View Full Version : Weights and Measures

04-12-2005, 23:05
In another forum Ken Weber wrote:

The equipment you refer to appear to be grain hoppers. After the grain has been milled, it is weighed in these hoppers prior to being dumped into the cookers. If a recipe consists of 74% corn, that may equate to 3,250#. Next the rye is weighed out and cooked

That started me thinking about the task of weighing such large quantities of grain and the possible, inadvertent affect on the mashbill if errors in measurement were to occur.

Suppose the corn is measured on one scale and the rye on another. One day an alert worker notices that the level of grain in the rye hopper appears higher than usual even though the indicated weight is whatever is customary. Some time passes before he thinks to mention it to anyone. By that time several batches have been cooked, distilled and barreled.

A certified metrologist is brought in, and she determines that the scale is off by some percentage, which in turn has effectively altered the mashbill by some smaller percentage.

Has such a scenario ever occurred? Has the bourbon been bottled and sold even though it's a bit heavier with rye than usual? Would such an event be a non-event due to the normal mixing and mingling, and the skill of the master distiller?

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

04-13-2005, 04:39
Well, I don't think it was this exact situation, but if I remember correctly, this is what destroyed the Old Crow brand. Someone performed a conversion wrong for the move ta new distillery, and their ratios were off. Even the distillery tasters said something was wrong with the distillate, but they continued on, and by the time someone figured out what had gone wrong, they had already gone bankrupt.

Ken Weber
04-13-2005, 05:55
Good insight. We actually use the same hopper/scale for our corn, rye, and wheat. I am not sure what we use for the malted barley. If there is an error, then it should be about the same for each grain in the mash bill. The scale is very accurate, but I am sure it has malfunctioned at some point over its life. I am also sure that different operators are a little more exact (or a little more sloppy) weighing out the grains. Again, if you put 20 more pounds of corn in the cooker than I do, we are only speaking of less than 1%, so I do not believe this will alter the final product.

You have to realize that making bourbon includes many steps that if altered slightly may not impact the final product by themself, but in combination can really change things. The corn we use is Distiller's grade #2. It should have a moisture content of less than 12.5%. Let's assume the gowing season was very dry, that could translate to the moisture content being 6%; does very low moisture content affect the final taste of the whiskey? I don't know. I do know that we have established an upper limit for moisture, but I don't believe we have one for the other end of the spectrum.


04-15-2005, 12:35
Besides, who wants to throw money away on water.