Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Got myself a new maturing bottle today.

After the 'shine comes off the rig, it gets cut with water to 40% ABV and then goes through an activated carbon filtering system, which takes out any of the fractional fusel oils which might have carried over and can result in an off brew.  I honestly can't taste them at the worst of times (very efficient fractional column) but they are noticeable as an odour.  Most people do a single or double pass through carbon, I probably do 20 or so at least, until it smells like I want it to.  This amount of filtering also allows a certain minor amount of evaporation - this is not a bad thing, as the lighter fractions of ethanol (the pongy ones I don't want) evaporate off first, producing a cleaner product.

It then goes into wide-mouthed 5 litre flagons (which my loving wife refers to as hillbilly jugs - possibly not without some justification).

The purpose of these is wood chip soaking - I use a mix of lightly toasted American white oak and a small amount of well toasted French oak, which releases the tannins into the spirit that barrelling does for commercial hooch.  The degree of toast controls the complexity of the flavour, but at the same time you can't just use the heavily toasted stuff or you'll get something that would take the lining off your stomach.  The spirit needs to stay on the wood for around 4-6 weeks depending on how many batches the chips have seen - I can get about 4 batches out of them with the occasional light refresh before they are spent and need to be tossed and renewed.  That's where the wide mouthed bottles come in!

Finally, the stuff needs to just sit for a while.  It can be drunk right away, but it tends to be a bit bright and sharp.  If I let it sit for about 6 months it gets all mellow and smooth, which is what I want.

So I bought myself a new bottle at the brew shop today.  That's a normal stubby it's sitting next to.  Cheers!

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