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scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby CalHiTower » Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:44 am

I have a very dumb question (I've done a feeble attempt to see if this topic was covered recently...):

When I ferment a single malt whisky I sparge the mash and either no-chill and save to ferment later (including a 15 min boil) or chill to ferment temp the same day and pitch.

When I make bourbon whiskey, I always ferment on the grain, then separate, which is a big pita. I've always done it this way.

What is the reason most distiller's ferment their bourbon whiskey's on the grain? Could they be done like scotch? Is it because of the high percentage of corn in the mash that makes it difficult to sparge?

Thanks in advance for any input!

Cal :confusion-confused:
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby CalHiTower » Sun Aug 28, 2016 5:31 am

Is there no one on this forum that can answer this "dumb" question, or is it too dumb?
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby JayD » Sun Aug 28, 2016 9:51 am

American distill on grain...we lauter or sparge and theres positives for both methods and negatives, I think American's have always distilled on grain. Remember how we make the wash is the same as making grain beer minus a couple of steps.
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby Charis » Sun Aug 28, 2016 9:52 am

I am no expert in fact I consider myself a newbie, but I think it has something to do with flavour. I think I remember reading that it is very hard to sparge corn as it usually turns into mush.
Again I will say that I am no expert and have not tried an AG ferment, but I am gearing up to do that as I get some more experience.
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby CalHiTower » Sun Aug 28, 2016 3:09 pm

Thanks for the replies.

I mashed and sparged a 80% rye/20% flaked corn recipe today to see how well I could sparge it...just like I do for scotch (single malt). It went quite well. I did a 25l batch in a 10 gal electric mash tun with false bottom. Just to be on the safe side, I included a large grain bag thinking it would help in separation...only thing it helped with was easy cleaning of the mash tun after finishing the mash. I did a 2hr sacc rest at 149o...got an efficiency of 70% (1.063) og.

I did a rye mash (and I'll do 2 more and strip them) so I can add the rye whiskey after running the spirit run to a half barrel of corn whiskey (10 l barrel) that needs to be full and maybe get a Canadian out of it...we'll see. I like the flavor of Black Velvet the best. I've always made corn whiskey or bourbon or sour mash in the past. Black Velvet is so cheap I've always bought it.

The sparging process is so easy I only hope I didn't lose much flavor over the fermenting on the grain process. I can see if making a pure corn whiskey sparging might be really difficult with gumming.

Cal
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby res » Sat Sep 03, 2016 8:24 pm

Sorry, I'm a bit late to the party
To be classified as bourbon, amongst other things, your mash must be at least 51% corn. Many are much more. If you have a mash of say 70% corn crushed to achieve maximum efficiency, ie very fine, it's nearly impossible to sparge.
I've sparged with corn ratios that high but at the cost of efficiency. But it's pretty cheap around here. For the commercial guys every dollar counts so they grind it to flower and fermenter and distill on the grain. Barley has a different husk style and can be more easily separated into husk and starch.
There’s probably an element of tradition in there as well, that's the way they did it back in the day. If you did it differently the end product would also be different. :think:
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby S-Cackalacky » Sat Sep 03, 2016 11:38 pm

Or, you could let it settle (clear), rack it, and use the lees left in the fermenter for a sugarhead.
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Sun Sep 04, 2016 1:42 am

In summation, you sparge off of barley because barley is easy, and you don't sparge off of corn because corn is a bitch to sparge.

The best solution I've heard of for a homedistiller (although I've never tried it) is an extension of what S-Cackalacky said. Let it drop clear and charge the still with the clear liquid, and put all the corn gunk in the thumper. It's the best of both worlds; you're heating clear liquid in your still, and the alcohol-bearing junk is steam heated.
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller http://www.kelleybarts.com/zymurgy-bob-books/making-fine-spirits/

You can make whisky in a reflux still, you can make vodka in a potstill,
and you can eat chicken noodle soup with a crescent wrench. But..
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby S-Cackalacky » Sun Sep 04, 2016 1:56 am

+1 ZB. I've actually done that with a pot stilled rice vodka. You might need to add a little water to the thump charge if the lees are overly thick.
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby CalHiTower » Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:17 pm

I think right now I need to fill my 1/2 full corn whiskey barrel with something...gonna be rye whiskey. The first mash was as above. The second mash I experimented with fermenting on all rye malt. It's fermenting now. The last experiment will be to sparge a 100% rye mash...using a single sac rest around 63-64o or so.

I stripped the first fermentation...and will do the second and third ferments...then do a spirit run on all three. Should get me enough rye whiskey to fill the barrel and maybe make a nice Canadian and have product left over to keep the barrel full for a while...

Thanks for a;; the responses...Cal
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby Casper » Tue Nov 22, 2016 8:29 am

I have run a few corn, rye, and barley (irish whiskey) mashes, here's my limited notes for what it's worth in no particular order:

1. Rye is high in protein. This makes it even stickier than corn, which is high in carbs. Carbs make ethanol, proteins make congeners like esters and aldehydes. So the rye has flavour but unwelcome congeners and low alcohol. For that reason the rule of thumb is to keep such adjuncts to the main grain to less than 20% of the grain bill.
2. The saccharification (gel) temperatures to release starches differ for every grain. Also it depends on the crack. When grain is hot rolled flake, starches are already converting to sugars so boiling is not so necessary.
Corn that is cracked or kibbled still needs boiling to get most of the starches released. Flaked corn does not need to go above 71°C. However, other grains like wheat and barley may have husk in it. Husk yields methanol if cooked.
All malts (sprouted grains) have their essential a-b- enzymes denatured above 70°C
So you want to cook grain to release starches. Boiling cracked grain or heating flaked grain at or above its gel temperature will be easier if you add some malt to thin it. That happens 63°-68°C so hold it there till thinned. Then boil if required to get out more starch, cool to 70°before adding more malt.
Total malt added needs to be 10% minimum. Bourbons add from 12% Irish malts go 50%. Scottish single malts 100% malt, meaning that malt scotch mashes are never heated above 68°C

3. I see no point in sparging. I ferment everything on grain in a bag. Jameson is our best Irish whiskey, they ferment on grain for 4 days at 24°C. Leaving it to continue creates noticeable congeners... troublesome esters etc
Sparging is used to extract max starch from grain that has husks or cannot be boiled without creating cloudy beer. We don't need clear beer.
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby S-Cackalacky » Tue Nov 22, 2016 11:49 pm

Nice write up Casper.
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby Casper » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:25 am

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Last edited by Casper on Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: scotch ferment vs bourbon ferment

Postby Casper » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:28 am

American Corn can be fermented on grain whereas soft grains with residual husks like rye and barley will introduce tannins, flavours that cannot be removed by stilling. So soft grains cannot be boiled, nor fermented on grain for max extraction of starch and tastes. Unlike corn. (Maize)
Corn has much more starch content so will turn to sticky porridge. But this needs cooking, boiling. So most stillers use kibbled corn to keep it porous. Or you can use flaked corn but it still needs heating higher than malt can tolerate.

Have a look on the buffalotrace.com site for some inspiration.
I reflux on a beer keg. To make that 50l low wines I must ferment around 200l beer. That's a wheelie bin full.

Every grain has its own gelatin temperature to extract the starch. You can't get out the starch from barley malt, maize, or rye at the same rest. At buffalo trace they do each one separately. Even the malt. And malt barley is not the same temp as barley adjunct.
They then drain each mash and mix the liquids in the fermenter. Wow! Way to go?
They then sparge. The sparge water is used to soak and rest more grain. Wow! Way to go!
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