by Jason Stone on July 21, 2013
As I was having a discussion lately with one of my
good friends, about whiskey and aging years, I realized he does not know much
about the process of making whiskey, thou he is a true passionate of this drink
(I sometimes think he likes it more than me).
And that got me thinking: how many of the people who like this drink know how it is made? Hence, for all those of you who do not know how whiskey is made, or, would also like to make their own whisky in the comfort of their homes (after all, you have a useful whiskey still in your possession, which can be put to good use), I outline here the required, basic steps; and I say this, as every type of whiskey has certain specification about how it is made, which assures its uniqueness. In my case, I took the example of whiskey made of maize corn, in order to prove how the process goes:
1. Get some maize corn, add water to it and keep it in a bag somewhere where it is both dark and warm. The right temperature should be between 62°- 86°F.
2. As soon as the sprouts have reached 0.2 inches you can wash the corn, preserving the kernels and getting rid of all roots and sprouts.
3. Now, you can move on to the mashing, by putting the kernel into a fermenter and mixing it up in order to ensure all kernels are smashed.
4. The next step is fermentation, which first requires to add boiling water over the broken kernels and to let it cool down. Then you have the third most important ingredient (after corn and water) necessary to obtain whiskey: yeast. Add it, vent your fermenter and then close it very well. Leave the mixture for fermentation for 1 week. My advice for you would be to use a hydrometer to determine if your fermentation is completed; another way of finding out this is to look for the formation of little bubbles.
5. Distillation comes next, when you separate alcohol from water and all other substances which can affect the whiskey’s purity. You need a pot still, made of copper – which has to also be 100% lead-free, as I told you before. Make sure you do not burn the wash, so heat it quite slow and identify the right moment to start the condenser.
6. Now, whiskey would not be whiskey without a proper aging and maturation. Generally, the best ways to age it is by placing it in oak barrels, such as white oak ones. But, remember that all aging needs to be done before putting the beverage in bottle, as once in bottle the whiskey it will no longer age, as it happens with wine.
7. Finally, when the whiskey is mature enough, you can place it in bottles. From then on, you can drink it whenever you want.
These are just the simple steps in making whiskey. The process is profound and requires time to complete, especially when you produce whiskey at a distillery. But, for home, making just a small quantity by following a simple guideline should be just fine.