How Vodka is made

Vodka is rather seen as very pure and clean alcohol as it is usually not aged and thus does not contain any additives or byproducts from processing. Vodka can be made from either potato, grains, sugar, molasses, and fermented fruits.

1. Choosing the ingredients for the Mash:

  • The mash that is created needs to contain either sugar or starches for the distillation process.
  • When making vodka from grains and potatoes, a mash must be made that contains active enzymes that break down the starches from the grains or potatoes and makes fermentable sugars.
  • Fruit juice already contains sugars so starch-degrading enzymes are not needed. As with fruit juice, vodka made from store-bought sugars needs to only be fermented, thus bypassing the need for a mash.
  • Some innovations are being introduced to the market such as Vodka made of wine. When already fermented mediums such as wine are used, the medium can be distilled right away into vodka.

2. Adding enzymes

  • If sugar or molasses is used there is no need to add any enzymes as there is sugar already present in the mash.
  • The same applies for malted grains such as malted barley and malted wheat which have sufficient natural enzymes that break down the starches into sugar.
  • Other mashed will need additional enzymes. Let us use potatoes for this example. The potatoes, as well as non-malted grains, need to first be gelatinized. In the case of the potato, the shredded potato pieces will need to be heated to a temperature above 66 C in order to gelatinize.
  • Since enzymes are destroyed at high temperatures the mash should not be heated more than 70 C.

3. The fermentation process

  • Absolute clean containers must be used during the process
  • The process takes usually between 3-5 days
  • The yeast transforms the sugars in the mash into ethyl alcohol
  • This process can only create an alcohol content of 14%

4, Distillation

  • The ethyl alcohol that was produced in fermentation is poured in stainless steel stills
  • The distillation transfers the vaporized alcohol into a sterilized chamber leaving water and impurities in the first chamber
  • The alcohol content of the collected vaporized liquid is now 95-100%

5. Adding water and if desired sometimes flavors

  • To make the alcohol drinkable, water is added to dilute the alcohol to the standardized 40% level (countries have varying laws about the required alcohol content). At this point, flavors can be added. Common are herbs, spices, fruit essence and grasses.

The Bavarian/German Reinheitsgebot also known as the Purity Law

The 1516 Bavarian law set the price of beer (depending on the time of year and type of beer), limited the profits made by a traditional inn or salon, and declared the confiscation and penalty for making impure beer.

The purity law states that the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were barley, water and hops. Even though yeast was used in the brewing process it was not mentioned as it was probably seen as a fixture. The understanding of the role yeast had in the fermentation process, came later in time.

The purpose of the Bavarian order of 1516 was introduced in part to prevent price competition with bakers for wheat and rye. The restriction of grains to barley was meant to ensure the availability of affordable bread, as wheat and rye were reserved for the use by bakers. The rule may have also had a protectionist role to keep the beer pure, as beers from Northern Germany often contained additives that were not present in Bavarian beer.

Some sources may try to make us believe that the Bavarian law of 1516 is the first law regulating food safety, this is false, as earlier food safety regulations can be traced back as far as ancient Rome. The law has also changed as early as the mid-1500s Bavaria began to allow ingredients such as coriander, bay leaf, and wheat.

The Reinheitsgebot remains the most famous law that regulates the brewing of beer, and continues to influence brewing not only in Germany, but around the world. Today the purity law may be rather an obstacle to the German beer industry and the export of its product, as it prevents to adapt to the new trends of craft beers that gain in popularity.

There are a number of earlier dated brewing license and a variety of other beer regulations such as:

974 Emperor Otto II at Liege

1293 Nuremberg

1351 Erfurt

1434 Weissensee

1487 Munich Reinheitsgebot

Grand Cru Vs. Premier Cru

Did you ever come across both terms when shopping for wine and were wondering what the difference is? So what is a premier cru, and what is a grand cru from Bourgogne?

First of all the word cru is a French term that literally means growth but can be taken as the harvest or selection.

In the Burgundy classification system, there are four quality categories. From least to more prestigious, they are regional appellations Burgundy (Bourgogne) is the broadest, and the two levels of vineyard-specific designations, premier cru and grand cru.

The cru hierarchy can be confusing, because premier cru is below grand cru, even though the word premier translates as first and those wines are often abbreviated as 1er cru.

As quite often in the wine jargon the labeling can be deceptive. Grand cru designated wines represent only about 1 % of the total production of Burgundy, but this classification system developed 1855 requested by Emperor Napoleon III, isn’t a foolproof guide to quality. You may prefer a Vineyards premier cru to a neighbor’s grand cru, and there are plenty of terrific small village wines.

Conclusion: Grand Cru is the rarest and consequently often the most expensive also claimed to be a wine of the most superior grade. Premier Cru which is also referred to as 1st Cru is below Grand Cru.


What is a Single Malt Whisky?

Single malts are typically associated with single malt Scotch, though they are also produced in various other countries. Single malt whisky is malt whisky from a single distillery. Why are single malts such a hit amongst whisky drinkers? Single malt whiskey is made in a copper pot in one single distillery, which is why it is more rich and flavorsome than other whiskeys.  Single malt is full of flavor and requires a lot more care when it is being created, while other whiskey’s can be made from a mixture of grains, such as rye, wheat or corn, which are cheaper and quicker to produce.

There are actual definitions in UK law “obviously only regarding the Scotch Single malts”. While the Scotch model is usually copied internationally, these constraints may not apply to whisky marketed as “single malt” that is produced elsewhere. For example, there is no definition of the term “single” with relation to whisky in the law of the United States, and some American whiskey advertised as “single malt whisky” is produced from malted rye rather than malted barley.

The UK regulations were laid before Parliament on October 30, 2009 and came into force on November 23, 2009, repealing the Scotch Whisky Act 1988 and the Scotch Whisky (Northern Ireland) Order 1988.

Single Malt Scotch Whisky is whisky distilled at a single distillery, i) from water and malted barley (without the addition of any other cereals) and ii) by batch distillations in pot stills. Furthermore, as of November 23, 2012 the regulations require that all single malt Scotch whisky be bottled in Scotland. Examples include Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Macallan, and Springbank.

Under the United Kingdom’s Scotch Whisky Regulations, a “Single Malt Scotch Whisky” must be made exclusively from malted barley (although the addition of E150A caramel coloring is allowed), must be distilled using pot stills at a single distillery, and must be aged for at least three years in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres.

Some Brands we are offering in our stores and the online shop:

  • Highland Park Single Malt 18YO

  • Jura Single Malt 10

  • Laphroaig Single Malt 28

  • Macallan Quest Single Malt

  • Michel Couvreur Blossoming Auld Sherried Single Malt

  • Old Pultney Boubon Cask

  • Scapa the Orcadian Single Malt

  • Talisker Single Malt 10

  • The Glenlivet 18YO

  • The Glenlivet Single Malt 21

  • The Macallan 12

  • The Macallan Gran Reserva 18 (1979)

  • The Macallan Rare Cask Batch N2