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Yeast Selection

edited July 2020 in Recipes

I thought I would put this out there to get peoples thoughts.

I am planning on making a whisky with sweet and fruity notes and am trying to decide which yeast will help with the fruity notes. I am concerned certain esters may not carry over during the distillation process and am interested to hear what other people recommend.

Ordinarily for a malt whisky I create two starters, one of Distilamax MW and one of EC-1118 and pitch them both at the same time. I ferment the first 24 hours at 25°C then increase to 30°C after that and let things run for about 120 hours.

For this whisky I am thinking about adding a third culture to the mix (or am open to any suggestions), possibly a British Ale or Belgian Ale/Saison yeast and following my usual fermentation regime.

In my mash bill I am planning on using Chevallier heritage malt as my base with some Wheat and Oats, to get the sweetness I am planning to add some crystal and toffee malts at 10% each.

I'm interested he hear peoples thoughts on this.



  • I always ran ale ferments at 19c for the most part. Belgian farmhouse strains or saison would be very comfortable at 30C or above.

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

  • SamSam
    edited July 2020

    Cheers @punkin I started doing low to mid 20's ferments until I was having a read of the Waterford whisky website and tried something similar. Its a really interesting site.

    The Secondary @ Waterford Whisky

  • Yeah i'm speaking from a brewers background, i have done very little whiskey.

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

  • EC1118 is a neutral yeast that's a killer strain meaning that it'll not produce many esters and overpower the MW.

    Have you tried MW on it's own?

    I agree with the crystal for sweetness - check out some english and scottish ale recipes. English or belgian yeast for added character - belgians will produce more. If you're not fussed about being full all grain, dark candy sugar adds lots of sweet fruity notes - it's used in belgian dark strong ales ;-)

  • Second or third the recco for English ale yeasts, fermented on the warmer side (78-80f). EC-1118 is a very, very clean yeast, very little character, especially fermented with good nutrient at a cooler temp. I really like the ester profile of Nottingham run warm and under pitched, also US-05.

    One recco that's missing, try under pitching to further stress the yeast. Pitch half what you normally would.

  • I've been dying to try Imperial A38 "Juice" yeast.

  • edited July 2020

    Doing a 2000l bourbon mash on Sunday that will be using Hornindal Kviek and "Conan" - another fruit forward NEIPA yeast.

    I thoroughly expect this to be a fruity ester bomb.

  • @grim I did a really good stout whisky a while ago with Nottingham and London Ale yeasts, will be using it again for those darker fuller whiskies.

    For this I was thinking about either BE-134 or S-33, what I might do is split my ferment in 2 batches and try them both. I hadn't heard of under pitching before to stress the yeast, thanks for the tip.

  • edited July 2020

    Well I used EC-1118 and DV10 from Llamemand because I could get it but I am now using Safspirit M1 and UWS-6. The combination of both give a pretty decent profile. I am thinking of adding another one to the mix for wheat whiskeys for example but the last 3 or 4 runs with the Safspirits have been good and definitely better than the EC1118. And the good thing is I can get the Safspirit a lot more easily. I dont think EC1118 was bad but as @grim said its a very very clean yeast. You get the natural grain flavors but not a lot of esters. The USW-6 is a lot better. Thanks for the hint about under pitching @grim.

  • @crozdog I did try the MW on its own but that was before I really knew what I was doing and thought I had cocked everything up and poured everything down the drain...

  • @DonMateo I agree that EC-1118 let's the flavours of the grains come through. Given the use of speciality malts my logic was to maybe do one wash with 1118 and another with a higher ester yeast and combine the low wines for the spirit run, trying to get the best of both worlds!

  • Mixing the two, even as low wines, will give you a muted version of what you are looking for.

    If you really want fruit, it's going to be 100% yeast contribution. Go single strain.

    MW isn't a particularly fruity yeast either.

  • @grim thanks for that, I will follow your advice and go with 100% fruity yeasts.

    Based on what you said earlier I looked at my where I usually get my supplies from and they have Hornidal Kviek (GY135), Vermont IPA/ Conan (GY054) & Imperial A38 Juice yeasts.

    So in your opinion do you think I would be best just using one of those or seeing as I have to do 2 ferments anyway should I do one with A38 and the other with the Hornidal Kviek?

  • edited July 2020

    Well, maybe don't go so off the wall like Kveik/Conan or A38. We do really crazy whiskies because our customer base loves off the wall whiskies.

    Keep in mind, this is uncharted territory for whiskey. If you pitch before I do, it'll be the first time anyone has ever made a whiskey with that co-pitch.

