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  1. Instead of slow distillation, for the last few years I've been advocating for something I call guided traditional practices. It is something I see in the fine wine industry and something that is part of many spirits category's history such as Bourbon. Bourbon went from practical distillers who weren't formally trained and knew little science but often produced excellent products to scientific concerns that relentlessly pursued efficiency to bland commodity ends and then back upwards to guided traditional practices with Maker's Mark and Wild Turkey when they got their own production (tequila is in the violent throws of this). If you read through the oral histories of the California wine producers that won at the Judgment of Paris, you'll understand that fine wine was born in the lab. All the winners like Mike Grgich and Warren Winierski were the lab guys from their previous wineries. They were not exactly scientists and were sitting in on night classes at UC Davis, but they weren't matriculated students studying to produce wine by the silo. Right now near no small producer operates a full on distillery lab and my big pursuit is creating a pragmatic one and sharing it. The absolute foundation of the lab is turning out to be Rafael Arroyo's birectifier lab still. The beauty of the birectifier is how much can be done with only organoleptic technique. It really respects slow ambitions, but you can stack chemical analysis on top as you get more sophisticated. Fine wine makers do tons of lab work, but its simple and pragmatic. They aren't all in on GCMS, it just doesn't help. One of the things the new distilling industry needs to confront is that "fermentation is the climax in the manufacture of rum". This is an Arroyo quote from Circular 106 which applies well to any spirit category. Distillers need to get over the fetish of the still and learn that they are really fermentation chemists. This impacts labeling to some degree. I don't want to see anything labelled pot distilled if it didn't have a fermentation worthy of slow and steady pot distillation. I also don't want to have to see spirits like rum have to live up to the Bourbon template. A lot of the labeling ideas proposed don't make any sense and a lot of them become irrelevant if there is a public intellectual behind the helm like most cult fine wineries. Publicly explain yourself, and if the juice is good, you can do mostly whatever you want. One thing not often acknowledged is how terrible many of the practical distillers were and that many often couldn't ferment to dryness. The IRS actually became the lead consultant educating producers because it was easier to keep the books when you guaranteed everyone fermented to dryness. Grain in matched ethanol out. The revenuer didn't have to become a detective with a flashlight wondering whether a ferment was botched or if ethanol was stolen. There is very little traditional knowledge on building spirits to age until Arroyo comes around. Arroyo ultimately attributed his success in tackling it to the birectifier. Eight fraction Micko distillation makes readily apparent the factors that contribute to maturation time. Slowly by analyzing spirits over time you can build trajectories. I don't think anyone's career is long enough to build intuition for these maturation trajectories without sitting down and doing frequent analysis and deconstruction of role models. The more role models you deconstruct, the faster you can build mastery. Our next step with the birectifier is automating it so a distiller can run it twice a day. This makes it practical to pre-screen your ferment with micro distillation and then grade it A,B,C,D which will correspond to the distillation proof it deserves and the cutting regimen. Cognac was known for micro distillation pre-screening before large producers switched to inline spectroscopy. The A,B,C,D pre-screened framework means a distiller could start taking risks and slowing down ferments to gain quality. Faults would be caught (fraction 6,7,8 of the birectifier) and distillation changed to accommodate it. One big benefit of an analysis framework is adding confidence in delegating tasks and there will also be more confidence in tackling new products like a rum producer taking on an apple brandy. A lot more could be said, but the foundation of slowness or guided traditional practices is practical analysis.
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