After mixing corn, rye and malted barley, and pitching the yeast into the mash, I give the whiskey mash about a week to ferment, or when there is a slow down in the bubbling going on in the fermentation vessel. This is the sign that fermentation has mostly stopped, and has converted all sugar to alcohol. I then separate the grain from the distillers beer by pouring the grain and liquid through a sieve which allows the liquid to flow into a drum. The dry grain is picked up at the distillery by a local farmer who gives his livestock a nice treat.
I distill in a still that I purchased locally in Alabama. This still allows the alcohol to reflux in its column when the alcohol vapors rise after the wash comes to temperature.
Once the still is filled with wash, I ignite the burner to directly heat the still. By keeping the heat on high to allow the temperature of the wash to increase quickly, in a controlled manner, the wash temperature gets close to the boiling temperature of ethanol. I turn down the heat so I can distill “low and slow” (at low temperature and slow distillation) to allow cleaner cuts to the whiskey.
Once the alcohol starts to flow out of the still, I collect a small percentage of the distillate, called the heads. The heads are extremely high in alcohol percentage, but have little flavor. I taste the product, and once the alcohol starts taking on a sweet taste and corn aroma, this is collected separately as the “hearts.” The hearts are the part of the distillate that I will keep and age in charred oak barrels.
The hearts flow for the longest part of the distilling process. At the end of the hearts, the temperature of the still begins to creep up, and the temperature difference between the wash and the top of the still head narrows. This is an indication that my whiskey is entering the “tails” phase. This is when I stop collecting my spirit.
This unique style of making whiskey is a delicate blend of the distilling process. Knowing where to make cuts, when to collect and when to stop, is what starts to make a good whiskey. Focusing on details is what makes a great whiskey. Collecting the sweetest part of what comes off the still gives a very smooth and full flavored whiskey. This is the only way, the one way, I will ever distill, and thus the name of Irons ONE.