A quick note from the President and founder of The Northern Maine Distilling Company:
Lots of people ask us how we make what we make. In fact tours and public space make up a significant component of most every other craft distiller’s business plan. But The Northern Maine Distilling Company and the Twenty 2 brand is far far far from most every other craft distiller…
The truth is, the basic principles of distilling were discovered and perfected a long long time ago. However, man’s understanding of the exact science occurring inside the still, coupled with the importance of choosing the right materials (copper, stainless steel, and other non-reactive substances) has increased 1000-fold since the repeal of prohibition in 1933. We have taken that new understanding, and through smart design, have developed our own innovative system of distilling. Because this system is truly novel, we don’t show pictures or give public tours of our process. And we look at our trophy room of awards as reminder that how we do what we do is truly special, and it’s our secrete to keep.
Below you will find some additional details regarding our one of a kind True Micro Distilled process. Thanks for the continued support for America’s Most Awarded Vodka.
Scott Galbiati, President.
The Northern Maine Distilling Company.
Question: How is Twenty 2 Vodka made?
Quick Answer: Twenty 2 Vodka is True Micro Distilled in 50 Gallon batches.
Detailed Answer: Twenty 2 Vodka is true micro distilled using an array of 50-gallon pot stills. These individual pot stills we use were custom designed in-house and constructed locally using American labor and materials. This one of a kind design and setup can distill the same volume as bigger brands out there, while maintaining a level of quality unobtainable by those same big brands. Specifically, when we speak of quality, we are referring to the resulting vodka’s neutrality, or lack of detectable character. This superior neutrality is achieved by most effectively removing the heads and tails alcohols during distillation, leaving just the “heart” to become Twenty 2 Vodka. After our true micro distillation, the distillate now at 95%ABV is diluted down to vodka strength (40% ABV or 80 proof) using pristine Maine water. The 80 proof vodka is then chilled down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and filtered through a bed of activated charcoal until a tasting panel of 3 blindly chooses the current batch as the best (most neutral and smoothest) among a warm tasting of 4 samples. If the current batch isn’t chosen unanimously over the other samples, it returns to the filter stage. This double-double blind tasting stage ensures that the vodka which leaves our doors is the best out there, period. Every batch of 250 bottles is tested this way. Every, single, batch.
More on why True Micro Distillation produces superior neutrality: For ages, the economies of scale encouraged larger and larger capacity stills to go online. (The capacity of the still is how big the kettle is to hold not-yet-distilled liquid). However, as your distillation batches get bigger and bigger, so does something I’ll call “the grey area”. “The grey area” is the realm in between the 3 parts of every distillation run, named the heads, hearts, and tails. The heads comprise low boiler alcohols which are a natural byproduct of fermentation, but undesirable to drink. The heart of the distillation is that ethanol molecule we’re interested in, and the component we want to collect the most of to get the most out of the work and energy required to distill. Finally, the tails of distillation comprises fusel oils, again leftovers from fermentation that are undesirable when making neutral vodka. During distillation, 100% heads alcohol is the first to come out of the still. As the distillation proceeds, the concentration of heads will gradually taper off, replaced by the hearts, until only hearts are coming out of the still. This transition between heads and hearts resembles a typical bell curve, and unfortunately there isn’t a clear measurable point where heads stop and hearts begin. (If there was a clear point of change during distillation, where Alcohol A definitively stops and Alcohol B definitively appears, this industry would be very different). Instead, it is up to the master distiller to make the call when it is time to stop collecting heads, and begin collecting the hearts. The timing of this call is key to the final quality of the distillation, as well as key to the final amount the distiller will end with. If they make the call too early, there will be heads included with the hearts, but the overall volume will be increased. Make the call too late, and there will be mostly hearts collected, but at the cost of wasting a lot of good alcohol molecules, as well as wasting time and money. As the distillation batch size increases, “the grey area” in between cuts also grows, making complete exclusion of all head-alcohol near impossible without discarding a large portion of the hearts. Distilling in micro batches allows us to most effectively isolate the naturally neutral hearts resulting in smooth neutral vodka.
Because this system we have is ideal for creating neutral spirit, we have no intentions of ever offering a gin, whiskey, bourbon, rum, tequila, or other flavored varieties of vodka. Nope. We have something even better than all of those things. How come nobody ever talks about “Fresh” vodka?