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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Are there any preffered ABV of wash / wine for distilling

I've been hearing some conflicting information lately about what the alcohol strength of a wine or wash should be for distilling. As an example, you can make a whiskey wash that ferments to 5% or one to 10% abv and distill it. If the recipe is the same, just the weaker one has more water, will there be a difference in the final whiskey?

Same question goes for rum, etc. Yes, you have to strip more quantity with the lower abv wash, and less with the higher abv wash, but will there be any difference in the final spirit?


Reply:I've been hearing some conflicting information lately about what the alcohol strength of a wine or wash should be for distilling. As an example, you can make a whiskey wash that ferments to 5% or one to 10% abv and distill it. If the recipe is the same, just the weaker one has more water, will there be a difference in the final whiskey?

Same question goes for rum, etc. Yes, you have to strip more quantity with the lower abv wash, and less with the higher abv wash, but will there be any difference in the final spirit?


Reply:

It can take as much as three times as long to ferment to 10% vs. 5%. In this longer ferment time and harsher environment with a higher osmotic pressure, the stress to the yeast can cause off flavors to dominate the grain bill flavors. The weaker starting mash for corn allows more corn flavor to come over in the low wines. This makes for a more flavorful spirit run with less ethyl acetate to deal with.

The super sized producers, Beam and B.F. have demonstrated this for nearly two centuries. The lower grain bill is so much easier on the equipment also. If you have any automation in the system, 2lb grain / gallon will kill your throughput because of the viscosity. Also it is hard to obtain 1.075 sg in an all grain without resorting to enzyme extracts due to mashing problems and viscosity. 1 to 1.2 lbs/ gallon is technically much easier to process.

I have seen 3 batches of 5% produced faster than 1 batch of 10% of the same volume. This is where the real efficiency is. One can get 15% in the same time as the 10% batch. Even though the power requirements are not any more for the three fermentations as the single fermentaion if cooling is necessary, the distillation power usage is much more.

Honestly I prefer the flavor of the lower ABV than the higher and the cuts are easier.


Reply:I've been hearing some conflicting information lately about what the alcohol strength of a wine or wash should be for distilling. As an example, you can make a whiskey wash that ferments to 5% or one to 10% abv and distill it. If the recipe is the same, just the weaker one has more water, will there be a difference in the final whiskey?

Same question goes for rum, etc. Yes, you have to strip more quantity with the lower abv wash, and less with the higher abv wash, but will there be any difference in the final spirit?


Reply:

What do you mean by that? Care to elucidate?

Be careful with the wine-to-mash comparison.
Reply:What do you mean by that? Care to elucidate?