LOW WINES STILL
figure 3: BENRINNES TRIPLE DISTILLATION PROCESS BENRINNES Benrinnes is unfortunately not the most well-known of the Scotch whiskies. It is a fascinating distillery and whisky. One of the most interesting things about the distillery (at least from the perspective of a distiller) is that they completely upended their distillation process in 2007. They currently distill their whisky using a standard double distillation process with two wash stills and four spirit stills. However, prior to 2007 they were using a fairly involved triple distillation process. Benrinnes’ version of the triple distillation process used their intermediate still solely for feints distillations. The wash distillation produced a feints cut and hearts/heads cut. The feints would then head to the “low wine still.” The hearts/heads would move on to the spirit still.
The spirit still would produce hearts for barreling. It would also produce heads, strong feints, and weak feints. The heads and strong feints would be recycled in the spirit still while the weak feints would go into the low wines still. The low wines still produced heads/hearts that go into the spirit still. The feints from the low wines still were recycled in the same still in the next distillation. Are you dizzy yet? Another diagram might be in order. This is a really interesting way to recycle feints/tails. The low wines still (intermediate distillation) has to do quite a bit of work dropping out copious amounts of fusel oil from the spirit, but still retain a lot of interesting spirit character. This is definitely the most elaborate triple distillation process we’ve looked at thus far. Of course, we could take things yet another step further.
THE BEAST OF DUFFTOWN I make no secret of my love of Mortlach. It is one of the most underappreciated arrows in Diageo’s vast quiver of whiskies. While Mortlach doesn’t neatly fit into our triple distillation framework, they do claim that their whisky is distilled 2.81 times. So, if we’re rounding up … How in the hell, you might ask, does Mortlach arrive at a 2.81 times distilled whisky? The answer to that starts with how the Mortlach distillery has been designed. In what today might be deemed a most baffling production decision, the six stills at Mortlach operate on different sizes in a highly unbalanced distillation system. (A balanced distillation system is when the ratio of wash distillations to spirit distillations is a whole number. While this is a seemingly trite bit of distillation babble on paper, rest assured that if you work out the math on an actual system it makes a massive difference to having an efficient workflow.) WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.