Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

There's a lot of history and 'lore' behind bourbon so discuss both here.

Moderators: Brewer, brendaj

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:32 pm

Okay great thanks!

Regarding the pit fermentation, clearly it has survived in parts of the Caribbean but also was being used in America and Britain circa 1830 (John more grist ahem for the mill regarding the connections between rum and whiskey!). I do not recall the procedure being described in M'Harry's Practical Distiller (1809), perhaps in his part of PA the switch had been made to wooden fermenting vessels.

Delighted to hear that the 1830 account otherwise is close to your own practice. This suggests to me that your distillates, if made from 80% rye, should be close to early rye whiskey, and if aged more than 2 years (ultimately) in new charred wood, to Monongahela rye whiskey.

It may sound odd but I have a feeling the 1830 pit mashes probably were not weird-tasting. They probably had a high acid level (low Ph) to prevent any real spoilage - adding backset as you do today, and as James Crow did at approximately the same time, was likely another way, maybe more predictable, to get to the same result. The fact of certain plants growing near the sugar wash pits probably helped ensure a naturally good ferment, and no doubt something similar would have occurred for the mashes used to make these old barley and rye whiskeys. An equilibrium of some kind must have resulted, like e.g., the Ph in Flanders sour beer ensures its stability without strong hopping.

Gary

P.S. That said, it is true probably that the fermented sugar wash or dunder in the pits and new distilled rum made from them had a pungent aroma, I know that because I have some Jamaican Wray & Nephew white overproof which smells like that. (All new Caribbean rum does in my experience). It isn't a putrid smell of course, just a pungent, grassy-like scent. I guess this character is needed to ensure the rum will have the qualities traditionally associated after full aging. Maybe the 1830-era pits to ferment a mash for whiskey were somewhat similar in character, tart and sourish perhaps. In fact, even a modern distillery mash can taste like that. I have a feeling that probably things haven't changed all that much in mash production for bourbon or rye since 1830...
Last edited by gillmang on Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2138
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:45 pm

The Rye we will produce will have 80% rye in the grist, so we'll see how it turns out.

I'm enjoying this discussion, Gary. Thank you.
Leopold
Registered User
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:09 am
Location: Denver, Colorado

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Aug 23, 2009 2:48 pm

Same here, Todd, great discussion. I am trying to keep up because the one thing I'm not is a scientist! Maybe in my next life. :)

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2138
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Sun Aug 23, 2009 3:31 pm

gillmang wrote:....... the one thing I'm not is a scientist!


Me neither. If I've learned anything in studying the fermentation and distilling arts for the past 15 years is that I keep learning how much I don't know!

It's both fascinating and frustrating, all at once.
Leopold
Registered User
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:09 am
Location: Denver, Colorado

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Aug 23, 2009 4:25 pm

Well, I think Byrn was a doctor (not a scientist) and M'Harry certainly was not trained in any branch of science. We know that practical distilling - which really is a combination of experience and some training - can produce great results.

At the same time, science can too - e.g. James Crow - but not necessarily. And once again, the contrary is true. I am a particular fan of most of the bourbon that Jim Rutledge makes at Four Roses, and Parker Beam at Heaven Hill - as far as I know they are not scientists with formal qualifications. But they have an excellent palate and know how to produce top-grade bourbon of interest and style.

Gary
Last edited by gillmang on Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2138
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Aug 23, 2009 4:38 pm

Gary & Todd,
Holy Moly, dudes! This conversation is so going over my head I can get woozy just trying to read and absorb it.
I love it when that happens! :stars:

Chuck,
cowdery wrote:Certainly raisin brandy is used to fortify wine because it is a grape product and not the product of some other fermentable...

Probably a regulatory requirement, although it would also be practical. For wineries that produce fortified wines (I'm talking ports and sherries here, of course, not Mad Dog or T-Bird) it makes sense to distill their own spirit, since they already have the raw materials in the form of substandard fruit and spent lees. And if the output isn't as pure as true neutral spirits that's okay, too, since any flavor carryover wouldn't seriously affect the profile.

...Why raisins instead of grapes? Again, you probably are right that raisins had some quality they valued that regular grapes did not...

Probably the biggest quality would be the sugar-to-weight ratio. In Germany, the occasional Botritis (sp?) infection is actually looked upon as a blessing (at least connoisseurs with deep pockets) because it results in shrivelled grapes that are basically raisins-on-the-vine. The resultant crops are, of course, decimated, but the price/bushel makes up for it since wine made with those grapes is so much sweeter AND alcoholic. Normally, sweetness is accomplished by stifling the fermentation early, but that also reduces the alcohol content. Such wine is called Spatlaesse (sp?) and sells at a high premium.
=JOHN=
(the "Jaye" part of "L 'n' J dot com")
http://www.ellenjaye.com
User avatar
EllenJ
Registered User
 
Posts: 867
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:00 pm
Location: Ohio-occupied Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati)

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby PaulO » Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:52 pm

So, to jomp back in, the real Maryland rye whiskey was a blend of several straight rye whiskies of different ages. It also had a small amout of raisin flavored spirit added to it. The Monongahela rye didn't have the added raisin or prune flavor, otherwise it could be very similar.
I had a few thoughts on fermenting. Barley malt has nutrients that make the yeast start working hard right away. When I home brewed a lot I remember seeing a company that sold beer and wine yeast also had "distillers yeast". I wondered what it would have done in a beer recipe. There are a lot of yeast strains available. I would be cautious about letting bacteria and wild yeast into the fermenter.
PaulO
Registered User
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2007 7:02 pm
Location: Greenwood Indiana

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby tmckenzie » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:09 pm

In my talking with Dick, he said the raisins were in bad shape, so they must have not been any good for eating. He also siad they took it to neutral. I have had the opportunity to use raisin brandy, and it has no resemblance to raisins. It tastes like nothing. He said those things were a nightmare, they hade to break them up with axes.
tmckenzie
Registered User
 
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:20 pm
Location: corning, new york

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:52 pm

Well, that's different, if it was rectified to neutrality, it wouldn't matter what was the fermentable source.

