How To Make Whiskey

 

The moment you set foot into a liquor store, you will notice the amount of whiskey on display.  There is a huge variety to choose from and many originates from countries like Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Tennessee, Japan and that is just to name a few. 

Another thing that you might have noticed is the spelling of whiskey or whisky?  So what is the difference? Well whiskey with the “e” is used by the Irish and the Americans.  Whisky without the “e” is used by all of the other countries, like Canada and Japan. 

This fine beverage is loved by a great many people and is made and sold all over the world.  There are quite a few different flavors and types to try.  But if simply tasting whiskey is no longer enough then it is time to step things up and to start making your own whiskey.  

Can You Make Your Own Whiskey?

Yes you can make your own whiskey at home but you need to make sure that you have all of the legal documents to do so.

You need three ingredients to get started, namely water, barley(or any other type of grain) and yeast. All of these are easily accessible. You also need some equipment to do the distillation and - most importantly patience - because you will need to age the whiskey.  

How Whiskey Is Made Step By Step?

We are going with a very simple and basic whiskey recipe to get you started on your new adventure.

Ingrédients

  • 17.6 lbs Barley Malt, coarse-ground
  • 8.45 Gallons of water (Spring or filtered water)
  • Yeast

You will also be needing a thermostat, pot, fermentation container and a distillation still. 


Step 1 - Heat water in a large pot to 70°C.and slowly add the malt and stir until smooth.  Bring the wash to 65°C (very important) and seal the pot, cook for 90 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes. The grains will have sinked to the bottom of the pot and the top part of the wash will have become lighter. 

Note: The temperature must be between 61-72°C for the wash conversion to happen. There is no way to get the yeast started again if the temperature goes higher or below this temperature range. 


Step 2 - Cool the contents to 25°C as quick as possible, this prevents sour fermentation.  Dilute the yeast as per instructions.  Add wash to the fermentation container and add yeast, stirr. Keep in a room at temperatures between 18-25°C. Add an airlock but as soon as fermentation starts, remove the airlock. Fermentation lasts about 3-15 days, stir with clean hands or wooden sticks.

When the wash has stopped bubbling for 2 days, it is ready for the next step. The wash will also become lighter and bitter.


Step 3 - Strain the wash to remove all the grains.  This will turn the whiskey bitter during distillation.  There is no need to separate the liquids during the first collection but stop collecting when the ABV hits 38%.

You will collect about 5-6 Liters of barley at 40% proof moonshine. 


Step 4 - After determining the ABV and the volume of the pure alcohol, dilute with water up to 20%. Run a second distillation. Gather the first 12%, known as heads, not suitable to be consumed and discard this part. Collect the middle run, “hearts”, until the ABV goes below 45°.

You will have at least 3-4 liters. You can also run a third distillation, this will improve the quality of the distillate and will increase the spirits’ proof.  


Step 5 - It is time to infuse the moonshine with oak.  You have two options here, firsty get an oak barrel, fill it and infuse in a cellar for at least 6 months or more.  

Alternatively, you  can use oak pegs. The oak should be at least 50 years old. After cleaning and prepping the oak, cut into long pieces that will fit in the containers. Add the wooden pegs, seal and leave in the cellar for 6-12 months or longer.  The longer it ages the better the taste. After that filter the spirits using a cheesecloth and enjoy.     

Is It Hard To Make Whiskey?

No it is not that hard to make whiskey.  It takes a lot of time but it is totally worth it in the end.  The toughest part about making whiskey is getting started.  You will require a copper pot still to distill the liquid for you to get whiskey which can be expensive. 

The steps are not complicated and all of the ingredients are easy to come by.   

So yes, making whiskey is easy.  But making a great whiskey is not quite that easy..  Great tasting whiskey comes with time and experience.  

What Are The Ingredients Used To Make Whiskey?

Water, yeast and malted barley or any types of grain are used to produce whiskey.  Water has a huge influence on the taste of the whiskey at the end of the day.  Scottish whiskeys are known for their unique flavor. 

Some areas in the USA like Kentucky, Maryland and Indianna are areas that are rich in limestone.  Water with traces of limestone contains carbonates that alters the flavor.  This is why whiskey made in different regions can taste so differently.  

What Types Of Whiskey Do You Get? 

There are a huge amount of whiskeys on the market and it can be hard to choose a great brand if you haven't tried them all just yet. Here is a list of some of the most popular whiskeys around the world.

Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey is known for their smoother flavor.  These whiskeys are made from malt and are distilled in wooden casks for at least 3 years. A perfect choice for drink neat or on ice and great to use in cocktails as well.  

Scotch Whisky

Also known as scotch, it is made from malt or graines. Scotch has very strict rules when it comes to whisky.  It must be aged for at least 3 years in an oak barrel. Every bottle must have an age statement on, reflecting the youngest aged whisky used to produce the blend. This is also a great choice to sip neat and is a preferred after-dinner drink.  

Tennessee Whiskey

Technically this whiskey classifies as a bourbon, but some distillers are not very fond of calling their whiskey bourbon.. By law all Tennessee whiskey producers must produce the whiskey in Tennessee.  An extra filtering step called the Lincoln County Process is added prior to aging the whiskey.  

Canadian Whisky

Canadian whisky is also aged for at least 3 year in a barrel.  Due to the high percentage of corn in the whisky, it is lighter and smoother than most other types of whisky.  Their whisky is mainly produced from corn and rye but you will find some that is also produced from wheat or barley.    

Considering the amount of time that is required for making whiskey, you will probably appreciate this beverage much more the next time you are sipping on it.  The time, skill and effort that goes into making whiskey is true art.