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Vodka is often seen as a spirit which reveals little of its ingredients in terms of flavor. Continuous distillation in industrial rectification columns, with countless booster trays, has resulted in a product that could often be described as tasteless ethanol. What is frequently taken to be proof of quality makes for something rather boring and lacking in character.
Georg Hiebl, meanwhile, distills his grain and pseudo-grain spirits in small batches. Using a copper still designed for the production of fruit brandies, he creates aromatic spirits in which the sensory character of each ingredient is highlighted.
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) belonging to the foxtail family (Amaranthaceae). It originally comes from South America, where it has been a staple food for over 6,000 years. Georg obtains his quinoa and amaranth from a local organic farm with which he is directly acquainted, based in the Mostviertel region.
Freshly Ground Poppy Seeds, Nut Aromas
Red Currant and Cranberry notes are at the forefront, then making way for a Nutty, Fatty Mouthfeel.
During the finish a mixture between Fresh Yeast Dough and Bitter Citrus Notes develops.
Melon, Ginseng, Poppy Seeds, Bitter Almond, Black Pepper
Georg Hiebl heats the water in the still to 75 degrees Celsius, before adding enzymes to the crushed amaranth, thereby inducing the carbohydrate to split. After 30 minutes, the mash is cooled down to 55 degrees and the enzymes which induce starch saccharification are added. Finally, yeast is included and the mash is simmered at 25 degrees. It will ferment for four days and is then distilled immediately, to prevent the formation of unpleasant aromas (such as acetic acids). Distillation takes place in a 150-liter facility. Hiebl switches the column with the booster tray off for this cereal and pseudo-grain spirit. After the first distillation, the raw spirit has approximately 25% alcohol. It later comes in at around 80%.
Georg Hiebl believes that his grain spirit has “a bigger body” because a column is not used in the two-fold distillation process, which makes it taste more full-bodied and aromatic. During the fine distillation phase, he cuts the high-quality heart of the run and tails by taste. He is not convinced that doing this by temperature would lead to his desired result.
The fine distillate is stored for several months, before adjustment to drinking quality with spring water.
Distiller | Mostviertel, Lower Austria
Georg Hiebl comes from a family that has been farming in the Lower Austrian Mostviertel for generations. The over 300-year-old square farm lies between orchards and ancient pear trees.
When Georg Hiebl took over agriculture from his father, he realigned the business, because in the age of industrialized agriculture he saw no future for a small business without specialization. The decision to expand the distillery was shaped by both a passionate interest in flavors and economic considerations. Since 1997 he has dedicated himself exclusively to the distillation of fine spirits.
Spurred on by his first successes, he continuously deepened his knowledge of the secret of high-quality distillates and began to experiment with unusual varieties. After several years of experimentation, he quickly rose to become one of the best in his field. He has probably won more awards than anyone else in his guild. Georg Hiebl won the gold or silver medal six times for the overall rating at the Destillata . The IWSC in London named him Boutique Distiller of the Year in 2014.