Now armed with the knowledge of what I wanted to make; all I had to do was to translate that knowledge into a product, as my wife would say, “Easy Peasy”.
But first, how are we going to make our Neutral Grain Spirit? Our choices are to
A: make it from scratch (the idealistic view of making Vodka. This version could also include growing our own crops) or
B: Use a Neutral Grain Spirit purchased from a larger company that specializes in making NGS or
C: Have a distillery make your product for you.
These are all legitimate options.
With A: You will need to buy grain (or grow your own, but then you will also need extra equipment to harvest and process your grain), have the necessary equipment to make a mash (think brewery here), have the correct column to rectify the NGS and have the filtering equipment (at this point I would also add have lots of cash on hand or in the bank.)
With B: You need to find a company that makes NGS from what you want your Vodka made from and you will need the filtering equipment.
With C: You need to contract with a distillery to make the whole product for you.
After some searching, we chose to go with an Organic corn NGS that was made in Oregon (we like to keep things as local as we can) and we also chose to redistill the NGS we received to make even better cuts.
Once we received a barrel of the NGS we started working on the profile we were looking for. First I proofed down some NGS to 80 proof and then I started to play with different filtering media. Due to the small volumes involved everything was done by hand.
I had a couple of cups with small holes, I had drilled in them, to hold the different filtering media and I ran the proofed down NGS through them and tasted the results each time making notes. At some point I realized I had taken the filtering too far (which is why you keep good notes). In the case of the charcoal filtering, the vodka had become too “hard”.
After a few days of experimenting, we chose our filtering media, how many times we would filter it. We liked the results so I started working on a production batch.
– Christopher M Neumann