Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Grain bills and instruction for all manner of alcoholic beverages.

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Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by okie » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:00 pm

I have only mashed all single malt before and never worked with corn.
I have a request to make a few batches of whiskey to be used in an experiment and it has to be as close as I can to what the majors do. So no sugar, etc. and no sour mash.
I can buy flaked corn that's easier to mash or should i get cracked corn? I am thinking of corn 70% Wheat 14% Barley 16%
Please let me know if you make whiskey this way, what to expect.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by bluefish_dist » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:13 pm

Use flaked corn. Much easier as you don't have to boil it. It's a little more $$, but unless you are set up to boil corn it is probably cheaper when you consider your time.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by okie » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:22 pm

bluefish_dist wrote:Use flaked corn. Much easier as you don't have to boil it. It's a little more $$, but unless you are set up to boil corn it is probably cheaper when you consider your time.
Thanks, that was what I was thinking. I do have a big pot and a great burner but the idea of standing there stirring hot corn wasn't working for me. I am guessing the taste will be the same.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by bluefish_dist » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:44 pm

I have done two bourbons now with flaked corn. Both good. I have talked to another distiller and he feels flaked corn has better taste.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by Mike6090 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:25 am

If you really want to get into all grain you owe it to yourself to invest in a mash tun. Take a 5 gal water cooler and replace the push button spigot with a ball valve. Now run a line inside the cooler and drill small holes in it or buy a grain false bottom to help the grain tea leach out of the mash. Add your corn, mix your enzyme with your 160 degree hot water and add it to the mash. Let the whole batch soak for 90 minutes. Open the valve and drain off your tea. Then sprinkle hot water on the grain (sparge it) to rinse the grain of remaining sugars. When you get to your target volume or the grain is spent of sugar (it dosen’t taste sweet) you are done.

You can buy these for $150 or build one for less than $50. Google search mash tun cooler.

They sure are easier than Standing at the stove for an hour.

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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by Pesty » Sun Mar 11, 2018 9:08 am

Mike6090 wrote:If you really want to get into all grain you owe it to yourself to invest in a mash tun. Take a 5 gal water cooler and replace the push button spigot with a ball valve. Now run a line inside the cooler and drill small holes in it or buy a grain false bottom to help the grain tea leach out of the mash. Add your corn, mix your enzyme with your 160 degree hot water and add it to the mash. Let the whole batch soak for 90 minutes. Open the valve and drain off your tea. Then sprinkle hot water on the grain (sparge it) to rinse the grain of remaining sugars. When you get to your target volume or the grain is spent of sugar (it dosen’t taste sweet) you are done.

You can buy these for $150 or build one for less than $50. Google search mash tun cooler.

They sure are easier than Standing at the stove for an hour.

Don’t work with corn very well as it packs up the holes of even the best false bottoms, drop in a few lbs of rice hulls and then it flows just right. Hook up a chugger pump to recirculate and set your grain bed, then drain and second water sparge.

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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by Twisted Brick » Sun Mar 11, 2018 9:28 am

Mashing grains with a hull is easy, while mashing corn is a whole 'nother beast (pain in the ass). To properly gelatinize corn it needs to see 190F - 205F. (Most here bring water to boil then mash in). High temp enzyme optimal temp is 180F. If you try 160F, you will suffer an unacceptable extraction rate. Also, do not expect corn to lauter. Properly gelled corn turns into a thick, viscous goop that even after enzymes are will clog a bazooka or false bottom right off the bat.

Do a HD search on straining corn mash, and see NCHooch's Carolina Bourbon in Tried and True for a rock solid recipe. Add adjuncts to taste.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by Pesty » Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:17 am

Twisted Brick wrote:Mashing grains with a hull is easy, while mashing corn is a whole 'nother beast (pain in the ass). To properly gelatinize corn it needs to see 190F - 205F..


The flaked corn is pre gelatinized so all that needs to be done is strike water added to your tun to preheat it then drop all your grain into the tun, stir and do your resting stages. Lauter and sparge with the rice hulls and it’s easy Peasy.

It’s the ungelatinized corn that turns to a mess in the cooking process that clogs everything.

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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by Wild Bill » Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:40 am

If you keep your flaked corn to about 60% or less and then used malted barley and wheat for the remainder of the grain bill there should be sufficient diatastic power to convert the starches in the corn without need for an enzym addittion. This is coming from a home brewer with little spirit experience but hundreds of beer mashes under my belt. Also if one is interested in a dedicated mash tun, the blichmann false bottoms are hard to beat as you have to work at sticking a mash.

