Fermentis is an agile and expanding company, dedicated to the fermented beverages industries. It is a business unit of Lesaffre Group, a global key player in yeast and all its applications for over 160 years. Our roots are strong while having an audacious spirit. As things happen during the fermentation… our goal is to discover them all for you in terms of taste, flavour, and pleasure.
Why is the use of a dedicated yeast important when producing a specific kind of spirit?
If starch is converted into sugar, then any yeast can theoretically be used to make a wash that will become distillable alcohol. Variations in yeast strains produce varied metabolic bi-products which translate into different congeners in the fermentation and final spirit post-maturation. Some distillers are trying different individual or combinations of yeasts, including Belgian ale yeasts, traditional American ale yeasts, or even Champagne yeasts to ferment their mashes. Individual fermentations can be distilled as a blend or be blended after being distilled individually. And then you have the variable of how the different yeast strains respond to different process conditions. Variable conditions of temperature, initial sugar concentration, inoculation rates, nutrition values, and more, considered individually or in combinations, can significantly affect the behavior of some yeasts and consequently, their flavor pro
Distillers play a crucial role in yeast strain development by selecting and successfully using strains that have been adapted to the products they want to manufacture. Yeast strains prove to be successful and reliable by distillers simply practicing their craft while continuing on their quest to manufacture a product that offers unique characteristics, including sensory values, fermentation speeds, efficiency in sugar conversion, and more.
Distilling yeasts do possess similarities to those commonly used for wine, beer, and cider. But many of the distilling strains have properties that keep the fermentation progressing in the more stressful and challenging sugar substrates present in distillers’ mashes and musts. Distiller’s yeasts are more efficient in converting sugar into alcohol, meaning the final fermentation is faster and drier with fewer residual unfermented dextrins left over. These types of strains work at a higher temperature and ferment more quickly, typically within 72 hours versus a beer fermentation that can last up to 14 days. Additionally, yeasts that work quickly are advantageous to distilleries that look towards higher efficiency to maximize production and capacity within the shortest timeframe. Some strains address the need for greater heat tolerance, furfural tolerance, or the need to adhere to regulations regarding enzyme use. Genetic compositions allow these strains to ferment larger sugar molecules and increase congener development which translates into more desirable aromas and flavors in the final product.
For example, to produce whiskey in Scotland, the use of enzymes is not allowed, so strains that can ferment complex sugars are required. Whiskey also requires an aging process in barrels and some specific congeners produced by yeasts. With rum, different types of cane sugar substrates are used ranging from exhausted molasses with a high non-fermentable solid content to juice directly extracted from the cane. They are different worlds in terms of substrates, requiring strains that resist specific conditions. In short, we cannot pretend that a strain selected for wine and that has evolved in that environment can efficiently ferment a rum or whiskey, or a strain used to ferment sugar cane juice to ferment properly exhausted molasses. But cross-functionality is often possible and encouraged as a very important tool for innovation.
Our distiller’s strains have been selected for their tendency to be robust in high-stress situations that can alter and restrain the sugar metabolism of the cells. The distiller’s choice of strain can depend on different conditions related to heat development, fermentation substrate conditions, or desired production efficiencies. To meet these conditions, Fermentis yeasts are adaptable to various substrates under different conditions and can ferment in multiple mediums. In many cases, there can be two or three strains that offer the right characteristics to ferment a specific wash for a spirit. We also offer strains that demonstrate the ability to ferment just about any sugar they encounter. Having choices helps distillers by offering a wide range of possibilities when selecting a yeast for their unique facility and specific type of fermentable sugar substrate. Some distillers will use the same strain on many different products helping them streamline their protocol systems and manage their supply purchases.
NOTE: For the home distiller we repack it in 100gm lots, Always keep your yeast below 4ºC