Everett Griner talks about Bourbon, made in Arizona, in today’s Agri View.
From: Phoenix New Times
If you’re like Rodney Hu, Jason Grossmiller, and Jon Eaganof the Arizona Distilling Co., distilling bourbon begins with making a few good friends. After meeting in high school at Tempe’s Marcos de Niza– with Hu later taking over operations at Yucca Tap Room and Grossmiller quitting his job as a blackjack dealer– they began the long process of opening a distillery in Tempe.
Liquor hadn’t been made in Arizona since before Prohibition, so the permits to distill and the ensuing legal issues took about as much time as perfecting an Arizona bourbon recipe. For everyone else, their hard work means distilling craft spirits is a reality in Phoenix.
Copper City Bourbon starts with a mash primarily consisting of corn, which is necessary for it to be classified as bourbon. The team also is working on the state’s first local grain-to-bottle whiskey using Arizona desert durum wheat.
For the bourbon, a corn mixture is put through a hammer mill to be ground to a fine powder. That powder is then put into a mash tun, along with water, to make the slurry, which cooks approximately eight hours and ferments another five to seven days. The fermenting slurry builds its alcohol content during this stage and is roughly 900 gallons at this point, though only 300 gallons of it can be sent through the still at a time.
Once the mixture is finished fermenting, the actual distilling begins. The first run through the still is called a stripping run, which takes about 10 to 12 hours. At this point, the 13 percent alcohol by volume, 26-proof mash rises to 80 or 90 proof, which is then cut down to 65 proof. In the finishing still’s run, the whiskey is separated into three cuts: heads, hearts, and tails. The hearts, which, according to Hu, “contain all the ‘good’ alcohol and flavors within the spirit,” are kept for aging. The “bad alcohol,” like trace amounts of methanol, are removed in the distilling process, leaving you with 160-proof alcohol in the end.