What are the four key steps involved in all spirit production?
1. Processing the raw material
2. Fermentation of the raw material into an alcoholic solution
3. Distillation of the alcoholic solution
4. Post-distillation processing
How is a the alcoholic strength raised in a spirit?
By distilling a spirit multiple times, the alcoholic strength is increased each time, creating a purer product.
What is the goal of processing a raw material?
To create a sugary liquid from which fermentation can take place.
What raw materials are spirits made from?
Any plant can be used, however, only a small number are. Plants with more available sugar are better.
What is the goal of fermentation?
To turn sugar into alcohol
How is alcohol created?
Yeast is added to raw materials and water. The yeast then eats all the sugar and turns it into alcohol.
Yeast are microorganisms that metabolize sugar and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide as by-products.
What does ABV stand for?
Alcohol By Volume
ABV will appear as a percentage of alcohol on the label of a spirits or other alcoholic beverage, as required by law. A product that is 40% ABV will be 40% alcohol.
This will also be one-half the "proof" of a spirit, in the UNITED STATES.
After fermentation, alcoholic liquids are typically around what abv?
(Although this can vary depending on the type of base material used)
In addition to alcohol, what else is created by the process of fermentation?
Carbon dioxide (waste product) and additional flavors, which are often fruity in nature.
What is the goal of distillation?
To concentrate the level of alcohol in the fermented liquid
What two processes does distillation involve?
1. Boiling a fermented alcoholic liquid and turning it into a vapor
2. Condensing and collecting the alcohol vapors created by boiling
Why does distillation create a liquid that has a higher alcoholic strength than the original liquid?
Alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, making it possible to condense and collect the alcohol prior to the water boiling and turning to vapor.
What is done after distillation to create a desired spirit?
Adjustment of color, aroma, sweetness, and alcohol strength
These things will be done at the discretion of the distiller, based on their preference for style in the finished product, or to adhere to local customs and/or regulations
What might limit a distiller's ability to make style choices for their product?
Local laws or regulations
In pot-still distillation, how much alcohol is typically achieved with one distillation?
About 25% ABV
In pot-still distillation, how much alcohol is typically achived with the second distillation?
About 75% ABV