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Ask Darek Bell

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Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:55 pm

Everyone,

This is an area to ask me questions. I recently wrote a book called Alt Whiskeys which focused on recipes and techniques for making alternative whiskeys, which around my distillery we call 'alt whiskeys.' Typically an alt whiskey is a whiskey made outside of the norms of traditional north american whiskey making. We mainly focus on whiskeys that use alternative grains like quinoa or buckwheat, hopped whiskeys or whiskeys made from craft beers, and smoked whiskeys made from a smoke source besides peat. You can see a link to my book here: http://www.altwhiskeys.com/ and you can read the hopped chapter for free, click on sample chapters. The book is sort of a whiskey cookbook. Basically I wrote the book I wish I had had when I was starting out. An idea book for making unique whiskeys that included things like the original and final gravity of the mash and recipes for different whiskey styles.

Darek

for example, we just released a 12 grain bourbon, called Insane in the Grain, that is a variation of the Grainiac 9 grain bourbon recipe we used last year that won the highest honor of the American Distilling Institute competition. It beat 240 other spirits. The recipe is below with one variation which is we added 15 lbs of buckwheat:

Original Gravity: 1.056
Terminal Gravity: 1.014

Alcohol of distillers’ beer: 5.48%
ABV - estimated

Mash Ingredients
28 lb 2-Row Brewers’ Malt
7.5 lb Red Wheat Malt
51 lb Yellow Corn
15 lb Rye Malt
15 lb Millet Raw
15 lb Oats (Pregelatinized Flakes)
7.5 lb Spelt
7.5 lb Sorghum
15 lb Quinoa
15 lb Buckwheat
65 lb Blue Corn
7.5 lb White Wheat Malt
50 lb Rice Hulls - for filtration

Yeast
8 oz Crosby and Baker Distillers’ Yeast
Distillation Ingredients
None

Double Distilled to 125 proof
Bottle: 92 proof

Brewing Instructions
Grind the grain and add 160 F degree water in the mash tun. A cereal mash
must be performed on the millet and corn. A small amount of barley is added
and the mash is brought to boil and held for 2 hours. The mash is crash cooled
with cold water to under 169 F and the rest of the grain is added for a single
step infusion for one hour. Lauter at 170 F. Crash cool to yeast pitchable temperature
of 70 F or below.

Fermentation
Ferment for at least 5 days at 70 F or
below.
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:55 pm

I have been doing a lot of experiments smoking malt with fruit woods: apple, cherry, nectarine, pear, crabapple, persimmon, apricot, peach, plum, and citrus woods like orange and lemon. I have not done any experiments aging with those woods though.

minime wrote:Thanks Darek, just placed my order so no questions 'till I read the book..........

Well actually I do have one question. Have you ever experimented aging on fruit woods?
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby the Doctor » Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:19 pm

Thank you Darek for adding the considerable weight of your knowledge to the forum. it is very generous of you to be so giving to your peers, and a good example set...I owe much to those who have been so generous as to answer the at times infantile questions I asked when I first started to distill...but it was through the unreserved generosity of fellow distillers that I got to where I am today ..the proud owner of my own commercial distillery. I wish you every success with the book and will be ordering my copy asap...thanks again.
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby chill » Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:25 pm

Thank you Darek, this is very generous of you! I am interested in what characteristics different grains add to the final result. http://www.whiskeyprof.com/theres-only- ... ipes-yall/ covers the common ones. What is the effect of using buckwheat?

Thank you,
Chuck
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Bushman » Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:38 am

Should have posted this a month ago. I've given my Christmas list out and currently have two distilling books on it. I bookmarked your site and might just have to order it anyway.

Question about the various grain recipes as I didn't see it while viewing your web page. Do you give a review on the outcome of the product it produces?
I started my liquid diet and so far it seems to be working! I've already lost two days.

"24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not."
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:06 am

Yes, I did a Triticale whskey that won a medal at last year's American Distilling Institute conference: http://distilling.com/judge2.html
I believe Dry Fly distilling has also released a triticale whiskey.

