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Thread: Making Yeast

  1. #11
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Making Yeast

    The baking bread story is more on the order of a metaphor. It's a very good way of explaining to people the difference between a rye recipe bourbon and a wheat recipe bourbon. The problem with it as a form of discovery is that Samuels was familiar with wheat recipe bourbons. Though much less common than rye, they had been around for years. He knew some people, including his friend Pappy Van Winkle, used wheat recipes. Samuels didn't "discover" wheat recipe bourbon while baking bread.

    I had lunch with Bill Samuels last Friday to talk about some of these very issues. He said the help his father received from Pappy was just the beginning. He also got help from Dan Street (Brown-Forman), Ed Shapira (Heaven Hill), Jere Beam (Jim Beam), King McClure (Stitzel-Weller) and one of the Motlows (Jack Daniel's). All of them at one time or another provided yeast samples. Pappy provided samples of new made whiskey so they could see how it was supposed to taste right from the still. One useful piece of information Pappy provided was that wheat mashes could not be cooked under pressure, as rye mashes often were. He says his dad always intended to make a wheat recipe bourbon because of the flavor.

  2. #12
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    Re: Making Yeast

    In Germany, beer is often referred to as "liquid bread". And, in a broad sense, whiskey is distilled beer.

    I tend to understand the story in the gist of, Samuels knew that both wheat and rye could be used as the flavoring grain and he was testing them for himself by tasting breads to decide which flavor elements he preferred to use for his whiskey. (Sorry for that stilted sentence)

    Tim

  3. #13
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    Re: Making Yeast

    Sorry, I must be a numbskull here but I just don't get why creating a new yeast strain would be all that valuable. Belgian brewers for years have been opening their vats to the elements for free-flowing yeast to ferment the wort. That's the lambic process. And they do a fine job of matching flavour profiles year after year. Because it's beer, then consequently a heavily distilled product such as bourbon could possibly stand the flavour injection. Just my thoughts.

  4. #14
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Making Yeast

    Creating a new yeast strain isn't necessarily "all that valuable." In fact, distilleries that have wildly occuring strains propagate them and preserve them as unchanged as possible, and the other distilleries use dry bagged yeast from the yeast labs. I don't know much about the lambic process but there must be some way of controlling it so the result tastes good, but it is true that random wild yeast is the heart of that process.

    Another interesting point. Although distiller's beer doesn't contain hops per se, hops are an ingredient in the yeast medium, as are some other strange substances, such as sulphur. I was told that Earl Beam (father of Parker, brother of Carl, son of Park) liked to use his yeast mixture as ice cream topping.

  5. #15

    Re: Making Yeast

    Just an aside:
    Describing whisk(e)y as distilled beer is perhaps not as broad a description as Tim suggests, but pretty straight on. Whiskey is distilled from malted grain, just as beer is. Both are malt beverages.
    They are at least as closely related as brandy/cognac (as a distillate of) is to wine.

 

 

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