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Alternative Grains for Whiskey

edited September 2016 in General

This is just a question to the board. A couple of people have commented on using triticale for making whiskey and I was curious what other different grains people have used for making whiskey, apart from the normal barley, rye and corn.

Any comments or suggestions?



  • Oats and millet are meant to be pretty good from what I've heard.

  • Wheat?

    Makes a mild whiskey.

  • Corsair uses quinoa

  • I guess any grain with sugar/starch in some form.... even Doughnuts are even a possibility... :)) according to the ADI presentation...


    420 x 536 - 55K
  • I've used wheat and millet and oats and triticale, barley and corn. Then you can pair these with fruits too, the peaches and corn i did once became a top shelf item the Bourbon Girl and other mixers of spirits was not allowed access to,

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • There's the standards- barley, corn, rye, oat and wheat. I think you can do already a ton with different combinations of just specialty barley.

    I love straight millet

  • @Unsensibel said: There's the standards- barley, corn, rye, oat and wheat. I think you can do already a ton with different combinations of just specialty barley.

    We've been experimenting with that recently, and tasters definitely notice and enjoy the caramel overtones of about 8% crystal 90 in the wash of a poitin, not to mention the honey malt.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • edited September 2016

    IMHO - Best whiskey we've made yet is 51 corn 49 oat.

    Lots of spice, more than rye. Pretty bold. Would probably make an incredible Manhattan. It won't get lost in the mix, may use the cherry as a punching bag.

  • edited September 2016

    Millet is nice too but it's getting really subtle nearing the 1 year mark. 51 corn 49 millet. Completely opposite side of the spectrum from oat. Floral, fruity, light.

    Over ice you could guzzle it by the bottle and not even realize it.

    Session whiskey ;)

  • Get your hands on Alt Whiskeys - Darek Bell of Corsair fame.. a great primer & inspiration of alternative grain use & mash bills..

  • Sure mate. I have that book and I have read it about 8 times. A great book. This is why I started this thread to see what other people here are trying.

  • Anything about amaranth in there?

  • Not that I remember and I have read the book about 5 times. But I am on the other side of the world right now so I cant pick it up and tell you for sure.

  • Yes a mention - nothing major - have found some amaranth fermentation R&D online.

    Cereal Mash using Amaranth flour as cracking/ milling seed is painful.

    Enzymes needed to some degree for starch conversion & low FAN for yeast so nutrients also needed..

  • edited October 2017

    Hellooooo 2500 pounds of Quinoa...


    800 x 600 - 102K
  • edited October 2017

    There was an article on alternative grains for beer in the last BYO i read. Quinoa was one of them.


    Quinoa is a South American pseudocereal that has remained a food staple of the continent for at least 4,000 years. Raw quinoa grain has a bitter coating that needs to be removed. Quinoa has appeared in some specialty craft beers, and is becoming a popular choice for homebrewers looking to brew gluten-free. The cost of quinoa seems to be one reason it hasn’t found more love among brewers.

    Like other ancient grains this seed can be popped. It can also be purchased puffed and toasted. As gluten-free product interest has grown, some malting experiments have begun by smaller maltsters and at a commercial level. Different types of quinoa have distinctly different flavor. Black quinoa is a bit nuttier while white and red quinoa is pleasantly mild and grainy. At least 20–30 commercial beers have been made with quinoa in the past decade.

    Brewing with Ancient Grains

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • I was thinking of trying Quinoa a couple of days ago. But I have to get my mashing and fermenting techniques up to speed on the normal stuff before trying anything fancy. Its easy to get where I live, some of the time anyway.

  • The article i linked suggests popping it.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Will do 51% corn 49% quinoa. Cereal mash w/ enzyme.

    This will be the 3rd in our series of alternative adjunct bourbons.

  • Do the aminos assist all all with conversion?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Yeah 100% enzyme mashing.

  • Darek Bell/ Corsair have a Quinoa Whisky & several Alt Grain mash bills.. 9- grain Grainiac.

    Alt Whiskey book is a great primer for all of these..

    Who out there is using 6-row Distillers Malt to reduce or eliminate use of exogenous enzyme use?

  • edited November 2017

    The Corsair Quinoa is 80% malt, 20% quinoa. They also mix red and white, and I've heard the red can distill out a bit more bitter. There is another at a much higher proportion, Project Q by Aussie Distillery Whippersnapper, I believe they used all white. We go 51% corn, 49% balance - primarily to keep a bourbon label, which makes it much more marketable for us.

    Last time I called BSG, Rahr High DP Distillers was still special order only, which makes it a pain in the ass. Even so, I wouldn't trade in my high-temp alpha.

  • I was just looking for some info on toasted grains percentage and thought I would update this. I made a quinoa whiskey but I used about 5% of the grain bill the rest was a pilsen wheat wash. It was a nice mix and I dont think you would want to go more than 10% Quinoa as it would be quite bitter.

  • edited May 2020

    I am on the fence, I want to love quinoa, but working with it at scale is pretty much the worst possible workflow.

    Recently, I'm in love with dark roast and smoked malts. The level of variation you can achieve is incredible.

  • By the way, we hated the 51% corn, 49% quinoa.

    The only one we ended up keeping was 100% quinoa, distilled as a "Light Whiskey" and aged in ex-Bourbon.

    I don't recall what it was distilled at exactly, but we stripped, so probably around 180 proof.

  • @grim, Thanks mate. Well I really liked the 5% Quinoa. It had just the right amount. I just did a whiskey with Kiwichi, which is another Peruvian grain like Quinoa and it was amazing. about 5% and it gave a whiskey a nice buttery almost butterscotch taste, with a little bit of macadamia. Nice in a multigrain.

  • Yes can totally understand the “nutty” flavor contribution at low amounts. I think there is a fair bit of caramel as well.

  • I feel like I need to revisit quinoa with a fresh set of expectations.

    Sampled some of Derek's a few years ago and it was not my favorite.

    But the last couple of years I've been drinking whiskey almost exclusively and so I'd bet my tolerances have been adjusted.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • If anyones interested see if you can get your hands on Kiwichi. Great stuff in a whiskey. Makes buttery smooth multigrain.

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