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View Full Version : Typical Procedure for Production of Distilled Spirits



kickert
10-18-2008, 09:35
Those of you who have been on the Buffalo Trace hard hat tour may have seen this, but since we often get questions about the distillation process I figured this would be helpful. This schematic hangs in the walkway between the grain cookers and the fermenters/stills at Buffalo Trace. Even though it is dated 1951, as far as I can tell it is the same procedure being used today. I have attached a low resolution picture, but you can get the full resolution here:

http://www.kickert.info/btdistillation_full.jpg

cowdery
10-19-2008, 18:15
That's very cool, but a few things about it are odd.

1. "Meal conveyors from off-premise granary" suggests the grains aren't milled there, which is incorrect. I've never heard of any distillery, even in 1951, doing its milling off-site, but it would have been Schenley then, and they had several distilleries, so maybe they had a central granary, but I've never heard of that.

2. It seems to show the corn and small grains being cooked separately, although it doesn't identify the boxes where it shows the cooking temps as actually being cookers, and there is a line that seems to show the small grains going into the cookers with the corn, so I'm not quite sure what I'm really seeing there.

3. It also makes it look like the small grains (rye, malt) get mixed together, then separated, which is at best misleading. Guess they didn't use any wheat in 1951.

4. The beer still diagram seems to show the beer entering at the top, which it doesn't. It enters from the side about 2/3 of the way up.

5. It shows the doubler but doesn't identify it, an odd oversight on a technical drawing.

boone
10-19-2008, 19:35
This video with Craig will guide you thru the distilling...step by step with the "Master" himself :grin:

http://www.heaven-hill.com/virtualTour/virtualTour.html

Bettye Jo


Those of you who have been on the Buffalo Trace hard hat tour may have seen this, but since we often get questions about the distillation process I figured this would be helpful. This schematic hangs in the walkway between the grain cookers and the fermenters/stills at Buffalo Trace. Even though it is dated 1951, as far as I can tell it is the same procedure being used today. I have attached a low resolution picture, but you can get the full resolution here:

http://www.kickert.info/btdistillation_full.jpg

Stu
10-20-2008, 09:01
This video with Craig will guide you thru the distilling...step by step with the "Master" himself :grin:

http://www.heaven-hill.com/virtualTour/virtualTour.html

Bettye Jo

Neat link, Bettye Jo. Thanks for posting it.

mozilla
10-20-2008, 09:47
That's very cool, but a few things about it are odd.

1. "Meal conveyors from off-premise granary" suggests the grains aren't milled there, which is incorrect. I've never heard of any distillery, even in 1951, doing its milling off-site, but it would have been Schenley then, and they had several distilleries, so maybe they had a central granary, but I've never heard of that.

2. It seems to show the corn and small grains being cooked separately, although it doesn't identify the boxes where it shows the cooking temps as actually being cookers, and there is a line that seems to show the small grains going into the cookers with the corn, so I'm not quite sure what I'm really seeing there.

3. It also makes it look like the small grains (rye, malt) get mixed together, then separated, which is at best misleading. Guess they didn't use any wheat in 1951.

4. The beer still diagram seems to show the beer entering at the top, which it doesn't. It enters from the side about 2/3 of the way up.

5. It shows the doubler but doesn't identify it, an odd oversight on a technical drawing.


Could the answere to question 1. be that they were being milled at a building next door account for off premise? Probably a stretch....

As far as question 2. and maybe, 3. I can only provide a picture of the small grain cookers...and hope that might help.

4. Could it be that they have remade the stills and also made slight adjustments?

5. Could not agree more.

cowdery
10-20-2008, 13:52
I see the yeast mash cooker, which is something else entirely. Are the two vessels to the left the alleged small grains cookers? Is it your understanding that they do, in fact, cook the small grains separately? Then why would they add them to the corn in the cooker, if no further cooking is being done? Why not unite them in the fermenters?

Also, any idea what an atmospheric cooking process is?

I haven't had a thorough tour of Buffalo Trace in years and it looks like I'm overdue for one.

mozilla
10-20-2008, 14:29
Since, I don't have all the answeres...I sent a note to someone who might. Hopefully, we will have some good info soon.

barturtle
10-20-2008, 15:51
I see the yeast mash cooker, which is something else entirely. Are the two vessels to the left the alleged small grains cookers? Is it your understanding that they do, in fact, cook the small grains separately? Then why would they add them to the corn in the cooker, if no further cooking is being done? Why not unite them in the fermenters?

Also, any idea what an atmospheric cooking process is?


Not sure where you heard or read that term, I don't see it on the sheet, but considering they list the corn as being cooked under pressure, I would think "atmospheric" would mean "not cooked under pressure" in other words cooked in a non-pressurized cooker.

