Maturation Time

Talk about methods, equipment and recipes for making brewed and distilled spirits at home.

Maturation Time

Postby BribieG » Wednesday Dec 08, 2010 5:07 pm

I rarely if ever drink spirits since nearly killing myself as a teenager on a bottle of scotch. They mostly taste like petrol to me, but I am partial to a boilermaker of Glenlivet chased down immediately by a cool Pilsner Urquell :)~
On that point I thought the whole idea of Scotch etc was to mature it oak for years?
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Re: Maturation Time

Postby Tipsy » Thursday Dec 09, 2010 7:16 am

I have no experience with this but from a bit of reading it seems the best results come from ageing your spirit on a small amount of oak for a long time compared to a large amount of oak for a short time.
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Re: Maturation Time

Postby hirns » Thursday Dec 09, 2010 8:05 am

On a homebrew scale most use the oak shavings from old barrels. The greater surface area of the oak shavings or chips meens that the flavour is imparted after only a few days. I let my spirit soak with the chips for a minimum of 14 days but it depends on your taste preferences. And after only 12 hours the spirit takes on a tea colour as the flavour is leached from the oak. I personaly don't believe that homebrew spirits need to "mature" other than to gain this oak flavour. If you've used a reflux still than your spirit is cut back from around 90% with distilled water. The 90% alcohol is twice as pure as most of the stuff you buy which is produced with pot stills which create roughly 40% alcohol(albeit) some run the spirit through the still twice to improve purity). The remaining impurities are removed with carbon treatment.

Others may disagree and may argue that some other aging reaction occurs over time. In my exerience friends that only drink 12yr Scotch as a minimum always say that mine is much better in flavour and smoothness.

You can also by the fake oak flavouring in a bottle.

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Re: Maturation Time

Postby BribieG » Thursday Dec 09, 2010 9:20 am

Hey as soon as you mentioned "reflux still" I was 14 again in high school, we had to put one of these together and use it as a prac (forgot what we distilled but it weren't grog :lol: )

Image - not bad memory recall for half a century ago :shock:

So I take it that the water purifying gear from the LHBS is a pot still, and therefore makes "rougher" product? Or is it just the yield that is different (40%)- which I understand is normal bottle shop commercial strength anyway? For home use would you buy glassware as in the picture, fabricate your own from copper etc, or can you get them from home brew suppliers, and presumably a lot more expensive than the pot variety?
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Re: Maturation Time

Postby drsmurto » Thursday Dec 09, 2010 10:47 am


Nice one with the piccie but we don't use bunsen burners anymore. Naked flames and flammable solvents :shock: ....... We use heating mantles or heater/stirrers

You can buy pot or reflux stills. The reflux still is good as it has a fractionating column which is a far better way of producing a pure distillate from sugar washes with turbo yeast that produce large amounts of higher alcohols (fusels etc). These can be separated. The downside is if you want to make a malt based spirit is that it strips out the malt character leaving you with a flavourless white spirit (aka ethanol). This is where a pot still is very useful.

I did a mash last year using 50/50 ale malt and peat smoked malt. Boiled for 60 mins with no hops. Fermented with a whisky yeast strain rather than a turbo yeast. Was about 10% abv from memory and i tried running it through a very small pot still (4L total volume, used 2L of wash). Unlike a sugar wash when a malt wash boils all the proteins present 'froth up' and come over with the distillate. One of the local AG brewers is building a 50L still which can operate as either a pot or a reflux still so we plan on having a crack at this again.

Like others have said, age it on oak. It depends on the age and prior use of the oak. Most HBS that sell oak for spirit making sell shaved oak from used barrels (AFAIK). I would buy brand new oak staves/chips which is far more potent. Less surface area than shavings but you could produce shavings yourself or simply let it sit for a year or 2.
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Re: Maturation Time

Postby elec » Thursday Dec 09, 2010 5:46 pm

Couple of things I've read/learned/worked out, Bribie. 65% ( 130 proof) seems to be the magic number for both colour and flavour extraction, and a few new chips or staves for 6 months works better than a heap for a short time, where you can risk unwanted "wood" flavours. I use oak strips , jigsawed down to approx 150x20x6mm, charred with a Mapp gas torch, and store for at least 4 months. Every time I remember, I open the lid and give it a bit of a swirl. This mimics the barrel rolling thing, where the liquor comes in contact with air and oak.
Another way to speed up the process is to put your oaked 'shine in the freezer for 12 hours, out for for 12 hours. Repeat for 2 weeks. The expansion/contraction of the oak speeds up the process a fair bit, but its not as smooth as extended time .

I'm not young enough to know everything..........
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