It is a wheat / rye hybrid, but doesn't add a lot of rye character in my opinion.

Triticale has a lot of interesting properties, including a higher diastatic power than barley. It can also self convert well below the typical mash temperature.

punkin wrote:I'm interested if you have ever used Triticale much?

It was one of the most interesting grains i found back when was playing around with different types.
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:11 am

Thanks for the good words.
Smaug wrote:Man that sounds like an awesome grain bill. WTG and good luck moving forward.
Smaug
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:17 am

Buckwheat
Buckwheat has been used in several craft beers and some Japanese shochu, but not in whiskey making. This is a shame because it adds a great nutty flavor that is quite distinctive. The taste is somewhat similar to pistachios when roasted. Buckwheat can be malted easily, but has significantly lower enzymes for starch conversion than barley, usually less than a third. Buckwheat is gluten free, and thus important for people who are gluten intolerant. It is difficult to grind and so often it is better to just buy buckwheat flour.

I wrote an article in Whisky Magazine Issue 104, June 2012. that went over a number of alternative grains for whiskey making.


chill wrote:Thank you Darek, this is very generous of you! I am interested in what characteristics different grains add to the final result. http://www.whiskeyprof.com/theres-only- ... ipes-yall/ covers the common ones. What is the effect of using buckwheat?

Thank you,
Chuck
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:24 am

Only a little. I try not to review my own spirits as you come off full of yourself. I do talk some about the taste profiles. I will say that the judges have liked many of them as these are spirits that have won medals at international spirits competitons:
Quinoa Whiskey
Triticale Whiskey
Oatmeal Stout Whiskey
Nashville Bourbon( uses blue corn)
Grainiac 9 grain bourbon

One of my favorites is our Buckwheat bourbon. I am baffled as to why it cannot win any awards.

Bushman wrote:Should have posted this a month ago. I've given my Christmas list out and currently have two distilling books on it. I bookmarked your site and might just have to order it anyway.

Question about the various grain recipes as I didn't see it while viewing your web page. Do you give a review on the outcome of the product it produces?
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby FullySilenced » Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:42 am

Maybe it reminds the judges of a character in the "The Little Rascals" tv series from years gone by... :lol:
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Badger » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:36 am

Maybe the judges thought the Buckwheat whiskey was just... wait for it..."o-tay."

Sorry. I couldn't resist. Whatever the digital version of a slap upside the head is, I'm sure I deserve it. :)
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby FullySilenced » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:58 am

Dear Derek
I want to apologize for Badgers and My bad manners but I don't think we could help ourselves...

its all in fun .... i truly am glad you are here with your expertise.. I really would like to try the Buckwheat Whiskey at some point and the Triticale as well they both sound rather exotic...
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Badger » Mon Dec 17, 2012 2:43 pm

I have so many questions...I'll have to ration myself. :) For now...

1. ¾ of the whiskeys in your book are distilled to 125 (62.5%) proof while ¼ are distilled to 140 (70%). What are the reasons for those two particular cutoffs and how do you choose which recipe gets which? At first, it seemed that the 140 was mainly for recipes using the gin basket, but then there were a few (100% Rye, 100% Corn, Alder/Pecan Smoked Tennessee) that broke that pattern.

2. Do you barrel it at the strength you take it off the still? In both cases (62% and 70%)?

3. Which still(s) do you use for test batches? There's a pic of your Vendome hybrid still in your book. Can you attach a pic of your vintage pot still? I couldn't find an image of it on your website or book.

4. Almost all of your recipes call for a #4 char barrel. I take it you use Independent Stave barrels? Is theirs a standard system or does each cooper use a different term for their toast/char offerings? In any case, you seem to favor the heaviest char? I'd like to hear your thoughts on barrel selection. Did you explore multiple coopers? Is there that much variation between them aside from price? ISB offers several lines of barrel for the craft brewer that range in price significantly. High quality ingredients can often make a great difference in product. Is there a noticeable ROI for these more expensive barrel options?

