Single Pot Still whiskey has been a residing passion of our founder, Pat Cooney, for decades. The production of the highest quality Single Pot Still distillate requires a considered effort to not only efficiently process the unmalted grains contained within the Single Pot Still mash bills (recipes), but to also maximise the flavour and mouthfeel of Ireland’s signature style of whiskey.
It is the inclusion of these unmalted grains in the mash bill that not only garnered Irish Single Pot Still whiskey its global fame, but it’s also what separates the category from its cousin, Single Malt (100% malted barley).
Unmalted grains do not only offer a wide variety of flavours to the subsequent spirit but they also offer a whole host of challenges for distilleries who try to make whiskey with them.
This is mainly due to how densely packed the starch/ sugar stores are in the unmalted grains themselves. The sugar content is the food source for yeast, which will convert these sugars into alcohol later in the fermentation stage. That said, yeast works best with short/ simple branch chain sugar structures. So before distilleries can start efficiently producing the highest quality pot still spirit, they must first break down these long, densely packed unmatled sugars into short branch chain sugars that the yeast can feed on.
Conversely, malted grains do not have this problem as this breakdown happens in the malting process that the grains undertake. Since the unmalted grains’ sugars cannot be broken down in the same process, the breakdown must be performed by the distilleries’ brewing systems instead.
Our brewing system is one of the few on the island of Ireland that is specifically designed to produce single pot still spirit. When the Cooney family commissioned the design of the distillery it had one resounding mission, to design and install a state-of-the-art brewing and distilling system that would be specifically primed to efficiently process both malted and unmalted grains. This approach makes us one of the only purpose-built single pot still brewing systems in the country.
One of the main things that sets us apart from the other distilleries in Ireland is the inclusion of a Mash Conversion Vessel, which is paired with a Full Lauter Tun.
The Mash Conversion Vessel is a precisely temperature controlled jacketed vessel that gives the Boann distilling team the ability to hold the combination of milled grains and hot water at multiple specific temperatures that activate natural enzymes in the unmalted grains.
These specific temperature stands are precisely calculated to activate the enzymes that will initially break the densely packed, long branch chain sugars into medium chain sugars. Then as the temperatures increase to the next stands, new enzymes will become active and break these medium chain sugars into short chain sugars that are perfect for the yeast’s conversion process in fermentation.
After all of the enzymes have been activated and the sugars have been broken down into yeast friendly short chains, the grain, sugar and water mixture is transferred to our highly efficient Full Lauter Tun. It is here that the sugary, water mixture is strained from the remaining milled grains. Once all of the sugar and water has been separated from the grains, this solution is sent to fermentation.
This Mash Conversion Vessel and Full Lauter Tun combination is where Boann Distillery excels in the production of Single Pot Still distillate among the competition. Our brewing system was specifically designed to process un-malted grains, and efficiently activate these crucial enzymes that make brewing with unmalted grains possible.
Most other distilleries producing single pot still spirit have not included a Mash Conversion Vessel, making the brewing system in Boann Distillery one of the most efficient and effective unmalted brewing systems in the country. This makes us uniquely positioned to produce some of the finest and best quality single pot still spirit in the country. A unique spirit of unique provenance.
Discover more about the unique distillation process at Boann Distillery and how we’ve the first whiskey distillery in the world to employ nano-technology in the distillation process.
Author, Matt Healy