What is Grain Neutral Spirit?
Grain Neutral Spirit, or Neutral Grain Spirit, is an umbrella term for various types of grain alcohols. This spirit is the premium standard alcohol produced by fermenting and distilling corn, rye, wheat, barley, rice, or other grains. Grain Neutral Spirit is also known as Extra Neutral Alcohol or Neutral Grain Spirits (NGS) in different parts of the world.
I understand that we are in the craft spirits industry, and using neutral spirits may seem inauthentic and deceptive. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and it is entirely possible to incorporate Grain Neutral Spirit (GNS, NGS, or simply “neutral”) into a successful business model. While the “grain to glass” approach is commendable and quality products typically use quality ingredients, we all have different limitations, priorities, and budgets. The art of distilling should be respected, but ultimately, we are running businesses, and in certain cases, it makes sense to be creative and work with what we have. So, without further ado, let’s explore five ways in which GNS can enhance your distillation program.
1. Depending on the operation, it can eliminate the need for fermentation altogether.
If you are producing gin or another flavored spirit, starting with GNS as your base can significantly reduce labor and raw material costs required for fermentation. By outsourcing this stage of the process, you relinquish control over the initial input to your production process. However, unless you are growing your own grain, such control is rarely attainable anyway.
2. GNS provides a blank canvas and an excellent starting point for adding flavor.
If you plan to infuse flavor into your final spirit through vapor, maceration, or any other means, using a high-quality neutral spirit gives you a clean slate to work with. It is challenging to completely eliminate residual flavors through distillation alone; filtration or additional processing may be necessary to achieve a truly neutral spirit. By delegating this aspect of production to others, you can focus on other aspects of creating a wonderful spirit.
3. Lower barrier to entry, as it requires less equipment.
Depending on the quality of the neutral spirit you source, you may only need minimal processing to achieve the desired flavor profile and create an exceptional spirit. To produce a neutral spirit from scratch, a tall column with at least 18 plates and potentially a filter are typically required to remove any residual flavors. Incorporating GNS into your production process allows you to allocate more of your equipment budget towards other spirits or invest in a larger gin basket, as you have always wanted.
4. Lower price point.
In many cases, neutral spirits are cheaper than water. Purchasing neutral spirits and refining them can save money on grain and labor costs compared to producing vodka from scratch. However, experience is irreplaceable, and by opting for this approach, you gain a different kind of experience.
5. Gaining experience.
Using GNS as a stepping stone before establishing a full-scale neutral spirit production facility provides hands-on experience. This allows you to determine the quantity of neutral spirit required to meet production demands and size your equipment accordingly.
ACE distillery equipment
Hopefully, this guide has prompted you to consider different ways to incorporate GNS into your production schedule and explore various approaches to building your business. While producing every product from scratch may be an admirable goal, sometimes it is necessary to prioritize resource allocation and take a long-term perspective. If you have any questions, we would be delighted to assist you with your business planning. Please feel free to contact us!