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Scotch Whisky New Make

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Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby zedzedtop » Sat Dec 12, 2015 3:47 am

Didn't intend this forum to be a review-centric spot, but I think the following is relevant in the artisan experience. I personally struggle to decide on a centre cut and more with deciding if the base ferment and distillation was up to snuff. My personal goal would be to re-create a very fine 10-20 year Scotch-like whisky. I'm not sure that my equipment is the best for that but I'm also not sure if it won't work just fine. I obtained some scotch new make to see how far off my stuff is in comparison. In a general sense I wasn't looking to duplicate anything, but to see at least the rough amount of cardboardy-feinty character that is appropriate to leave in a scotch style new make that is earmarked for a decade or more of ageing. Unfortunately, of the three I obtained, two are newbies, and the other is from an unknown distillery. One of the newbies, the Strathearn, seems to be very much a start-up couple of guys thing in the vein of American style micros, with a scotch product as the output of course. The Kingsbarns is from more reputable pedigree (an independent bottler) and the distiller is a Heriott Watt graduate and I think that has some bearing. The Strathearn uses what looks like Hoga 200gal equipment and the Kingsbarns standard large-ish scale Forsythes stuff. The other, well, who knows but I'm going to guess it's an all malt traditional double distilled place. Overall the tails/feinty character is more pronounced than American new-makes judging from the Heaven Hill trybox series and the Buffalo Trace releases. They are also sweeter and less dry, with more depth of character. The Americans are fresher, livelier, and more intense. I've also had the Glenglassaugh stuff which is much fruitier in the banana and pear sense than any of these three. More of a sweet, creamy eau-de-vie. It's not reviewed here.

I had done a many iteration attempt years ago to make a scotch thing. I think the base spirit was actually very good, but it didn't get rich or creamy till the fourth run in. I had done ten runs and ended up ruining the whole lot in a cabernet wine barrel that had most of a bottle of very high quality PX sherry dumped in. Trying to do it again without the ruining part of course. So far my centre cuts on two runs in are less rich and have less character than the "malt spirit" and Kingsbarns stuff. Perhaps in tune with the Strathearn. However, they are on par in terms of feinty levels. A few more runs will tell a lot. Not idea when I'll get to that this whole thing could take awhile and I don't want to rush it. I do as much as possible according to scotch tradition except for the double distillation. I use a three plate bubbler, single pass, with all feints from previous runs tossed in with the wash.

New Make Malt Spirit

Nose: Sweet vanilla egg custard. Egg Yolks. A slightly electrical/metallic note of blanco tequila. Peppermint. Faint wet cardboard. Faint orange marmelade.

Taste: Mallty sweet blanco tequila. Something vegetal. Carrots. Celery. More the carrots though. Droopy sweatervests of old people. Death. Meat counter. Iron.

Kingsbarnes

Nose: Nutmeg banana. Fir needles. Rotting conifer duff. Some fresh corn (green) notes like the trybox. Some orange peel.

Taste. Definite grainy cardboard feinty, but not overpowering and dissipating quickly. Not a prolonged finish. Very ripe, almost black bananas.

Strathearn

Nose: Fresh portland cement (unmixed). Fresh plastic packaging. Some rubbery sulphur notes. Some mild leafy herb. Some cinnamon schnapps. Definite fresh tile caulk. Not the silicone stuff, but the stuff that smells like paper/ wet paper.

Taste: Dry and bittersweet. Feinty bitterness perceived.

A recent centre cut of mine

Nose: Grappa and oxidizing cut red apples. Sweet cake still warm from oven. Some butterscotch. Faint soot. Granite rockdust. Some feinty cardboard/must. Mild malt wash coming through.

Taste: Lingering sweet to sooty feints note. Drying tannic things - perhaps didn't dilute enough. With more water: bananas trying to come through - definitely creamier now. And sweeter.

A centre cut from many months ago (perhaps a year in a carboy?)

Nose: Clean. Slight sweet graininess. Slight fresh green apple.

Taste. Clean. Sweet. Light bodied. Very faint background spice. Funnily enough, some scotchy notes. Although light in character, seems integrated/integrating. Both dry and sweet.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby Tracker » Sat Dec 12, 2015 7:41 am

crikey ZZT you are certainly out of my league but kudos for you for the way you go about your task. I wish I had your patience and taste skills.


Cheers.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby just sayin' » Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:49 pm

Zed,
I am looking forward to following your journey. The bottles I have added to the "library" based an your recommendation are favorites!
Thanks for sharing your search.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Sat Dec 12, 2015 3:27 pm

Ok, I figure I've had my leg pulled hard enough to make me walk slantwise, but I love your flavor/nose descriptions, which I'm passing on to my winesnob son.

On a very slightly more serious note, could you explain exactly how all these multiple runs are integrated? I'm distilling both bourbon and malt whiskeys such that, except for the last run, with cuts made, every run is a stripping run with the last run's low wines and the rest fresh wash. I've had wonderful luck with flavor development, and I'm wondering how close your process is to that.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby zedzedtop » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:43 pm

ZB, I suppose every run for me is a spirit run. The charge is a mix of new wash and feints from the previous run, so there aren't really ever any low wines. All distillate that is not hearts is diluted to 27% and stored until I have another go at it. I collect until the distillate reaches 1%. The feints are siphoned into the still leaving the top (to leave the phase separated fusels) and bottom (I get brown ashy/oily distillate at the end of a run that I also don't want to recycle) cm or so. The container is not cleaned out between runs. That's how I did the last series, and planning on the same this one. For that previous series, the good flavours didn't appear in the hearts until the 4th iteration or so. I recall the character to be sweet, clean, with a good dollop of butterscotch and brown sugar. Sort of like a highly rectified new rum. Not fruity - but I was being extra conservative on keeping away from heads esters. Also kept away from tails compounds. It's a shame that first series got messed up in the end. I also didn't have the experience of the commercial new makes for judging the cuts on the first series. The two centres I described in the first post were iterations one and two from a new series. So, the first iteration had no feints.

