Here I measure some of the grains on our antique scales (that were used in the long past to measure other dry goods) that I rescued from a local antique store. The scales were sitting outside in the rain, were rusty and dirty. I tried to look past the rust and dirt. After a good cleaning, scrubbing and a nice coat of clear paint, the rescued scales are a key piece of equipment in the distillery. Did I say how accurate they are? On the money! They are essential to the mashing where I need to accurately measure the corn, rye and barley that is mixed with local filtered water.
After mashing, I add yeast to ferment all the sugars from the grain into alcohol. After one week, the mixture has been converted into “distillers beer” that is approximately 8-10 percent alcohol. At this point, the 55 gallon drums are rolled out of the fermentation room to separate the liquid from the grains.
Pressing the distillers beer to recover as much liquid as possible. This extra step ensures that we retrieve as much of the liquid to distill as possible.
After the grains have been sifted from the liquid, we press the grains to squeeze out the remaining liquid for distilling.
The corn is added and mixed in the mash. It is critical to thoroughly mix the mash to ensure a uniform consistency without clumps. The drill drives a stainless steel food mixer.
After the mash has cooled down, it is aerated, cooled to yeast pitching temperature, and then I add my whiskey yeast to start the fermentation process.
Prior to pitching the yeast into the mash, we measure the specific gravity. The specific gravity lets us know how much potential alcohol will be obtained during fermentation. Specific gravity is also tested after fermentation, and the difference between the two measurements lets us know how much alcohol is going into the still.
I pump over the distillers beer from the separated wash to the still, and then turn on the still to begin the distilling process. The distillate is captured in 3 segments - the heads, the hearts, and the tails.
The distillate is collected as it runs off the “parrot” and into the “spirit safe”. During the run, we closely monitor the alcohol proof and temperature.