High Roast Malt % Mashes

edited July 2021 in Recipes

Continue to push the limit with roasted malt, and loving it.

Just did a "chocolate" bourbon with 30% "dark" roast malt.

  • 10% Midnight Wheat (black as coffee)
  • 10% Chocolate Malt
  • 10% Caramel Malt

Was clearly in stout territory during the mashing process, huge coffee/chocolate flavor profiles. Deep, dark, bitter, complex. This is going to age out wonderfully.

Also did a 7 grain bourbon (ALL THE GRAINS!!@!)

Roast Oat Malt, Biscuit Rye Malt, Caramel Barley Malt, Dark Wheat Malt, Flaked Rice, Briess Sorghum, and of course plain ol' corn.

This one was about 40% roast malt, again, though nothing as dark as the Midnight Wheat or Chocolate Malt in the other batch. Wow wow wow, amazing toasted nut flavor profile, roast toasty. Really didn't know what to expect with this batch, but it was 51% corn to keep it bourbon-ish.

I may need to just dump standard/pale malts from my repertoire, the complexity you get from the roasts is just really wonderful.

There were some old threads here and there talking about keeping the percentages on the low side. If you stay in the lighter roast category, I don't see why you couldn't go 100%, even in some of the mid-level roasts, 50% is in no way too much. Even on the very dark side, it's not at all "too much" at 20-30%.

I see absolutely no reason why you wouldn't just substitute caramel malt for 2 row barley in just about every situation, and yield a far better result.


  • @grim. Your my hero. I did a roasted rye about a year ago where I accidently put in about 20% or roasted Rye in with a wheat rye grain bill and it was glorious as well. Thanks for the post. I am waiting on delivery of a custom order of 1200kg of triticale and rye from a craft maltster and I had forgotten I still have about 50kg of roasted rye left.

  • edited July 2021

    You just blew me apart. I was looking to do a 700L 100% pale barley malt mash this weekend.

    What yeast are you using. I have two options up for trial as shown below. Suggestions which to start with ??


    800 x 560 - 64K
  • M-1 is king of malt. If you want to stay true to profile - I think M.

  • I use a lot of caramel malt. It's creates some great flavors with much better complexity than pale malt.

    For the heavy dark malts - does the flavor change much with aging? I would assume not. I am not a huge fan of the flavor so I tend to not use much if any.

  • edited July 2021

    Initially, the profile is dark/bitter chocolate and coffee, what happens through aging is the oak-derived flavor contributions compliment the bitter profile, shifting it towards much more of a confectionary quality versus the very one-dimensional profile you get right off the still. I feel that it does get toned down a bit as well, but the complimentary flavors have more of an impact.

    I think that’s what originally drove the “that’s too much dark malt” suggestions, not the longer-term results.

    I’d wager a bet that some of this roast/Malliard quality is similar to what you’d get off a fuel-fired still.

  • The “chocolate” bourbon had the distillery smelling like chocolate milk for two days.

  • In my last stout, I kept collecting deep into the tails in other containers and past normal tails is where some great aromas were. a bit scared of putting it with the hearts in the barrel unless it is going for a long time...

  • edited July 2021

    @richard, I use safspirit M1 and USW6. USW6 is similar to the D-53. Both yeasts have their plusses and minuses. The M1 is very efficient but not as great with the esters and aromas. D-53 is less efficient. I tried a number of straight M1s ie 100% M1 yeast, then I tried 100% USW6. Then one day for the hell of it I tried both together and the sum was better than the individual parts but lately I have been added in a beer yeast to the mix and those latest whiskeys are a LOT better than the straight M1 or USW6 or M1 and USW6. What beer yeast you need to use depends on which type of whiskey your trying to make. If your using a straight malt go for a pale ale yeast. If your doing a wheat add in some wheat yeast. The beer yeasts I am adding I am only adding in at about 10 to 20% of the total starting weight of the yeasts so I am looking for a blend. I really loved the M1/USW6 combination but adding in a beer yeast has made a huge difference in my opinion.

    Just like @grim is saying about the different grains. If you want a very nice clean standard single malt use straight pale ale and use M1 yeast. If you want complexity add in different grains and or different yeast combinations.

  • @DonMateo many thanks ..... I was in actual fact thinking along similar lines with mixed yeast. For this one, I will use just M-1

  • @CothermanDistilling ... How far into tails did you go .... temperature. Cheers

  • Cool topic!

    Love what you're doing @grim

    Spec malts have lots to offer as do yeast varieties.

    I've just run a spec malt mash fermented with M1 & BE-256 (Abbey) ale yeast. I was trying to balance the though put of M1 & the ester profile of a belgian yeast. I'm really happy with how it's turned out. Now to wait a few years to see what different casks do...

  • @richard said: CothermanDistilling ... How far into tails did you go .... temperature. Cheers

    207 on stripping, 204 on spirit run.

  • edited August 2021

    I started an all barley malt mash last Friday late afternoon followed by grain in ferment. 125 kg malt for a final 667L mash in volume.

    Mashed out at 72°C and cooled down within the hour to 32°C and pitched M-1 yeast. Left it for the night and checked Saturday morning only to see that temperature was sitting at 38°C.

    My stupidity in that I ought have taken it lower than 32°C because of residual heat energy from within the insulated still and also I had formed a grain cap on surface which was further holding heat in. After emergency temperature correction I dropped the temperature and its set-point to 30°C.

    In any case all seems to be okay this Sunday morning, currently sitting at 5.25% ABV and holding temperature spot on with its PID control with another 82 hours to go.


    800 x 615 - 113K
  • SamSam
    edited August 2021

    I did a stout with the below mash bill late last year which just hit 9 months in the barrel and its shaping up nicely. Its at 15% "dark" malts but I feel those could be higher, its shaping up pretty nicely but I feel that if doing it again I would push the dark choc and crystal/shepherds delight a bit higher as I love the finish you get from them.

