Top Yeast Strains For Alcohol Distillation

Yeast strains are essential components of all spirits, and most distillers have their own favorite yeast strain they rely on in producing their product. Some come down from generation to generation while others thrive best in certain areas or terroir. Distillers sometimes keep a “mother” or starter yeast in the fridge for years as part of a business’s culture.

The type of yeast chosen depends largely on the spirit a distiller wishes to create and the type of wash in which they’ll ferment it. Each yeast strain has been specifically tailored for specific sugar substrates; therefore it’s key that they select one suitable for working with their intended wash type.

Consider also the alcohol tolerance of your yeast strain. Baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), for instance, only can tolerate up to about 8% ABV while distillers yeast can often reach 18%. In general, higher alcohol tolerance levels mean more sugar can be fermented for your desired alcohol percentage.

Temperature and nutrients also play a part in yeast’s alcohol tolerance; nitrogen and other micro- and macronutrients are necessary for its health, in order to produce high levels of ethanol. Many distillers will supplement their distillers yeast with turbo versions specially formulated with all essential nutrients required by distillers yeast – for instance Alcotec’s line of whiskey, rum and fruit turbo varieties contain all required elements for successful wash performance.