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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by TDick » Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:21 pm

Mike6090 wrote:If you really want to get into all grain you owe it to yourself to invest in a mash tun. Take a 5 gal water cooler and replace the push button spigot with a ball valve. Now run a line inside the cooler and drill small holes in it or buy a grain false bottom to help the grain tea leach out of the mash. Add your corn, mix your enzyme with your 160 degree hot water and add it to the mash. Let the whole batch soak for 90 minutes. Open the valve and drain off your tea. Then sprinkle hot water on the grain (sparge it) to rinse the grain of remaining sugars. When you get to your target volume or the grain is spent of sugar (it dosen’t taste sweet) you are done.
They sure are easier than Standing at the stove for an hour.
Here's a noob's two cents worth:
A couple of problems:
There seems to be some things - ie Safety - that are set in stone.
Everything else is a personal choice to find the best practice for you.
As I wrote once, "I don't want choices dammit, I want ANSWERS!"
This forum has been around so long and there are so many expert "hobbyists" that it's hard to find that "Best Practice" to follow. You just have to dig.

Here is what I did, as I've detailed before in Jimbo's Wheated Bourbon/Gumball Recipe:
You don't have to use wheat for your mashbill, I prefer it to rye. And I liked using the Gumball to experiment instead of just chucking the "spent" grain out.
For the corn, I used cracked corn I ran in the blender to shake it up a bit more, then borrowed from PintOShines video "Mashing 100% Corn with Enzymes".

Don't have a BAP and Sherman's enzymes, so I added Alpha Amalyse to 3 gallons warm water, added 20# corn and used drill/paint stirrer to 190 degrees.
It stayed thin the whole time.
Poured it in 48 qt cooler/tun and added to the top with boiling water, leaving room for the other grains.
Let it steep overnight; it was still holding most of the heat.
Next day opened the cooler and let it cool to 155/68 and added 3# ground malted barley, then 7# ground malted wheat and when cooled, added bread yeast.
And per Jimbo, shut it up for 7 days
Jimbos Mash.jpg
then drained and sparged.
After that followed the recipe for the gumball.
It's definitely more involved than a sugar wash - I even malted my own wheat and barley.
But I wouldn't call it all that difficult.
Good luck!
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by raketemensch » Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:45 pm

I wouldn't do it without enzymes, and I wouldn't personally set up a mash tun either. SCD's "Easy Large Batch Mashing" thread is how I do AG now, and I love it. You have to dig into the thread a bit to find the method he uses with enzymes, but here's my version of it, which I just finished (again) today, which uses a 32-gallon Brute barrel:

1) Put 3 gallons water/backset in freezer
2) Boil 11 gallons water
3) Pour over 25lbs corn
4) Add 2tsp high-temp enzyme, stir, wrap
5) Boil 11 gallons water
6) Pour over next 25lbs corn
7) Add other 2tsp high-temp enzyme and stir
8) Wrap well and wait overnight
9) When it hits 150 the next morning, add 2tsp low-temp enzyme and stir
10) Wrap until temp is 135/140 (~3-5 hours?)
11) Dump in frozen water/backset
12) Hour later, at 90/100 degrees, pitch yeast

My main trick with this is that I have a 16-gallon stock pot with a heater element in it, so I can boil up an exact amount of water pretty quickly. It's made making AG incredibly easy, something I found way too time-consuming before. I have lately been adding 5lbs of rolled oats and 5lbs of 6-row and subtracting 10lbs of corn to make up for it, and am very happy about it.

That's all about method though -- if you're looking specifically for recipes, I'd recommend Jimbo's Wheated Bourbon or SCD's Honey Bear Bourbon.

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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by okie » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:24 pm

Mike6090 wrote:If you really want to get into all grain you owe it to yourself to invest in a mash tun. Take a 5 gal water cooler and replace the push button spigot with a ball valve. Now run a line inside the cooler and drill small holes in it or buy a grain false bottom to help the grain tea leach out of the mash. Add your corn, mix your enzyme with your 160 degree hot water and add it to the mash. Let the whole batch soak for 90 minutes. Open the valve and drain off your tea. Then sprinkle hot water on the grain (sparge it) to rinse the grain of remaining sugars. When you get to your target volume or the grain is spent of sugar (it dosen’t taste sweet) you are done.

You can buy these for $150 or build one for less than $50. Google search mash tun cooler.

They sure are easier than Standing at the stove for an hour.
I have been all grain for the last 8 years but only single malt. I own several mash tuns, a wart cooler, many fermenters, etc.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by okie » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:31 pm

I'm going to try it with flaked corn and do 12 gallons of mash. I always go 2 pounds of malt to a gallon of water. Does the flaked corn work with the same ratio?
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by Twisted Brick » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:51 pm

Pesty wrote:
Twisted Brick wrote:Mashing grains with a hull is easy, while mashing corn is a whole 'nother beast (pain in the ass). To properly gelatinize corn it needs to see 190F - 205F..


The flaked corn is pre gelatinized so all that needs to be done is strike water added to your tun to preheat it then drop all your grain into the tun, stir and do your resting stages. Lauter and sparge with the rice hulls and it’s easy Peasy.

