Selecting Grains for Whiskey

Whisky is an alcoholic beverage that consists of various grains. We can refer to the wood grain as an umbrella because whiskey consists of multiple grains in different proportions to enhance taste and flavor. The grains are fermented and then distilled to produce whiskey.

After distillation, the brewers store the whiskey in wooden casks or white oak barrels for at least three to four years. The primary purpose of storing is to enhance the aroma and taste of whiskey.

Some whisky involves malting while may not involve the malting process. But, almost all the varieties of whiskey contain more than 40 percent ethanol. The addition of burned sugar usually colors whiskey.

The Selection of grains in Whisky is quite essential. The barley is the primary grain in the majority of Whisky. But, there are some secondary grains like corn, wheat, and rye.

Types of Whiskey

Whiskey is quite popular in the United States. The famous Whisky in America is Bourbon whiskey, Tennessee whiskey, rye whisky, corn whisky, and various others. But in all those Whiskies, cereal grains are used in their preparation. The three grains for American Whisky are barley, rye, and corn. But, in some whiskey, wheat may be present.

The United states cultivate wheat, barley, rye, and corn iSo; breweries don’t face any problem in the preparation of Whisky.

Popular Grains in Whisky

There are four significant grains used in the preparation of Whisky. The article discusses them below.

#1. Barley

Barley can be malted or unmalted. But, most of the whiskey in the United States contains malted barley.

Barley grains cannot directly take part in the preparation of whiskey. It has to be malted to give a sweet flavor in whiskey.

Malting is a process that involves germination. Now the question arises how to germinate grains in whiskey?. The answer is quite simple. The brewer keep s the barley seeds in a warm and damp environment where the cereals will grow. By germination process, the barley converts the long-chain carbohydrates into sugar. The malted barley is dried. The sugar of malted barley, which is called maltose, is dissolved in hot water to produce a sweet liquid called word, and then this liquid is fermented by adding yeast.

The malted barley gives smoky, chocolate, or cocoa flavors to the Whisky. In brief, we can say that the addition of unmalted barley enhances the taste and flavor of the whiskey.
Some whiskey may contain unmalted barley. The unmalted cereal grain barley gives a sour fruity taste like green apple or lemon. The people who like these tastes can have whiskey, which consists of unmalted barley.

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#2. Rye

Rye is cereal grain brewers use in the preparation of American Whisky. It gives a spicy flavor to the Whisky. The people who want to have Whisky with less sweetness and more spiciness should opt for rye Whisky. Rye Whisky made in America must at least contain 51 percent rye.

Even the brewers keep Whisky in a barrel for three to four years; then, this rye can give a clove flavor to the Whisky. All the Whisky should involve proper distillation. Improper distillation of rye can produce camphor flavor in Whisky, which most people do not like.

#3. Wheat

Wheat is a cereal grain that brewers use in preparation for whiskeys. They don’t add any flavor to the American whiskeys, but they impart a smooth texture or gentleness in whiskey. The bourbon whiskey in America uses a substantial amount of wheat in its preparation. As a result, the wheat softens the bourbon whiskeys.

#4. Corn

Corn is a grain that brewers use in most American whiskies. The bourbon whiskeys are pretty famous in America. These whiskeys contain 51 percent corn. So, it creates a popcorn taste. Moonshine whiskey is a white whisky that consists of corn and sugar.

Corn whiskey in America contains at least 81 percent corn, and the remaining percentage contains other grains in varying proportions.

The Tennessee whisky is also famous in the United States. The grains for Tennessee whiskey are corn, barley, and rye. Wheat may or may not be present in it. These Whiskies contain 51 percent corn in them.

Both Bourbon whiskey and Tennessee whiskey contain 51 percent corn. Even the whiskey manufacturing company store these two whiskeys in oak barrels for imparting flavors in whiskey. But they differ in distillation and filtration process.

The brewers filter the Tennessee whiskeys through sugar maple charcoal which is not in bourbon whiskeys.

