Jack experiments again ...
    A friend of mine wanted me to try and make for him a traditional Korean spirit. I'm not sure how traditional this is, but, judging by the info on ancient Chinese distillation techniques, this stuff would be considered a high quality drink.
    • Go to an asian food store and look in the fridge section for something called Koji (it's a mold culture used to make soy paste, sake, etc), it typically comes in a plastic, 20oz container (round, taller rather than wider- I used Cold Mountain brand rice koji).
    • Soak an equal VOLUME of short grain rice in enough water to cover it overnight (just dump the koji into a bowl and use the container to get an equal volume of rice/koji), then, steam the rice for 45minutes. After steaming, add 20fl.oz. of cold water and 1.25teaspoons of Morton Salt Substitute (no other brand is allowed- this is the only stuff with the right chemical composition)
        (The salt substitute is a mix of potassium chloride, fumaric acid, tri- and mono- calcium phosphate. It's not essential to the brewing proccess (I've made 2 batches, one with one without- I couldn't tell the difference) as far as I can see, but the book on sake brewing I have reccomends it. If you can't find it- don't worry, for this recipe it's not critical. It's more of a requirement for plain sake brewing, though. I guess it acts like a micronutrient source for the yeast and the koji. The sake book also adds a little winemaker's yeast nutrient, but I ran out while trying out the recipe- it didn't harm it any.)
    • Stir the rice/water until there are no clumps of grain, then add the koji.
    • Cover and let it sit for 2 days, then add a wine yeast (I used lalvin k1v-1116).
    • Allow to ferment at LAGER temperature (50F) until the rice settles down to the bottom of the fermentor.
    • Distill this sour smelling sake twice in a potstill- that's it- a traditional korean folk liquor.
    If you use sorghum instead of rice, you get a drink highly prized in China called Mao-Tai. I personally hate sake ( I thought tequila hangovers were bad!),but this distilled product is pretty good- It has a buttery, grainy smell/flavor that is really quite good (the sorghum version has the same taste but with an underlying soy flavor- my personal favorite). Forget all the sake you have tried- this stuff has none of the sourness of the mash. It is, in fact, not sweet, but almost malty in texture (like a thick beer-despite being out of a still), and is definitely the strangest batch that you can bring to any homebrew tasting. Something grand from those who brought you Kimchi!!
Wal writes ...
    Japanese rice wine or 'Sake' is distilled to make the spirit 'Shochu' ('Soju' in Korean). Koji mold (Aspergilus ssp.) is traditionally used to make the mash, but enzymes (amylase) and citric acid are also being used currently to make shochu. This could be copied by homedistillers. See:
    'Sake World' http://www.sake-world.com Click on 'How Sake is Made'
    'Ingredients of Japanese Sake' http://www.media-akita.or.jp/akita-sake/materialE.html
    'The Chemistry of Sake Brewing' http://brewery.org/library/sake/techpa15.htm Click on 'Top' to go to the Index
    'Production of Shochu Spirit from Crushed Rice by Non-Cooking Fermentation' http://ss.jircas.affrc.go.jp/engpage/jarq/33-1/nishimura/nishimura.html

    A Japanese experiment by Kenryo Nishimura and others proved that it is not necessary to cook (to gelatinize) or convert (malting) milled grain prior to fermentation. Milling, soaking, adding enzymes and citric acid is sufficient - "....the product obtained by the non-cooking fermentation method was superior to that obtained by the cooking fermentation method in terms of both aroma and flavor components." The product referred to is 'shochu', a Japanese distilled spirit from rice. The non-cooking fermentation did take only one day longer than the cooking method due to the initial concentration of glucose in the cooking method. The method eliminates the messy cooking part of using grain and should encourage more to try grain-based washes. Here is a suggested quick moonshine mash for 5 US gals or 20 litres:

    Quick Moonshine
    5 kg (10 lb) crushed grain (grits)
    2 and 1/2 kg (5 lb) sugar
    20 L (5 US gals) water
    2 tbsp acid (2 g acid/litre)- a pH 4-5 is required.
    2 tsp amylase enzymes (alpha-, beta-, gluco-) or 750 g (1 and 1/2 lb)
    crushed malted barley grain (15% by weight)
    Suitable ale yeast
    Yeast nutrient (D.A.P.)
    This should produce about 10-12%abv.
    No pre-soaking of the crushed grain is required as there is sufficient sugars for the yeast to begin the fermentation process while the grain soaks.
Steve explains about Koji ...
    Kojiis a type of mould similar to that which turns bread green and furry. Scientific name: Aspergillus oryzae. It breaks down starch with an enzyme called amylase, the same one as in saliva and malted grains (the very same enzymes we activate when we mash malted barley, wheat etc to produce wort.)

    Koji comes in two forms. First is koji kin, in other words, seed koji. This is generally in the form of rice grains on which the mould has been allowed to run rampant and go to spore and then dried. This is now the inoculum.

    The second form is what is more commonly referred to as simply koji, but to distinguish it from koji kin is referred to as kome koji (kome means rice in Japanese--it is pronounced as two syllables, the "o" should be as in of, and the "e" as in egg.) So this koji is steamed and cooled rice that has been inocculated with some koji kin and then incubated at 30 to 35 degrees for a few days. The mould hyphae grow right through the rice. You need to stir it every 6 to 12 hours and stop it by bunging it in the fridge if it starts to go yellowy green--that means it is trying to form spore. In Japan, it is possible to pop down to the local supermarket and buy koji in this form fromm the cool-goods section as it is used for making miso paste and a few other food-related things.

    In sake making, it is this kome koji that is mixed together with a larger quantity of steamed rice, some water and yeast to get the fermentation underway. At coolish temperatures (10-15 deg) the koji chugs away making amylase, the amylase converts the rice starch to sugar, and the yeast does what yeast does best. And yadda yadda yadda, eventually you get sake.

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