Whiskey Mash

Distiller's beer pours into the beer wells at Maker's Mark Distillery.
Photo Credit: © Shannon Graham

Mash is a liquid composed of grist (crushed malt or grain) stirred with boiling water to create worts. Worts is the liquid that drains from the mash and is fermented in the wash; this is the liquid that contains alcohol and is used to distill whiskey.

The Differences Between Sweet and Sour Mash

  • Sour Mash is the best-known mash and is the method used to make bourbon and Tennessee whiskey. In this method a small amount of already fermented mash (now sour) is held from the previous fermentation and used in the following batch, thus continuing the quality of yeast used.
  • Sweet Mash, on the other hand, uses fresh yeast which fermented in open-topped vats before being distilled giving a fresh, sweet flavor as opposed to sour.