5. Once I'm up and running, I can't wait to try to build the smoke injector you suggest in your book. How do you regulate the amount of smoke that goes into the still (in terms of consistency and predictability)? It seems like it would be very hard to predict how much smoke flavor you are getting until after the run is complete. I assume you just run it and if it's too strong, cut it with an unsmoked version of the same recipe?

Thanks again,
Badger
Last edited by Badger on Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Tracker » Mon Dec 17, 2012 11:14 pm

Sheez Derick, you have made a task for yourself here mate, offering to give advice to hundreds of hopeful Distilling Guru's.
Big task indeed, good luck and thanks for what you are offering to us.


Cheers.
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby chill » Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:25 pm

Darek,

I read your article on grains in Whisky Magazine. That was very interesting and very useful! I am going shopping.

Thank you,
Chuck
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:45 pm

Smaug, sorghum is a fascinating grain as it can make both a rum from the juice, and a whiskey from the grain and it is cheap and easy to grow. It has gotten a decent amount of interest from the fuel ethanol community as well. At Corsair we have experimented with both the grain and the juice but never mixing the two. The juice fermented easy and made a pleasant tasting white dog. Sadly we learned that Pritchards distillery had looked into making a sorghum rum and the federal TTB turned them down. We had just gone through a long battle trying to get them to allow our oatmeal whiskey to get a label and we were exhausted and so abandoned a Tennessee sorghum rum. The ttb defined whiskey as a grain spirit, but the definition of grain was: corn, wheat, barley, and rye. We pleaded that there were hundreds of thousands of grain types. We explained that there all kinds of new and ancient grains that had come out of the health food movement that had never been distilled before that we wanted to try like quinoa, etc. Finally they called someone at the dept of agriculture who said "of course, oats are a cereal grain." After this long silly battle over oats, we were spent and abandoned the rum sorghum idea. We have not messed with it since. Like molasses we dropped the ph and added a lot of yeast as we were afraid of it spoiling. As for the sorghum grain, it was pretty easy to mill and I luckily can get it at my local farmers co op. I have not tried to malt it yet. I think the recipe was 40% sorghum, 55 barley, and 5% chocolate malt for some depth. It was a decent whiskey but not as exciting as quinoa. Like wheat it seemed to slightly change the mouthfeel and make the whiskey lighter. The wort was quite light in color like a pislner beer. We did boil it, cooled it to below 170, and then added it to the barley, using the barley as a grain filter bed for lauter as it has almost no husk. Sorghum has low diastatic power and so needs to be brewed with barley or an enzyme. It is very low protein, so there was not much foam during fermentation or distillation. Sorghum commercial beers are quite popular in Nigeria and Mexico, but I have not been able to get my hands on any of these.
Smaug wrote:"Dear Darek Bell"

Can you characterize what Sorghum grain is all about or are you using the cane juice to boost your gravity?
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:29 pm

I assume you mean besides adding lacto bacillus? If you are trying to drop the ph or add sour taste one trick that may be of use is using acidulated malt besides regular malted barley. It is presoured with lacto from the grain, lactic acid. This is a really neat malt, great for sour beers, and no one seems to know about it. It is made by Weyermann.

law-of-ohms wrote:"Dear Darek Bell"

Have you a way of exelerated lactic souring of a corn mash?
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:00 am

More info on Acidulated malt: "The Ultimate Beer Ingredient Guide" should be required reading for anyone interested in brewing or distilling. -- Darek

