It's All in the Wash: Choosing the Right Yeast

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A high-quality wash is imperative in distilling a superior spirit. Of course, there are many things that can make or break a wash, but today we’re going to look at the magic little organism that is yeast.

Yeasts are a single-celled microorganism that are a member of the fungi kingdom. Yeast multiplies vigorously in the presence of oxygen and “eats” the sugars present in your wash or mash (with some help from enzymes), converting it into ethanol, carbon dioxide and flavour aroma compounds during the fermentation process. Through this process, yeast influences and creates flavour (key when distilling using a pot still) and alcohol content. 

Choosing the right yeast for your wash may seem like a difficult task, or perhaps it seems unnecessary, but not all yeasts are made equal. Although the yeast used for different types of fermentation mostly belong to the same species (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) there are thousands of different strains, each designed to produce different results. So, how do you decide which one to use?

Selecting the right yeast is easy when you know what your desired outcome is. We recommend asking yourself the following questions before choosing your yeast:

  • Are you distilling a neutral spirit in a reflux condenser or rum, whiskey, vodka or gin in a pot still?
  • What type of sugar are you using? i.e. Glucose Syrup/Dextrose/Molasses/Starch converted grains etc.
  • What temperature conditions are you fermenting in?

If you are distilling a neutral spirit using a reflux condenser, then you will achieve the best results using our Turbo Yeast range.

Turbo yeast is a mixture of dried yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), enzymes and nutrients optimised to produce quality neutral spirits when used with sugar. The yeast strain we use is a temperature tolerant, versatile strain that is able to withstand stress factors such as temperature and high ethanol, whilst achieving an exceptional ethanol yield (when used in the correct conditions). This means that even those who are new to distilling can achieve excellent results right from their very first distillation.

There are 5 yeasts in the Turbo Yeast range that cater to a variety of needs, be it speed, high temperature, purity, or increased yield. See here for further information on temperature ranges and yield. 

Classic 6: Specifically formulated to ferment 6 kg (13.2 lb) of sugar across a wide range of temperatures, Classic 6 produces an exceptionally clean tasting spirit. 

Classic 8: The best all-rounder Turbo Yeast that performs excellently under most conditions. Classic 8 can be used with 8 kg (17.6 lb) of sugar for a high ABV wash and increased yield, or 6 kg (13.2 lb) of sugar for fast fermentation.

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Pure: Produces the highest quality alcohol. This is a revolutionary breakthrough in Turbo Yeast development that makes it possible to produce "triple distilled" quality alcohol at home.

Fast: The quickest Turbo Yeast on the planet, Fast ferments out 6kg (13.2lb) of sugar in less than 24 hours, producing very good distillate quality.

Heat: Specially designed for use in hot conditions, Heat is the best yeast to use when the air temperature is above 33°C (91.4°F). It delivers excellent quality alcohol in hot conditions. Heat is also the only yeast we recommend for "stacking" - up to 200 L can be fermented using 8 sachets. 

 

If you are planning on making whiskey, rum, vodka or gin using a pot still, then the Distiller’s Range will provide you with optimum results.

These yeasts enable you to design recipes with more freedom and creativity compared to pre-blended ingredients. See the Distiller’s Range booklet for recipes and further information. There are four yeasts in the range:

Whiskey: Specifically designed to allow for some congener development during fermentation. This strain allows for flavourful, elegant, and well-rounded whiskies that will age well for weeks, months, or years.

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Rum: Optimises the fermentation's congener profile and brings forward the smooth and full-flavoured molasses characteristics you'd expect in your rum.  Great for well-rounded white or darker aged rums.

Vodka: A clean fermentation profile designed to work with any sugar base when combined with the proper yeast nutrient.  You'll find the vodka produced with this yeast to be exceptionally authentic in character.

Gin: Specially selected for gin, this strain allows for the perfect canvas to showcase your botanical profile.  The crisp, clean finish provided with this yeast give the characteristics of a top shelf gin. 

Choosing the right yeast always depends on the type of wash you’ll be using to produce your spirit. Some strains work best with sugar or fruit, while others are best suited to grain based washes. It’s always important to decide what your desired outcome is before choosing the wash composition and yeast strain accordingly. The best yeast for your spirit is the one that is best suited for the particular type of spirit you’re aiming for.