Dreaming of becoming something, Wash seethes within the commanding Washbacks, the power of nature pushing the liquid to its natural conclusion. Pungent emanations flow over the lip of the chamber, bringing forth the smell of ripe bananas and the frequently overwhelming punch of carbon dioxide.
Whether your Washbacks are wood, steel, or something else, they are lead players in the game of making spirit.
Silent giant bowls of fermentation, they contain within them an important ingredient of the recipe of Whisky. Wash.
Making the decision about whether to use steel or wood can be a difficult one. Do you use steel, which can be subject to the fickle nature of the outside temperature? Or do you build wooden Washbacks, which will naturally degrade over time, but retain their temperature better, and are of course prettier?
Also there is the consideration of taste. Some people would argue that wooden Washbacks add flavour to the end product, whilst others would say steel are easier to maintain, and clean, and therefore less likely to succumb to bacteria.
Your preference for wood or steel is not the only consideration in this stage of the formation of the alcohol. The temperature of both the Wort and the yeast going into the Washbacks must be considered, and be made to flow with the seasons. The gravity must also be checked at each stage of the evolution of the wash.
Waiting for maybe 48 hours, or maybe 60, or even longer, the Washbacks are timed to each Distillery and their particular needs and tastes. And a balance must be gained to get the perfect product so that at the next phase, the Wash will be perfect for the style of Still.
Wash breathes for such a short time before evolving, but it is integral to the flow of the Distillation process, and so are the Washbacks, in whatever configuration they might dwell.
© Gabrielle Balfour 2016