Originally By Tony Ackland
Basic Whiskey RecipeSo a "no frills" whiskey recipe might go as ...
Update ! ... Just tried out something new- if you add 3 tablets (dissolved in a little water) of Beano- (it's found in the pharmacy- it's an enzyme that breaks down long chain starches into short chain sugars to help with gas problems) to the malt whisky mash recipe - it'll increase alcohol yields a little (like 2-3%) as well as make the stuff less likely to foam in the still- also, if you have a twin element still, let it heat up on the lower setting to slow down the heat up time and prevent foaming even more ( I even add a half teaspoon of mineral oil to break up the foaming - it's a lot of work to keep malt syrup mashes from foaming in a still) A variable power setting would also be helpfull.
Jack describes his new recipe ...
Here is the new twist- Pour the mash into a sanitized glass carboy, sit it in the bathtub and surround it with cold water. Let it sit until ALL of the trub (the white, brain like sludge that settles out to the bottom) has finally settled out. Once the trub has ALL settled out (it must be perfect- the wort must be sparkling clear)- this can take about 4 hours, THEN siphon off the PERECTLY CLEAR wort into another fermenter (I use the stainless steel pot I boiled it in), and add your yeast and Beano.
Once fermented and cleared (about two weeks), freeze concentrate, then potstill it using the "making the cut" numbers from the corn whiskey book.
This is the BEST whiskey I have EVER HAD (my wife's family goes to Scotland to get their stuff- this is better!). Not only is it smooth from the tight middle cut, but the long boil and PERFECT trub separation (I boiled 5 gallons, I only fermented about 3- I didn't let ANY trub carry over into the fermenter. Like I said it must be perfect separation) will give you a whiseky malt flavor that is so clean and clear, the spirit's finish actually tastes like you are chewing on a grain of 2-row- It is the most amazing, soft, grainy finish (without being harsh) that you will ever try. The long boil, and the perfect separation from the sediment is what does it. Give it a try- you will never go back to malt syrup whiskey again.
Rev. Cunninghams Family Recipe American Whiskey
Place the corn into a blender and process it until it is pulp-like. Pour the corn pulp, zest of the 3 oranges, and peppercorns into a nylon straining bag (tie the top) and place into the primary fermenter. Boil the one gallon of water and put it into the fermenter with all of the other ingredients EXCEPT THE YEAST. Stir, cover, and let sit for 24 hours. After the 24 hour wait, stir in the yeast. Stir daily for 3 days. After 2 weeks, strain the juice from the bag and rack the wine into a secondary fermenter. After about 4 weeks (making sure the wine has fermented out all of the sugar and cleared) distill.When distilling, be careful that you have fermented out all of the sugar, because if too much sugar is left, it may caramelize while distilling.
Note that 1 quarter = 2 stone = 12.7 kg, and 1 barrel = 42 gallon = 160 L, along with the usual 1 lb = 0.45 kg.
Grind all of the grain in whatever mill you have (most homebrew shops have these on site) and get 2 quarts of water per pound of grain ready by adding 2 teaspoons of gypsum per 5 gallons and then adjusting the ph with citric acid to about 5.8 (for the best results, measure out all the water you need 2 days ahead of time and bring it to a rolling boil for 25 minutes, let it cool with the lid of the pot on. This will drive off any chlorine, as well as produce a white powdery precipitate on the bottom of the kettle- this is the remains of temporary "carbonate" hardness in the water and is not good-pour off the water and leave this stuff behind. after it's cool treat it as above). The cheap pH strips at the homebrew shop will tell you when you've reached the right pH.
Heat the water about 165 to 170F, then slowly (with stirring) add in the grain. The grain should cool the water down to about 152F. Using either an insulated picnic cooler, or your stovetop, try and hold this temp for 90 minutes. NEVER let it go above 160F or you'll kill off the enzymes.
After 90minutes is up, most brewers involve themselves in the frustrating idiocy that is called "sparging"- this is where you slowly sprinkle water over the grain (now in a container with a screen covered outlet at the bottom) to rinse the sugar off of the grain- It normally takes a good hour to do this right, and those using a lot of corn or rye, it won't work- these grains stick together and won't allow the water through. Instead, after the 90 minutes is up, since you haven't stirred it, the mash will have separated into a top clear layer, and the grain will be on the bottom. Using a measuring cup, scoop out the clear liquid into another kettle (don't disturb the sediment), until there is no more clear layer to scoop off. Measure how much water was taken out- take some more water (treated as above) and bring it to 160F or so and add that back to the grain bed.
