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Pure Pot Still

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Pure Pot Still

Postby DavidH » Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:29 pm

I have a question about "Pure Pot Still", meaning a mix of malted and unmalted grains distilled in a pot still. It's generally said to be exclusive to Ireland, including on this forum.

I believe it's not made in Scotland and I believe the term is not used outside of Ireland but is it really "exclusive" to Ireland? It doesn't seem all that strange an idea so I've been leafing through Michael Jackson's Whiskey book and I see, for example, that Woodford Reserve is triple distilled in copper pot stills from a mash of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley. Would that qualify as PPS?

If not (perhaps because the malted barley is only there for its enzymes rather than its flavour), is there another distillery in the US, Canada or somewhere else that might qualify as PPS?
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Thu Jul 10, 2008 5:49 pm

I think any of them that do the sour mash thingy would qualify ....

Makers Mark maybe?????

Good point and I think you may be on to something there in technicality ...... but I suppose the only problem to that is that they have been legally labeled as Bourbon's
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby bamber » Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:26 pm

You make a good point and I think there are parallels flavour-wise beween American Rye and Pure Potstill.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby cathach » Thu Jul 10, 2008 11:40 pm

Well it couldn't really I think because all the barley used in the mash is malted. Traditionally it was malted barley plus unmalted barley [50:50 is considered the traditional ratio by the boffins at IDL I think] plus a mix of other unmalted grains. Are the other grains malted in the American process?
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby Aidan » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:29 am

I believe that they used to make what would have been considered pure pot still whiskey in the lowlands in scotland a long time ago.

And nobody seems too sure if IDL only use the copper pot stills in their distillation of what they call pure pot still.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby oldrip57 » Fri Jul 11, 2008 1:52 am

irishwhiskeychaser wrote:I think any of them that do the sour mash thingy would qualify ....

Makers Mark maybe?????..


Where does that come from? The fermentation (sour mash) and distillation are entirely seperate processes, and pot stills are exclusive to the distillation. Maker's Mark uses, exclusively, column stills to distill.
Now, virtually all American column stills have built into them a 'doubler' -- a purifying still high in the column -- which IS essentially a small pot still, but it is part of the column.
Woodford's pot stills are huge -- but I have no basis for comparison with anything used in Ireland or Scotland.
And, Aidan, there may be flavor similarities between American straight rye and pot-still Irish, for example, but it has nothing to do with distillation. Except for Fritz Maytag's Old Potrero and some other small-operation rye (West Virginia's Isaiah Morgan, for example), all commerically-available American straight rye flows from column stills.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby bamber » Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:07 am

oldrip57 wrote:
irishwhiskeychaser wrote:I think any of them that do the sour mash thingy would qualify ....

Makers Mark maybe?????..

Where does that come from? The fermentation (sour mash) and distillation are entirely seperate processes,

As it is with all whisk(e)y ! Yeast don't like it very much when they're being boiled ! The point being made is that the grain mix used in American whiskey might technically qualify as "pure pot still" as it contains a mixture of malted barley and other unmalted grains. Of course pot still only contains barley these days, but that has not always been so - I remember oats being mentioned previously. In the case of Woodford Reserve pot stills are used: so both the fermentation and ditillation processes qualify. Furthermore, as pointed out by Aidan, controversy surrounds the stills used by IDL for pot still whiskey.
oldrip57 wrote:....Woodford's pot stills are huge -- but I have no basis for comparison with anything used in Ireland or Scotland.

They look about the same size as Scottish stills, but smaller than Old Midleton's.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby Aidan » Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:12 am

oldrip57 wrote:
irishwhiskeychaser wrote:I think any of them that do the sour mash thingy would qualify ....

Makers Mark maybe?????..


And, Aidan, there may be flavor similarities between American straight rye and pot-still Irish, for example, but it has nothing to do with distillation. Except for Fritz Maytag's Old Potrero and some other small-operation rye (West Virginia's Isaiah Morgan, for example), all commerically-available American straight rye flows from column stills.


