Planning a distillery can be daunting. What equipment do I need? A simple question, but there are so many answers that are rooted in even more considerations. This post is the fifth of a series called “What Equipment Do I Need?”. Each post highlights one consideration. This week? Whiskey! What equipment do I need to make whiskey?
Whiskey making process
There are basically three fundamental steps to whiskey making:
Mashing is the process where grain starch is converted into fermentable sugars. It is done by putting the cracked grains with warm water and certain amounts of enzymes in a vessel. Mixing the concoction and carefully managing the temperature are critical. Since mashing takes 4 to 6 hours, you need but one masher.
Fermenting is the process where grain sugars are converted into alcohol and flavor molecules. It is done by adding yeast to the mash, and by carefully managing temperature and pH. The process takes about 4 to 5 days, so traditionally you need 5 or 6 fermenters.
Distillation concentrates and selects the alcohol and flavors. Usually a double distillation cycle is needed. Since distilling takes about an 8 hour shift, traditionally two stills are needed. One for the first stripping run, another one for the second finishing run
The iStills can basically mash, ferment, and distill. So one iStill (preferably as big as you can afford and house) is all you need. Let that sink in for a moment. And if you still want to go the traditional route of a separate masher, 6 fermenters, and two stills, well, we have these too!
Okay then, 6 steps …