ACIDULATED MALT (WEYERMANN®) Also known as “acid malt” by brewsters, Weyermann® Acidulated Malt’s origins lie in the land of the Oktoberfest, Germany. Considered a Special Malt, Acidulated Malt’s name comes from its unique preparation, in which it is treated with lactic acid, often isolated from bacteria found on the grain itself. This addition of acid gives the malt a lower pH when used in beerbrewing, which imparts a higher level of activity to the enzymes in the grain, allowing them to break down more of the grain’s starches into fermentable sugars during the mashing stage of brewing. Overall, use of Acidulated Malt allows for a more intense fermentation stage, if used correctly. This leads to a lighter, paleyellow-coloured beer, with Lovibond numbers lying between 1.7 and 3.2, as well as a more stable and well-rounded flavour. As such, this malt is frequently used in Pilsners, light beer, “Schankbiere,” wheat beer, and sour beer. However, these are not the only uses for Acidulated Malt; when used in dry stouts, it imparts a tang to the beer’s finish. Furthermore, this malt can be used to modulate mash pH when brew-water is highly alkaline, allowing brewsters to maintain favourable pH levels. Although the exact effect of Acidulated Malt on mash pH is dependent on several factors, such as the composition of the brew-water, or the buffering capacity of the mash, there is a rule of thumb to determine how much of the malt one should use: generally, every 1% of Acidulated Malt used will lower the pH of the mash by 0.1. For example, having a mash with 4% Acidulated Malt will lower the pH by about 0.4. The percentage of this malt used is entirely up to the Brewster, but most beers that use it often fall in the 1%-5% range, with sour beers using around 10%. Please note that these percentages refer to the percentage of the total mash’s mass; in other words, if a brewster uses 2% Acidulated Malt in his mash mix, if he has 50g of total mash, 1g of that should be Acidulated Malt.

Klungle, Patrick (2010-12-06). Beer and Ingredients, The Ultimate Beer Ingredient Guide, What does What (Kindle Locations 496-510). Freedom of Speech Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Darek Bell
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Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:15 am

1. Don't obsess over this as every still is going to be different. You just want it to be over 125 proof but less than 160 as that as when you lose a lot of the grain character. I was using 2 different stills for my experiments and this was an approximation of what they were hitting.

2. Yes, although our target is @ 120-130 proof to go in the barrel

3. I use whatever still is not being used for one of our main products, whatever I can get my hands on. For very small batches I use a rotovap: http://www.coleparmer.com/Product/Cole_ ... W-28615-06
For small batches requiring a carter head, I have 4 of these for running multiple side by side tests:
http://www.heartmagic.com/EssentialDistiller.html
For medium sized batches I use either the still built in the book or our vendomme. If it requires a carter head I have to use the vendomme still.

4. We use barrels from the barrel house, black swan, and independent stave. My personal favorite is the barrel mills char#4, if you couldn't tell. This really will come down to personal preference. Black swan drills a honeycomb pattern into their wood to speed up aging b/c it gives more surface area. In our tests, this works for just a few of our products, but not for most of our products. So we have not been using them as much.
http://www.independentstavecompany.com
http://www.blackswanbarrels.com
http://www.whiskeybarrel.com

5. I can post later and talk more about the smoke injector.

Badger wrote:I have so many questions...I'll have to ration myself. :) For now...

1. ¾ of the whiskeys in your book are distilled to 125 (62.5%) proof while ¼ are distilled to 140 (70%). What are the reasons for those two particular cutoffs and how do you choose which recipe gets which? At first, it seemed that the 140 was mainly for recipes using the gin basket, but then there were a few (100% Rye, 100% Corn, Alder/Pecan Smoked Tennessee) that broke that pattern.

2. Do you barrel it at the strength you take it off the still? In both cases (62% and 70%)?

3. Which still(s) do you use for test batches? There's a pic of your Vendome hybrid still in your book. Can you attach a pic of your vintage pot still? I couldn't find an image of it on your website or book.

4. Almost all of your recipes call for a #4 char barrel. I take it you use Independent Stave barrels? Is theirs a standard system or does each cooper use a different term for their toast/char offerings? In any case, you seem to favor the heaviest char? I'd like to hear your thoughts on barrel selection. Did you explore multiple coopers? Is there that much variation between them aside from price? ISB offers several lines of barrel for the craft brewer that range in price significantly. High quality ingredients can often make a great difference in product. Is there a noticeable ROI for these more expensive barrel options?

5. Once I'm up and running, I can't wait to try to build the smoke injector you suggest in your book. How do you regulate the amount of smoke that goes into the still (in terms of consistency and predictability)? It seems like it would be very hard to predict how much smoke flavor you are getting until after the run is complete. I assume you just run it and if it's too strong, cut it with an unsmoked version of the same recipe?

