A Lesson In Distilling Vocabulary


Palmetto Distillery

Hey, Palmetto fans, we appreciate your business! We know you've been sipping and savoring our beverages for some time, and we would like to say thank you for your continued patronage during these unprecedented times.


As you contemplate pouring yourself another glass of our award-winning whiskey or lip-smacking moonshine flavors, we wonder how much you really know about the production process of our beverages that adds decadent deliciousness to your life? If you're curious about the "how-to" and how your favorite beverage came to be, consider picking up a little vocabulary about the process--we have a feeling it will only add to your enjoyment of our superior products.


A lesson in distilling vocabulary

By the time you've finished reading through our list of essential vocabulary terms, you'll be able to keep up with casual conversation with the most experienced distiller. Read on to update your whiskey facts, and be enlightened with each additional sip from your glass:


  • Alcohol Alcohol is an organic compound that contains hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. The primary type of alcohol used to make both fuel and beverages is ethyl alcohol.

  • Aqua Vitae Aqua Vitae is a term used to describe strong distilled alcohol. It's derived from the Latin word meaning "water of life."

  • Barrel We know barrels as wooden containers used for aging spirits. Its liquid measure equals 42 gallons; they are typically made from oak. Barrels can be used only once for aging bourbon, but may be repurposed to age products such as Scotch, whiskey, and rum. Barrel sizes and liquid capacities can vary from country to country.

  • Carbon Dioxide CO2 is a colorless gas that is a byproduct of yeast fermentation. Carbon dioxide is 1.5 times the weight of air, and may accumulate in floor drains and the bottoms of unventilated tanks. Sometimes recovered from the fermentation process, it can be converted and compressed to form what we know as dry ice.

  • Condensation Condensation is the process in which a gas changes over to liquid form.

  • Distillate Distillate is the liquid condensed from a vapor during distillation; it is the liquid in its most purified form.

  • Distillation Distillation is the evaporation and collection of resulting liquid by condensation as it is purified. It is where we make the magic happen!

  • Ethanol Otherwise known as ethyl alcohol, this clear liquid is produced and collected to be aged and converted to the spirits you know and love.

  • Fermentation Fermentation is an anaerobic conversion process where sugar and yeast are converted to carbon dioxide under extremely high temperatures.

  • Fusel oil Fusel oils are the higher concentration alcohol byproducts--often coming in the form of butanol and propanol, which need to be removed from the final product to ensure that it is safe for consumption. The presence of these byproducts in a beverage is known to be the cause of headaches and hangovers. In general, the more filtered a beverage is, the less likely it is to contain fusel oils.

  • Malt Malt is a barley grain that has been steeped, allowing it to germinate. Malt is used widely in the production of whiskey, which contributes to its unique flavor.

  • Mash Mash is the mixture of grains or other carbohydrates in water used to produce ethyl alcohol. A mash may be made from any combination of grains--barley, corn, rye, wheat--and the resulting blends have a huge impact on the taste of the beverage produced.

  • Pot still A pot still is a distilling device consisting of a tank, a vapor pipe, and a condenser. As liquid is heated in a pot still, the resulting vapor is collected and then condensed, where separation of water and ethyl alcohol occurs.

  • Alembic/Reflux These methods refer to the style and manner in which alcohol is collected and then refiltered. In general, the more a liquid is distilled, the more refined the taste and texture tend to be.

  • Proof Proof is the measure by which we determine how strong a batch of alcohol is. By U.S. standards, each degree of proof is equal to 0.5 percent of ethanol by volume.

  • Saccharification Saccharification is the conversion of a complex carbohydrate into fermentable sugars and is accomplished using acids or enzymes.

  • Yeast Yeast is the catalyst that makes fermentation possible. The combination of grain and yeast forms an alcoholic byproduct by which all spirits are created.


Want to know more? Contact us!

At Palmetto Distillery, we are experts in all things distilling; from the selection of premium grains to the use of time-tested, historic recipes in crafting our stellar spirits, we've got you covered! If you want to know more of the magic that happens behind the curtain, why not set up a tour of our Palmetto Distillery? Sample our scrumptious beverages, learn about the distillery's inception, and see for yourself just what sets us apart. Contact us today to schedule a trip and place an order; visit www.palmettodistillery.com for more information.