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Jun 08, 2022 View:

What variety of corn is used for distilling

Hi,

What types and varieties of corn is used in spirit distillation?

I have the capability of recovering large quantities of sweet corn kernels (White and Yellow) from secondary ears not utilized in our fresh market sales. I'm curious if sweet corn is commonly used or this could be a new option for distillers.

Opinions: Would these kernels be something that could be marketed to distillers? Milling would be no problem.

Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Lonnie Kuenzli

Sunrise Farms

[email protected]


Reply:

Hi,

What types and varieties of corn is used in spirit distillation?

I have the capability of recovering large quantities of sweet corn kernels (White and Yellow) from secondary ears not utilized in our fresh market sales. I'm curious if sweet corn is commonly used or this could be a new option for distillers.

Opinions: Would these kernels be something that could be marketed to distillers? Milling would be no problem.

Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Lonnie Kuenzli

Sunrise Farms

[email protected]


Reply:

Lonnie/Sunrise Farms,

What part of the country are you located in? I have been giving this some thought as well since in Colorado, we have some really good sweet corn. I am curious if you found any takers on the offer and if they have had any luck?

I know this post is old, but thought I would give it a shot anyway.

Cheers,

Jim


Reply:

I've used No.2 dent corn and Blue Corn both with good results. I got the best results from a cheap No. 2 dent I got off of a local farmer, ok results with an expensive organic dent corn and ok results with blue corn.


Reply:

Can you use straight Blue corn? Or is this something you use just to add complexity to your Whiskey?


Reply:

The big question is what is your Starch Content? You can use any Corn and it will usually have about 75% starch. The different varieties of corn will give you different flavor profiles, but within the ballpark of common corn spirits. No 2 dent is the most common and often the cheapest. That said any free grain which is a loss to something else is as good as it gets money wise. If you are looking to sell it to a distiller you will have to give them a competitive price, but that seems likely as this is a secondary use.

People are using all kinds of Corn from Blue to Popcorn so it is feasible.


Reply:

cheap #2 yellow dent

we clean it before we mill it.


Reply:

Yep, #2 dent. There is a lady who operates out of the south east who did well with her story of her struggle with family and how they have made it through it working together, but also because they use sweet white corn rather than yellow dent corn. I cant think of her name at the moment but she looks a bit like cybil shepard. I can see the product, she spoke at ADI last year in a panel w/ the guy from stranahans. I say try whatever you can get to ferment for cheap.


Reply:

Troy and Sons. I thought they were using a dent corn though? Theirs is grown by a buddy of mine. I thought they were using Bloody Butcher.

Yep, #2 dent. There is a lady who operates out of the south east who did well with her story of her struggle with family and how they have made it through it working together, but also because they use sweet white corn rather than yellow dent corn. I cant think of her name at the moment but she looks a bit like cybil shepard. I can see the product, she spoke at ADI last year in a panel w/ the guy from stranahans. I say try whatever you can get to ferment for cheap.


Reply:

She makes a good product. They use an old white dent corn. You say white corn, people think sweet corn. Nope there is a lot of white dent corn grown in the USA. It is best for whiskey in my opinion.


Reply:

Currently I'm just buying Corn meal from the local elevator, I'll have to see what kind they are selling. Better judgment tells me a type of feed corn

Is this most likely a dent variety?


Reply:

Only difference in feed corn and corn for Distilling is one load goes to a distillery, the other to a farm. Only dent corn is grown in this country. Popcorn is the only non dent corn I know of. The biggest difference is what variety and open pollinated and commercial hybrids. In the south and Midwest, all corn is either white or yellow. In the north, the corn has some red color to it. Streaks in it. Seems to have more oil as well.


Reply:

cheap #2 yellow dent

we clean it before we mill it.


Reply:

Corn is not corn. I know this string is a little old but thought I might jump in here. There are literally hundreds of varieties of corn. Most corn as we know it in this country is #2 yellow. It has a dent in the end of the kernels due to the shrinkage of the starch as it dries. There are all kinds of corn that are known for their color, yellow, white, blue, red, and mixed such as the corn known as Indian corn. There are corns that are grown for their oil, amino acids balance, corn meal for human consumption, corn chips, and taste. There are actually corns that are better suited for ethanol production. They all will react differently to the whiskey making process and they all will produce a different taste in the bottle. There are some distilleries that have their corn grown just for them while others buy on the open market for price alone.

When corn grows sugar is produced by the corn plant and moved into the kernel, where it is converted to starch. If you ever broke a kernel of corn off from the cobb and tasted it; the tip was sweet. All corn starts out as sweet corn. Sweet corn just lacks the ability to convert the sugar to starch. When we make alcohol from corn we first have to convert the starch back to the sugar. In sweet corn the sugar was never converted to starch so that step is not necessary. Commercial sweet corn you buy in the can is not like the sweet corn you buy in the farmers market. In my opinion it is very difficult to harvest the kernels from garden varieties of sweet corn so commercial sweet corn that is canned needs some converting prior to yeast. Sweet corn makes good whiskey but keep in mind there are many different varieties of sweet corn and they all will need somewhat different processing. Our normal #2 yellow corn makes cheap whiskey and needs the help of a good barrel to take out the harshness that is produced. This corn has been selected for generations on its ability to produce the maximum yield per acre. It is mostly fed to cows, hogs, or ethanol plants. Blue corn however has been consumed by humans directly and has been selected for taste over many generations. It has a great taste (compare blue corn chips to regular corn chips) but has a poor yield. It also makes great tasting whiskey. The cost of blue corn will be higher but really the cost of corn in craft whiskey is not significant compared to other costs. After all we as craft distillers are selling taste. There are some great tasting corns out there. It is the diversity that we craft distillers bring to the table. Corn offers that diversity and we should be spending major time in selecting that special corn with that unique flavor because the majors cannot compete with us on this aspect. And by the way I do have some blue corn seed for sale for anyone that wants to grow their own.


Reply:

Gary,

That was an interesting post!

Question:

Is anyone doing a corn whisky with FRESH corn instead of dried kernels?


Reply:

Some distilleries around here are using organic Wapsie Valley, OP (open pollinated) grown in New York State. It seems to produce great whiskey, even un-aged. It's mostly yellow with some red and reddish kernels. I understand that they also grow a lot of it in Michigan and neighboring states.
This place will be happy to sell you some: http://www.lakevieworganicgrain.com/

One distillery has started mixing it with Bloody Butcher corn which as the name implies is all very red but doesn't have as much starch. I think it would be great to partner with an organic farm that can grow exotic strains like this for you as well as work on breeding and hybridizing. Malted corn is a subject for another thread