It’s an exciting time here at Bimber. Not only are we on the cusp of announcing our first single malt whisky release (watch this space!), but we’ve also just completed a significant upgrade of our distillery’s equipment.
It’s been unnaturally warm here in West London, but Dariusz and the team have worked through the heat to fit a new (larger!) mash tun and to install a further three of our custom-build wooden washbacks. Hard, heavy work, but well worth it – we’re now able to produce 42,000 litres of pure alcohol – which equates to filling a cask each and every day of the year.
But, whilst we’ve increased our capacity to produce single malt whisky, we’ve not changed a single thing about our core production methods – everything we do is about remaining true to our fundamental values of high-touch, high quality, passion-imbued whisky.
The installation of our three new washbacks is of particular importance as it’s during the creation of our wash (effectively a high strength ‘beer’) that we instil much of character that defines what Bimber whisky tastes like. We treat all stages of production process with the care and attention they deserve – but it’s our fermentation that really marks Bimber out as truly unique in the whisky world.
Rather than order ‘off the shelf’ washbacks, our Founder and Master Distiller Dariusz worked with our in-house cooper to create our one-of-a-kind vessels. They’re fully wooden and crafted from American white oak that’s been lightly toasted. The toasting process unlocks the natural sugars contained in the wood – which, when in contact with our wash - adds additional layers of flavour, helping to create the foundation of the character of Bimber whisky. We only use wooden washbacks with open tops (many distilleries have adopted for closed steel vessels) as we want our wash to breathe – this increases the development of fruity flavours, otherwise known as esters, and results in a rich and complex liquid ideal for us to distil.
But, fermentation is not something which can be just left to happen. If any of you have ever made bread, you’ll know that nurturing your yeast in the right conditions – particularly at the right temperature is vital to getting a great rise out of the dough. The same is true for the fermentation part of the whisky making process – and we pay particular attention to it. We cool each of our custom washbacks to a constant 26-28 degrees Celsius using cooling plates to ensure that our yeast is productive, and importantly our fermentation is consistent each and every time.
Many distilleries in the world will ferment their wash for several days – at Bimber we extend this to nearly a week! This maximises the efficiency of our in-house yeast strains and creates a 10% ABV wash which possesses the perfect combination of light fruity flavours we’re looking for.
Once the team have distilled the wash and matured in the finest oak casks we’ve been able to source, the end result is both delicious, but also unmistakably Bimber – rich, fruity, characterful and crafted with passion.
If you’re interested in learning even more about fermentation and Bimber’s particular attention to it, why don’t you come along and visit our distillery in West London?