Grain Spirits

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Grain Spirits
2014-10-12 19:00:25

WSET Diploma Unit 4 - Spirits
Show Answers:

  1. Name 2 categories of spirit produced from grain
    • Whisk(e)y: spelling NOT dictated by law; aged in oak
    • Vodka: can be made from any agricultural product; unaged (flavoring optional)
  2. Name 2 techniques to convert grain starch to sugar
    • Malting
    • Cooking
  3. When did Scotch whisky become a global industry?
    1827: with the invention of the continuous Coffey still
  4. When did mixing malt and grain become legal?
    • 1860: Merchants released blends (blends account for most Scotch sales)
    • 1870s: Phylloxera devastated Cognac production
    • Merchants: John Walker, William Teacher, James and John Chivas, John Dewar
  5. Why are new varieties of barley being introduced?
    To maximize starch content, its conversion to sugar, maximizing alcohol per tonne
  6. What does a barley grain consist of?
    • Embryonic plant
    • Insoluble starch (enzymes modify this to a soluable form and then to sugar)
  7. What causes the plant in a barley grain to grow (germinate)?
    • Warmth
    • Moisture
  8. Do distilleries buy or make their own malt?
    Nearly all distilleries buy malt made to their specifications
  9. Describe the 5 steps in the malting process and the 5 [products]
    • [Barley]: dormant grain
    • Germination: 2-3 days of alternating wet (steeped in water) and dry (drained off) phases
    • [Green Malt]: plant starts to grow
    • Modification: starch made soluable; blow green malt with humidified air and constantly turn
    • Kilning: green malt heated and dried to stop germination; peat adds flavor if used as kiln fuel
    • [Malted Barley]: The product of kilning green malt
    • Milling: grind malted barley into a coarse flour called grist
    • [Grist}: mixed with hot water (63-64°C/145-147°F) in a "mash tun" to reactivate enzymes
    • Mashing: starch is converted to sugar; the impact of water on flavor is tiny
    • [Wort]: sugar solution drawn off bottom of mash tun, cooled, and pumped into a "washback" (fermenter)
  10. How does mashing influence the flavor of the spirit?
    • Not all liquid drains off freely so hotter water is added to the mash tun to draw out more sugar
    • This is done a second time with even hotter water but this is added to the next mash
    • If solids are pulled into the washback to create a cloudy wort, the whisky will have a greater malty and cereal character
  11. What is peat?
    • Partially carbonized decaying vegetation
    • Spongy layer up to 9 meters thick
    • Forms when land becomes waterlogged
    • Slow to form -- ten years per cm
  12. Are any whiskies made exclusively from peated malt?
    No - the flavor would be too strong
  13. Name 3 aromas of peat-flavored whisky
    • Seaweed
    • Smoke
    • Tar
  14. What impact does temperature have when using peat to kiln barley?
    • The lower the temperature, the great the effect on the barley
    • The phenolic compounds in peat smoke are destroyed if the fire is too hot
  15. When is starch made soluable?
    • For Malt: Modification
    • For Grain: Cooking
  16. When is water added when making wort from grain?
    • For Malt: mashing
    • For Grain: cooking
  17. Describe the fermentation process for spirits
    • Cultured yeast is added to the cooled wort; Scotch producers emphasize which yeast
    • Within 48 hours, the alcoholic liquid, called "wash", is 7-10% abv
    • Some distillers leave the wash a few days to develop extra congeners
  18. Describe distillation of Scotch Whisky
    • Double distilled in a copper pot still
    • First distillation in a wash still to make "low-wines" of 21-28% abv
    • Second distillation in a spirit still to make spirit of 70% abv
    • Heads (foreshots) and Tails (feints) distilled with next batch of low-wines
  19. Name 2 distillation factors that determine the style and quality of spirit
    • Still design: old stills are replaced by identical ones
    • Cut point: early cut to tails results in lighter spirits
    • Peat character is from congeners with high boiling points
  20. Describe Scotch whisky maturation
    • Must be matured in oak barrels less than 700 liters for minimum of 3 years
    • Most barrels had Bourbon; (charred Q alba) small percentage had Sherry (toasted Q alba)
  21. What is "wood finishing"?
    • Moving an aged whisky into a barrel from a different source for a short period prior to bottling
    • The previous contents (Port, Sherry, Madeira, red wine, sweet white wine) can add flavor (and sometimes color)
  22. Are barrels reused in Scotland?
    • Frequently; flavor contribution diminishes with each reuse
    • Producers use this to create a variety of whiskies to supply to blenders
  23. Are all Scotch Whiskies blends?
    • Nearly all malts should be seen as blends
    • Premium malts tend not to be colored or chill filtered and are occasionally bottled at cask strength
  24. Name the 5 Whisky regions of Scotland
    • Lowland: light malty and zesty; 3 distilleries; Auchentoshan (Ock-un-tosh-un), Glenkinchie, Bladnoch
    • Highland: mixed styles; Glen Morangie, Oban, Dalmore, Dalwhinnie
    • Speyside: mixed styles; Caragganmore, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, Knockando, Knockdhu
    • Campbelltown: rich and heavy; 3 distilleries; Springbank, Glen Scotia, Glengyle
    • Islay (eye-luh): often peated; 8 distilleries; Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin
    • Islands: Arran, Highland Park, Isle of Jura, Talisker
  25. Name 7 grain whisky distilleries
    • Cameronbridge, Diageo
    • North British, Diageo/The Edrington Group
    • Strathclyde, Pernod Ricard
    • Invergordon, Whyte and Mackay
    • Girvan, William Grant & Sons
    • Loch Lomond, Loch Lomond Distillers
    • Glen Turner, La Martiniquaise