Spirit Distillation & Manufacturing Process
FC Distillers receives grain and other elements (this includes: corn, wheat, rye, herbs, fruits, and malted barley's) pre-ground/milled and bagged for Whiskey production, raw sugar bags and molasses tubs for variants of Rum, and/or sometimes high-grade ethanol for purification and filtration into a Vodka (used as the base spirit in producing gin and other flavored liquors). Our water is specially filtered through a uniquely designed system that renders the exact levels of minerality and alkaline we desire as the base for a good tasting spirit.
The grain & fruit based spirits is then processed (cooked) in the 1k liter mash tun that resides onsite, using a steam generator as a heat source. The steam generator is a closed, insulated, heating system. After cooling down through natural heat dispersion, the resulting liquid (commonly called wash, wort, or mash) is filtered via the mash tun and pumped into a fermentation tank using a portable pump.
Non-grain based spirits (rum, vodka, gin) are brewed similarly, but do not need a mash tun to filter out the remaining sediment, and go directly into the fermentation tanks after cooling.
The resulting wash is then transferred into a food grade and contaminate free certified Polyethylene [300-gallon tank, 2 on premise]. This is where we add our yeast culture and commence the fermentation process. This fermentation process takes anywhere between 6-21 days. The target yield on alcohol percentage is approximately 5-8%, and never exceeding 10% ABV (alcohol by volume). Once the desired ABV is met is typically when the beer (fermented wash) is removed for distillation.
The fermented wash (i.e. Beer/Wine) is then siphoned into the Distilling apparatus, and this process separates the alcohol from the liquid solution and refines it (purifies), never exceeding 95% or 180 Proof ABV. *Distillation (as it pertains to chemistry) - is the science of separating liquid compounds in relation to their differing boiling points (i.e. heating and cooling to a gaseous state). The 300 gallons of wash yields between 50-60 gallons of spirit; the amount being dependent on the finished proof, but for all intents and purposes we will say ~50-gallons. The "Foreshot", the first stage of distillation, contains methanol and other unwanted compounds, these are properly packaged separately and are recycled as a cleaning product. The "Heads" are prior to the final product and contain lighter compounds, this is typically stored for re-distillation. The "Hearts" or the clear sweet spirit is what is used for ultimate sale and public consumption. The "Tails", last stage of distillation, are lower grade alcohols and fusel oils are either re-distilled with the "Heads", thrown out, or picked up by agriculturists for use on farms and by various other professionals (example: candle making). The remaining sediment from the mash tun can be used by local farms as a catalyst for producing homemade fertilizers, and the liquid remaining in the pot after distillation can be reduced as a flavor element in cooking (like a wine reduction) or recycled via the waste water system.
The still then runs 8-10 hours at a time. Each run produces approximately 50 gallons of spirits between 65%-95% ABV. Not all spirits require runs through additional gas columns or through the gin basket, these elements are specific for creating gin, vodka, and rum. Once distillation is underway, a relatively steady stream of spirit flows out of the condensing column of the still. This liquid is then tubed either into a temporary holding tank (if it is the "Heads" or "Tails") or in the case of the "Hearts" i.e. clear spirit, directly into a wooden barrel for aging or bottle for consumption/sale.