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Grain Whisky

The mild, light character of grain whisky greatly contributes to the flavor balance of blended whisky.  Blending with malt whisky softens the strong character of malt whisky to produce a pleasant-tasting spirit that goes down smoothly.

Like malt whisky, grain whisky is also produced through a process of mashing, fermentation, distillation and aging.  It differs significantly from malt whisky production in that corn is used as the main ingredient and distillation occurs in a continuous still. In addition, prior to mashing, a process called “cooking” is required.

Ingredients

The main ingredient is corn. A part of the process uses malt as a source of enzymes. Presently, in Scotland wheat or a combination of wheat and corn is used as main ingredients. Malt is used because even if corn is germinated, it does not produce a large amount of diastatic enzymes. The malt serves to saccharify the starch in the corn without germination.  

 

Cooking

In the case of malt whisky, malting breaks down starch cells in the germinating malt, making it easier to mash (saccharify). By contrast, grain whisky uses un-germinated corn, making it necessary to break down the starch cells by other means. Cooking is the process that does this. The selected corn is first ground as finely as possible. Water is added to the ground corn, and the starch cells are broken down by exposing it to high-temperature, high-pressure conditions. Once the cooking is completed, the liquid is cooled before advancing to the mashing process.  

 

Mashing‭ ‬

Mashing is performed by adding a gruel-like solution of milled malt and process water to the cooked liquid.  This is when the diastatic enzymes in the malt go to work. The corn starch is broken down into sugars and a sweet liquid, or mash, is created.

Fermentation Once the mash is cooked, yeast is added and the mash is fermented in the washback. This process takes slightly longer than fermentation for malt whisky, which could take up to 96 hours. The resulting liquid, called wash, is around 10 percent alcohol.

Distillation‭ ‬

A continuous still is used to distill grain whisky continuously at an alcohol content below of 94.8 percent. If the alcohol content climbs to 95 percent or higher, then it will lose its gain character thus becoming a neutral spirit like vodka.

A continuous still is usually made up of two to four columns, and inside each column are several dozen shelves. Each shelf serves like a single pot still. The wash continuously flows from top to bottom, and the vapor continuously flows from bottom to top. The higher it rises, the greater the alcohol content in the vapor, and the lower it descends, the lower alcohol content in the solution.  Compared to a pot still, a continuous still can produce spirit that has higher alcohol content, but the style of the resulting whisky will be gentler in character. Grain whisky, therefore, is called the silent spirit, in contrast to the loud spirit, malt whisky.

 

Maturation‭ ‬

Just like malt whisky, grain whisky is also matured in a cask. While oak casks are the most commonly used, the casks that have been used a few times in the maturation of malt whisky are preferred.  This gives a mild cask flavor to the grain whisky.  Since grain whisky is distinguished by a flavor that is cleaner than that of malt whisky, it is best to use older casks that do not release cask compounds in large amounts.

穀物威士忌溫和輕盈的特性,非常適合用於混合威士忌,使其口味更為平衡。 當穀物威士忌與麥芽威士忌混合,可柔化其稜角,產生一種愉悅的味道和柔順的質感。

像麥芽威士忌一樣,穀物威士忌也必需經糖化、發酵、蒸餾和陳年等生產過程。它與麥芽威士忌最主要的差異,在於以玉米作為主要原材料,並且在蒸餾器中蒸餾。 此外,在糖化之前它必需經過一個稱為「Cooking」的程序。

雖然主要原材料是玉米,但在釀造過程中也需要麥芽,作為酶的來源。目前,蘇格蘭威士忌大部分都以小麥、或者小麥和玉米的組合為原材料。玉米發芽後不能產生足夠的水解酶,因此麥芽主要的角色是分解玉米中的澱粉。

以麥芽威士忌為例,麥芽中的澱粉細胞會在發芽過程中分解,使其更容易糖化。相比之下,穀物威士忌使用未發芽的玉米,所以需借助其他方式分解澱粉。Cooking就是這樣一個過程。盡可能精細地研磨玉米,將水加入研磨的玉米中,然後讓澱粉置於高溫高壓的環境下將其分解。得出的液體經冷卻後,就可以進入糖化過程。

糖化

在煮熟的液體中加入磨碎的麥芽和水,麥芽中的脂肪酶就開始產生作用。玉米中的澱粉被分解成糖份,產生出帶甜的液體或麥芽漿。

發酵

麥芽漿經煮過後,加入酵母後就可以開始發酵。整個發酵過程比麥芽威士忌相對較長,可能需時96小時,得出的液體稱為麥酒汁,酒精度約為10%。

蒸餾

穀物威士忌是在連續式蒸餾器中蒸餾,其得出的威士忌酒精度必需低於94.8%。 如果酒精度達到95%以上,酒中的所有穀物的元素將會消失,變成了伏特加一類的中性的烈酒。

連續式蒸餾器通常由兩至四個柱餾塔組成,每個柱餾塔中有數十個格層。每一格都像一個壺式蒸餾器,麥酒汁從上到下不斷地流動,蒸汽則從底部向上升。位處越高的蒸氣,所含的酒精也越高;愈往下走,液體中的酒精含量則越低。與壺式蒸餾器相比,連續式蒸餾器能生產出酒精含量較高的烈酒,造就出偏向溫和的風格。 因此,穀物威士忌也被稱為Silent Spirit,與Loud Spirit麥芽威士忌相映成趣。

 

陳化

就像麥芽威士忌一樣,穀物威士忌也在木桶中熟成。雖然橡木桶十分常見,但一般都會採用曾經熟成麥芽威士忌的桶來陳化穀物威士忌。這給穀物威士忌帶來溫和的酒桶風味。由於穀物威士忌的風格比麥芽威士忌純淨,因此最好使用不會釋放大量化合物的舊酒桶來陳年。