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Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:46 am
by butterpants
Quick question that I made into a poll. Depending on my yeast pitch rate, I've found that I can control somewhat the production of fruity esters fermenting with US-05 in a bourbon wash. When I pitch close to a traditional beer/ale rate of 1 million cells/ml/degree plato and hold near 70F some significant esters are formed. On the otherhand when I repitch a 2nd generation yeast cake (way, way more yeast cells) and hold closer to 66F for two days then ramp up to 70F the fruityness is virtually undetectable. Neither method produced any traditional off flavors. The science of it revolves around yeast reproduction and how much they do but who wants to be bored with that?

So if you're running a pot still and making whiskey is it advantageous or detrimental to increase ester production? If it's bad should I be striving to eliminate it?

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:25 am
by der wo
My opinion is, that the commercial brands with their non-sterile production introduce all more or less unique combinations of esters.
Here a pic from Springbank distillery washbacks:
Experimenting with different yeasts or different amounts of is playing with toys compared to experimenting with bacterias.
We are able/have to use this much more than brewers, because:
1. The partially very bad smelling acids remain in the boiler or become good smelling esters.
2. Our product is sterilized.

My conclusion: Such yeast techniques from the brewers have only little effect on our product. We should use different/our own techniques.

Edit: So my vote is "good". But perhaps in a different way than the OP means.

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:19 am
by Single Malt Yinzer
My take on this: Esters are for aging. If you drink the newmake then I would go for less.

Esters in newmake can be off putting to some people. It can create a pretty funky flavor profile. Age that for a while and let them oxygenate and you'll have a very good smooth spirit. I think that's one of the issues with home stuff - we have a hard time balancing oaking, oxydation and time. With oxygen impregnable containers you lose that aspect of the aging process. With smaller oak barrels you can over oak before you get a lot of oxidation. With Bad Motivator's hybrid barrel it gives you the ability to slow down the oaking aspect while still letting in oxygen. If you look at the Scotch guys they create incredibly high ester profiles. Then they use second or third fill barrels to minimize oaking while the esters oxidize over the years. And as Der Wo said, they lets all sorts of funky junk get in there to create a unique flavor profile for their specific distillery. No two distillery's funk is the same.

I under pitch on purpose to help create esters. My newmake is good but not as clean as I other people's I've tasted. Give it a few months and you'll find that the funkier stuff has more character and more fun to drink neat.

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:03 pm
by bitter
I can say for sure that if you compare an Irish Ale yeast to say a us05 for a scotch or irish whisky experience has told me you get a more interesting whiskey with the esters from the Irish ale yeast like Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale/ White Labs WLP-004 Irish Ale when tasting the wort. But post distillation, was much less difference at least when young... But it did make cuts trickier and a little narrower than US05 or S04


Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:32 pm
by butterpants
Good talk guys.

I plan on ageing virtually everything I make and plan to drink 3 to 6 months. If my sour beer can sit 2 years and Russian Imperial Stouts a year well a few months for better hooch is fine by me.

My worry with bacteria and "alternative" microorganisms is finding off flavor compounds, whatever they may be that have very similar boiling points to ethanol, for instance Diacetyl, which just seems super difficult to get out of a potstilled drink. Some may say a little butterscotch makes things complex but the BJCP has taught me to revile Diacetyl odors and I'm uber sensitive to it as well. I've discovered it at my threshold in a few Makers Mark products that I can no longer drink.

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:42 am
by der wo
generally a bad smelling beer will often give a good smelling distillate. An infected mash or infected backset is normally smelling bad, but the higher concentration of abv leads to sudden and fast esterification. It really feels like magic when pouring infected backset into low wines how the bad vomit and cheese smell disappears and the fruit smell grows within seconds or minutes.
Diacetyl is perhaps the wrong example for this. I think more about lactic acid, butyric acid, acetic acid, propionic acid...
Up to now I found it always easy to get those or some of those without other off-flavors. Except sulphur, vegetable and meat aromas (DMTS, SO²). But those are removable with copper.

Semi off topic: Do you know the Hampden Gold rum? It's known to be a "high-ester rum". It's a cheap product, the nice color is probably 90% caramel coloring and only 10% barrel, it's a bit sweetened, I found it has some off flavors (strange phenolic flavors I know from topinambur spirits), but the fruit symphony is really amazing. If someone wants to know what we are talking about and is searching for a commercial product with infection flavors, this is a cheap way.
Edit: ... --jamaica/" onclick=";return false;" rel="nofollow
their wash after one week fermentation and one week infection:
their dunder pit:
I think it's impressive clear to see, that for such flavors much more is needed than brewers would ever dare.

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 3:04 am
by butterpants
I'd be afraid to take a dump in there...couldn't imagine using it in product...but I guess they know what they're doing! Wife will not stand for a backyard dunder pit :(

I have not seen Hampden Gold but I'll keep an eye out for it.

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 4:17 am
by Saltbush Bill
OHHHHH YEAH! I do like that link der wo...reminds me of how I clean my rum ferment drums :D ... ious-photo" onclick=";return false;" rel="nofollow

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 4:30 am
by der wo
Rule Nr.1:
NEVER clean your rum ferment drums. :lol:

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 2:56 am
by der wo
8 Good, no other votes. Boring results. Do we have communism here?!?
:esurprised: Ugh, yuk, esters :sick: :thumbdown:

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 2:52 pm
by Corsaire
I think a lot of people find the subject... offputting, and therefore choose not to read all this infection stuff.
I'm more than wiling to have a go at this, but can't share any results (and therefore opinions)... yet :)

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:28 am
by Johnnywhiskey
der wo wrote:8 Good, no other votes. Boring results. Do we have communism here?!?
:esurprised: Ugh, yuk, esters :sick: :thumbdown:
There needs to be another choice in the poll "It Depends". It's like hops in beer or peatyness in Whiskey, it depends on what your goal is in making the whisky. Too much esters can be offputting--esters are one of the byproducts we are removing with the cuts, right? Very high ester rum is almost undrinkable by itself and was meant to be blended. But most whiskey drinkers say the right amount of esters adds to the complexity, but tastes vary.

That said the more I distill, the more I have been moving toward estery yeasts, us04, Belgian strains and hefeweisen yeast. It gives you one more flavor element to work with. I also do mostly American-style whiskey, so any ester flavors have to be pretty strong compete with the charred oak.


Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Mon Aug 21, 2017 1:56 pm
by Shine0n
My vote is yes for high esters, as mentioned they can be blended to a more common distillate to enhance or compliment it's original recipe.

I've not tried it on a bourbon YET but my rum has a more interesting profile, I'm working on 4 pits with different infections and will blend all when finished to barrel age (5gal) And keep the rest white and blend as well.

So far my potatoes infection has a nice clean but yet bold profile and while rum up front, it has a bit of pineapple after taste, very subtle but there, perhaps I hadn't let it funk enough to carry strong.

My barley malt (lacto) dunder, once distilled had a very nice sweet sour flavor, mixed with buttery molasses.

I'm more interested in using infected backset to mix with low wines to achieve my character of my bourbons not using yeast to peoduce them.


Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:02 am
by Brian Boru
If you put a yogurt or cheese culture into a barley wort along with yeast, I've heard you can get nice flavors. I'm trying it soon and will let you know.

Re: Esters in whiskey mash....good/bad/indifferent??

Posted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 2:33 pm
by kiwi Bruce
My vote is also yes for high esters, along with everyone else it would appear!