I am excelling myself, only 5 months between Newsletters this time, still I am sure you don't want me to fill these newsletters with rubbish and would prefer to wait until I have something worthwhile to write. Whisky
For those who have read all our Newsletters to date you may be getting confused with all the changes and additions to the recipe since our first effort in May 97. This month just to confuse things further we have a new product. Country Squire Smoke essence has been released it gives a lovely smoky, peaty smell and taste to Whisky's and Bourbon's it also has the added benefit of being great for adding a barbecue flavour to food. Our updated recipe is:
To 1 litre of 40% spirit add (for New Zealanders 1.125 is fine)
3 teaspoon of Plain Oak
1 teaspoon of Toasted Oak
Leave for as long as you can stand it but a minimum of 6 weeks.
Filter the Oak out and add 5 ml of Country Squire Whisky and 2 drops of Country Squire Smoke essence. If you are leaving the Whisky for more than 12 months double the recipe except for the Smoke essence but add all the ingredients from the beginning. The reason we do that is, in filtering out the oak you do filter out some of the flavour and also it takes about a year for all the flavours to come together properly. Adding all that oak for only a short time just gives you an all wood flavour without the mellow whisky flavours coming through.Wine
I am constantly asked questions by people about the importance of carbons and what they do, so here is an explanation of what they do and to the best of my understanding how they do it. I believe that even the Chemists are not totally sure about what is taking place so I won't try to get too far into murky territory and will confine myself to what we know from our own observations as well as what the experts tell us. Carbons have two purposes, the first is to remove any fusel oils that may have come through as the result of high temperature distillation. With a pot still it is almost impossible to distil without the carry over of some fusels. In a reflux still the carry over of fusels is much less but there will probably still be some. Fusels as already mentioned come off at higher temperatures which is why it is important not to squeeze every last drop of alcohol out of your still. It is my experience that fusels start appearing at around 93 degrees C of vapour temperature (read from the lid not the top of a tower or condenser). As the temperature rises above 93 Degrees C which it inevitably will in a pot still the concentrations increase until at 98 degrees C you are getting more fusels than alcohol. If fusels are present they will show up as a "dirty sock" type smell in your alcohol. To create fusels on purpose, to see what they are like, take your still through to its normal cut off point and put a fresh container under the outlet. Collect a further 2 litre of alcohol, this alcohol will be chock full of fusels and you will see what I mean about the smell. You may struggle to push a good reflux that far but a pot still will do it easily. The second function of carbon is to "polish" the alcohol giving it a smooth finish instead of the rather rough spirit with an edge that comes out of the still. There are 3 types of carbon, the first is a Contact Reactive type carbon which you simply put into your container of alcohol, it will lie on the top and react with the water in the alcohol which will cause it to foam. The carbon will then slowly sink to the bottom absorbing any fusels on the way down, unless the spirit is of such poor quality that it overwhelms the carbons ability to do this. The carbon is then left on the bottom and acts like a sponge absorbing aromatics and volatiles in the alcohol. Extended contact improves the alcohol immensely I am leaving my alcohol on carbon for 6 months now as a matter of course, the minimum contact time is 3 days. After this the carbon is then simply filtered out of the alcohol. The other two types of carbon are designed to work in tandem they are known as Treatment Carbon and Filter carbon. The Treatment Carbon works in a similar manner to a Contact Reactive type of carbon except that the polishing is done by filtering the alcohol through the Filter carbon at the finish. For some of the simpler pot stills the two step process is essential to clean the alcohol up sufficiently to drink but for most stills the Contact Reactive type is fine. Our own One Step Carbon which we are supplying to customers world wide is as good a Contact Reactive type carbon as you will get for most stills.
Brandy (the experimenting continues) In a past newsletter I have commented on and given a recipe for a good Brandy and Cognac. In the last couple of months a customer has told me of some experiments he has been doing with Brandy. He added Sultanas, Raisins and Prunes to his spirit and some Spirits Unlimited Aged Brandy with what he described as very good results, so we are in the middle of our own experiment I have tried the following. 1 Tablespoon Raisins 1 Tablespoon Sultanas 1 Tablespoon Pitted Prunes (actually in practice only 1 prune) 2 Teaspoons Plain American Oak 1 Teaspoon Toasted Oak I have these soaking in 40% by volume alcohol at present, I intend to filter off the alcohol and add 5 ml of Spirits Unlimited Aged Brandy and see how it looks. At this stage the spirit is less than a fortnight old and it is already starting to taste very good so I think we may be on to something. Our next experiment will be to add more of each ingredient and try to turn it into Cognac, unfortunately going on past experience it will be 4 years before I can tell you if it has worked or not. Internet sites
Distillers Discussion list