Let it settle for about 30 minutes, and scoop off the clear layer again. Add more preheated (and ph adjusted) water to repplace what you took off, and let it sit for another half hour. This time, when you scoop off the clear layer, gather up the grain in a fine mesh bag, and squeeze out all the water you can.
Taste the grain after doing this, if it is still sweet, you may want to soak it in more water.
Combine the batches of clear mash and boil them (to sterilize them) for about 15 minutes.
This is known as "no-sparge" brewing and is said to make the best malt flavored beers. For those of you with a spigot on a bucket (or kettle), just open it up and let whatever water that will run off by itself do so. As long as no husk material is in the "Freerun wort" there is no need to recirculate it. I found this method listed in an 1800's distilling book, and have found it usefull because when making grain mashes with lots of flaked grains (or alot of wheat), my sparging runoff always got stopped up. Because you can't boil a mash with a lot of grain in it (the husk causes off flavors), just mashing the grain and cooling it to ferment it would always give me a contaminated batch with some really nasty flavors.
It usually distills off about 90%
We dilute down to 45%alc then keg with about 300 of 3/4 by 3/4 charred oak blocks per 16 gals
We use 12#s of honey and about 2 dozen black peppercorns also
Let sit-- or charcoal filter--- really smooth.
I've also been working on a "cheap scotch" method. In 2.5 gallons of water, steep five pounds of peated malt (homebrew shop) for an hour at 155F. Once done, filter out the grain (rinse the grain with another gallon of water at the same temp), and bring the water to a boil- add ten pounds of sugar, ferment with an ale yeast, then either double distill it in a potstill and mix with some polished sugar spirit, or make the cut in a reflux still like with corn whiskey (I haven't tried the reflux still method but the blended potstill batch was declared "a fine batch of peatreek" by a visiting Scot- appearantly, peatreek is another word for "moonshine").Give it a try.
Allgrain method - (I'll assume you can brew your own all grain batches)- start with a mix of 10 to 15 pounds of common 2-row malted barley, and mix in anywhere from 0 to 5 pounds of peated malt (both commonly found in homebrew stores) into the 2-row. grind the grain in a mill, then mash the grain at about 150F for 90 minutes, using 2 quarts of water per pound of grain. After 90 minutes is up, draw off some clear liquid, and add a drop of iodine tincture, if it turns purple, there is still starch in the mix- mash another hour at 150F. If there is no change, sparge (rinse) the grain slowly (maybe 30 minutes) with water heated to 170F. Continue until 6 gallons has been collected. Bring this to a boil for 5 minutes, then cool it by using either a wort chiller or a bath of ice water (don't add ice to the mash). Once cool, add your yeast (a dry ale yeast works best)- this should come out to about 7 to 11%abv once it's finished fermenting. Adding some Beano (an anti-gas enzyme sold in the US) is also a good idea- it will break up more complex starches and turn them into fermentable sugars- jaust add it with the yeast.
The easy way of making Scotch is to go to the homebrew shop and buy 3.75 pounds of peated malt and Steep it for a half an hour in 3.75 gallons of water at 155F. After steeping (nylon stockings work well as a giant "tea bag" for the grain), remove the grain, pour another gallon of hot water over it (no hotter than 170F) to rinse out any more flavor. Bring the 4.75 gallons of water to a boil, take it off the heat source (this is done to prevent scorching the extract), and dissolve 12 pounds of pale malt extract (UNHOPPED!!) in the water. After the malt syrup is dissolved, cool the mash. After it's cool add your yeast (and Beano). I asked about why the rinsing water had to be at exactly the right temperature, and Jack replied .. You never allow the water to go above 170F because it will leach tannins out of the grain husk (it'll end up so astringent that it tastes like straw). In this "steeping" procedure, your not really converting any starches, just leaching out flavors from the grains, but you must stay below 170 or you leach out some really nasty flavors. 155F is the perfect temp. This is the same technique used to add "specialty grains" to homebrewed beer made with malt extract. I just found it worked well to put the smoky flavor into malt whisky as well.
