The distillation process is an essential step in the production of bourbon. To start, a grain mixture known as the mash bill is created, typically consisting of at least 51% corn, along with other grains such as barley, rye, or wheat. The grains are ground into a coarse meal and combined with water to form a mash pappy van winkle for sale.
The mash is then heated to convert the starches into sugars, a process known as mashing. Enzymes are added to aid in the conversion, and the mash is held at a specific temperature for an extended period to allow the enzymes to do their work. Once the conversion is complete, the liquid is transferred to large fermentation tanks, where yeast is added to convert the sugars into alcohol.
Fermentation typically lasts around four to seven days, during which time the yeast consumes the sugars and produces alcohol. The resulting liquid, known as distiller's beer or mash, has an alcohol content of around 6-8%.
Next comes the distillation process, which involves heating the liquid to create steam. The steam is then cooled and condensed to create a liquid with a higher alcohol content. Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 160 proof, or 80% alcohol by volume.
The distillate, also known as white dog or new make spirit, is then entered into new charred oak barrels for aging. The barrels play a crucial role in giving bourbon its distinct flavor and character. The aging process allows the spirit to interact with the wood, resulting in the extraction of flavors and the development of complexity.
Bourbon must be aged for a minimum of two years to be labeled as "straight" bourbon. However, many premium bourbons are aged for much longer, with some exceptional expressions reaching over 20 years. During this time, the spirit undergoes a maturation process, where it takes on flavors from the wood and the environment in which it is aged pappy van winkle bourbon.
After the aging process is complete, the bourbon is filtered and brought down to bottling strength, usually around 40% alcohol by volume. It is then carefully packaged and made available to whiskey lovers worldwide.