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Yeast... part one

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3499
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 1:10 am    Post subject: Yeast... part one Reply with quote

Yeast and fermentation: the birth of rum

While distillers can't say enough about their distillation and aging, you really don't hear all that much about yeasts and fermentation - yet this is where are those lovely flavors are born, only later to be distilled and modified by aging.

Some distillers - probably more than would admit it - use alcohol tolerant yeasts that maximize the amount of profitable alcohol in the wash, but at the cost of loss of flavor. By using these high production yeasts, distillers can achieve wash alcohol content of up to 20%, nearly double the 12% alcohol yield of less tolerant yeasts. A surprising user of these "turbo yeasts" is the artisan Rogue Rum.

This is a lot of money! Profit or flavor, that be the question, and now you know the answer.

Other distillers use special commercial proprietary yeasts, often more than one. For example Four Roses uses 5 different yeasts, each producing a different range of flavors: K for spiciness, O for bold fruitiness, Q for both floral and fruity, F for herbal notes and V for light, delicate fruits (Credit to Whisy Magazine). Using two different mashbills (recipes) they are able to achieve 10 different bourbon lines which can then be blended to achieve a very wide variety of flavor profiles.

I've never heard of this in rum.

The Martinique AOC version of cane juice rums uses yeasts of the Saccharomyces genus. Other rum makers use natural wild yeast cultivated from the cane itself. Jamaican rum is special due to the yeast rich "dunder" recycled from previous fermentations, a technique that produces considerably more flavors.

For example, Bacardi tends to use the fast acting, more alcohol tolerant yeasts to achieve maximum production of profitable light rums, perfect as the base for flavored and mixing rums. In comparison, Jamaican rums use a slower, more expensive process producing far more flavorful, fuller rums.

Bottom line:

Yeasts, along with the use of unlabeled additives and flavorings, is held in the "secret" part of distilling. Distillers rare discuss them in any detail as they are key to the profile. Stay tuned for part two...

Go to Save Caribbean Rum Petition!

Last edited by Capn Jimbo on Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doesn't surprise me that Rogue is cutting corners in their rum production, they started doing so in their beers a few years ago and some of them have gone downhill. A good friend of mine went to Seibel Institute (brewmaster school) with a Rogue brewer who said they had started switching to extracts in some of their flavored ales, such as the chipotle and juniper. The chipotle used to be a quite spicy ale now the flavor is barely there.
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