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helocat
12-09-2008, 12:07
I always have heard its the water that makes the good bourbons. Why limestone water? Why not filtered water from another source?

Mark

pepcycle
12-09-2008, 13:21
Its scientific.

Calcium Carbonate in limestone water is naturally low in iron and sulfur.
(Fe and S both give bad flavors to water and hence bourbon)
It also has buffering capability.

PS: It makes Blue Grass blue and horsey legs strong.

Jono
12-09-2008, 13:42
This has come up before....here is a source I found:

http://lautertu.ehost.com/spiritednewsfromthehearthland/id15.html

"Water also contributes calcium to help control pH and improve yeast growth during fermentation. Therefore, starting with iron-free, limestone water that is rich in calcium produces the highest quality whiskey. The water must be completely free of iron. The presence of iron would turn the whiskey to a black color instead of the pleasing gold hue that develops during maturation."

The Q that came up before concerned if all of the water was distilled prior to use......if so....the source would not matter. I don't recall if that held or not.

smokinjoe
12-09-2008, 13:59
This has come up before....here is a source I found:

http://lautertu.ehost.com/spiritednewsfromthehearthland/id15.html

"Water also contributes calcium to help control pH and improve yeast growth during fermentation. Therefore, starting with iron-free, limestone water that is rich in calcium produces the highest quality whiskey. The water must be completely free of iron. The presence of iron would turn the whiskey to a black color instead of the pleasing gold hue that develops during maturation."

The Q that came up before concerned if all of the water was distilled prior to use......if so....the source would not matter. I don't recall if that held or not.

Reason #1,849 of why I love bourbon. The calcium in it is good for my bones! :cool:

Josh
12-09-2008, 14:52
I think I read that there were some distilleries outside of limestone country that do use water from streams or just filtered or distilled tap water with Calcium added. Anybody know anything about this?

cowdery
12-09-2008, 19:33
The use of distilled water would be very expensive and not necessarily desirable because, as already mentioned, the water should make a pleasing contribution, not be merely neutral.

However, there are many kinds of water treatment that are way short of distillation and anyone trying to use a water source that is high in iron or sulfer would have to address that.

All distilleries, even those using a spring on their property as their water source, do some water treatment. Many distilleries use city water.

I've seen references to micro-distilleries--there is one in California, I believe--who claim they have treated their local water to duplicate the characteristics of Kentucky water, but I've never see their process described in detail.

Water is often cited as the reason why Kentucky and Tennessee are where most of the whiskey is made, but that's only part of the answer. The rest of the answer has to do with history and transport and a lot of coincidences. Kentucky and Tennessee are not the only places where that limestone is either. Some of those other places had whiskey-making industries once (e.g., Peoria, IL) but don't now.

kickert
12-09-2008, 20:17
Buffalo Trace gets their water from the Kentucky River. Anyone looking at that River hopes they do something do it before they use it - limestone or not.

Josh
12-09-2008, 21:27
Buffalo Trace gets their water from the Kentucky River. Anyone looking at that River hopes they do something do it before they use it - limestone or not.

Maybe it's not the cleanest, but its a damn pretty drive. Crosssing the KY River while on the way to the WT distillery is something I'll never forget.

At any rate, did Seagram's Lawrenceburg, IN plant use a spring? it's definatey in limestone country as well.

pepcycle
12-10-2008, 14:05
An interesting note about water.

Every distillery uses purified water IN THEIR BOILERS!!!

The same stuff that makes whiskey good puts tons of scale in steam boilers.

The stuff they make steam with is close to Grade I.

The stuff they make whiskey with has sediment, chlorine and organics removed.

cowdery
12-10-2008, 14:37
To piggyback on Ed (which he knows I secretly dream about), some distilleries use city water in their boilers, chillers and other process uses, but spring water in their whiskey. Some use the same water source for both, but treat it differently.

fog
12-12-2008, 16:59
Wouldnt these minerals be left behind after distilation of the ferment? I would not think that water quaility would make much difference. Perhaps the minerals influence the fermentation somehow.

pepcycle
12-15-2008, 12:54
Most of the work of the minerals is done before the water even enters the mash.
The reactions that put the minerals in solution are what removes the iron and sulfur.
It also shifts the pH. Once the mash starts to work, the buffering capacity of the carbonates keeps the pH stable, backset helps too.

It doesn't matter that the minerals don't carry into the final product, except from the water used to adjust proof.