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Crush the grains into a coarse meal
Most spirits are made from cereals such as barley and rye. The high starch content in these ingredients presents a risk of gelatinization. So integral part of the preparation process involves hydrolysis to break down the starches.
To facilitate the hydrolyzation, remove the husks in a de-awner or hulling machine and grind the grains into a coarse meal with a crusher.
Form the ingredients into a mash to release the sugars
Starch is a polysaccharide composed of a series of glucose units. These are the sugars that react to produce alcohol.
Mix the crushed grains with water to transform starches into simple sugars and create a ‘mash’. Temperature-controlled mashing systems infuse the grains with hot water to separate proteins and make the malts easier to ferment.
Fermentation equipment provides yeast with the best conditions to consume sugars
The conversion of sugars into alcohol is a natural phenomenon triggered by yeast. The bacteria multiply as they consume the sugars, leaving ethanol and carbon dioxide as a by-product.
But yeast needs safe conditions to grow. Industrial fermentation technology ensures a closed environment away from oxygen and thermal control to maintain the temperature. Fermentation produces the base liquor that is turned into spirit.
Distill the alcohol from congeners and impurities
The leap from raw alcohol to spirit takes place with distillation. Base liquor such as wine and beer contains other ingredients like grain particles and water. The process of distillation purifies alcohols from these congeners.
Distillation technology heats the liquid, but since ethanol has a lower boiling point, it vaporizes and escapes the mixture. The special liquor making machines capture these vapors and condense them into raw spirits.
Allow time for maturation after the journey through liquor making machines
Distillation is the final step in making spirits, but some liquor categories require aging. Indeed, some producers choose to age distilled alcohols that do not strictly need it, like vodka or gin.
On the other hand, certain spirits like whisky, rum, and brandy must observe a specific aging regime to classify as such. The maturation period develops aromas, bouquets, and colors as the distilled liquors interact with the cask.
Apply the solera maturation technique for rum
Some rum distillers do not age their spirits, producing a fresher product with a grassy aroma. If you age rum, alternative techniques exist to develop complex flavors.
The traditional single-barrel method lets the liquor sit in an oak cask for at least a year. More recently. Producers have been experimenting with the solera technique, originally used for sherry, stacking the barrels in a pyramid. The finished liquor is drawn from the base, adding a new spirit to the top.
Cognac must be aged in French oak
Like whisky and rum, brandy is aged in charred oak casks. In Cognac, France, brandy maturation is regulated by state laws.
Very Special Cognac (VS) must age for two years, and Very Superior Old Pale (VSOP) for at least four years. Producers must wait six years for their brandy to reach the Extra Old Cognac (XO) category. Of course, casks must be made from French oak.
Whisky extracts the characteristics of casks during the aging phase
Whisky starts as a harsh, transparent spirit. But aging in oak barrels mellows it down and develops its golden colors. Scotch whiskies must be aged for at least three years, whereas American bourbon requires two.
There are more variables than maturation time. Barrels from American oak produce softer tones, while French oak develops spicy notes. Whisky is aged in toasted sherry casks, while bourbon is kept in charred barrels. The burnt layer filters out impurities from the spirits.
Packaging machines for liquor bottles are top-loading systems
After a long rest in barrels, the spirits are ready for their final journey before they reach the consumers. The liquor is pumped into a filling machine, pouring the correct dose into bottles. Some recipes add a blending stage before filling, combining different spirits.
Regarding packaging, liquor cartoning is typically performed by a top-loading machine, dropping the bottles into boxes from above.