Glossary: M

Mashing

Mashing is the process of combining grains with water and then heating the mixture. 

Mashing allows the enzymes in the malt to break down the starch in the grain into sugars, typically maltose, to create a malty liquid called wort. In large distilleries there is at least one dedicated vessel for mashing, called the Mash Tun. Some have dozens in operation at any given time.

Mashing is also the stage that grains are sometimes mixed together, and typically the likes of malted barley is supplemented by grains such as corn, rye or wheat. This is referred to as creating a "mash bill" (creating a mash recipe). 

See Wort

Malting

Malting is a controlled germination and drying process that changes the microstructure of a grain’s cell walls, proteins and starch granules to convert it into Malt. Various grains can be “malted” but the most common, from a distilling perspective, are barley, wheat and rye.

 

During the process, the grain is soaked in water for two to three days, allowing it to germinate. This process releases enzymes, which convert unfermentable starch (which is insoluble in water and not available for fermentation by yeast) to fermentable sugars. The process is then stopped by placing the malt into a Kiln to reduce the moisture content and stop the germination from continuing.

Mixto

Mixto is a term used for Tequilas where other types of sugar have been added prior to fermentation. Mixtos are only required to be made from 51% Blue Agave sugars, and the other 49% can be made from any other kind of sugar - usually sugar cane or high fructose corn syrup. 

Like anything, there are high and low ends of the quality spectrum. Unfortunately, at the low end in addition to other sugars, mixto producers sometimes add colourings, flavourings and thickeners. Because of this less than enviable medley of additions, Mixto’s are often considered a cheap, slightly nasty type of tequila that tend to be served via a shot glass before being chased with lime and salt to erase any flavour whatsoever. There are some good ones out there made with genuine quality however, but it’s a hit and miss affair to find them!

It’s worth noting that distilleries are not required to put “mixto” on the bottle. If a Tequila isn’t labelled “100% Agave”, then you can be sure it’s a mixto.

Maceration

Maceration and Infusion are the same thing – both involve immersing botanicals in alcohol and leaving to soak until the desired flavours have leached out. 

We separate the two terms as Maceration being part of the distilling process, while Infusion tends to be a term used to describe something that happens to an end spirit after distillation. That is not industry standard, just our way of avoiding confusion as almost always on labels when something has been “infused” it refers to an extra step that’s happened after distillation.

We also separate the two as it’s possible to infuse the botanicals into a spirit through other methods than immersing them (e.g., Vapour Infusion).

Mizuwari

Mizuwari means "mixed with water" and refers to a popular way of drinking spirits in Japan. As a style of drink, it usually consists of two parts of cold water mixed with one part of the spirit and lots of ice. While the practice comes from Japanese shochu drinking traditions it is a very popular way of drinking whisky.

If you go to a Japanese cocktail bar and ask for a whisky as mizuwari, they'll know how to make it and the concept has now started to travel around the world. If you ask for a whisky highball it’ll be served with soda, ask for it as a Mizuwari it will come with flat water. Both will likely be served in tall glasses with lots of ice and make for a refreshing drink!

Multi-shot

Multi-shot distilling is a term associated with the Gin industry and refers to the process with which the spirit is distilled. 

A multi-shot method deliberately uses an overabundance of botanicals in order to produce spirit with a more concentrated flavour (which is also why it’s also sometimes referred to as a ‘concentrate’ method). 

Once distilled the spirit is blended with Neutral Spirit, increasing the volume of liquid and adjusting the flavour profile of the concentrated spirit back to normal intensity. It is then diluted with water as usual, to reduce it to the alcoholic strength the distiller wants for bottling.