Preparation of Whisky

The preparation of whiskey involves various steps like the selection of grains, malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, aging, and blending.

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#1. Selection and Preparation of the Substrate

The substrate used in Whisky is mainly are water and grains. The water should contain any pesticides or any impurities which will is harmful to human beings. Usually, the brewers prefer water with a high dissolved oxygen value for whisky preparation.

Process of Selecting Grains for Whiskey

It should also contain lime. Again selection of grains in whiskey is quite essential. It differs from one whiskey to another. The grains used in whiskey are mainly wheat, barley, rye, and corn. The brewers even add caramel to whisky production. It imparts an excellent color to the whiskey.

#2. Malting

It is the second step in the production of Whisky. The cereal grain barley usually involves a malting process. First, the barley grains involve soaking in water. We call this process steeping. Now they are allowed to sprout, and then they are heated to produce their final color.

So, the malting process involves three main steps.

a. Steeping

It is a crucial step in malting. The workers in the Whisky manufacturing company clean the barley grains, and then these grains need to keep in contact with water. The grains involves in water. The grains absorb the water.

As a result, the water activates the existing enzymes and promotes some new enzymes in barley. Again the temperature of the water is also essential for this process. Mainly it is kept at 16 degrees Celsius. Usually, the barley grains involve soaking in water for 48 hours.

b. Germinating

Here the barley grains start to germinate, which is also known as green malt. The grain begins to grow and modify. Here modification of grain means breaking down carbohydrates into starch which is visible by the opening of barley seeds.

The master thoroughly regulates the temperature, moisture levels, and airflow to have a good germination process. The method of germination usually takes around four to six days.

c. Kilning

It is the third process of malting. The brewers apply the heat treatment by convection process to the germinated barley seeds, which will prevent further germination. The brewer needs starch.

If the barley seeds are allowed for further germination, then all the starch will be utilized by the growing plant. First, the master removes the moisture from the germinated barley seeds, and then the heating process is carried to impart a good color and flavor to whiskey.

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#3. Mashing

The malted barley and other cereal grains are mixed. Then they are heated together at 45 degrees Celsius. During the heating process, the alpha-amylase covert into beta-amylase. Then they are filtered to obtain a sweet liquid called wort.

Mashing Process of Whiskey Preparation

#4. Fermentation

The fermentation process occurs when yeast introduces into the sweet liquid wort. It converts the whole sugary liquid into alcohol. The entire fermentation process takes place in huge vats.

#5. Distillation

The distillation process increases the alcohol content in the liquid. We need to heat the fermented beverage still, which is an apparatus to distill the liquid mixtures. The liquid vaporizes, and the alcohol remains in the still. But make sure that the alcohol should be free from any congeners like aldehyde, ketone, and other substances. They will impart a sour flavor to the whiskey.

#6. Aging

The high alcohol content is mixed with water to dilute the solution. Then, the brewers store most Whiskies in an oak barrel for at least three to four years. The brewers need to seal the barrel completely—the American whiskies seals in warm and dry months. The sugar, alcohol, and water will react with each other and produce a unique aroma, enhancing the taste of Whisky.

Aging Process of Whiskey Preparation

#7. Blending

In the blending process, the aged Whisky mixes with some other variety of Whisky. The caramel addition in Whisky enhances the color and flavor. Then the master blender checks the Whisky to ensure everything is mixed in correct proportions.

Wrap Up

Whisky is quite popular in the United States. Almost the majority of people prefer to drink whiskey. Virtually all the whiskey consists of cereal grains. So, the Selection of grains for whiskey is quite essential. The grains like barley, wheat, corn, and rye play a significant role in whisky preparation.

Well, the grain’s content varies in proportion in different whiskeys. Again different grains have different tastes and nutritional value. For example, the Bourbon whiskeys and Tennessee whiskey contain 51 percent corn, whereas corn whisky contains 81 percent corn.

When the brewers keep whiskeys in a barrel for several years, it increases the taste and flavor of Whisky. So, the Selection of grains and storing them in the barrel is quite crucial.