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Does triple distillation make the best whisky?

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Does triple distillation make the best whisky?

Yes
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25%
No
78
61%
Maybe
17
13%
 
Total votes : 127

Does triple distillation make the best whisky?

Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Sep 29, 2003 11:04 am

Does triple distillation make the best whisky?
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Does triple distillation make the best whisky?

Postby Lawrence » Mon Sep 29, 2003 4:38 pm

It's nice to have tripled distilled whiskies (or even 2.5 a la Springbank) but some of the heavy oily flavours are distilled out.
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Postby hpulley » Mon Sep 29, 2003 7:02 pm

It might be the best way to make a lighter whisky but it doesn't seem to be the best way overall.
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Postby Aidan » Tue Sep 30, 2003 7:46 am

Some of the best whiskies in the world are triple distilled, and some of the best whiskies in the world are double distilled, so there is no yes or no or even maybe answer to this question.

What happens in the barrel is the most important thing.
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Postby Gate » Tue Sep 30, 2003 1:06 pm

Well, none of my top 5 whiskies, judged either by my estimation or the amount of it I drink, is triple-distilled, so that has to produce a resounding "no" to the question. But there are some belting triple-distilled whiskies around (and blends based around triple-distilled elements), and we'd all be a lot poorer if they weren't available. So: distilling produces the best whiskies!
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Postby Admiral » Thu Oct 09, 2003 5:44 am

I agree with Gate...if triple distillation made the best whiskies, then we'd see more of them winning trophies or having a general groundswell of public opinion and enthusiasm behind them.

As it is, take a quick poll of which malts are world-renowned for their consistency in excellence (and awards), and you'll probably get names like Macallan, Glenlivet, ANY Islay malt, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, etc, etc.

Names like Auchentoshan, Glenkinchie, or any lowlander for that matter simply don't get mentioned in those circles.

It therefore seeems a weak argument to suggest that triple distillation produces a better whisky. Besides, if it did, don't you think more distilleries would do it???
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Postby hpulley » Thu Oct 09, 2003 12:19 pm

Many lowlanders are no longer triple distilled, or never were. Some are "two and a half times" distilled like Springbank. Glenkinchie is not triple distilled, for example. Auchentoshan is.

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Postby Aidan » Fri Oct 10, 2003 9:04 am

Well, again, it matters more what happens in the barrel. The time in the barrel smoothens the whisky in a similar manner to another distillation.

They can also produce a highly flavoured whisky by taking different cuts from the distillations.

The answer is not yes or no.
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Postby Stephen » Sun Oct 12, 2003 1:43 pm

Springbank(partly)、Auchentoshan、Rosebank and Benrinnes are triple distillation.

Springbank is one of the best single malt whisky.
Auchentoshan、Rosebank and Benrinnes are better than some single malt whiskies of double distillation.

Don't look down on triple distillation.
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Does triple distillation make the best whisky?

Postby Lawrence » Sun Oct 12, 2003 6:05 pm

Stephen, nobody is running down triple distilled malts, you are correct, there are some very fine triple distilled malts. However Springbank is not triple distilled, it's 2.5, check it out.
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Triple distilled ?

Postby westcoastboy » Sun Oct 12, 2003 9:34 pm

:?: I'm not sure that any Scottish produced whisky is now genuinely triple distilled - which would technically mean 1x3 stills for each round of the process - or at least you might think so. Untill of course you go (or should I say in some respects 'went') to those distilleries who were known for their 'triple' distillation, only to discover that it was more like, as others have mentioned 2.5 times distilled. Certainly at Rosebank, and I think Springbank, possibly Mortlach ('tho' if you ask anyone how Mortlach works nobody seems to quite know), and deffo Talisker.

And why would you three times distill ? Well as Martin Martin told us - to make life-challenging whisky.

WCB
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Postby Aidan » Wed Oct 22, 2003 10:19 am

Bushmills is deffinately triple distilled. It's not my favourate, but many consider it great.
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Postby mickblueeyes » Tue Nov 04, 2003 6:02 am

Distillation is a tricky subject. The bottom line is purity versus flavor. The more a whisky is distilled, the more heavy components will be removed. Certainly, one could argue that Armagnac is far superior to Cognac, though Armagnac is only once distilled and Cognac twice distilled. This is where the skill of the distiller comes into play.

It is important to capture many of the "good" components such as acetyl aldehydes, esters and others, while removing heavier fusel oils and proteins, which contribute to body and mouthfeel, but not to aromatics or fore-palate. As mentioned, Armagnac seems to do this quite well. While containing as much as 2500 ppm congeners, there is a good balance between purity and flavor as well as plenty of delicate aromatics and just enough body/mouthfeel creating proteins and fusel oils.