It’s the ungelatinized corn that turns to a mess in the cooking process that clogs everything.
Absolutely correct. I didn't see Mike6090 refer to flaked corn in his recommendation and since Okie was new to corn, was hoping to ward off any confusion between the two.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by zapata » Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:05 pm

I found dedicated mash tuns much less useful for distilling than brewing. Part of that is scale, a 10-30 gallon mash simply holds it's temperature a lot better than >5 gal mash common in brewing. In addition distilller mashes are usually lower temperature and longer time than brewing anyway, and no harm from over mashing which could make a thin beer, but a fermentable wash. If you are going to wait hours for a mash to cool to pitching temps, do you really want it in an insulated tun where it will take even longer to cool down?
The other part is lautering is much less useful for anything other than single malts, and the vast majority will strain post fermentation (if at all), again other than malt whiskies.

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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by bluefish_dist » Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:05 pm

okie wrote:I'm going to try it with flaked corn and do 12 gallons of mash. I always go 2 pounds of malt to a gallon of water. Does the flaked corn work with the same ratio?
Yes. Close enough for your first run. Also add lots of rice hulls.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by Wild Bill » Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:39 pm

Mash tuns come in all sizes for brewing. Mine is 30 gallons and works beautifully for off grain stillin mashes. A good counterflow chiller will bring 25 gallons of mash down to pitching temp in 15 minutes. We just come from different perspectives.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by MichiganCornhusker » Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:57 pm

Wild Bill wrote:This is coming from a home (not corn) brewer with little (corn) spirit experience but hundreds of (not corn) beer mashes under my belt.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by Wild Bill » Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:34 pm

Rather than mocking my experience what do you take issue with in my post so we may all learn?
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by firewater69 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:42 am

My mash tun works great, my go to recipe is 15lbs cracked corn, 15 lbs malted barley and 5 lbs of crimped oats. I have one with a bazooka tube but it does clog, I made this one to have a large surface area and it worked out well.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by MichiganCornhusker » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:21 am

Sorry, Wild Bill, didn’t mean to mock, just that corn behaves completely different than other grains.
What works for barley, or even wheat and rye, may not work at all for a heavy corn mash.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by Wild Bill » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:40 am

MichiganCornhusker wrote:Sorry, Wild Bill, didn’t mean to mock, just that corn behaves completely different than other grains.
What works for barley, or even wheat and rye, may not work at all for a heavy corn mash.
No worries I am here to learn, but I have done many mashes with flaked corn up to 40% of the grain bill and successfully converted and sparged it with my mash tun. This with the help of a pound of rice hulls and no extra enzymes other than what was available in the malted 2 row barley. I may try a recipe with a high percentage of whole or cracked corn someday and understand a different aproach will be needed. For now my tastes are more towards single malts and spirits with lower percentages of corn in the bill. Cheers.
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by Twisted Brick » Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:01 pm

Twisted Brick wrote:
Pesty wrote:
Twisted Brick wrote:Mashing grains with a hull is easy, while mashing corn is a whole 'nother beast (pain in the ass). To properly gelatinize corn it needs to see 190F - 205F..


The flaked corn is pre gelatinized so all that needs to be done is strike water added to your tun to preheat it then drop all your grain into the tun, stir and do your resting stages. Lauter and sparge with the rice hulls and it’s easy Peasy.

It’s the ungelatinized corn that turns to a mess in the cooking process that clogs everything.
Absolutely correct. I didn't see Mike6090 refer to flaked corn in his recommendation and since Okie was new to corn, was hoping to ward off any confusion between the two.
I knew I had read somewhere about under-gelatinization of flaked grains. I wonder if it applies as much (or more) to corn as well as wheat. I would apply more heat/time just to be sure.
MichiganCornhusker wrote:
Jimbo wrote:Flaked is not yet fully gelatinized typically, just steamed enough to roll flat. Best to cook it.... next time try adding the flaked wheat right on the boiling water and let it steep cook stirring occasionally. It will be thick like porridge.
Btw, thank you to Jimbo for posting this on another thread earlier, it is what opened my eyes to the possible problem I had with the wheat... :thumbup:
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Re: Best AG Whiskey Grain Bill and Mashing Technique

Post by okie » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:51 am

I have completed two mashes with flaked corn at 65% malted grains 35% and here are my findings.
1. mixed all grains together and strike water temp was 160. 2 hours later the iodine test wasn't good, I added more hot water to bring up to 150.
the sg on this was 1.050 and the taste was lightly sweet.

2. corn only in mash tun and strike temp was 165. Let that stand until temp cooled to 155. It was so thick I had to add two more gallons of water to mix in malted grains.
Iodine test perfect. Taste sweet. sg close to 1.070
I used a brew in a bag the second time. easy clean up for sure. This is how I will mash from now on. I also added 6 Beano tablets which might of helped,
I do 6 gallon mashes, 2 each for a 12 gallon run. I have stainless tuns and wrap in a comforter. The temp loss in 2 hours is about 7 or 8 degrees.
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