MDH

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  1. You're right, yes, that would count as pasteurization. But in terms of what heating our mash does -- certain strains of bacteria can survive temperatures up to 70-80 degrees. Certain strains of clostridium can even survive boiling, which creates a challenge for large scale food preservation - canned foods are heated by pressurized steam to 120+ degrees Celsius! Since most of us are heating to only 63-67c, many strains of lactobacillus survive and will gradually take over the mash, working anaerobically on it, as the fermentation winds down and yeast autolyzes into nutrients. This is, of course, ideal - lactobacillus is essential to the character of a developing whisky as it ages. They produce lactic acid itself, and many other compounds which are desirable flavor precursors. We just don't want them metabolizing citric acid.
  2. If you are not pasteurizing your mash, like most don't, then citric is less than ideal. Certain strains of lactobacilli will metabolize it into diacetyl. Instead, malic acid is ideal - it does not impact the performance of fermentation like some organic acids do, and is metabolized into the very ideal lactic acid by bacteria.
  3. Yes. Chlorine reacts with organic matter, including some important micronutrients. This is how it prevents microbes from reproducing in your drinking water. This reacted organic matter is also well known in public pools as "disinfection byproducts". The smell and taste of them is unpleasant. My only recommendation is that you find a way to warm and vigorously aerate the water. You can also add a small amount of ascorbic acid solution to your water, then proceed to add baking soda. This reaction yields dehydroascorbic acid and salt. This is the government recommended method of removing chlorine from water. That being said, I can't speak for the effects of the new acid on your spirit... Any organic reactant open's the pandora's box with something as complicated as fermentation.
  4. Likely pediococcus damnosus. Unfortunately this is an anaerobic bacteria which does not form a discernable pellicle, so it's difficult to identify. It ruins your ferments from inside out. This is one of the worst of the infections you can have. Anything it has touched should be extremely well sanitized.
  5. Just a bit of pedantic nitpicking. The dead yeast itself doesn't create off flavors. Autolysis byproducts include fatty acids that are important precursors to the aromatic profile of long-aged spirits. It also provides micronutrients to lactobacilli, which are important to the profile of many whiskies. If dead yeast were itself the cause of off flavors, distillers would be found using high flocculating yeasts and clearing their mashes completely, since all yeast are killed during the distillation process.
  6. Second this. Do a run without increasing the heat as you get into the hearts.
  7. I have to say, I just saw some equipment from this company at a distillery less than twenty miles from them, and it looked very well made.
  8. Start a few spontaneous fermentations from separate small crushes. Ferment the juice completely with each one. Measure the S.G. and use good old "olfactory sciences" to measure the aromatic quality. In my opinion, and in the opinion of most Calvados producers, a good brandy is made through carefully controlled spontaneous fermentation. Just keep oxygen out and the pH reasonably low and you should be fine to do it that way.
  9. I think that depending on the product you want to vat and then bottle, you will need to let it rest longer solely based on the acidity of the most acidic product you've made which is being blended into the final product. So, if you have one product which was allowed a very extended malolactic fermentation, such as a sourmash, you will want to glass or bottle age your product for a long time before selling, versus one with a more straightforward fermentation allowing no time for extended lactic acid. Aging certainly does occur without oak. If you observe the practices of distilleries in Alsace and the neighboring Black Forest, you'll notice that they almost universally age their eaux de vie in glass "balloons" or demijons, often with a thick cotton cloth stuffed into the lid to allow permeability similar to a barrel.
  10. Yes. The char level will add increasing levels of caramel and vanilla, and the porous nature of the charcoal will absorb some degree of flavor. It also produces some acids that will react with the spirit over time.
  11. Lees always in. You can choose to distill on or off grain, but even the scots will distill their sparged beer with lees still in after fermentation finishes. I can understand that in some "niche" scenarios, such as with honey, you may want to clear the ferment first. This will let you distill into the tails a little more without flavors that would otherwise clash with the flavor. In Whiskey, the lees are practically necessary.
  12. I think there are two fast approaches to the market... One is to have a smaller heartcut, age in a warm environment with good airflow and decent humidity for a younger (2-3) year spirit. The second is to make wide cuts and age for a long time. In my opinion the latter approach invariably yields a more complex tasting spirit. Some try to bypass both approaches by using very small barrels, or other "oaking" solutions that respect the integration of oak and spirit but not the chemistry behind how they interact once mixed. I think this is what Hubert is trying to convey with this post - there is no substitute for decently wide, but not too wide cuts, and a good long aging time, when it comes to flavor. I trust his opinion based on what I've tasted from GR distillery in the past.
  13. For a basic pot (e.g. in the style of Scotland) the heart cut can vary hugely. Macallan keeps 15% of collected spirit as hearts. I have seen some keep 60% as hearts using a fairly fast distillation speed and a basic pot, but these need a long time to age. Throw in four plates and a dephlegmator and you can keep an immense amount as hearts but personally I don't like the resulting style.
  14. Firstly, does your source of water have any free halogens? Secondly, have you tried any pilot batches with other yeasts?
  15. I'm a huge advocate of this style too. It's the same with fruits - I've tried a few pretty bland apple and pear Eaux de Vie recently which were made in a heavily refluxed column sort of environment; yet hands down, the best spirits I've ever tasted were made in basic pots and aged for a long period of time. Calvados and Cognac are made in basic pots and are given time. If you look at distilleries like Lagavulin or Ardbeg, their stills are similarly very short, and are run to no more than 72% alcohol by volume. Such an environment is rife with smearing of the tails, hearts and heads, but the end product is beautifully complex. I wouldn't take Scotch any other way.