We may enjoy a distilled beverage from time to time, but how much do we actually know about the process of distillation? Many fables and myths surround its inception and even current operations, and while many of these tales are harmless, some invite danger into production and consumption.
Let’s set the record straight--here are some common myths around distilling your favorite spirits, debunked. Now, go pour yourself a glass of some amber whiskey and keep reading for the facts on distillation:
Myth #1: Whiskey stones are a superior method of cooling
Fact: Adding frozen stones to your whiskey might cool it better, but some still prefer to have the beverage over ice. Ice is actually the more efficient way to cool, as the chemical process of liquifying the ice sucks the heat out of the whiskey. Certain “whiskey experts” also attest that water can add depth of flavor to the drink, too. Leave the stones outdoors, where they are intended to stay.
Myth #2: Knocks and dents do make a difference
Fact: When we speak of knocks and dents here, we refer to the surface area inside the distilling chamber used to process the spirit. While some agree that knocks and dents alter the quality of a spirit, the fact of the matter is that there are many variables and challenges that a distiller encounters when brewing up a batch. It is almost impossible to determine which is the most influential in creating the taste and flavor profile that we prefer.
Myth #3: Longer is better
Fact: The age of a whiskey is not the only determining factor in taste. Technically, whiskey only takes a few days to brew, and then it’s ready for consumption, although most of us wouldn’t gravitate toward a glass of malted barley mixed with rubbing alcohol. We prefer the smoky golden flavor that comes with being stored in temperature-controlled aging barrels. A magical process ensues by which the less drinkable portions of whiskey are drawn to the inner walls of the barrel, taking on sweet and aromatic qualities of the wood, making it into the warm, spicy elixir that we’ve come to know and love. However, we must be careful not to overage as certain woods can cause the whiskey to take on an overpowering flavor.
Myth #4: Drinking moonshine will make you go blind.
Fact: This is partially true. If moonshine is produced correctly, under the strict guidelines of distillation law and process, then you’re fine. If you are drinking Grandpa’s homemade hooch that he distilled through lead pipes in his backyard, then you are at risk for taking on additional toxins that will lead to blindness and even death. You are better off imbibing the good stuff than trying to save a few bucks and doing it on your own. Improper techniques, faulty equipment, and overconsumption can lead to serious health consequences.
Myth #5: Only certain spirits are gluten-free
Fact: gluten-free folks are taught from their first diagnosis to be wary of anything grain-based, and with good reason. Gluten allergies can cause digestive issues, headaches, and other unsavory health conditions that can be avoided by adopting a gluten-free diet. Thanks to the marvelous magic of the distillation process, much of the chemical composition of the original ingredients has broken down and fermented, and it no longer has the same effect on your system that it once did. If you want to ensure that you won’t experience adverse consequences, check with your doctor before consuming.
Myth #6: More distillation means better spirit taste
Fact: this is partially true. In general, the more you distill a spirit, the fewer impurities it contains. Does this mean that it tastes better, though? Not necessarily. It is possible to over-distill a spirit, leaving it with a burned and stripped flavor that no amount of aging can overcome. If a brand is bragging about the hundreds of times that it distills its spirits, they could be trying to mask poor quality ingredients or poor flavor with this guarantee. Taste and see for yourself where your preferences lie.
Palmetto: Superior distillation, superior spirits
Palmetto Distillery has award-winning whiskey, moonshine, and merchandise for all who are lucky enough to enter their historic facility. Using time tested distillation methods, family-owned recipes passed down by generations, and a commitment to quality that is superior to all others, you can be sure that you are getting a superior product at an exceptional price. Come taste for yourself; visit www.palmettodistillery.com to place your order today!