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Walk me through making a rye whiskey


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I'm asking for a huge favor here. Or perhaps I'm just asking to be pointed to reference material I haven't yet seen. I'm well versed in the fundamentals of fermentation but I know nothing of how to make whiskey.

My situation: I am a first-time distiller running a continuous vacuum still. The details of the still are unimportant aside from the fact that it's continuous. So far, I've made everything from cane sugar (no GNS). I'm looking to try my hand at making one 55-gallon barrel of whiskey with at least 75% rye.

Here are the steps I'd like help with:

  • Sourcing grains
  • Creating a wort from said grains
  • Fermenting – What yeasts to consider, how long to ferment, target ABV of fermented mash, enzymes/additives?
  • Anything other guidelines to keep in mind, aside from distillation

Anything you can help with would be hugely appreciated!

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Rye -- she's a fickle thing. Nice part is that you can direct mash in at a fairly low temp somewhere around 134F or so. Bad news is it's going to be a gummy mess. I'd check out some of these enzymes:


As they will make your life easier. Here's a starting point:

75 lbs malted rye (75x27 = 2025 points)

25 lbs malted barley (25*33 = 825 points)

40 gallons of water + 15 gallons loss to absorbtion

That will get you around 40 gallons at 1.070 gravity (if my math is correct)

Heat water to 150. Hold for an hour. Starch test. Cool. Add beta glucanase (see above). Cool to 85ish. Pitch your favorite yeast (you could do worse that Distillamax GW from Lallemand). Wait. Distill.

I've never done this recipe and Im actually unsure about the beta glucanase. I know that unmalted barley has shittons of b-glucans but the malting process reduces it by some huge amount (90% ??). Not sure if this is the case for malted rye.

Regardless, this should get you started.

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I know it's probably a little antithetical given the audience here, but in my opinion the biggest source of info for beginners is the home distiller forum (homedistiller.org/forum).

All the old moonshiners hang out there, they have centuries of accumulated wisdom, almost all of it though trial and error. It makes for informative (and often entertaining) reading.

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