Chemistry Of Whiskey: Crafting Smoke

The intricate world of whiskey is like a realm of exotic flavors, grains, and distillation methods. Different countries make their own individual whiskeys, and the chemical compositions of these whiskeys determine their distinct traits and flavors. In this article, I will get into the details of the mystical world of the chemistry of whiskey.

Grab a glass of your favorite liquid and follow along!

Three generations of Byington’s enjoy their smoke with whiskey!

Whiskey is a distilled alcohol derived from fermented grains like barley, wheat, corn, and rye and is amber in color. Before bottling, most whiskeys will need to mature in a hardwood casket and contain at least 40% ABV (alcohol by volume). There are numerous types of whiskey with their unique areas of origin, blending procedures, aging procedures, and flavors.

Whiskey is undoubtedly one of the most diversified, distilled drinks out there. This widely diversified drink’s unique characteristics and flavors are mainly due to their different chemical compositions. While it may be impossible to list every compound contributing to whiskey’s flavor, keep reading to explore where some of the most noteworthy ones come from.

How Is Whiskey Made?

Whiskey production method varies depending on the type, the country it comes from, and various other factors. However, the general process tends to remain the same. The steps whiskey producers commonly follow to make whiskey are –

1. Preparing The Base Ingredients

All types of whiskey production start with raw grain. The primary grain blend, also known as the mash bill, must contain at least 51% corn for bourbon, for instance. However, the rest of the recipe depends on the distiller’s choice. They may choose to use wheat, malted barley, or rye.

For malt whiskey, the raw grain is barley, and the producer handles it differently to get access to its sugars. The barley is given moisture to let it partly sprout/germinate. Then the producer dries the barley with heat to stop the germination process. This process produces enzymes that aid in the fermentation.

2. Mashing

Before fermentation, the producers will need to remove the sugars in the raw grains, and use the mashing process to do this. First, they grind the…



Carl Byington ~ Engineer, Adventurer, Traveler

Adventure, travel, culture, technical, environmental, wellness, and fitness. Ivy League, NASA rocket scientist, aero engineer, and CEO. #followback