Thanks again,
Badger
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:26 am

Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Badger » Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:21 pm

Darek –

Thanks for the time you put into all your explanations. Between them and the learning I’m doing on another thread, I think I’m ready to start tackling a couple of your recipes. ☺

Thanks for the still porn. Usually, it’s of the copper variety around here but those glass versions are awfully sweet.

Badger
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:29 pm

punkin wrote:Dear Darek, is there any questions you have wondered about and not done that we may be able to help you out with?

Any sort of research you can do by polling the brains trust here ect?

SomePaybackOnThisTwoWayStreetPunkin


Sure Punkin, I would love some help from the group. I am writing a book just on smoked whiskeys this time. I have been going through as many different fuel sources as possible. Have any of you made whiskeys from any woods or things I have not. This is the list of wood, bark, and herbs I have been able to source, smoke barley, and make into whiskey by one method or another. See below, anybody used something not on the following list?

Wood Species
alder
almond
apple
apple
apricot
ash
beechwood
birch
birch
black walnut
cabernet barrel wood
cedar
grape
hickory
jamaican pimento wood
lemon
lilac
macademia
manzanita wood
maplewood
mesquite
mulberry
nectarine
olivewood
orange
peach
pecan
persimmon
pimento
red oak
red oak
white oak
hawaiian ohia
hawaiian kiawe
hawaiian guava
hawaiian agave

Besides tobacco, many Native Americans would also smoke certain barks and herbs or mix it with tobacco to smoke for religious or ceremonial purposes.

Tree Barks:
bayberry root
birch bark
blackberry root
butternut bark
cascara bark
catuaba bark
fringe tree bark
jamaican dogwood bark
muira puama bark
prickly ash bark
quassia bark
white willow bark

Herbs:
mullein
angelica
anise
clove
ginger
lavender
lemon balm
licorice
mint
mugwort
osha
peppermint
sage - white, black, and hummingbird
sagebrush
spearmint
sweet cicely
terragon
yerba buena
juniper
violet
Last edited by WhiskeyD on Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Fri Dec 21, 2012 3:35 pm

punkin wrote:Dear Darek, is there any questions you have wondered about and not done that we may be able to help you out with?

Any sort of research you can do by polling the brains trust here ect?

SomePaybackOnThisTwoWayStreetPunkin


Punkin,

Do you have access to manuka wood? I can't get it here in the US. I can get a smoked beer from these guys here though: http://invercargillbrewery.co.nz/beer made with manuka wood.

Description of the beer: Smokin' Bishop
7% A German style bock beer using our own Manuka smoked malt to give a distinctive smoke character that’s balanced out with the richness of the bock using our own yeast. In-house we reckon the 2012 vintage has the hallmarks of 2008 with a slightly floral note delivered by the substition of applewood for peat smoke.
BrewNZ Gold Medal 2007 and Best in Class
Australian International Beer Awards Silver Medal 2010
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:13 am

The puffing billy does not surprise me, as in our experience Beechwood smoked malt is very, very subtle. A whiskey judge from Germany came over was visiting us and smelled our malt. She had been at one of the malthouses in Germany and said our stuff was WAY less smokey than what she was smelling in Germany. Maybe the smoke loses its power overtime in the long trip to our facility.

I will look into Melaleuca, thanks! If you don't mind asking Kiwi, I would appreciate it. Tell him I will send him some final smoked whiskey in return.
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:38 am

Thanks for ordering! Cheers.
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby kiwi » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:18 pm

WhiskeyD wrote:
punkin wrote:Dear Darek, is there any questions you have wondered about and not done that we may be able to help you out with?

Any sort of research you can do by polling the brains trust here ect?

SomePaybackOnThisTwoWayStreetPunkin


Punkin,

Do you have access to manuka wood? I can't get it here in the US. I can get a smoked beer from these guys here though: http://invercargillbrewery.co.nz/beer made with manuka wood.