Once the mash is fermented, load it into a potstill (making a heavier Scotch from the start is best- if it's too strong you can blend in some polished neutral spirit later on). If you have done a 5- gallon batch, distill the mash until you collect 1.6 gallons of "low wines" (it will be anywhere from 17 to 30%abv). After the batch has been "reduced" it can be stored with no danger (not flamable- can't spoil, etc)- but it must not be ingested (it will likely be cloudy- this is the heavy alcohols we'll get rid of them next). Take the 1.6 gallons of "low wines" and put it back in your potstill, distill until you collect 0.4 gallons of Scotch. On this second run- discard the first 100 ml of spirit that comes out as "heads"- throw them out. The 0.4 gallons you collect is to be checked to see what strength (about 70%abv) it is, water it down to about 60% and age it on some toasted American oak (heavy toast- used if you can find it) age it in the bottle at about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of oak per 750ml of spirit. Every month, add a little water as it ages. one month at 60%, one at 50%, and the final at 40%, will extract both vanillins and sugars from the wood, and be very smooth for it's age. This is a wastefull, low yield method- but it produces the smoothest spirit (close to Glenmorangie). A splash of port or sherry (1.5ml per bottle) is also a nice touch. The potstill should be on a burner- it should not be an element- run still. Too much of a chance of scorching the whisky. If you have an element run reflux still, procede as above, then freeze the fermented mash in plasic jugs, then let the spirit thaw and drip into a collection container- collecting 1/2 of the 5 gallons (leaving the rest as ice in the plastic jug). Put this "freeze concetrated" mash in your reflux still, add an equal amount of water, and distill it. The freezing concentrates the alcohol/flavor, and the watering of the mash prevents foaming and burning on the heating element of the still. This makes a lighter, but just as good spirit- collect the 100ml of heads, then run as per a normal reflux still, and age the spirit as above.
Along with being short on time I'm cheap. I boil 4 gal of tap water. Mine is well water so it is acidy and has calcium in it already. When the water is boiling I put it into a 6 gal. bucket that is insulated. I then pour in the 10 lb mix of grain. I stir it with a portable drill with a 5 gal paint stirrer attached. I keep a cap on the bucket to keep the heat in. Every 10 min or so I stir the heck out of it. Helps break up the corn and gelatinize it also aerates the oxygen free boiled water. When the temp hits 150 I throw in 2 lbs of cracked malted barley. I stir this with the drill, keep it covered and insulated and stir every 10 min or so. Hopefully the temp doesn't go down more then a few degrees. If it does I throw what I can into a pot (4+ gals) and bring the temp up to and hold it at 149 give or take for the remaining time. I then throw it all back into the 6 gal bucket take the insulation off and top off with ice- cold back slop. When temp hits 118 I check the SG. (12 to 14) There is usually 2-3 inches of clear yellow liquid on top.
I take 2 cups of liquid put into a bowl add some water and pitch 1/3 cup of bakers yeast. Let it foam up good then toss it in and stir. I have made 2 side by side batches one with bakers and one with distiller yeast and you can not tell the difference IMO. With insulation back on bucket ferment for 3 day or less. (When airlock bubbling slows down.)
I have a 2 bucket system I use to separate the grain from liquid. A 6 gal bucket with a tap on the bottom and a 5 gal bucket that fits into the other. I cut 2/3 of the bottom out of the 5 gal and have a fine mesh nylon bag that fits over the top. I tie wrap the bag around the lip of the bucket so the bag doesn't slip with the weight of the grain. I let the whole thing drain over night. (I collect almost 4 gals of liquid not bad) By this time any yeast sediment has settled to bottom of the 6 gal bucket. I open the tap and slowly drain off the liquid so I don't disturb any sediment. I liquid is see-thru clear.
I then throw into a pot still distill 2x and add distill water to taste. Oak it with toasted oak or if I want it quicker JD chips and a dried apricot (2 weeks) in a mason jar. I think that's everything. Cost about 5 bucks for 6 quart of fine bourbon.
I have brewed nearly 100 all grain beer batches and 4 all grain batches for distillation so I have a bit of experience with both. If you plan on an all barley malt brew, it's very simple. If using a high percentage of adjuncts like corn, it gets just a bit more complicated, but still easier than beer brewing.
Most of the equipment you will need, you probably already have - except, perhaps, for a copper immersion chiller and a sturdy wooden paddle for stirring a thick mash.