    Suspect if distilled clean, it's going to excel as a younger whiskey, 12-18 months it'll be incredibly fruit forward.

    Me? I'd stack heads in 4 plates for half an hour and take off heads really slow. I'd probably cut mid-heads, as soon as it transitions from simplistic ethyl acetate to something a bit more interesting. Then I'd flip off the reflux and let her rip. I'd purposely lean towards a headier distillate knowing that it's going to fall off quickly in the barrel.

    With separate strip and spirit, I'd absolutely make ZERO cuts on the strip, and I'd go fairly deep.

  • @grim it will be a month or two before I get around to this batch, as a hobbyist I like to do unique things as if I were to just replicate the usual commercial stuff I might as well just go to the shops.

    I spent a fair bit of time this afternoon researching yeasts and especially the Imperial options. I am thinking about doing half with Imperial A24 and the other half with A38, I just need the distributor in Aus to get more stock in.

    I was also planning on putting this in a 20L ex sherry cask with new American oak heads.

    I mentioned once before about a whisky I tried which has a tropical/ stone fruit flavour to it and the more I think about it the more I realise it must be from the yeast and not the hops.

  • @Sam mind me asking where you are getting the yeast?

  • SamSam
    edited July 2020

    @crozdog Cheeky Peak down in Wodonga are the distributors for Imperial yeasts here in Australia. There are a few people who stock Hornidal Kveik like Beerco but with everyone in lock down at the moment all the good stuff has sold out because everyone is home brewing.

    I have asked Cheeky Peak when they expect it to be back in stock and will ask Beerco as well because they have been really good at helping with stuff like this in the past.

    Alternatively if you and/or others here in Aus are keen we could try and place an order direct from the states?

  • SamSam
    edited August 2020

    @grim thank you for your help with this, after talking with Imperial I am going with their A44 yeast as it should hit the notes I am looking for.

    After reading up on these Kveik yeasts it got me thinking they would be good for rum and curious whether anyone has tried them in a rum?


    800 x 600 - 50K
  • edited August 2020

    We did the bourbon mash with Hornindal and Conan, should be ready to distill on Sunday or Monday.

    They sound very, very interesting for rum. A44 sounds awesome. Just look at those temperature limits. 97f. Nuts.

  • I should mash in on Saturday or Sunday, I'm dying to hear how your bourbon turns out.

  • edited August 2020

    In fermenter 1 we have a peated malt whiskey mashed from Bairds Heavy Peated Malt and CMG Copper Dome Pot Still Malt, pitched with Pinnacle/Mauri Blue/M. Pretty traditionalist, even down to the yeast.

    In fermenter 2 we have a 4 grain wheated bourbon pitched with two crazy IPA yeasts.

    Couldn’t get further apart, distilling these back to back over 4 days is going to be fun.

  • I was also thinking about what you said about using plates for the spirit run. Do you make all your whisky that way? Its not a method I have tried before but I guess it makes sense when you have a lot of flavours coming off early in the run

  • This Kviek yeast is crazy... 24 hours at 33-35 degrees and its done. A very clean ferment

  • @sam Whenever i've have regular old beer made with kveik I always get some odd notes... from smokey/phenolic to savoury/hamlike. Curious if you'll notice something like that.

  • Bourbon with the Hornindal and Conan is off the wall.

    Crazy tropical fruit and dark jammy flavors straight through hearts.

  • Awesome, I stripped mine a few days ago and the smell in my shed made me want to go and put a Hawaiian shirt on.

    I cant wait to do the spirit run, hopefully next weekend.

  • I ran the Kviek wash today and it was everything I had hoped for, sweet and fruity. It was a little sweeter than I was aiming for but hopefully it will all balance out in the barrel.

    When I stripped it there were some off smells and the low wines had a hint of sulphur and some off notes but they didn't come over during the spirit run.

    Most interestingly though @grim I tried the method you suggested with the 4 plates and was amazed at the results. It made for a really clean heads cut and then a really big hearts cut. I have to say I was hesitant to try it as I love tradition but its really opened my eyes, thanks for the tip

  • SamSam
    edited August 2020

    Finally got the Kviek wash into a barrel today, @grim thanks for all the input. Its tasting amazing and I can't wait to see how it turn out in the long run...

    @Beerideas there wasn't any off or odd notes, just an ester bomb as grim said. The low wines had a small hint of sulphur but that didn't come over in the spirit run.

    Now the hard part... waiting


    600 x 800 - 112K
  • Pretty rig mate. Set someone up with one like it last week when they dropped in here.

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

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