All spirits undergo at least two procedures: fermentation and distillation. Fermentation is where alcohol is created, while distillation is where the alcohol is separated and removed. To initiate fermentation, two things are required: a liquid raw material containing sugar and the addition of yeast. Yeast, a living organism, consumes sugar and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2) as byproducts.
A simple formula for fermentation is:
YEAST + SUGAR = ALCOHOL + CO2
Distillation is the process of separating a liquid consisting of multiple components into smaller parts of desired purity by adding or subtracting heat from the mixture. Distilling separates vapor/liquid from other ingredients with lower boiling points. Distilled spirits are made from agricultural raw materials like grapes, fruits, sugar cane, molasses, potatoes, cereals, etc.
For example, the production of whiskey involves cereals.
As a result, the distillation process transforms the raw materials of all spirits to the extent that they are no longer present in the final drink.
To conclude, distilling is an art that requires mastery of various factors: the selection of grains or fruits, the water used, the yeast, the climate of production, the shape of the pot still, the choice of barrel, the aging period (for matured products), and the Master Distiller’s blend recipe. All of these elements define the specific style and ultimate flavor of your favorite spirits!