In Scotch, one could easily argue that some of the older Auchentoshans are exemplary, while many double-distilled spirits are mediocre. So, in essence, the skill of the distiller dictates the "goodness" of the malt. This question is akin to "Which is better, Roquefort or Chevre-lait?" Both triple distilled and double distilled malts have superb examples within their categories and the situation dictates which is better. I find during the warm summer months, a nice, light Auchentoshan suits my palate much better than some heavier highlands. Though, during the cooler fall months, its lightness doesn't provide the substance I am looking for.
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Postby Richard Quilly » Sun Nov 16, 2003 1:06 pm

The only Scotch currently triple-distilled is Auchentoshan. Some of its whiskies are very good, but not amongst my favorate.

Redbreast is the finest whiskey in the world and is triple-distilled. Other great triple-distilled whiskies are Powers, Green Spot, and Jameson 12 yr old.

These have won many awards.
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Postby old rarity » Sat Jan 10, 2004 5:02 pm

One thing I have never understood is why, since Redbreast and Jameson 12 and 18 year old are triple-distilled, they have a noticeably "oily" flavour. (Fresh leather, linseed are other terms used to describe this feature of pot still Irish). Someone said earlier that the third or later distillations remove the heavy oily taste of whiskey. Yet, this seems a feature of the best pot still Irish whiskey. Is the third distillation done in a way to preserve intentionally this taste characteristic but remove other elements that are felt objectionable (and what would those be)? Or is there another explanation?
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Postby old rarity » Mon Jan 12, 2004 2:26 pm

After posing my question above, I read in Michael Jackson's landmark, "The World Guide To Whisky" (1987) that three distillations are felt necessary in Irish practice because unmalted barley (always used together with barley malt in the mashbill) is a "robust" material. While welcoming all additional views and opinions, I think that may be the answer. Probably two pot still distillations would not modify sufficiently the "linseed oil" characteristic of true pot still Irish. And this is interesting because pot still whiskey can disclose this flavour strongly even after the three treatments: Jameson 18 year old, which is mostly all-pot still, shows this tendency quite well, for example. On the other hand, some pot still whiskey shows little linseed character, I have found that Green Spot has little if any of the element, so clearly much depends as well the specific recipe and process.

One could eliminate, or reduce, the unmalted grains portion of the mashbill, and thereby likely dispense with the need for a third distillation, but then the product would not be traditional Irish pot still whiskey! The versions of Jameson that are all-pot still (I believe the 15 year old is) achieve the best balance of barley and pot still characters, in my view, this is certainly one of the world's great distilled drinks. The other Jameson's are fine regional whiskeys of great character but I find it hard to come to terms with the pot still element except in the regular Jameson blend which is a very good whiskey, complex yet not overly assertive. Ditto for Power's which is very fine indeed. And I return to Green Spot as my personal preference in pot still whiskey. At its best it has a complex fruity character that is both appetizing and unique.
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Postby Aidan » Fri Jan 23, 2004 12:35 pm

In Jim Murray's Classic Irish Whiskey:

I can think fno other distillery in the world which is as complex as the plant in [Midleton] Co. Cork. When the new distillery ws deisgned and built it had to produce a range of whiskeys which, when blended, would form similar characters to the original whiskeys produced at Jameson's in Bow Street, Power's of John's Lane, the original Midleton and, to some extent, Tullamore.

...It's range of whiskey's cover a wider spectrum than any other distillery I know in the world

For pot still whiskey, the grist will have been made up from anything within the parameters of 60 percent unmalted barley and 40 percent malt, or from a straight 50/50 split. From this range of mixes three types of whiskey can be produced: light pot still; meidum/modified; or heavy. After all three distillations, the stillman can produce a heavy whiskey by capturing a greater portionof hte latter part of the distillate run which contains some of the heavier oils. The lighter the spirit he requires, the more central portion of the run will be selected each time. The result is a lighter spirit, and one which is higher in abv.

As well as the use of the three pot stills, some of the whiskey is distilled throught two column stills designed for the making of grain whiskey. At Midleton they are quite fascinating because they are linked to the pot still so that some of the impure spirit (low wines) is fed throught thboth the colun stills before being pumped back into the second pot still and then into the final, spirit pot still. In the intermediate still it rejoins the distillate considered to be of the highest quality form the furst run from the wash still. Meanwhile, in the first column still the immpures spirit form teh first pot still does not make its long, complicate journey alone: it is mixed with the impures spirit from the intermediate and spiriy pot stils...