Here is my recipe and procedure for all-grain bourbon:
Grain Bill (Scale down as necessary for your equipment)
25 pounds cracked corn
5 pounds rye flour
17 pounds crushed 6-row malted barley
32-gallon Rubbermaid trash barrel (fermenter)
20-gallon stockpot mash tun (doubles as my boiler)
Outdoor propane cooker
For the mash-in I use all the corn, all the rye and 8 of the 17 pounds of barley malt for a total of 38 pounds of grain. You want about 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain in the mash-in, so that rounds off to about 12 gallons of water
Pre-heat 12 gallons of water to 162F. This is a little over 1.25 quarts per gallon. You can expect roughly a 13 degree F drop in temp when the grain is added to the water. It is better to undershoot than to overshoot since it is easier to heat up than to cool down the mash. The target mash-in temp is 149F. You can slowly add heat if you undershoot. If you overshoot by a degree or two, don't worry about it. If you overshoot by a lot, you will quickly have to add more cold water to drop the temp before the amylase enzymes become denatured from the heat. (We are shooting for high fermentability in our mash)
Be sure to stir the mash thoroughly with the paddle. 38 pounds of grain in 12 gallons is THICK, so the sturdy paddle is a necessity! You want to make sure all the grain is moist, that there are no pockets or clumps of flour and that the temperature gradient is the same top to bottom of your mash tun and center to edge as well. Eventually we are going to boil this mash to gelatinize all the cracked corn, but if we don't do at least a partial starch conversion first, it will set up so think and gummy it will be impossible to stir! (Trust me on this - it happened to me!) I like to let the mash sit about an hour at this point. With the thermal mass of this size mash, the temp drop is only about 5 degrees in that period of time and most of the readily available starch converts. If you scale down the recipe, you may need to occasionally add heat to maintain the temp in the 148-149F range. We want full fermentation in order to maximize the amount of alcohol produced so we want to hold 148-149F as much as possible. Going higher than this will cause un- fermentable dextrines in the mash. This is good for beer, but bad for bourbon!
After an hour, light the burner and slowly raise the temp while stirring constantly. Grain scorching is not a problem unless you forget to stir every few minutes. We want to bring the mash slowly to a full rolling boil. The water loss due to steam is about a gallon an hour. Boil the mash for about 30 minutes to an hour to gelatinize the corn and release additional starch into the mash. Don't forget to stir constantly! The mash will start to get real gooey! Use the blade of the paddle to continually scrape the bottom to keep the grain from sticking! At the end of that time, add cold water to make up the volume lost to steam, (one quart per 15 minutes of boil time) and add an additional 12 quarts of water for the 9 pounds of malted 6-row barley to be used shortly.
Monitor the temp closely. At this point, you will want to rapidly lower the temperature of the mash to 152F. Do this by using the immersion chiller. Keep stirring as you chill to assure an even temp gradient.
Once 152 F is achieved, remove the chiller and add the remaining 9 pounds of 6-row malted barley. Once again, stir thoroughly! The temp should fall to the 148-149F range when you add the barley malt. If it drops below 148F, then slowly bump up the temp by adding heat and stirring. I usually let the mash rest at this temp for at least 90 minutes. The previous boil will have released a lot of additional starch into the mash and you want to achieve as much starch conversion as possible. Only occasional stirring is necessary at this point. In between stirs, you will start to notice clear syrupy wort forming on the top of the mash.
After 90 minutes, you will have achieved about as much starch conversion as you are going to get. Don't worry if you don't have full conversion. Starch haze is a defect in beer, but no starch haze will come over in your distillate. You are never going to achieve 100% conversion of all available starch. I feel like if I can get 28- 30 points per pound per gallon in my mash that I'm doing pretty well. Milling the cracked corn even further before the mash would probably release more starch, but that's an additional step, requires a mill set up for milling corn, and is something not worth hassling with - particularly since corn is like $6.00 per 50 pound sack! Grain is cheap, time is expensive!
After the 90 minute conversion rest, again use the immersion chiller and chill the mash down to yeast pitching temp. I use a 2 quart pitcher to ladle the mash into my 8 gallon stock pot and empty the stock pot into my fermenter 4 gallons at a time (I ain't into lifting anything heavier than 4 gallons!) Be sure to splash and aerate the mash thoroughly as you dump it into the fermenter! After all the mash has been transferred, I usually top off with a bit more water to bring the gravity of the wort down a bit. I feel like wort in the 1.050 range seems to bring more of the grain flavor across into the distillate than higher gravity wort, but that may just be my imagination. It's up to you whether or not to do the dilution.
The wort chiller is made from 50 feet of 5/8" OD soft copper tubing. This is the same OD as 1/2" rigid copper pipe so the same fittings will work on both. I've used chillers made from smaller tubing, but between the greater surface area and the increased throughput volume, this chiller is far more efficient.
