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The Wild Turkey bourbon distillation process begins by grinding a mixture of corn and rye that is then cooked, cooled and combined with barley malt in order to convert all starch into fermentable sugars. This mixture is then funneled into fermenters, where Wild Turkey adds its own homemade yeast. After a few days, the new mixture, or mash, is ready to go through the still, a large copper silolike structure. The fermented mash is pumped through the top of the still, while steam is pumped in from the bottom.
When the steam meets the fermented mash, vaporized bourbon is produced. This vapor rises into a condenser, turning into liquid, while the solid grains float to the bottom and are later repurposed for cattle feed. After distillation, the bourbon flows into the cistern room where it is divided into new charred oak barrels and stored for six to 12 years of aging.
For generations, this distillation was manually controlled and relied on a hand-operated process to produce the same consistent bourbon distillate, batch after batch. Recently, the Wild Turkey plant discovered it had reached maximum capacity. Its ability to meet increasing production demands was hampered by an inability to effectively upgrade its current distillation facility.