Description of the beer: Smokin' Bishop
7% A German style bock beer using our own Manuka smoked malt to give a distinctive smoke character that’s balanced out with the richness of the bock using our own yeast. In-house we reckon the 2012 vintage has the hallmarks of 2008 with a slightly floral note delivered by the substition of applewood for peat smoke.
BrewNZ Gold Medal 2007 and Best in Class
Australian International Beer Awards Silver Medal 2010


You're supposed to say my name 3 times to summon me punkin :)

Darek, I've played around with Manuka. I missed punkin's message over Xmas and I was up in the hills where I have a large quantity of dry manuka. Still, it's the most common smoking wood in NZ, so I could get you chips and post if you want?

Have you had that beer? I quite like it but it's a divisive one - love it or hate it.

I have found it best used as a charcoal filter for whiskey, a la lincoln county process. The flavour is very strong. I haven't tried smoking the malt and then making whisky out of it though - I was looking into it for an aging wood. aging on it is too overpowering. The other NZ wood that I'm planning on an experiment with is pohutukawa wood. It has a really salty/sweet smoke. It's a protected tree but I acquired a fairly large load of it in a fair game of chance. I'm planning to build a little kiln and smoke a sack of 2-row.

Let me know if I can help.

Cheers
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby the Doctor » Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:48 pm

Smaug wrote:
kiwi wrote:You're supposed to say my name 3 times to summon me punkin :)


:lol:


mate he didn't know he was tapping together his ruby slippers...DOH!
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Prairiepiss » Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:07 pm

kiwi wrote:You're supposed to say my name 3 times to summon me punkin :)


You don't wear a black and white striped suit do you? :lol:
I am not the distiller your were looking for!
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:29 pm

Thanks for ordering! If you have any questions from the book please ask.

bentstick wrote:Received my book 2 days ago,nice layout of pics as mini stated,some very interesting reading,and some tastey sounding spirit recipes, Thank you Darek,nice book!
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:50 pm

Kiwi,

I did get to try the beer, a little shop sells it in Bowling Green, KY. Lucky me. I actually thought the smoke was less pronounced than what I expected. From what I tasted, it seemed Most similar to oak, which makes no sense givn what I have read about it. Im interested to hear more about the pohutukawa wood as well. Good luck with the smoking with it.

Darek
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Prairiepiss » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:53 pm

The ttb defined whiskey as a grain spirit, but the definition of grain was: corn, wheat, barley, and rye. We pleaded that there were hundreds of thousands of grain types. We explained that there all kinds of new and ancient grains that had come out of the health food movement that had never been distilled before that we wanted to try like quinoa, etc. Finally they called someone at the dept of agriculture who said "of course, oats are a cereal grain." After this long silly battle over oats, we were spent and abandoned the rum sorghum idea.


The rum fight would be a hard one. But did your efforts with getting the ttb to recognize oats as a cereal grain open up a path for other grains? Or will you have to do it again for each grain you would like to market? I wonder if another distillery wanted to make a oat whiskey. If they would have to fight it for them selves too. Even though you already have.

Does the department of agriculture not have a definition of cereal grain? If they do. That's what the ttb should be using. Seeing how the dept of AG would be the best department to define a cereal grain.

It dumbfounds me how a department overseeing something like this. Has to call someone in the department of agriculture for info they should already have. And I'm sure you got the standard government employee that's not my job run around from the ttb. :roll:
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby kiwi » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:04 am

ha- the answer to that is bugger all. Between waaaaay too much work and building skis, the still has been gathering a little dust... Firing it up tomorrow for a pair of spirit runs though, apple brandy then feijoa brandy.
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Badger » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:03 pm

Darek- I'm surprised that sassafras wasn't on your list. Any reason?

I'm going to play a bit with ginseng, if only because our area produces some of the best in the world.
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Bluess57 » Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:11 pm

Hi Darek,
How does one become a whiskey judge?
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:35 am

Sassafras is one of my favorites, actually. However there has been some controversy around it due to the government saying that safrole is a carcinogen. It was actually banned from root beer and sassafras tea, which seems ridiculous to me. Although safrole is found in the roots, I don't know if I could actually make a whiskey and sell it if I was using another part of the plant. The smoke was fantastic and had a lot of personality.