I think you are mixing me up with someone else.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby bamber » Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:23 am

I think oldrip57, means me not you. Do you find any similarities between Pure Pot Still and American rye ? :)
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby Aidan » Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:43 am

I'll try them both tonight. I still have a few drops of rye that you sent me, as it happens. I know that I really like rye and I really like pure pot still, so at the moment, I know they have this in common.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby bamber » Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:44 am

Just remember that you liking them has nothing to do with the distillation process :D
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby kallaskander » Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:13 am

Hi there,

in Ireland pure pot still whiskey refers to a whiskey made form malted and unmalted barley. Purists say the unmalted part should be at least 51%.

This developed when the English imposed a malt tax onto the Irish in years long gone by and clever as they are the Irish found a way to reduce this tax straight away.

pure pot still is furthermore distilled three times in copper pot stills.

So imo no other whisky in the world qualifies but the one made from barley malted and unmalted and distilled in copper pot stills in the discontinuing process.
It should be a category that is left to this kind of whiskey.

A bit of a confusion of the term is brought on by Cooley in Ireland. They call their single malts from 100% barley and distilled only twice in copper pot stills often pure as pot still.
They do that to emphasisze that it contains no grain but I think they should stop that altogether.

If Cooley does make whiskey from malted and unmalted barley I do not know.

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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby Aidan » Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:47 am

bamber wrote:Just remember that you liking them has nothing to do with the distillation process :D


The powers of concentration it will require to divorce these two realities might be too much for me. From now on, I will associate anything thing that I like with pure pot still.

In fact, I always thought that there was a touch of pure pot still about Oscar Peterson and Tom Waits.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby DavidH » Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:20 am

I've been looking at the testimony presented to the Royal Commission on Whiskey in 1908.

According to Andrew Jameson, the recipe for his pot still whiskey was 80% malted and unmalted barley, 12.3% oats, 6.2% wheat and 1.5% rye. There is no indication of the ratio of malted to unmalted barley.

According to Alfred Gilbey (of W&A Gilbey and Redbreast fame), maize would never be used in an Irish pot still as the flavour would be "extraordinarily strong".

So maybe, if PPS is to designate a uniquely Irish style, its definition should incorporate the significant proportion of unmalted barley and the lack of maize, both of which would distinguish PPS from Woodford Reserve.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby kallaskander » Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:33 am

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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby DavidH » Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:54 am

kallaskander wrote:the issue is not an issue.

I think you have missed my point. PPS is usually described as uniquely Irish with a mix of malted and unmalted grain in copper pot stills (and perhaps triple distilled). Traditionally, it has not been made from barley alone (so Wikipedia is wrong).

By this definition, however, Woodford Reserve qualifies as PPS so either it's not uniquely Irish or there is a more precise definition involving the exact mix of grains in the mash.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:14 pm

oldrip57 wrote:
irishwhiskeychaser wrote:I think any of them that do the sour mash thingy would qualify ....

Makers Mark maybe?????..


Where does that come from?



From the depths of my imagination :lol:

I know nothing about how American whiskey is distilled so I was really only referring to the mash thinking that ye used stills and did not realise that most US distilleries used Continuous/patent/coffee stills.

In relation to pure pot still there may not be an actual legal definition any more????? :o

In the 1950 Whiskey Act it was defined ....


1.-For the purpose of subsection (9) of section 105 of the Spirits Act, 1880 (which relates to the accuracy of the description of spirits in a permit or certificate)-

( a ) spirits described as Irish Whiskey shall not be deemed to correspond to that description unless they have been obtained by distillation in the State from a mash of malt and cereals, and

( b ) spirits described as Irish Pot Still Whiskey shall not be deemed to correspond to that description unless they have been obtained by distillation solely in pot stills in the State from a mash of cereal grains such as are ordinarily grown in the State saccharified by the diastase of malted barley.


