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  1. #1
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    Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    While doing a little research for making the "how bourbon is made" part of my site I came across something I honestly never heard of. Well, perhaps I did and just paid it no mind. Anyways, I did some searching around on here as well as the net and found out a bit about it. I knew with the Sour Mash method it involved leaving some culture or mash from a previous batch to be added to the next batch, similiar to making sourdough bread.

    Now in the Sweet Mash process new yeast is processed quickly over a few days.

    I 'think' I remember also reading somewhere that the sour mash process results in a lower Ph whereas the sweet mash process usually has a higher resulting Ph but it is loweded with the addition of an acid. Anyways, my questions is this: Do any distilleries use the sweet mash process? I've read on the internet and even on Buffalo Trace's webstie that they di indeed use this process. While reading posts on here I have read no current US distilleries use this process. Anyone have any information to share about this? I see that Chuck has previously written about this process and did make mention that no distilleries use this process. Chuck, do you know if there has been a change in practice over there or do they possibly use both practices for different products or something? Thanks for any input guys...

  2. #2
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    I've read on the internet and even on Buffalo Trace's website that they do indeed use this process [Sweet Mash].
    Are you sure!? Their PR video thing specifically says it's a sour mash process:

    "The corn is added to mashing water which has been heated to its boiling point. As the mixture cooks, rye is added. After the mixture cools, the malted barley is added and now the mixture becomes a sweet mash. When the mash temperature reaches 64F, yeast with a small amount of previously fermented mash or sour mash are added. The sugary enzymes of the malted barely feed the yeast to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide."

  3. #3
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    Yep. Says so here, though I am wondering if they just aren't clear about the whole process in general.

    Like I said, the thing that made me wonder about all this is another site somewhere stated that BT was the only distillery to still use the sweet mash method. But once I saw Chuck say otherwise in a previous post from some time ago it made me wonder... I doubt he is wrong, this other site didn't sem very reliable anyways. I just want to know if I should correct my site now haha.

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    Thanks to Dr Crow for sour mash. What I have read states that the Sour Mash process results in a superior product. Tdelling says it is a QC issue only. The Regans say Jim Beam uses 42% backset. It seems to me they are " Wearing out the water" at that point.

    The thing I want to find out is where do distilleries get the backset after a shutdown, Or is the first run sweet mash and then it goes to sour mash. Sam Cecil specifically states that at the Old TWSamuels plant they had a contract with Hueblin for spent mash after a shutdown.

    All that I have read on this which may amount to " Not Much" I have seen no praise for sweet mash. It's like Brick warehouses , only the ones with them and the doers of sweetmash, claim it's better.

  5. #5
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    The thing I want to find out is where do distilleries get the backset after a shutdown, Or is the first run sweet mash and then it goes to sour mash.
    I believe that some actually get backset from other distilleries. Makers Mark, from what I have heard, gets theirs from Heaven Hill.

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    That's the obvious answer, Mark. I plan to ask around to see what they will admit to. I would think this to be a secret on the order of the yeast thing.
    It would seem that there are more similiarities than differences at this point. But here we go........Bump in the road....... With only Buffalo Trace, HH , and Maker's running Wheat, do they schedule so that someone has it going all the time, I can't imagine Maker's using a backset with rye, And I can't imagine that someone is running wheat every week of the year...........Busted...... I guess they could freeze a big chunk of it

  7. #7
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    Bobby,

    I don't think you can freeze it...Like Chuck's logo says...Whiskey don't keep...Well I spect that "backset don't keep" either ...LMAO

    Bettye Jo

  8. #8
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    I was wondering about freezing it as well for a bit haha. I know yeast cells from a pure culture are kept under refrigeration but not about some backset.

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    Shouldn't the yeast be dead, after exposure to 170degree plus heat? Actually I have had conversations to the contrary.

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Sweet Mash -vs- Sour Mash

    That's right Bobby. I thought the function of backset was to provide unfermented sugars to the next batch of beer, adding of course the quality of consistency through some chemical principle.

    Gary

 

 

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