I hope it's ok to reproduce this extract here.
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Postby old rarity » Thu Feb 05, 2004 12:08 pm

Many thanks for this reply. In fact I have this excellent book and recall the discussion you cited but had forgotten Jim Murray concluded heavier oils could be left in whiskey after three distillations. This does surprise me, because most vodka I know that is triple-distilled has very little fusel oil taste, for example, particularly where column stills are involved. Also, the particular oiliness of some Irish pot still is quite different from that of scotch whisky which submits to only two distillations. However I recognise that the distillation process of Irish whiskey is famously complex and it appears the process can be used to produce whiskeys of varying "heaviness" in this sense. I would still think, no matter what cut is taken, that the influence of the raw barley (again in comparison to scotch whisky which does not use that material) cannot be discounted in producing the signature flavour of old pot still whiskey. In another life I'd like to be a chemical engineer to understand completely the system of linked stills used at Midelton. Another thing that is interesting is how sophisticated the engineering was when new Midelton was built. Clearly people had the expertise to understand exactly how to make whiskeys that would through blending reproduce the flavour spectrum of those from the old plant. We read always that cask policy was not well understood in those days but clearly on the production side there was great sophistication. Suggestion for WM: someone should contribute an article giving more detail on the linked stills and how they function to produce specific flavour charateristics, particularly in regard to the classic heavy pot still character.
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Postby Aidan » Thu Feb 05, 2004 2:14 pm

Yes, I would say the unmalted barley gives its unique flavour, ultimately.

I was reading that old distilleries, like the old Midleton, used to use oats in the mash too. I have yet to taste any of these old whiskeys, but most of the reviews are glowing. They would also be distilled using a less sophisticated method, I'd presume.

I would also be interested in a WM article on what you mentioned.

I also got Jim Murray's Whisky Bible, and it rates the standard Jameson as the top Irish, with 95 pts. This will help Irish Distillers move a few cases, I'd say.
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Postby old rarity » Thu Feb 05, 2004 4:27 pm

Indeed. Here is another way to look at the raw barley issue. Scots Lowlands whisky (what survives of it) is distilled three times and uses unpeated, or very little peated, malt. Yet none of it has the signature oiliness of classic Irish pot still. Can it be that the three distillations in the Republic are done that much less "efficiently" (despite the use of some continuous process) than Lowlands practice and that explains the taste difference? Perhaps, but surely the impact of the unmalted barley in the Irish product has to make a difference, too. When Jackson wrote of it being a "robust" material I believe he was referring to its perfumy character as disclosed in the final product. Yet Murray is quite clear that the cut is operated despite three distillations to leave in heavier oils, so that must play a role too and I thank you again for pointing out his statement. One wonders why three distillations are done, therefore, and I think the answer may be not to alter the robust taste that two would provide, but to maximize (to use an engineering term) throughput. Clearly one can produce and sell more profitably more alcohol with the three distillation method than using two. So likely it is a way to maximise efficiency yet at the same time (this cut matter) retain integrity for the pot still product. But again, surely the raw barley plays a role too. I think further elucidation, by speaking to the people at Midleton (Barry Walsh, etc.) could produce an admirable article for WM..
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Postby Bodemmeester » Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:28 pm

Thinking of this question, I realize that all of my favorite whiskies are double distilled. My vote's a NO here. On the other hand, I agree that there much much more to the process of maturing and hence the taste of the whisky. I'm sure there must be very good triple distilled whiskies out there, but I haven't seen too many of them.
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Postby Laphroaig » Mon Apr 19, 2004 9:37 pm

I thought the more distillation, the more you remove the conegers (sp?) and basically inch your way towards barrels of vodka!
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Postby hpulley » Tue Apr 20, 2004 12:59 pm

Well then, why not single distilled?

Harry
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Postby Laphroaig » Tue Apr 20, 2004 6:31 pm

Good question... I'm definitely not a distillery scientist... But what I understand when whisky is made there are an unimaginable amount of things that have to be removed and separated. I heard with bourbon there often is 30 or something alcohols which are produced etc. Most of which have to be removed one way or another.

I'm not certain about this, but I think (maybe) the original Talisker crafters were single distillers. From what I heard way back when they originally started out, the whisky was popular, but it alone delivered numerous persons to the cemetery.

Who knows the actual answer to hpulley's question? I'd like to hear it myself.
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Postby Aidan » Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:08 am

When they distill spirits, the first stuff that comes off the still contains poisonous compounds. They wait for these to be stilled off, and then take the next cut. This cut lasts until the distillate starts to turn bad again. This is a very simplified explanation, of course. ..

If a spirit was single-distilled, it might not have the abv strength to become whisky, especially after a long maturing process. I am not sure of the exact strengths the alcohol comes off each still.

Generally, they think whisky matures best at something around 60%abv, although I'm not sure of the figure.

Single distilled spirits would probably not taste nice, either.
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Postby JimHall » Sun Mar 06, 2005 1:31 pm

I like the irish Whiskey... but I think they are going through an unneccessary process.
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Postby Aidan » Sun Mar 06, 2005 1:41 pm

Hi Jim - do you mean the third distillation? If so - apparently it is necessary to distill the pure pot still stuff three times. Of course, Bushmills doesn't have to distill three times as they make a malt.
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