However this was repealed by the 1980 act which has a very basic definition of Irish Whiskey and appears open to any cereal ...... maybe there is a legal definition of Pot Still somewhere but I just can't find it....
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby DavidH » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:30 pm

irishwhiskeychaser wrote:In relation to pure pot still there may not be an actual legal definition any more?????

No, so it's up to us! :D

Obviously the phrase "pure pot still" intrinsically means nothing more than "no patent still whiskey in this bottle". And this is all the 1950s legislation implies.

It seems to me like an accident of history that because nobody outside Ireland was using "pure pot still" on their bottles that it came to be synonymous with "Irish style" which happened to include a large proportion of unmalted barley.

But then it becomes a tautology to say that "pure pot still" is a "uniquely Irish style". It is, by definition, an Irish style.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby kallaskander » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:47 pm

Hi there,

why should an American or other whisky try to claim something like pure pot still whiskey for itself when this so very much associated with Irish whiskey?

If somebody wants to make whisky or whiskey in this style ok, call it pure pot still.

Japanese single malt is single malt.

Besides Irish Distillers seem to have succeeded in making us believe that there is only malt or blend in Ireland.

We forget that pure pot still whiskey is distilled in Ireland by the tankloads - destined to go into Irish blends. IDL should therefore know the definition of Irish pure pot still whiskey by heart.

And the often quoted Maker's Mark already has a name and classification. Bourbon and within that category wheat whisky because the mashbill contains no rye.

And the only two wider known American whiskies which came into contact with copper stills the A.H. Hirsch from Michter's Distillery Pennsylvania and nowadays Woodford Reserve are or were only the second time distilled in copper pot stills.

So there is no American whiskey or whisky which can claim to be a pure pot still.

Old Potrero seems to be distilled in copper twice - but it is a rye.

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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby DavidH » Fri Jul 11, 2008 1:19 pm

kallaskander wrote:why should an American or other whisky try to claim something like pure pot still whiskey for itself when this so very much associated with Irish whiskey?

Oh well, no, I don't think they should either.

The reason I raised this is that I was trying to write a "dictionary definition" of "pure pot still" for my website on Irish whiskey. But it's trickier than it sounds. If I defined it in the usual way as a mix of malted and unmalted grains in a pot still then I seemed to be including non-Irish whiskey like Woodford Reserve (which is triple-distilled in copper pot stills). And yet it is supposed to be uniquely Irish.

So really, I'm not at all concerned about redefining bourbon. I'm just trying to find an accurate definition of PPS. I think I have what I need now.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby oldrip57 » Sun Jul 13, 2008 11:26 pm

Apologies to Aidan and Bamber for my ID confusion.
As regards pot-still, it's informative and interesting to me that reference to 'pot-still' in the Isles refers to the mashbill as much as the distillation method. I'm pretty well-versed in American whiskey and its traditions, and I didn't know that. Thus, when I hear/read someone refer to 'pot-still', distillation processes only come to mind.
As for the Hirsch (Michter's distillate) being 'pot-stilled', the only documentation I've ever seen of that is a photo of the Michter's column still with the built-in, pot-still 'doubler' labeled "Pot Still":
http://web.tampabay.rr.com/ybfowler/legacy.htm
(scroll down about 1/4 of the way, to where the text describes 'the old-fashioned pot still...method', and look at the picture. You'll see 'Pot Still No. 3' as part of a quite-plain column still.)
The Hirsch bourbons, in other words, were not pot-stilled in the sense that they were distilled in copper pot stills. The whiskey was distilled in columns like all other American whiskey in that age. In the way that they are called 'pot-stilled' all other American straight whiskey also could be so termed.
And, finally -- no, no American whiskey aside from the Woodford Reserve Four Grain and Canada's Forty Creek Three Grain remind me of what I think of as 'pot-still'.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby kallaskander » Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:25 pm

Hi there,

you mean this?

pure pot still

Irish whiskey made in a traditional copper pot still from a mix of malted and unmalted grains.

On the face of it, "pure pot still" means no more than "distilled entirely in copper pot stills". By convention, however, it also signifies an Irish whiskey made to a traditional recipe that includes unmalted grain.