My chiller was formed by winding and gently bending the tubing around around a co2 tank. It comes coiled up already from the hardware store so really the only thing required is to tighten the coils a tad and provide verticle elevation to each sucessive coil. There are 15 coils on my chiller and each coil is about 12 inches in diameter. The completed chiller stands about 12 inches high. Stainless hoseclamps hold clear vinyl tubing to both ends of the chiller. The input end has a hose fitting so a standard garden hose can screw into it. The output is just a plain vinyl tube which I use to feed the hot water coming out into my swimming pool. That saves water and helps warm the pool at the same. time. Since the surface of the mash is the hottest part of the mash, the chiller works most efficiently by feeding the cold water into the top coil since the greatest delta T and hence greatest cooling happens there. The output end comes up from the bottom of the coil (inside the loops) and exits out the top.
It's a really simple, quick and dirty gadjet to build and it's well worth the effort if you contemplate all-grain brewing. I even use it to chill a sugar wash down to pitching temps - so it's useful even without doing all-grain worts.
My mash tun/boiler is wide enough that I can use my little paddle to stir both inside and outside the coils of the chiller. Stirring really speeds the chilling process. Back in the days when I was brewing lager beers, I would use my RIMS pump to recirculate a 10 gallon GOTT cooler full of ice water through the chiller. I could take 10 gallons of wort from mashout temps of 170F down to 55F in about 15 minutes.
I don't mess with an air lock; I just put the lid on the garbage can fermenter. It outgases so much co2 that the chance of anything getting in is nil. Besides, the fermentation is so rapid that the wild yeasts and bacteria never get a foothold. If the average ambient temp over 24 hours is going to be less than 70F, I use an aquarium heater immersed in the fermenter to maintain 70F minimum. Within 24 hours, there will be a cap of grain husks covering the top of the liquid in the fermenter. Within a week, (sooner if you've use a turbo yeast) the cap will drop back into the wash. The wash will taste dry and a bit bitter at this point. It will be a neat looking light golden color. It's ready to run.
I use a stillmaker type fractionating still for my run. I don't do anything like removing packing to de-tune the still, but I run it HARD to minimize reflux for this type of run and I seem to achieve pot still type results. By running hard, I'm talking about running nearly 5 quarts an hour - about like I would do a stripping run.
I discard about the first 100 ml of heads, then start collecting. I collect in half-quart increments and label them with a marker as they come off. I use taste, smell and visual inspection of a sample of each collection jar mixed with water to determine when I have started collecting tails. Tails get added to the wash for the next run in the series.
I should note that typically, I wind up with about 30 gallons of wash after topping up my fermenter which I run in 3 ten gallon increments. 10 gallons half fills my boiler which is critical since I distill "on the grains" meaning that a good deal of grain remnants are scooped up in the process of charging my boiler. There is a real risk of a clogged column when distilling on grains and I had a narrow escape from disaster once when this happened to me! Since then, I never fill my boiler more than half full when distilling on grains to allow sufficient headspace so as to avoid clogging the column with spent grains.
I usually time my distillation day to coincide with mash day. I can get two separate mashes out of a 50 pound sack of corn using my recipe, so I repeat the mash process the day I do the run-off of the previous mash. Accordingly, I leave a goodly quantity of spent grains in my fermenter and add the new mash on top of them. Doing this, I avoid having to pitch new yeast and maintain good flavor continuity from batch to batch.
Another trick to flavor continuity is called "slopping back", and I use this as well. After my last run, I save 5 or 6 gallons of the spent liquor remaining in the boiler and use this as a portion of my initial mash-in water for the next mash. This assures ideal ph for the new mash, provides good flavor continuity, and eliminates what would otherwise be a disposal issue.
Once I have determined which of the jars collected are going into my final mix, I blend them together and take a spirit hydrometer reading. Usually I find that my taste, smell, visual examination of the distillate assures that my final mix will be in the 62-63% alcohol range - which is ideal for aging. If it is higher than this, I add bottled spring water to dilute it down to 125 proof for aging.
It takes at least 4 runs to accumulate enough 125 proof bourbon to fill a 5 gallon oak barrel. Consequently, while waiting to accumulate enough to use in my 5 gallon aging barrel, I have been keeping the hooch in a 5 gallon stainless soda keg. I have a lot of white oak lumber available and after heavily charring some chunks and slivers with a torch, I add the scrap oak to the soda keg to give it a head start on aging. The bourbon develops a nice golden color and begins to pick up a nice oaky taste after just a few weeks. I sneak a soup ladle full on occasion, water it down to 80 proof and enjoy a mighty fine tasting bourbon that continues to improve with age. The only problem is, at this rate it's gonna take me more than 4 batches to accumulate enough reserve to fill my barrel and have enough on hand to top off the angel's share when necessary.