The Production of Sơn Tinh premium spirits
Sơn Tinh liquor is produced through a combination of traditional and modern methods. Under pressure from rising demands for food hygiene and technological standardisation, along with rapidly growing consumption levels, most liquor producers in Vietnam and around the world have chosen the easy route: simply producing a characterless spirit to mix into liquor for a mass market.
Sơn Tinh has chosen an eclectic approach to this issue. Preserving the unique character of its hand-crafted products whilst conforming to the demands for standardisation are Sơn Tinh’s main goals. From the careful selection of raw materials to the distillation in copper stills imported from Germany the process of making Sơn Tinh liquor is full of creativity whilst staunchly respecting traditional values.
Step 1 > Fermentation
Sticky rice varieties from the Red River delta are cooked in a traditional way for the liquefaction and saccharisation of the starch. Whilst this method actually results in a yield far below that offered by the industrial technology of adding denaturalised enzymes, it is through this process that Sơn Tinh can ensure that the natural flavours are allowed to fully develop.
Then Sơn Tinh’s unique yeast is spread over the cakes of cooked rice and left to ferment for two weeks. This yeast has been developed over many generations in the traditional liquor artisan village of Phú Lộc, Hải Dương province. Thus whilst being perfectly adapted to the climate of northern Vietnam it also promotes the special flavours of the raw material.
Step 2 > Distillation
The mash is now distilled in a copper still. Copper is different from other metals in that it has the advantage of being able to catalyse many negative by-products resulting from the fermentation. Therefore it is the material of choice for high quality liquor producers around the world.
Sơn Tinh liquor is produced in small batches to ensure appropriate adjustments can be made to the distillation parameters of each individual batch. This process can not be automated because of the myriad of factors influencing the fermentation and distillation of each batch. The fact that there is no equipment that can measure the level of taste of a particular liquor makes this stage particularly important in the “Art of liquor”.
The distillation process might be repeated several times for one batch to refine and single out certain flavours but it must not destroy the balance of scents of the raw materials, a mistake too often observed in the production of industrial alcohol.
Step 3 > Maturing
The fragrant liquor is now on its way to becoming a Sơn Tinh liquor. For herbal blends and fruit liquors selected raw materials are infused in the liquor for a minimum period of several months. After this the liquor undergoes a sophisticated blending process. The art of blending lies in the identification of seasonal fluctuations in the character of the natural materials, all influenced by the annual changes of the climate.
Finally the liquor needs to mature for as long as possible to develop its full range of flavours before it is bottled in Sơn Tinh’s elegant bottles.
Expertise in choosing the right ingredients is essential for the production of Sơn Tinh liquor. From the most fragrant sticky rice to rare herbs from the mountain forests Sơn Tinh only uses the finest raw materials that nature can provide. The diversity of climate and soil, as well as annual changes are all reflected in the colours and flavours of the liquors of that year.