Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Production Notes (for distilling geeks)

THIS POST (mainly on technical production) FROM Greg Ramsay, from the New Zealand Whisky Company:

These are a few tidbits from emails and Q&A's from our distributors, to & from Cyril (and me) over time, in relation to the production process

-Seagrams took over in 1981,i think they paid 3 million for the distillery,don’t quote me on that.

1) do you know why Seagrams took over? they recognised a regional production base, with a lower cost of production, servicing an unmet demand for legal NZ whisky, and a good production base from which to export to Aus (particularly gin) and Asia (for low cost bulk whisky)

The pot stills had a stainless base with a copper neck through to the condensers above which ran through to the spirit safe.There was a few minor repairs to the copper neck but nothing major.
Farras engineering joked to me that the indentations in the repairs would add more flavour to the spirit.

2) is there any truth in the story about the stainless steel stills?  Jim Murray writes about it in his early 1990s book, when he actually visited and spent some time at the distillery, (see link to article here)

An early Dunedin Distillery, in 1867 (about when Cyril started)

peating levels if peated, no technical info on this, however we can glean from Jim Murray’s mid 1990s book ‘Whisky’ which has a double-page feature on his visit and time at the Dunedin Distillery, as well as distiller Cyril Yates (who worked from 1972 until 1996 in the distillery as a Senior Foreman) that the distillers were getting increasingly confident with their use of Peat from the late 80s, and that the younger the whisky is/later the whisky was made, the peatier it becomes.

techy info on the fermentation times, i could get this from Cyril, but he may be doing his shift work over next few days and not be on email/have time. Any info Cyril on fermentation temperatures, volumes, ABV etc. would be terrific.

where the bourbon barrels came from, Four Roses distillery, Kentucky

what sort of barley was used (all this stuff is really important), Southland barley malted in Dunedin by Maltexo (one of the original developers of distillery). Please note, that even the DoubleWood, while being a blend is a blend of 70% malted barley, combined with 30% grain spirit from a continuous column still (which also spat out their base spirit for their gin). All the grain brought onto the property was still barley, but unmalted. I think this technically means the DoubleWood is a Single Grain (as in a Single distillery AND a Single Grain, but not all malted) but we just call it blended for simplicity!

where are the casks from – Seagrams brought all the 190litre bourbon barrels out from their Four Roses distillery in Kentucky, these were obvisouly once used, first fill American White Oak. After buying the last remaining stock from Fosters (150,000litres of cask strength) most of the Blend was then decanted by new owners Warren & Debbie Preston (a wine family from Tauranga, owners of well-known MillsReef winery) into their ex Syrah, Merlot & Pinot Noir barrels, which was French Oak. This is the famed Dunedin DoubleWood

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