    Chevallier/Ale    40%
    Munich Malt       25%
    Rolled Oats       12%
    Manuka Smoked     10%
    Dark Choc          4%
    Shepherds Delight  3%
    Dark Crystal       4%
    Light Choc         1%
    Roast Wheat        3%
  • @Sam you could merge the dark & light choc. Consider adding some carafa type 3 to boost the choc and add some coffee notes without the astringency you get from roast barley

  • Thanks mate, I will give that a try.

  • edited August 2021

    I've never had the typical brewers astringency issue carry through to distillate, and I'm talking about fermenting and distilling on grain and husk, which if anything, should cause it to be far worse.

  • hey @grim. I just did 4 washes with a high roast washes at about 20% and the washes tasted exactly like a stout and the final whiskey was this really nice rice stout tasting whisky. The white dog is amazing. I put it down in a 100l barrel and in 3 or 4 months I will see how it is. Thanks again for the tips. This time it was an accident but I will definitely be making some more of this. My next run is a straight single malt but after that I am going to do an Irish with lots oats and some roasted rye.

  • I just did another 4 washes but with a black roasted rye and oats, The roasted rye was only at about 5 % but the Oats was at 10%, with a base pale ale and wheat wash. Its just gone into a barrel and its great. I cant wait to some more old Irish recipes.

  • edited May 2022

    I am resurrecting an old thread here but I just had a quick read of a book called "the Homebrewers guide to vintage beer" by a guy called Ron Pattinson. And this guy is an English guy who lives in Amsterdam but spent a few years digging through old beer recipes from the 1800s to 1940s, mostly from England. There were lots that looked great for making beer of course, but there were some that looked good for whiskey.

    Like an 1840s porter that was 100% medium roasted barley malt. You could take that and add maybe a bit of rye and wheat. There was a German beer that was 100% smoked wheat, which when made into a whiskey would be way to much smoke but at say about 30% smoked wheat with an unsmoked wheat and a Pilsen malt would be very interesting. There were porters that had 30% flaked or malted oats that would make a very interesting whiskey.

    If your a beer fan then its a very interesting book. To be honest I wouldn't mind making some of the beers just to see how they are. Now if I can get my shed finished I can try to make some of these beers without the hops for a whiskey.

  • edited May 2022

    We just released a stout whiskey that was chock full of dark and roast malts. Beautiful deep rich finish, big cocoa, very pleasant bitterness.

    We did a smoked malt a year or so back that was a mix of beechwood and oak smoke - was a fun play on an "Americanized" scotch.

    While a little dark roast goes a long way, you tend to need a lot more smoked malt for that smoke to survive aging.

    The last batches of peated malt we laid into barrels was 100% peat smoked, even then it wasn't as punchy off the still as I would have imagined. A few months back there were some ex-Laphroig barrels that hit the brokers market. I was tempted to buy a few to see if they could up the peat smoke.

    We kept a water dropper at the tasting bar for the first time when we released our first smoked whiskey. Adding a drop or two of water to bourbon does just about nothing. A drop or two in to a smoked whiskey, wow, huge difference in getting that smoke to come forward. It was so obvious we were using it as a kind of magic trick during tastings. We'd actually do it as a side by side with the bourbon. It always went: Sip bourbon, no water. Add a drop of water. Sip bourbon again. Nada. Sip smoked malt. Add a drop of water. Sip smoked malt again. "Holy Sh3t I had no idea"

  • @grim. Well my last two whiskys before I had to stop distilling in my house were a basic stout and an Imperial oatmeal stout with some rye. The basic stout I aged on french oak barrels and the imperial was aged on an american oak barrel and they are both glorious. I also did a smoked multiwood, by smoking lingots of jequetibia and Amburana, soaking them in the white whiskey then aging on american oak and the result is a fantastic medium smoke with the different woods. I am curious about making an oatmeal porter with about 40 % dark roast and see how that goes.
    Thanks very much for the tasting tip for opening up smoked whiskeys. Thats a winner.

  • thanks @DonMateo I found it. Good reading.

  • Just thought I would revise this old thread. I have made 4 stout whiskey mashes in the last month and they have turned out pretty well. I used chocolate malt and Roasted malt up to 20% of both and I think the best is Chocolate. The roasted malt often people tasting the whiskey will say that they think the whiskey is smoked when they confuse the roast flavor for a peated smoke. For the punters wishing to try a stout I have a couple of peices of advice. If you add oats no more than 5 % or the combination of the oats and the chocolate barley turns the whole thing into a chocolate goop. When I did that the last time it took lots of betaglucanayse and 3 sparges to get any volume out of it. Even without oats the chocolate malt and roasted malt makes then very difficult to lauter. I dont know why that its but the grains settle at the bottom of your mash tun and forms a thick plug. The best way to do a mash bill like this would be on grain ferment with a slow lauter after wards.
    Apart from that stout mash bills, ie 60-70% barley 10% wheat 10% or more chocolate malt and or 10% oats/rye/triticale, give amazing complexity of flavor and textures and should be part of any whiskey makers recipe list.

  • Adding rice hills to your mash helps avoid lautering issues or stuck sparge when using larger amounts of oats. Alternatively use whole malted oats where the husks perform the same benefits. We have a malting company here in NZ, Gladfields Malt, who produce this product ( called ‘ Big O’)

  • Yes. This is true. The problem is that where i live its hard to get rice hulls. I just did three stout washes and i back off on the pale ale barley percentage and dropped the overall grain bill and they lautered well. I know of a small malting company in la plata that have malted oats. The only problem is they want usd 6 a kilo for it. Great to see a Kiwi cuzzy bro on the board.

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