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I have an unusual need: "Neutral" Smoke

gstone

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Since I'm venturing into cold smoking, I just ordered an A-Maze-N Pellet Smoker to use in my wine barrel smoker.  Most of what I'll be doing will use hickory, apple, and what have you, but one other thing I'll be doing has me scratching my head. Apologies in advance for the long set-up:

I'm a craft distiller by trade, and I'd like to do some R&D for making a peated malt whisky (Scotch style) from scratch.  I've malted my own barley with good results, but now I need to figure out a way to smoke the barley grains.  In a traditional malt house, the freshly-sprouted malt is piled up deeply on the perforated floor of a room-sized smoker, and the warm smoke filters up from the furnace below, through the grain, drying it and infusing it with the flavor of the peat smoke. For my purposes I'll be oven-drying the grain, and I'm thinking of Frankensteining a rotisserie into a slowly rotating screen drum for the smoking part.

I've sourced the peat from Scotland, and the AMNPS seemed like a perfect solution for delivering the goods.  My plan is to smash the peat down into dust (it's nearly as hard as wood) and mix it with some other smoking dust.  Now, peat has a very strong and unique smell and flavor, but I'd like to minimize any non-peat characteristics as much as possible.

So, my question is: what do you guys think would be the most mildly-charactered smoking wood available in smoking dust or pellets?

Thanks for your input!
 

mneeley490

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Flavorwise, oak is pretty neutral, but not what I would call "mild". For that, I think you'd be looking at pear, apple, or alder.
 

gringodave

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"peated malt whisky (Scotch style) from scratch"

Is that legal in Wa? I may have to make another move. :)
 

foamheart

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You might think about corn cob or a light oak
 
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gstone

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Is that legal in Wa? I may have to make another move. :)
It is if you have a licensed distillery. "I'm a professional. Don't try this at home, kids."   Not that there's anything wrong with that. ;)

Thanks for the ideas, guys.  I'd thought about alder, and I've never used oak. I guess I need something that says "smoke" but isn't so distinct that you can identify it, like you can with hickory, mesquite, etc.  
 

jeepdiver

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If you are wanting to do itself that is understandable, but if not most larger homebrew stores will have peat smoked malt
 

mdboatbum

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I'd say Oak would be your best bet for a neutral smoke. Why not just use the peat? I've ordered fireplace peat bricks from Ireland before and I'd think if you ground them to dust or pellet sized chunks they'd burn well in the AMNPS. Once that stuff gets going it keeps going and in the pellet smoker I don't think it would produce too much heat. You could also probably find a source for peat pellets. I believe I remember reading they were working on producing them as a heat source a few years back.
 

mike johnson

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What about using the charcoal pellets with the peat? Are you one of the new distilleries in the area?
 

gstone

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If you are wanting to do itself that is understandable, but if not most larger homebrew stores will have peat smoked malt
I've tried a few of those, but I'm after a 100% Washington grain product, so I'll be using locally-grown barley and either malting it myself or having a maltster do it. I'll need to do the smoking myself so I can control the level of the phenols for the flavors I'm after.
 
I'd say Oak would be your best bet for a neutral smoke. Why not just use the peat? I've ordered fireplace peat bricks from Ireland before and I'd think if you ground them to dust or pellet sized chunks they'd burn well in the AMNPS. Once that stuff gets going it keeps going and in the pellet smoker I don't think it would produce too much heat. You could also probably find a source for peat pellets. I believe I remember reading they were working on producing them as a heat source a few years back.
If the dust will stay lit by itself, that would be as perfect as I could hope for.  The stuff I'm using is the same peat used by most of the larger distilleries in Scotland and is much more crude than the Irish bricks I've seen for sale.  It looks like petrified poo, really.  These chunks are about 2" in diameter.

 

phrett

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I've seen aand used a product called Smoke Stix that are like a huge pellet, but they do burn when lit. I put them in a 1 cup SS measuring cup and in the cooker. The large peat pellets may work the same. If no a little lump charcaol with the peat chunks on top in a paint can cold smoker should work just fine. Search for the paint can cold smoker and you'll find the build process, about $15 bucks total.
 
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redwood carlos

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I'd go with alder it is native to the area. If it doesn't come out good just ship it down the coast and I'll take care of it for you.
 

timberjet

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I have heard corn cob is nearly neutral. never tried it though. will I be able to get some in southeastern washington?
 

donr

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I am under the impression that Todd, the owner of Amazen Products, makes his own pellets.  His customer service is outstanding.  I know he has made custom smoke generators before.  Give him a call and see if he would be interested in making you a batch of pellets.  I don't know if you can make them from straight peat, or if they would need to be made from a mix of peat and something else.

At worst he can say no.

Don
 

vagreys

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There is a source in North Carolina for Irish peat, sized specifically for use in smokers. I was looking for peat for smoking Irish Hams, at some point in the future, and saw the site. I know you say you've sourced peat from Scotland, but you may want to consider a domestic source. They offer volume discounts if your order is larger than their standard retail packaging. If you want more info, I'll be happy to dig it up.

- tom
 

daveomak

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The most neutral smoke flavor I have encountered if Pitmaster's Choice pellets from Todd..... Mild, pleasant, non irritating when emitting from the smoker....

Dave
 

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