Badger wrote:Darek- I'm surprised that sassafras wasn't on your list. Any reason?

I'm going to play a bit with ginseng, if only because our area produces some of the best in the world.
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Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:38 am

I wish I knew!!!!! The people I know who are judges started by: 1) working as a professional noser/blender. 2) Were industry experts, usually writers. 3) Started their own whiskey competition. -- Darek

Bluess57 wrote:Hi Darek,
How does one become a whiskey judge?
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
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Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Badger » Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:05 pm

Congrats to Darek What I've known for a while is now official, his Triple Smoke is Awe-freakin-some!

http://www.whiskyadvocateblog.com/2013/ ... -the-year/

Can't wait to try some of your new stuff up here at Distill America next month!

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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:06 pm

Thanks for the good words. I really appreciate it.

Darek
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:24 pm

Yes, he has. I can't wait.

punkin wrote:Has Kiwi been in touch to ship you some wood mate?
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Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby FullySilenced » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:05 am

Darek,

RE Sassafras its still used as a spice and in Creole cooking on a daily basis... not sure what else you could do with it but... the root smells wonderful fresh or dried... and I have been drinking the tea my whole life...
there is least one producer of extract for making the tea still out there the brand name is Pappy's H&K products out of Ohio ..

Gumbo File Powder, Organic Powdered Sassafras Leaves

FYI and use

FS
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Badger » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:01 pm

Darek,

Do you use the smoke injector (mentioned in your book) on any of your commercial whiskeys or is it strictly an experimental technology at this point?

If you ARE using it commercially, did you have to build a larger one for your big stills (as opposed to the small, test stills you use for development)?

If you DID, can you give advice on what you learned/improved on during the process? I'd like to build one, and while your diagram in the book is very clear, I'd love to hear about any improvements you've made since publication. Pictures, too, would be sweeeeeeet.

Finally, if I do build one, do you have advice on how to regulate the smoke so as to not over/under-do it. It seems an inherently tricky thing to dial in.

Thanks,
Badger
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Badger » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:22 pm

dang it, of course I think of a few more questions right after I hit "Enter":

1. why do you have the smoke come into the still before the primary condenser rather than after it? Seems to me you'd want the smoke to enter right above the final condenser to be sure all the smoke is actually ending up in your distillate.

2. For the smoldering surface, you mention both a hotplate and a soldering iron as options. What do you recommend? Seems like the soldering iron would be easier to work with but the surface area would be much less, right?

3. You suggest attaching a thermometer for fine adjustment of the heat. Where/how exactly is that done? In close proximity to the soldering iron? As part of the iron mechanism itself (an inline ammeter, maybe)?

again, thanks for your time and willingness to share your experience.

Badger
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Rummonkey » Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:24 am

About your 100% Rye Whiskey. In your book Alt Whiskey, great book by the way, you talk about adding rye enzime. What is it? I know malted Rye and I think unmalted rye has Alfa and beta amylase enzime. Is rye enzime different than Barley's enzime? Googled it and did not find any. How does one get a hold of some?

Also, your recipe says to lauter. How do you do so without rice or oat hauls?

Arigato, RM.
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby DuckofDeath » Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:09 pm

I just ordered your book. I am sure I will have some questions after I read it :)
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:21 pm

Thanks for the good words.

To my knowledge unmalted rye has no enzymes in sufficient quantities to self convert its own starches. Malted rye does but still way less than barley. Malted barley = 311 diastatic power, to malted rye's 177. So many distiller's still add enzymes to even malted rye. We use an enzyme to help break down the rye to make it easier to lauter. These are often called liquification or viscosity reduction enzymes. They keep rye from getting a stuck mash, and keep corn from becoming a block of concrete in your mash tun. Check out page 75 of the ADI directory for a list: http://distilling.com/PDF/2012direct.pdf. Many of these companies will send you small samples. We use the SEBflo by Specialty Enzymes.

Rummonkey wrote:About your 100% Rye Whiskey. In your book Alt Whiskey, great book by the way, you talk about adding rye enzime. What is it? I know malted Rye and I think unmalted rye has Alfa and beta amylase enzime. Is rye enzime different than Barley's enzime? Googled it and did not find any. How does one get a hold of some?

