Oyo vodka: From Grain to Bottle

  • Middle West Spirits features a Kothe pot-column still fashioned of copper and stainless steel. It was made in Germany and installed on site earlier this year. (Jodi Miller photo)
  • Co-founder Ryan Lang (right) and sales manager Josh Daley transfer a batch of mash into a fermentation tank. (Jodi Miller photo)
  • Oyo is made from a specific formula. Even the strains of yeast used are kept secret. (Jodi Miller photo)
  • Oyo starts with soft red winter wheat sourced from farms in Northeast Ohio. Grains are milled just outside Columbus and returned to the distillery. (Jodi Miller photo)
By Columbus Alive
From the Oyo vodka: From Grain to Bottle edition

Here's a look at how Oyo vodka is made:

1. The hand batch starts with a soft red winter wheat grown in Northeast Ohio and milled near Columbus. Distillers need the wheat's starchy inside, not the outer bran.

2. Milled wheat and water treated through a five-stage filtration system are added to a mash tank. Natural enzymes are added to convert wheat starches to simple sugars. This process takes between three and five hours.

3. Activated yeast is added to the wheat-water mix in the mash tank in a process called pitching.

4. The mix of wheat, water, enzymes and yeast is transferred to a fermentation tank for three to five days. This controlled-temperature environment allows the yeast to convert simple sugars into alcohols and carbon dioxide.

5. When fermentation ends, the batch is transferred to a pot-column still and simmered. Adding heat allows the alcohols, which boil at a lower temperature than water, to boil off and be collected for distillation.

6. A mix of alcohol and water vapor enters a series of bubble plates in a column, which refines the product in stages. Together, the bubble plates produce a vapor with very high alcohol content that's eventually cooled by a condenser.

7. Once the liquid has been condensed, it's cut into three parts: heads, hearts and tails. A distiller must dole out and taste small amounts to capture the hearts, the part destined for bottling.

8. Water is added to the collected alcohol to achieve the correct alcohol content. The product is cooled and stirred in a finishing tank.

9. A multistage filtering process removes cloudiness, impurities and oils.

10. Filtered vodka is piped to a bottling station. Bottles are filled, capped and sealed.