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The Importance of Water in Distillery Operations

01/6/2021 • Shawn Patrick

Water is one of the most important ingredients in the manufacturing of spirits. When building your distillery and choosing a location, be sure to know what’s what with your water. Will you be connected to tap water through your city at a flat rate? What’s the mineral composition and pH of your water source? 

Where water is used

Water is used at various stages of making spirits. Even if your manufacturing process begins with semi finished goods, it’s still worth taking a look at your water supply.

  • Mashing of your malted barley or other grains
  • Fermentation
  • Cooling spirits in tubs or condensers
  • Proofing

Why Water is Important

It goes without saying that water is an important element of spirits production, no matter what your process is. When analyzing the water source you have available for your distillery, you want to consider the pH levels and mineral composition. 

 

A high pH may prevent some yeasts from interacting with the grains in your mash. It can also create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, which isn’t delicious at all. According to Besco Commercial, distillers say they like more acidic water with a pH of around 5.5. Reverse osmosis water purification removes calcium and other minerals from  your water source, which will lower your pH level and help you reach that optimum acidity level.

 

When making your distillate it’s also important to use purified water to avoid any mineral suspensions in your yummy final product. These minerals could make your spirits look cloudy or leave a little layer of dust at the bottom of your bottles. 

 

Minerals aren’t all bad though. Minerals in the water you use during the mashing process can have an impact on the flavor profile of your final product. Minerals are sometimes needed by the yeasts to enhance a healthy fermentation. According to Artisan Spirits, these minerals create a buffer system that resists changes in pH. This is significant to note for the final pH you want your mash to achieve. You may have more control over how all of the chemical reactions play out at the mash stage than other points in the process, so making changes here can have a great influence on your finished product.

 

Water is an essential piece of the distiller’s puzzle. It’s used is multiple processes and it’s important to manage both the pH levels and mineral composition of the water supply you use. Reverse osmosis equipment and other water purification systems may be a necessary investment depending on where you source your water and what your distilling process entails. Be sure to speak with a scientist that can help you make the best decisions for your specific needs.

 

OnBatch helps distillers transform their processes and streamline their systems. Our intuitive, user friendly platform enables distillers to take control of their entire manufacturing system, from inventory to reporting and everything in between. If you’re interested in learning more about how OnBatch can help your distillery create efficient processes, schedule a demo today.