However, be assured that this was not the only type of raisin brandy ever made. The 1800's sources make it very clear that a vinous flavour was wanted, either to make whiskey resemble brandy or to give a winy note to a blend of whiskeys.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2138
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:00 pm

PaulO, I think you state the position very well, except:

- there was a goodly amount of Maryland straight rye sold which wasn't blended. It probably was similar to Monongahela straight rye but possibly more fruity from a more estery ferment (but remember, there were numerous brands, each of which would have had a house taste)

- raisin extract was just one of the flavourings used for the Maryland blends. Others probably included sherry, prune wine, caramel, maybe dark rum (used in Canada in the past as a blending agent), maybe brandy, peach/apricot mixtures, etc.

Right now, I am sampling a personal blend of straight whiskeys (15-20, bourbons and some ryes, 4-21 years old). I used a sweet dark rum as the blending agent, not exceeding 2%. It is really good with a slight chocolate note and soft, spreading, very integrated bourbon/rye flavours. I would defy anyone in a blind tasting to pick this out as a blend. My goal was to emulate, say, Benchmark of the 70's and 80's or Beam's Choice of the 70's, and I have come very close.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2138
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:51 am

Jeff, thanks, that comment about the particular taste of pot still whiskey is a reference to the burning of the mash on the base of the still, often referred to as a defect by some writers of the time. Rummagers are equipment designed to stir up the mash so this does not happen, but it was probably inevitable to some extent. M'Harry used a simple stick to stir, but once the stills became larger this became less practical. All in all, "driven steam" seemed the best outcome I think, both from a taste and economy standpoint. One can be sure though that those who still use pot stills know how to avoid this taste. WR has none of it, for example, and Scots malt whisky doesn't either. But in the old days the problem evidently existed. Another reason why blending was so attractive..

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2138
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby tmckenzie » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:32 pm

I have studied on this some. Mosto would not let a mash burn. There is some misconception about mash in a direct fired still burning. If the job of mashing is done right, then it will not burn, starches are what sticks and burn. If mashed right, the corn has rendered all of it's starch, and the malt has converted it. So just keepeing it moving until it comes to a boil is plenty. The chemical, from my studying that is responsible for a different taste in direct fired stills, is fufaral. I better go back and see, but I think that is it.
tmckenzie
Registered User
 
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:20 pm
Location: corning, new york

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby gillmang » Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:45 pm

That is very interesting. It raises a number of questions in my mind:

- to what extent is a well-conducted mash different from a wash (a mash which is filtered to remove all solids)? I always understood a wash and and mash to be different and a mash was a hallmark of bourbon production

- does furfural have a burned taste? If so this may explain the confusion of this congener with a burned mash flavour (which the old writers sometimes called "empyreumatic" - from what I can tell it means burned vegetable matter).

M'Harry (1809) indicated that simple agitation would do the trick. Also, he (or other early writers I have read) advised adding some kind of soap or fat to the still so the oiliness would preclude sticking.

Gary
User avatar
gillmang
Vatman
 
Posts: 2138
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:44 pm

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby Leopold » Thu Aug 27, 2009 2:45 pm

It's a question of temperature difference. I have a table somewhere that shows the relation between the temperature of the wash/mash/wort, and the temperature of the heat surface...and what difference would lead to problems. If the temperature difference is too great, Maillard reactions begin to take place, which can lead to many new cogeners.

The lower the temperature difference, the less likely you'll get cook on. This can be altered by using lower pressure steam, mixing, low flame on direct fire, or any combination therein.

Actually, an interesting "rummager" story. Gary Stroh IV was in my graduating class at Siebel. Stroh's, as many may or may not know, is "fire brewed": they used direct fire kettles. They had massive rummager like impellers in the kettles. When we did a tour, we asked Gary if the impellers were to avoid cook on. He told us no...they were there to keep the mash stirred, because direct fire would always lead to hot spots and cold spots on the heating surface of the kettle.....leading to a boil that wasn't rolling hard enough. The impeller was there, he told us, to ensure that DMS was fully driven from the beer. DMS is a compound that smells like cooked vegetables. Think Rolling Rock....that stuff is rife with DMS as part of it's, um, profile.

Of course, I'm sort of blending the disciplines of brewing and distilling a bit here, but there you go.

Having distilled both lautered wort, and a full-solids mash, I can tell you that the differences in the resulting distillates are profound.
Leopold
Registered User
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:09 am
Location: Denver, Colorado

Re: Maryland and Monongahela Rye?

Unread postby tmckenzie » Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:24 pm

even a well lautered wort, or wash will have solids.
tmckenzie
Registered User
 
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 1:20 pm
Location: corning, new york

PreviousNext

Return to Bourbon Lore

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest