On the topic of a distillery, it is significant to get one thing out of the way. The difference between a distillery and a brewery. Those who are connoisseurs of certain types of alcohols would know the difference between these two, while others may get the two confused. Were here to settle this confusion.
A distillery is typically associated with hard alcohol. Spirits such as rum, gin, vodka and whiskey are usually created inside of one. However, a brewery almost always specializes in making different types of beers. All alcohol products vary in their recipes, for instance when it comes to making beer, there is a meticulous recipe involved that entails a mix of malted barley, and brewery yeast, which acts as catalysts in the brewing process, more about this can be found here
This is not to say it is a simple process, however in a distillery, for instance when making something as complex as whiskey, the process may be a lot more complicated and time-consuming. This is a fascinating process and many countries offer tours of these vicinities to show people how it’s done and what the outcome is, and if you’re lucky you can get a taste of it too.
A Few of the Many Things Involved In Creating Whiskey
Some would rather drink the alcohol, while others are more fascinated by what goes into its creation. This section appeals to the latter. For purpose of illustration, we look at Whiskey. There are a few different types, namely Scotch, American, Irish, and Japanese. Each with its unique flavors and ingredients: https://www.invaluable.com/blog/types-of-whiskey/ some contain barley, while others have corn in them.
When it comes to making it inside of a distillery, there are a few steps involved, which you may get to witness while in the process. We look at the simplified version of these steps below.
Malting. Often, some of the best quality whiskey incorporates an ingredient known as ‘barley’. This is steeped inside of water and once that is reached its peak, it is spread out across a germinating table to malt. Due to its naturally producing heat, it is turned upside down regularly to avoid the heat from building up. The tossing of this barley constantly mixes it with air and wooden shovels are usually used for this.
The process mixes with the oxygen from the air and the enzymes in the barley are activated and in turn, converted into starch and sugar once it is mashed together. The green malt is the name given to this once it has germinated, and this end product is placed inside of a kiln (heated device) and kept below 70 degrees so that those enzymes that were built up in the process, do not get damaged. Some kilns have a substance known as ‘peat’ in them, added to give a smokey flavor to the Whiskey.
When you partake in a distillery tour you get to see these kilns and also smell the aromas that come out of them. This leads us to the next step after the mashing is done.
Fermentation. This product is now cooled down and pumped back into other containers in which yeast is added – this starts the process of fermentation, much like when you bake bread and add yeast to the dough, to help it rise. The yeast is responsible for this process as it feeds off the sugars in the mashed barley. This is left for about 2 days, depending on the load, and once completed the result has about 8% alcohol in it.
The above is a very quick and simple explanation of the overall process, however, a lot more goes into it such as the pot stills, the spirit safe and the distillation itself as the last step of filling up the bottles. There are also items outside of this such as the product’s packaging and selling, but that can be left for another topic.
We are often taught in chemistry or biology class how to do this process, however as much as the procedure may be similar when it comes to creating it for human consumption, there is more than meets the eye. There are also very stringent rules and regulations surrounding the making of any type of alcohol, and not just Whiskey. At the end of the day, there is an art of blending the different ingredients that only a few companies know how to do, especially if you are looking for a well-refined taste.
Getting a tour of a distillery can be an exciting experience for anyone. Not to mention, getting to see the intricacies of how, what you see on store shelves and drink in the restaurants and pubs, is created from one grain of barley or malt. For those who are fascinated with knowing what goes into it, it is highly recommended. For the others, enjoying the drink itself, i.e. the end product is a pretty looking bottle is satisfaction enough!