For starters, most large distilleries use a continuous distillation process – we equate this to a water faucet. You can turn the faucet on, and under normal circumstances, the water never stops coming. With a continuous distillation process the still rarely stops…..so why does that matter?
Alcohol and other various chemicals produced by the mashing and distillation process boil at different temperatures. In craft distilling, products are made in small batches. The batches have a beginning, middle and end – commonly called the Heads, Hearts & Tails.
Ø Heads have the lowest boiling point and contain solvent like chemicals and noxious aromatic elements that are strong to the nose. Heads contain harsh chemicals that can make your stomach hurt and can give you a headache.
Ø Hearts are the best cut of the distillation process containing the perfect balance of Heads and Tails – providing flavor and smoothness. Hearts boil at a higher boiling point than Heads, but lower than Tails.
Ø While Heads are aromatic, Tails are bitter and strong to the mouth in flavor. Tails are cloudy and smell horrible. Tails boil at a higher boiling point than Heads and Hearts.
Back to the question – why is a small batch “craft” production different? With craft distilling we are able to take “cuts” of the whiskey; with our pot still we are able to separate the Heads, Hearts & Tails as the temperature increases in the still. By comparison, it is nearly impossible to separate the Heads, Hearts & Tails with a continuous still. Products made with a continuous still can give you a headache, a hangover and a stomach-ache.
The bottom line - in separating the different chemicals, craft whiskey tastes better, doesn’t give you a hangover (unless you consume an insane amount!), doesn’t make your stomach hurt, and did we mention it tastes better! So yes, craft whiskey is better and is made in a fundamentally different way.