These days pure pot still is made entirely from malted and unmalted barley but until recent decades unmalted wheat, oats and rye formed a small part of the mix too.

This recipe is distinctly Irish. Scottish distilleries, for example, use only malted barley in their pot stills.

Midleton is the only distillery in Ireland that makes pure pot still whiskey. It is mainly used in Irish Distillers' blends like Jameson, Powers, Midleton and so on. Two whiskeys (apart from occasional limited releases) consist entirely of pure pot still whiskey - Green Spot and Redbreast.

Cooley has muddied the waters by adding "pure pot still" to the labels of some of their single malts. This has not gone down well with the whiskey purists.

http://atoz.irishwhiskeynotes.com/2.html

Not that you would need it but I sign that. :angel:

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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Jul 14, 2008 2:01 pm

There are two issues here ......

The conceived perception of what a traditional Pure Pot Still is and

A technical use of the term Pure Pot Still.

A traditional Irish Pure Pot Still Whiskey is as stated by a few previous an Irish whiskey made with it's various mash mixes and distilled in a Copper Pot Still.

However Irish law no longer specifies what a pure pot still whiskey is and only specifies what an Irish Whiskey is (Whether made by grain, malt of a mixed mash).

Therefore Cooley are legally entitled to call their whiskey Pure Pot Still as it has been distilled purely in a pot still.

As you say kallaskander not very acceptable to us Irish whiskey purists but nothing we can do about it.

Going on that any whiskey made anywhere in the world in a pot still could be called a Pure Pot Still :o .

However the term Pure Pot Still is synonymous with Irish whiskey made in a traditional Irish way (from a mixed mash) and I think that this will always be the case so nothing to worry about. Even Cooley have pulled back from using the term as much as they used to.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby Aidan » Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:02 pm

Midleton are releasing a single cask blend soon in the Celtic whiskey shop. I thik they blended grain and pure pot still at birth, the only explanation of a single cask blend. I suppose it might be like the MIdleton 1967.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby DavidH » Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:04 pm

kallaskander wrote:you mean this?
...
http://atoz.irishwhiskeynotes.com/2.html

Now that's a great definition! :D

Just kidding, I wrote that myself at the weekend. It's part of an A to Z of Irish Whiskey terms that I'll be expanding and improving as time goes on.

It has a hidden feature... I can highlight just the PPS entry like this:
http://atoz.irishwhiskeynotes.com/2.html?pur#pur
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Jul 14, 2008 4:42 pm

Aidan wrote:Midleton are releasing a single cask blend soon in the Celtic whiskey shop. I thik they blended grain and pure pot still at birth, the only explanation of a single cask blend. I suppose it might be like the MIdleton 1967.



Interesting..... very interesting ...... IDL are really on the move these days .... looking forward to that.....

Any idea of name whether it is going to a higher abv UCF etc..... and lastly Cost.???? I shudder to think :o
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby Aidan » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:01 pm

It will be 46% abv and unchillfiltered. I don't know the price, but I'd guess around the 100 euro mark.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:17 pm

Aidan wrote:It will be 46% abv and unchillfiltered. I don't know the price, but I'd guess around the 100 euro mark.


Sounds promising ... just hope it does not go over the 100 or I'll have problems justifying it..... :o Ideally 80 would be a nice figure.
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby cathach » Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:51 pm

Hmmmmm previous form from the CWS suggests otherwise...

On another note great to see such erudite and passioned discussion on a sadly neglected aspect of whiskey production :thumbsup:
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby DavidH » Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:35 am

I notice a little more blurring of the line from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

IDL entered Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve in the Pure Pot Still category though it is a blend.

I also notice Greenore (a single grain) in the Single Malt category (I understand they don't have a Single Grain category but still, it can only confuse people).
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Re: Pure Pot Still

Postby cathach » Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:52 am

Thats crazy!

Single grain in the single malt category,
a blend in the pure pot still category!

rabble!!!

Any further word on the CWS bottling???
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