Blending time for vodka - Who does this and why / why not?

One of the processes that was done before I started at this distillery was they would blend the water and alcohol together and let it "blend" for 3-4 days before moving forward with follow on steps. I've not heard of this before nor have I done it.

I do note that my spirit will oxidize and change for a week or two before it settles down, which has vexed me, but I've not noticed a difference attributable to blending time. Maybe it's happening and I don't know it.

I've not seen the difference between the following:

  1. let spirit sit for a week then blend
  2. blend spirit and let sit for a week

So question is... is there value to mixing to proof and letting it "blend" for a few days before bottling? What’s the science?

Comments

  • Never heard of doing this are you talking about a neutral spirit or a whisky headed to aging

  • The process of proofing/bottling creates a kind of "bottle shock" that absolutely impacts aroma and flavor ... temporarily.

    We notice it most in whiskies where we're proofing down by 20 proof.

    Usually takes 2-3 weeks in the bottle to go back to where we expect it to be. We try to bottle and hold at this point, prior to releasing whiskies to the wild.

    Slow proofing in the tank minimizes the impact, however once you go through bottling, filtration, etc - your back to having an impact, meaning you still need the rest time.

    Never did any kind of quantifiable test around this, it's very subjective.

    I would say spending additional time in the bottle prior to distribution is more important than vatting in a tank, unless what you are looking for is some kind of evaporation - in which case you risk falling under-proof. You'd need to vat at a higher proof, and then add water and mix prior to bottling, which I believe would re-introduce the bottle shock phenomenon.

    I've heard anecdotes about some vodka brands holding bottled inventory prior to release.

  • My ex used to always air a fresh made bottle with the lid off. She reckoned 20 min was enough to help but a few hours was her aim. Said it took the sharp edge off.

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

  • This was a bulk neutral spirit made months prior being blended down prior to making a liqueur. They say it used to be part of their process to let it sit for three days.

    Who knows. Maybe it smelled like plastic barrel so badly that it needed to sit out for a while. It was a pretty harsh neutral actually. Probably needed a good airing.

  • A few weeks ago I started chasing ways to reduce the bottling shock or proofing shock... Other than time, I haven't found any solutions.

    I honestly wasn't really aware of bottle shock until we started bottling immediately after proofing. When I ah "sampled" some straight after proofing and bottling I was horrified to think that my vodka tasted like crap. It was the first full production run we had done with our new still and at the time I thought I had done something majorly wrong... That whole run sat in storage for weeks until I had the guts to sample another bottle. Its was a tough couple of weeks thinking that all my hard work developing our distillery and recipe was wasted.

    Now we sit in Vat unproofed for a week or so, then proof down, bottle, and store for a few weeks.

    P.S @punkin, we may be neighbours very soon!

  • Excellent Chris!

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

  • So one of the things that I have been curious about is bottle shock. No one can really say what it is or why it happens. I believe that it's mostly chemical equilibrium, with a lot of it being ester creation/destruction (hydrolysis/condensation). Even with something neutral like a vodka I believe that a lot of bottle shock is esters and other chemicals reaching equilibrium within the new parameters of ABV % and temp. The lower the ABV more esters are destroyed, the higher the ABV the more they stick around/are created. If true, bottle shock would be less for a neutral than something like a whiskey/rum due to a lack of chemical complexity. I bottle and let it sit for a month so it gets to a point of general equilibrium. I see the biggest changes for the first week. What comes directly out of the still is normally fairly different than what I taste a month later, more so the lower I proof.

    Fiji_Spirits said: So question is... is there value to mixing to proof and letting it "blend" for a few days before bottling? What’s the science?

    For me yes. I blend, let it sit for a few days to a week then bottle. I believe it would be the same for neutral spirits though less time for equilibrium to be achieved. If you change the proof then it would be good to give it a few days to stabilize.

  • Actually - there is a simple way to test this:

    Blend some product and immediately bottle part of it (A). The other part let sit for a few days then bottle it (B).

    • Do a blind triangle test on it before you bottle B.
    • Do a blind triangle test on it after a week.
    • Do a blind triangle test on it after a month.

    If you can't tell the difference between A and B after a month there is no value to blending and then waiting to bottle. Just blend and bottle then store it for a month before sales. If there is a difference then you know which method works better for your product.

    You could also try variations of how long to give the blending time - 1 day, 1 week, 1 month.

  • I know all of our spirits get better if we let them sit, but sometimes we need it ASAP and only use it in cocktails until it can rest in time. Gin and rum are the most changing for us.

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