands where sugarcane juice is the preferred base ingredient.
Yeast and water are added to the base ingredient to start the fermentation process. While some rum producers allow wild yeast to perform the fermentation, most use specific strains of yeast to help provide a consistent taste and predictable fermentation time. Dunder, the yeast-rich foam from previous fermentations, is the traditional yeast source in Jamaica. “The yeast employed will determine the final taste and aroma profile,” says Jamaican master blender Joy Spence. Distillers that make lighter rums, such as Bacardi, prefer to use faster-working yeasts. Use of slower-working yeasts causes more esters to accumulate during fermentation, allowing for a fuller-tasting rum.