Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

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Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:54 pm

Was wondering if any of you could comment on the production methods in the creation of Maryland Rye and Monongahela Rye? I've visited the Lipman's amazing site, and from what I can glean, there doesn't seem to be much agreement as to what the profiles of each of these whiskies seem to be.

Any comments, opinions, or actual tasting notes from vintage bottlings would be appreciated.

Thank you.
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby PaulO » Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:51 pm

I have tasted modern ryes such as Beam's version of 80 proof Old Overholt, Sazerac Rye, Rittenhouse BIB, and Wild Turkey Rye. I am not sure how any of these would compare to Maryland or Monongahela rye.
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:55 pm

Which part? The heated by live steam? Or the part about distilling it a third time?

This is great stuff, thank you very much.
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Sat Aug 15, 2009 5:32 pm

Totally agree that these breakdowns are fascinating!

I find the live steam to be of interest because even with today's technolgy, getting pure live steam isn't easy. I would think that you'd see some mineral carryover into the distillate using live steam back at the turn of the century. JMHO.

Wooden stills are just, well, amazing.

But in your opinion, mozilla, does Maryland Rye have a specific flavor profile? Or a specific production protocol? Seems like they're all over the place, at least from what I've found so far. The only common thread I've found is that they (some) were particularly fruity.

That one recipe with 30 gallons of molasses in the "grist" sure would account for ester production!
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:04 pm

I agree with you that using different yeast strains, mash bills and distillation methods is more interesting than finishes. After all, I"m a distiller, not a coopersmith.

Live steam, to me anyway, means that the steam is injected directly into the spirit path. As opposed to, say, steam jackets, where the steam never comes into direct contact with spirit, and only heats indirectly.

I guess you gave me my answer. I was looking to recreate Maryland or Monongahela Rye, but there doesn't seem to be a defining characteristic of either "styles" of Rye. Well, outside of a thread here where some have said that Maryland is fruitier than Monongahela Rye.

Thanks for your help.
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:30 pm

Oh I agree about getting a fruity yeast strain. My background is in brewing. We've already been playing with yeast strains over the years, as our beer fermenters were just a few steps away from our still. The nice thing is, even though we ceased brewing production, there are so many breweries in our area.....using Belgian strains, various ale strains.....that we can really experiment. It'll be fun.

I was just hoping to see what the "target" for a Maryland Rye is, before I try and hit it, so to speak.

Before the fall, I'm hoping to do a barrel of rye or two using a hefeweizen yeast strain. Should be fun.

Thanks so much for your input!
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:35 pm

It's Leopold Bros. Small Batch Distillers.

Thanks again, and I will indeed keep checking for other posters....
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby tmckenzie » Sun Aug 16, 2009 8:46 am

Do you have access to good local rye up there?
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:01 am

Excellent discussion. A few comments:

Live steam simply means steam driven up the column still through perforated plates to vaporize the wash or mash coming down, the classic column (Coffey) still method. Using jackets of steam or coils to heat, say, a pot still, of course is different.

My reading of 1800's sources for rye whiskey is consistent with what Jeff cites as a mashbill from the source he quotes, 80% rye and the rest barley malt. In the 1860's-era Complete Practical Distiller by F.X. Byrn who was based in Philadelphia, this mash bill is given and I believe a similar one which has a somewhat lesser quantity of rye, perhaps 2/3rds rye and the rest barley malt. Glenn Raudins has reprinted this excellent book, see http://www.raudins.com

Regarding Maryland rye. Some people have suggested it was a fruity style. I believe the Heaven Hill website does, in its comments on rye whiskey. This element of fruitiness may have come from top-fermented mashes. It may have come also (perhaps in later years to emulate this quality), from adding a blending agent. I believe that sherry, say, or prune wine, was used for this purpose - they still are in Canada in some cases for Canadian whisky. I believe some American blended whisky uses them, too. These whiskies could be a blend of straight whiskies to which such an agent was added, or a true blend where part of it was aged or unaged GNS.

I think the Mon Valley style of rye was all-rye or mostly so, straight, not flavoured. In Maryland, I think again different styles were made as mentioned including probably the Mon Valley type. As for molasses, young rye whiskey was sometimes served from barrels (this in Western Pennsylvania) that had held molasses.

