Giant Texas Distillers Bourbon Heritage Month – Distillation
We have four pot stills that we use to make bourbon and we take the mash through two distillation processes. The first distillation is called the Stripping Run where we strip off all the alcohol from the mash. During distillation, this vapor from the boiling travels up the neck at the top of the pot still and down a line, after which it travels through the condenser, where it is cooled to yield a distillate with a higher concentration of alcohol than the original liquid. The resulting liquid is called “low wines”.
We then take the low wines for a second distillation, known as the Spirit Run. The Spirit Run is the most crucial part, where the expertise of our head distiller, Julian Giraldo comes into place. Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, so at 168-170°F alcohol will boil, but not water, so we keep the temperature of the stills under 212°F. The spirit distilled is ethanol or “White Dog”.
The first alcohol to come out is the “light alcohol” or heads, which are alcohols that are very harsh with impurities. Julian will run tests on the distillate until heads have passed and the cut is made. The alcohol that is come after the heads are known as the hearts. The hearts are what we will fill our barrels with for aging to make bourbon!