Here at Golden Lion Distillery we create unique and individual Spirits
Sugar Cane Spirit
Not suprisingly, production begins with the collection of harvested sugar cane.
To this day, mature sugar cane is harvested by hand - grueling machete work - in many parts of the world. The cut cane is promptly transported to the mill where it is crushed in a machine. The crushing extracts the sugar cane juice from the fibrous pulp. Now that you have the sugar cane juice, three different things can happen:
One, you can proceed directly to fermenting and distilling the sugar cane juice.
This is the common practice in the French West Indies (Martinique and Guadalupe). Understandably, this most direct approach like this yields rum that most closely preserves the vegetal characteristics of the cane.
Two, you can cook down and concentrate the sugar cane juice into a syrup.
This syrup is itself a stable sweetening product, but the syrup can also be fermented and distilled.
Three, you can process the juice into molasses and crystallised sugar. The crystallised sugar is sold as a sweetening product, and the molasses is sold to a distillery to be fermented and distilled into Spirit.
A few distilleries work with fermented syrup, because it gives them most of the characteristics of sugar cane juice that they are looking for, while enabling them to distill all year, not just at the harvest. The most commonly found varieties of Cane Spirits are distilled from fermented molasses.
Here at Golden Lion Distillery, we use the second method mentioned above, whereby we create and emulate a style similar to the Martinique Style called Rhum Batterie.
This method allows us to capture the most flavour and reflection of the sugar canes vegetal character.
This in turn produces a stunning deep flavoured multi layered Cane Spirit.
Production begins with using the finest ingredients, but is essentially just Grain/s, Water, and Yeast.
The process begins with grinding the grains separately from the malt. After grinding, the grains are placed into a mash tank. The next step is to prepare the malt. Grain is kept between 50 and 60 degrees and steeped in water until it sprouts. After 10 to 14 days the roots should grow between 1/2 to 1 inches long. It is then kept moist and at a temperature less than 60 degrees and aerated until the sprouts develop. It is then heated to no more than 60 to 70 degrees C and 2 to 3 percent moisture.
The resulting product is called “maltose.” After this roasting, the maltose is ground in preparation for adding it to the mash. The maltose contains enzymes which convert the unfermentable grain starch (from the rye and other grains) into fermentable sugar. Once inside the mash tank the unmalted mash is cooked by forcing steam up through the mash from the bottom of the tank. It is then cooled with cold water circulating inside coils. When cooled, the ground malt is added and the mixture is agitated. This converts the grain starch into fermentable sugar. The mash is then pumped through cooling pipes.
This mash is now fermented to create a “distiller’s beer" wash that is then distilled.
The fermentation process itself varies immensely from distillery to distillery...
At one extreme is "natural fermentation," where yeasts inherent in the environment are relied upon to ferment the sugars in open vats.
At the other extreme, fermentation is tightly controlled under laboratory-like conditions.
For efficiency and predictability, most commercial rum fermentation processes fall between these two extremes; distilleries purchase and add the specific yeast cultures they want and take basic precautions appropriate to their environment.
Time is also factor for fermentation; some ferments last only several hours while others can take up to two weeks.
We use specifically different yeasts cultures that we employ when we make our Cane Spirit to the yeast strain that we use for our Grain Spirit.
The Fermentation process is all important in acheiving a highest quality useable "Wash", to then go into the Distilallation Unit that is being used.
Here at Gloden Lion, we use a variety of yeast sources to best capture the essence of the Sugar or Grain we are using in the fermentation process.
We often will ferment our Grain Spirits using a Sour Mash fermentation process, a part of the previous mash is reused to start a new Mash wash, but will also use Fresh Mash fermentation process as well for our Grain Spirits.
For our Cane Spirits, we use a Yeast culture specifically suited to extracting the most flavour and character from the fermentation process.
During the fermentation process, whether it be Cane or Grain Spirits, we allow the process to take as long as it needs to complete and we do not rush this at all.
The concept and basic mechanics of distillation are simple, but..
A fermented liquid is heated in a sealed vessel to approximately 80 degrees Celcius, evaporating the alcohols from the liquid. The alcohols are then re-condensed and collected, yielding the raw spirit. However, the reality of distillation is extremely complex.
There is virtually no seemingly trivial detail that lacks the potential to affect the end product.
Distillation is a science, and success depends on a great deal of expertise, but craftiness, habit, mother nature, superstition, and luck all play a role!
We here at Golden Lion Distillery use a 746 litre Electric powered Pot Still with a Column Reflux Unit that then passes the alcoholic vapours produced through an independant Cooling Condenser for collection of the condensed Spirit.
Our Distillation unit, that we have named " Burnsie", was custom designed and built for us by Burns Welding and Fabrication in Griffith, New South Wales.
Aging of the New Spirit. Patience is a virtue.
We use a selection of Barrels in aging our Spirits.
We use both American and French Oak, new and used, but all with a very heavy charring of the inside of the Barrels. The Barrels we use for maturing range in a variety of sizes and formats, with the majority of the Barrels used being 100 ltr in size.
We also will be using used Brandy and Sherry Barrels as these will impart a different character to the Spirit that is stored in these Barrels.
We age our Dark Spirits for at least 2 years in these Oak Barrels, and there is constant checking and assesment of where the spirit maturity is at whilst still in Barrel, before we deem that a particular Barrel is ready to be Bottled.
Only once we have decided that a particular spirit is ready to be bottled, be it either a Cane or Grain Spirit, will we then make this available for all to enjoy.