For our February Apothecary News update from behind the scenes at Lindores Abbey Distillery, we are handing over to our Apothecary, Tim Foster.
I thought I’d tell you a little about how we make our 100% natural Aqua Vitae. A process which involves many hands.
Unlike some spirits which use grain neutral spirit, which is then flavoured, in some cases by using unnatural flavours and colourings, our Aqua Vitae is made from our new make spirit. This is made using 100% fife grown malted barley.
When the malt arrives onsite, Dave is responsible for milling the malt which he then transfers to the mashtun. Once in the mashtun, he adds water and gently extracts all the sugars, before sending it to be fermented.
The spent malt is then extracted to a trailer, where Richard one of our local farmers collects it and uses it to feed his cattle. Richard is also involved in another key part of our process… but we’ll come to that later.
Colin carefully adds the yeast to convert the sugars to alcohol and our fermentation lasts for almost a week… yep, an entire week. By having these long fermentations we build up more chemical compounds called esters. Esters are what give you fruity aroma and flavours.
After a week, bubbling away fermenting nicely, Colin sends the fermented wash to Lewis, who then skilfully distils the wash twice (cos once isn’t enough!). On the second distillation, Lewis has to expertly make ‘cuts’ to select the very best part of the spirit – this cut then becomes our new make spirit.
The new make spirit that is produced is high in fruity aroma and flavour. It’s also creamy on the palate and a delight to sip even at this stage… if a little strong at 63.5% abv! When compared to grain neutral spirit, it’s night and day.
Now that we have amazing spirit, Lorena and myself then set about the careful task of adding our secret blend of herbs, spices and dried fruit. We add them in at different times to extract the exact flavours, aromas and colour that we want for our product. Once added to the new make spirit, it’s a lot like making a cold brewed coffee. The ethanol in the new make spirit acts as a catalyst and extracts all the lovely stuff we want in our product. It’s the most natural way you can add flavour to spirit.
After around a week we take out all the ingredients and dilute the spirit down to 40% and its ready to be bottled. But the work doesn’t stop there. Remember Richard? He sits on our sensory panel along with a group of locals (and some who live in East Lothian!) who ensure that Aqua Vitae is a good as it can possibly be.
So, to make a 100% natural and vegan product, with no unnatural flavourings, colourings or any other gubbins -it takes many hands.
SO WHY NOT try Aqua Vitae for yourself
OR VISIT THE DISTILLERY AND TRY MAKING YOUR OWN UNIQUE BLEND OF AQUA VITAE AT AN APOTHECARY EXPERIENCE