Also, your recipe says to lauter. How do you do so without rice or oat hauls?

Arigato, RM.
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:27 pm

Right now it is still only experimental and for small batches. I have a long to do list of projects and I just have not had time to scale it up. The peristaltic pump I have has a simple flow adjustment, making the regulation of the smoke pretty easy. This is the one I use, it is cheap but kind of flimsy:
http://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-Air-Pum ... 002TCC46U/




Badger wrote:Darek,

Do you use the smoke injector (mentioned in your book) on any of your commercial whiskeys or is it strictly an experimental technology at this point?

If you ARE using it commercially, did you have to build a larger one for your big stills (as opposed to the small, test stills you use for development)?

If you DID, can you give advice on what you learned/improved on during the process? I'd like to build one, and while your diagram in the book is very clear, I'd love to hear about any improvements you've made since publication. Pictures, too, would be sweeeeeeet.

Finally, if I do build one, do you have advice on how to regulate the smoke so as to not over/under-do it. It seems an inherently tricky thing to dial in.

Thanks,
Badger
Darek Bell
Corsair Distillery
2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby WhiskeyD » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:43 pm

1) Personal preference. If I wanted more of a creosote, or ashy taste( think Lagavulin), I would put it after. By putting it before, the sudden drop in temp should make any of the ash that was not caught in the water trap fall out and make a cleaner smoke flavor( think of Lagavulin's neighbors Laphroaig and Ardbeg.) I was going for a cleaner smoke style.

2) It doesn't matter. You just want it to get hot enough to smolder, but not actually catch on fire. My soldering iron has a little temp dial on it to adjust the temp. So I turn it up until it just starts smoking.

3) You have three temperatures that are important. The temp of the pot of the still, the temp of the condenser water, and the temp of the smoke. I was referring to the temp of the smoke. I am trying to get it to burn at as low a temp as possible, as that has had the best flavor in my opinion.

Badger wrote:dang it, of course I think of a few more questions right after I hit "Enter":

1. why do you have the smoke come into the still before the primary condenser rather than after it? Seems to me you'd want the smoke to enter right above the final condenser to be sure all the smoke is actually ending up in your distillate.

2. For the smoldering surface, you mention both a hotplate and a soldering iron as options. What do you recommend? Seems like the soldering iron would be easier to work with but the surface area would be much less, right?

3. You suggest attaching a thermometer for fine adjustment of the heat. Where/how exactly is that done? In close proximity to the soldering iron? As part of the iron mechanism itself (an inline ammeter, maybe)?

again, thanks for your time and willingness to share your experience.

Badger
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2013 "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" -- Whisky Magazine
Corsair Triple Smoke, 2013 "Artisan Whisky of the Year" Whisky Advocate Magazine
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Badger » Fri Mar 01, 2013 5:52 am

Fascinating. Thanks very much for your answers as they clear up many of my questions. I'm going to start building a version this weekend.

I had a chance to try your Vanilla Bean vodka and Ryemaggedon whiskey this year at Distill America. They were both great. Your American Still Life distributor joked that, because he can't keep Triple Smoke on the shelves, he wishes you'd just limit yourself to 3-4 products. I told him that most of your fans respectfully disagree. :)

There's a brewery here in WI called New Glarus...they are doing quite well for themselves. When they expanded to a new, high-tech brewery, they kept the old one as the owner's "sandbox". He allows his competent staff to make the flagship beers that bring in the $ and he gets to make small batch experimental beers in his own time with no worries. Hopefully, if you aren't already to that point, you soon will be.

Thanks again,
Badger
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Nake » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:17 am

This is well timed for me. I havent seen this thread yet. So the book is on its way. as my distilling buddy and I branch out to other recipes. This will save a lot of time.

Thank you
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Re: Ask Darek Bell

Postby Rummonkey » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:05 am

Darek, what are your thoughts on smoking malt itself vs the smoke infusion system you use.

Any chance catching you at the Bowling Green distillery when I do a tour this summer?
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