Also, all the whiskies mentioned of today (Overholt, Saz, Rittenhouse, etc.) are very good. They generally have (is my understanding) a quantity of rye that does not much exceed 51%. There are also a number of super-aged ryes on the market (Hirsch's, Rittenhouse in one or two iterations, Van Winkle's rye and others) that surely offer a historical taste of old rye whiskey. Overholt may have about 64% rye (this was stated in a 1980's book, World Guide to Whisky, by Michael Jackson). All these are definitely one form of rye whiskey in its historical form. Sam M'Harry in 1809 in Practical Distiller (see Raudins' site again) offers comments on varying combinations of rye and corn including ones that would be the same as or very close to what makes up, WT rye, say, today. He settles on 2/3rds corn and 1/3 rd rye (plus always barley malt) as the best approach for both palate and technical reasons - cows liked the slops better than slops with more rye in it - and indeed this mash became the bourbon norm although less rye generally is used today. M'Harry was a Pennsylvanian, not a Kentuckian, so one can see that different mash bills were used even in different parts of the country.

A rye whiskey I consider old-style in the sense of its high-rye content is High West, which comes from a Utah microdistiller but was sourced from outside distilleries pending issuance of its own production. The one I bought is a combination of 6 year old rye and 16 year old, both straight ryes. It is very good, surprisingly light bodied and relatively delicate, but full of the "peppermint" palate which Jackson said in the 1980's characterized early 1900's ryes. I believe this quality comes from their high rye content - one has 80% rye, the other even more, and one apparently uses some malted rye. The label is a little unclear except to emphasize the very high rye content of the mashes for these ryes.

Now, High West has no additives in it. But if you take a straight rye whiskey made from 80% rye, 20% barley malt, and add a little fruit concentrate or sherry, this would in my opinion, based on reading I have done, reflect one type of Maryland rye whiskey. If you want to taste something like this, pour two fingers of High West and add a very little cream sherry (Almaden's, say). Swirl well to mix. Or, try Forty Creek's Barrel Select, made by a microdistiller in Ontario and fairly widely distributed in the U.S. It is an excellent product which combines corn, rye and barley whiskies separately distilled and aged, and (is my understanding) finished in ex-sherry barrels. This product is very good but if you can envision the same approach using all-rye whiskeys, that would amount to one form historically of Maryland rye. For more information of this type (or again, types) of rye, Jim Bready, referred to on http://www.ellenjaye.com, wrote an article on Maryland rye in a circa-1990 Maryland Historical Quarterly. A little research should turn it up.

Jeff, that comment you cited about diluting to 80 proof for re-distilling in the doubler is interesting. That could not be done today for straight rye as you know because clearly the first run was over 160 proof.

Gary
Last edited by gillmang on Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:54 am

Jeff, thanks, as you know I haven't been able to access that link.

I understood from what you said that a first distillation was made in a column still, then reduced to 160 proof with water, then distilled again in a doubler. To reduce to 160 proof with water, it would have had to be distilled over 160, no?

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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby tmckenzie » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:05 pm

I think the fruitiness in a 80/20 mash would have to come from sherry or fruit concentrate. We make the same mashbill and it is no where near fruity. Just tons of spice.
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:23 pm

I wonder though if an estery ferment wouldn't transfer over some of those qualities. Applejack tastes appley...

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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:31 pm

Holy cow, am I glad I posted this question here. Gary, that was a great post. Thank you very much.

I'm wondering if, as you say, a blending agent like sherry or prune wine was added, that the fruitiness came from a wine yeast? Or perhaps wild yeast that was introduced by adding grapes? That would really appeal to me. In other words, perhaps a particularly heavy ester producing yeast strain (maybe wild) was introduced to the wash, and that the blending was there....

Were there any winemakers turned distillers in Maryland?
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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:32 pm

"...distilled in wood, doubled, watered down to 80 proof and redistilled in copper. But, really...all of the breakdowns of each distillers recipe is fascinating".

Jeff, I can't find the article in Google Books (I think it may be not readable outside the U.S.). But reading what you say above, would the distillate not have had to be over 160 proof after the initial run (or runs) to be reduced with water for (final) distillation in copper - presumably a pot still of some kind or maybe a copper Coffey still?

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Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Sun Aug 16, 2009 12:33 pm

Tmckenzie....are you at Tuthilltown? If so, I love what your family is up to out that way.

And yes, I do have access to rye out here.
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