Wash is always 1.060. If things don't go wrong on mash day, the fg is 1.000 - 1.002. Fermentation temperatures are not well controlled - that's something I'd like to upgrade in the future. I believe a huge part of the centre cut's character comes from fermentation by-products and hence determined in a large part by the myriad of fermentation parameters. I don't mind some variation in character, or a lot even for that matter, but if I can manage temperature, I'll be able to determine with better precision when the fermentation will be finished. This would be really useful for planning the time to run the stuff. It's a bit of a crap shoot at the moment. I do have a beer chamber, but that often has beer in it ;) , and I'd rather keep the equipment mostly separate. I'd like the ferment to be finished in three to four days and run immediately. The summer before last, on a rye run, I had a ferment stall out when the wash got to 97degF! Had to re-pitch. I find if you start warm enough, things tend not to stall out from the cold if the initial fermentation is healthy, as the heat from the yeast's metabolism is enough to keep things warm for a few days. I'm in a colder spot now so we'll see how that works. Again, some heaters would be nice. I've tackled heating various ways in the past, and they pretty much all worked, but the systems were hacked and fragile and ugly and I'm really trying not to start those kind of projects these days. We'll see if I come up with something that I think I'll be happy with.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby zedzedtop » Sat May 14, 2016 2:41 am

I'm going to take a stab and say that that 'new make malt spirit' is Clynelish.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby okie » Mon May 16, 2016 9:54 am

I bought hand warmers from wally world. They aren't expensive and they are low temp. I simply place one below each fermenter and switch it on when the temps fall in the fermenter or on cold days. They work great.

I think I'm following you...... :shock:
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Mon May 16, 2016 11:34 am

ZZ, I've still never seriously dealt with the fact that I live in a cool climate, and ambient fermentations are kinda iffy, even when brought into the house. Consulting to Cultus Bay Distillery, I'm trying to address the issue with insulated fermenters with aquarium heaters, and I think I'm headed in the right direction, even if the results are clouded by other simultaneous problems.

Right now I'm trying to keep stir-plate yeast bomb production at a nice warm temperature.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby okie » Tue May 17, 2016 9:22 am

ZZ are you using a pot still? I'm only a simple pot with a tall tower and I'm starting to get some very good single malt. My hearts are clean and have good flavor. My last post was about my aging actually, as it turned out. I am now looking into better made thicker barrels. pre soaking them many times and seasoning them with ujsm first. I hope this improves mine.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby sugarcreek » Tue May 17, 2016 10:05 am

ZZ, I've still never seriously dealt with the fact that I live in a cool climate, and ambient fermentations are kinda iffy, even when brought into the house. Consulting to Cultus Bay Distillery, I'm trying to address the issue with insulated fermenters with aquarium heaters, and I think I'm headed in the right direction, even if the results are clouded by other simultaneous problems.


Bob, I'm helping out at a local distillery. They're using totes for fermenters. I use these two items:

http://amzn.com/B0199W751Q
http://amzn.com/B01A51OLR6


Which do a great job of keeping ferm temps up in the winter.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Tue May 17, 2016 12:16 pm

Sugar, thanks for those links! I've bookmarked them in the things Cultus Bay Distillery will be needing soon. It's a tiny and shoestring startup, but I'm trying to map out her growth paths, and I think these guys are on that path.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby zedzedtop » Tue May 17, 2016 8:19 pm

I had two 500w finnex heaters that ran for ten years without a hiccup in a saltwater aquarium. I still have the boxes they came in - nice boxes. Just used a little glass cheapie last ferment.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby zedzedtop » Tue May 17, 2016 8:21 pm

okie wrote:ZZ are you using a pot still? I'm only a simple pot with a tall tower and I'm starting to get some very good single malt. My hearts are clean and have good flavor. My last post was about my aging actually, as it turned out. I am now looking into better made thicker barrels. pre soaking them many times and seasoning them with ujsm first. I hope this improves mine.



It's a 3-plate bubbler. I might swap in a straight tube and run without added rectification after another iteration or so.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby okie » Wed May 18, 2016 9:15 am

Please posts your results after the switch. I'll be interested in your findings.

My last thread was about yeast, temps with ferments and flavors. I had aged single malt in a used whiskey barrel then placed in glass with new French oak spirals. I had proofed a bottle for a relative before the French Oak and it was the best I have ever had anywhere. After the French Oak I proofed and bottled and I wasn't happy with it. I was thinking everything happened except the fact I used fresh French Oak.

The surprising thing is, after a few months in the bottle that taste is gone. Don't ask me how, but it is. It was the bite of tannin. I know whiskey has that bite and scotch doesn't and that's why I love scotch.
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Re: Scotch Whisky New Make

Postby dad300 » Wed May 18, 2016 2:11 pm

Just read a post at ADI, about oxidation occurring for up to three months in bottle adding a lot of polish to the drink.
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