It seems they do, according to the schematic, cook separately, as the small grains go through a "mash pump": I can't think of any other reason to call it a mash pump than the fact that they are already cooked.

Reason to add ti to the cooker? It says something about "temp of cook after addition of small grain mash-145 (temp of conversion from starch to sugar)" I'm guessing that there is an extended "steeping period" in the cooker once all the grains are together, before the send it to the "drop tubs" for cooling.

kickert
10-21-2008, 16:02
That's very cool, but a few things about it are odd.

1. "Meal conveyors from off-premise granary" suggests the grains aren't milled there, which is incorrect. I've never heard of any distillery, even in 1951, doing its milling off-site, but it would have been Schenley then, and they had several distilleries, so maybe they had a central granary, but I've never heard of that.

2. It seems to show the corn and small grains being cooked separately, although it doesn't identify the boxes where it shows the cooking temps as actually being cookers, and there is a line that seems to show the small grains going into the cookers with the corn, so I'm not quite sure what I'm really seeing there.

3. It also makes it look like the small grains (rye, malt) get mixed together, then separated, which is at best misleading. Guess they didn't use any wheat in 1951.

4. The beer still diagram seems to show the beer entering at the top, which it doesn't. It enters from the side about 2/3 of the way up.

5. It shows the doubler but doesn't identify it, an odd oversight on a technical drawing.

First, the schematic appears to not be specifically Buffalo Trace, but rather the typical distillation process. Does anyone know who E. Joyce is? Here are some thoughts:

1. Maybe the schematic is saying it doesn't matter how it is milled - the distillation process starts with making the mash.

3. It does seem odd that is shows grain going together and then separating. I think we should remember this is a "typical" schematic rather than an actual drawing of BT.

4. If you follow the arrows the beer comes in about 4/5's up at the side. I am confused by how the first cut exits and where it goes (back through the beer heater?)

5. It labels the "doubler condenser" but not the doubler. Interesting.

As for the atmospheric cooking process... Our tour guide at BT used that term to describe how the corn was cooked. In response to barturtle, it is actually the opposite - it is a pressure cooking system. I too am curious where that question came from - I could not find the term on the schematic.

I posted this in another thread, but here are my other pics from that trip. There is one shot inside the corn cooker. They just happened to open it long enough to add some enzymes.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=37483&l=b0c7f&id=504187490

-bk

cowdery
10-21-2008, 18:57
The words "atmospheric cooking process" are on a sign over the yeast mash tub in the photograph above. I guessed that it meant either under pressure or not under pressure if the main cooker was under pressure.

I know it's not good to cook wheat under pressure, because it foams terribly. I don't know about any other small grains but I know you can cook corn under pressure and, in fact, that's a very good way to do it. Another reason to cook the small grains separately would be so that you can cook the corn at high temperature and high pressure and really make sure every starch molecule is dissolved.

The schematic seems not to be typical in that the typical whiskey distillery in Kentucky and Tennessee has in-line milling virtually adjacent to the cookers, and the typical whiskey distillery in Kentucky and Tennessee does not cook corn and small grains separately. They do have separate yeast mash cookers, although they're usually not so large (based on the photograph), although they may have more than one.

I see you are correct about the beer entry location. I was misreading it. It's not in exactly the right place, but it's close enough for a schematic.

Beakerboy
10-23-2008, 20:41
This drawing is fairly accurate as to how the distillery process at BT actually operates. As far as the comment:

3. It does seem odd that is shows grain going together and then separating. I think we should remember this is a "typical" schematic rather than an actual drawing of BT.

I think you're misreading it...it's just showing that the pipe goes from the two tubs, joins up, and goes to all three cookers. There's no separation. As to why they aren't mixed in the fermentors...like everything there are many reasons one could come up with, but the economic reason is as good as any. Why run three pipes from the mash house to all 12 fermentors when you can drop the small grain into the cooker and run one pipe.

Kevin

mozilla
10-24-2008, 07:26
Thanks for answering the call, Kevin.

cowdery
10-24-2008, 20:05
This drawing is fairly accurate as to how the distillery process at BT actually operates. As far as the comment:

3. It does seem odd that is shows grain going together and then separating. I think we should remember this is a "typical" schematic rather than an actual drawing of BT.

I think you're misreading it...it's just showing that the pipe goes from the two tubs, joins up, and goes to all three cookers. There's no separation. As to why they aren't mixed in the fermentors...like everything there are many reasons one could come up with, but the economic reason is as good as any. Why run three pipes from the mash house to all 12 fermentors when you can drop the small grain into the cooker and run one pipe.

Kevin

I'm still unclear. Then the small grains are cooked separately and dropped into the cooker with the cooked corn after the temperature has lowered sufficiently? If that's correct, that's not typical. There's not a thing wrong with doing it that way, and some good arguments in favor, but no one else in Kentucky does it that way.