Glossary: B

Backset

Backset is similar to Dunder in Rum and sometimes the two are interchanged by producers – typically however, it relates to the process of Sour Mashing in American Whisky. Backset is the acidic residue that is left in the bottom of the beer still. Instead of being treated like waste, the backset is taken and added to a new batch of mash to increase the acidity of the liquid that will be fermented.

 

The acidic environment it helps to foster is key to the success of the fermentation. From many American distilleries, backset is 15-30% of the volume of the fermenter.

Botanicals

A botanical is a natural ingredient – peel, herb, spice, berry, root or nut – used to add flavour to a spirit (most commonly gin). The most standard way to extract the flavours of botanicals, is to infuse them with diluted spirit. Once the compounds, oils and essences have been leached into the spirit, it is then re-distilled, and although it becomes crystal clear once more, the newly distilled spirit will retain both the aromas and flavours of the botanicals. 

It is also possible to infuse the flavours of botanicals into the spirit by placing them in a vapour chamber above the pot, or by using Co2 extraction tanks, then adding the oils back into the spirit.

We have created a Guide to Gin Botanicals, for extended preview on the 20 most commonly used botanicals, their roles and what they taste like. 

Read More

Blended

Blended is a term most often associated with Whisky.

90% of whisky sales around the world are Blended Whisky. Often Blended Whiskies are cheaper than single malts, (in particular they tend to be the affordable end of Scotch Whisky), but that doesn’t mean that single malts are better drinks. 

Many people confuse Single Malt with Blended because Single Malt is itself a blended product. The key difference is that Blended Whisky refers to blending the whisky from multiple different distilleries, while Single Malt are all taken from the same distillery (i.e. multiple barrels all from the same distillery mixed together to build enough volume). The term Blended is regulated by the industry.

Blended Malt Whisky is whisky made by combining malt whiskies from different distilleries.

Blended Grain Whisky – whisky made by combining grain whiskies from different distilleries.

Blended Whisky – whisky made by combining malt whisky and grain whisky

Blended Gin – In this context, the term refers to the process used to create the end spirit. Some producers individually distil each botanical and then blend the resulting distillates together to form the final gin. While it’s not an uncommon process, Blended Gin isn’t something you see often as a naming convention nor is it regulated. The term is more a guide to help drinkers understand how it is made, rather than something that is regulated (like London Dry Gin). 

Brick Oven

When Tequila first updated its process in a quest to modernise and scale up production, cooking was changed to involve steam (instead of fire) in above ground ovens made of stone or brick. 

While this removed many of the smoky aromas and flavours you can find in traditional earthen pit Tequila, it made it quicker and easier to load/unload the agaves, greatly helping reduce costs. Cooking piñas this way is still a relatively long process though (between 36 – 72 hours) and many of the well-known brands use brick ovens (such as Fortaleza, Patron and Ocho Tequila).

Blanco

Blanco refers to Tequila that is unaged. They are also known as Plata or Silver. Typically Blanco’s are bottled shortly after distillation, although it is quite common for the spirit to be kept in stainless steel tanks for a few weeks before bottling. 

 

The rules do allow for it to be in contact with wood for up to 60 days and still be called Blanco, although, the majority of distillers will call it a Joven Tequila (which is a Blanco that is either blended with a little bit of aged tequila or that has been aged for just a few weeks before bottling).