High West Rye throwdown

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Re: High West Rye throwdown

Unread postby cowdery » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:55 pm

tmckenzie wrote:I do not think, I will check, that 6 row is a hybrid. It is just a different variety, or type. There are also 4 row barley. When Taylor was making his stuff, the dp on the malt was probably pretty low. He may of had to use that much to get the job done. I agree with Chuck, making a wash, like some of the micros, is not part of american tradition, and should be stopped, in my opinion.


But which is worse, Tom, distillers who ferment a wash? Or distillers who buy wash?
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Re: High West Rye throwdown

Unread postby gillmang » Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:15 am

Tom, Gary Gillman here (gillmang) from Toronto. Your analysis makes a lot of sense. I think malted rye whiskey developed as a separate standard of identity because historically the first type was rye whiskey made from raw rye, using generally 80% of that and the rest barley malt. Later in the 1800's, malted rye became a distiller's option following technical developments which allowed rye to be malted and sold in quantity. Apparently Montreal, Quebec was an early center of this development. Because you see in old ads the name "Montreal malted rye" or "Montreal process" to describe use of this form of the grain. I believe if you used 100% malted rye or 80% malted rye and 20% corn or anything else, the taste would be quite different than is produced from a mostly raw rye grist. I think the taste is milder notably - there is an analogy here I think to Scots malt whisky which, all things equal, seems less oily and pungent than Irish pure pot still whiskey which uses unmalted barley as the base of the grist.

High West released a series of rye whiskeys, discussed here recently. Of the 3 ryes issued, one is not a straight rye but I am talking here about the ones that are, and they may have been made with malted rye. I say that because they have a soft palate that seems quite different from the typical (well-aged or not) straight rye palate - and the typical one derives from use of unmalted rye (e.g., Rittenhouse, Pikesville, ORVW 13 rye, etc.). I have only tasted the one that combines a 6 and 16 year old straight rye, both apparently made by Seagram in Lawrenceburg, Indiana in the plant now owned by Angostura of West Indies. It is a delicious but rather mild straight rye with a faint mango note. It seems reasonable to suppose it was designed for blending with products such as VO or 7 Crown, the hallmark of which is mildness, and therefore I wonder if Lawrenceburg used malted rye for this product.

To add to what Chuck said about malting and mashing: when raw grains are converted in the mash they of course will not have undergone kilning, and this abtracts out therefore the dimension of flavour you get from using a malt where germination was arrested by application of heat. You get the same result in fermentable extract both ways (except perhaps more so with unmalted grains since less of the extract was lost in the malting process) but the flavour of course will vary depending which is used. Other factors play into it, e.g., yeast selection, distillation method and white dog proof, but all things being equal, I believe malted rye will produce overall a milder palate than unmalted.

I am trying to remember if Anchor uses malted or unmalted rye. I think the former. While its products are pretty assertive, we must remember too they are marketed generally at young ages.

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Re: High West Rye throwdown

Unread postby cowdery » Sat Sep 26, 2009 12:24 am

It is very unlikely that Lawrenceburg uses malted rye.

I believe Maytag (Anchor) uses 100% malted rye.
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Re: High West Rye throwdown

Unread postby tmckenzie » Sat Sep 26, 2009 12:33 pm

Chuck, the ones who buy a fermented "wash" are worse than the ones who buy a wort and ferment it. Both are not craft in my opinion, as a lot of flavor is in how you mash. The stuff they are likely getting from breweries, is so sterile also, that there is no way they could ever get the flavor of a wash or mash produced in house. In my opinion, if you do not know how to mash, or are to lazy to learn then do not get in the business.
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Re: High West Rye throwdown

Unread postby gillmang » Sat Sep 26, 2009 3:14 pm

Actually I looked at the back of the High West bottle (the one that combines 6 and 16 year old ryes) and a reference is made to the use of unmalted rye. But it is ambiguous, you can interpret it as suggesting that one or both of the whiskeys in the bottle used some malted rye.

I think it is possible some of the whiskey in there was made with malted rye in part or in whole. If malted rye makes for a gentle palate with proper aging, it might be particularly suitable as a flavouring whiskey for Canadian or American whiskey. Since Lawrenceburg seems to have made straight whiskey in recent decades for this purpose, and since malred rye whiskey is an old technique in the industry, it strikes me it may have lived on at Lawrenceburg at any rate. This is speculation to be sure.

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Re: High West Rye throwdown

Unread postby Leopold » Sat Sep 26, 2009 4:42 pm

tmckenzie wrote: In my opinion, if you do not know how to mash, or are to lazy to learn then do not get in the business.


I'm not here to tell anyone how they should run their business, but what really doesn't make any sense about buying wash is that it makes zero financial sense. Zero. If you already have a still, a mash tun that holds between 50 and 200 gallons (which is where many of these distilleries are sized) is dirt cheap. Dirt cheap. Doesn't make any sense to pay an upcharge when you can do it yourself for less. Much less.

But the biggest thing, IMHO, is that mashing is fun.
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Re: High West Rye throwdown

Unread postby cowdery » Sun Sep 27, 2009 11:32 am

Tom,

I didn't realize people were buying wort but fermenting it themselves. That does seem bizarre. If you can't invest in a grain mill (what else do you need? You can mash in the fermenter, can't you?), how serious can you be?

I guess we have to admire innovation. There are lots of ways to run a business and make a product. I don't condemn anyone for that. Just don't take a bunch of shortcuts and then brag about how 'craft' you are. Just because you're small, that doesn't make you craft.

Would you call someone who buys frozen bread dough, thaws it and bakes it an artisan baker?
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Re: High West Rye throwdown

Unread postby tmckenzie » Sun Sep 27, 2009 11:50 am

I have heard that some are actually fermenting it themselves, but I would bet the majority are not. I agree that it is very easy to mash onsite, and it is way more economical. I have even argured this to Bill Owens, but he still does not see the light. You can mash right in the fermenter. We cook our mash in used steam kettles, that we paid little for, it works out great. People act like Bill is the "god" of microdistilling, when he does not have a clue. He is not even open to the idea of doing it yourself. He told me that there is no way we could be doing it onsite, he said it would take at least 6 hours to make a mash, I told him we do it in about an hour, he said he would have to see it to believe it. Now he is making stuff from doughnuts.
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Re: High West Rye throwdown

Unread postby Leopold » Sun Sep 27, 2009 12:41 pm

Bill comes from a loooong and storied background in microbrewing, and that tradition in the US has a deep history of doing things on the cheap until the brewery has its financial act together.

He's just doing what he thinks will help get more people through the startup phase. I don't agree with his math, but I have a great deal of respect for the man. Most of the people starting distilleries have no experience in beverage production. Ok, almost all. I can only think of a handful of people off the top of my head that have had professional education in alcohol/beer/wine production that are running distilleries. That doesn't mean that there aren't more, obviously. But the industry is new. I can tell you that when I went to the Siebel Institute in 1995, when the microbrewing scene wasn't quite a decade old, there were some seriously questionable practices (shortcuts) happening at some pretty big name "craft" breweries. They didn't know any better, or didn't have the $$ to do it right, as the industry was brand new.

These plants will get it together eventually. As an example, Stranahan's just started making their own distiller's beer this year. It just takes time, a little money, and a bit more knowledge.

JMHO.
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