M1C: Sweet Orange Blossom Traditional

I make mostly dry or semi-sweet meads for myself, but make semi-sweet or sweet meads for competition. This is the sweetest traditional mead I had made to date, and it won me a few gold medals and at least one mead-maker of the year.

This recipe came from Ken Shramm on some podcast. I went back and listed to a bunch of them but can’t seem to find which one. Let me know if you know which podcast he talked about rehydration and adding a vanilla bean to a traditional orange blossom that finishes at 1.05 gravity. It is Ken Shramm super sweet but phenomenal after some aging.

Recipe:

  • 10 g 71B yeast
  • 6.2 liters of 2017 orange blossom honey from Dutch Gold Honey.
  • 9.9 liters of spring water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 12 American oak cubes

Specs:

Total Nutrients

  • 16 g Fermaid-O (160 YAN)
  • 11.25g Go-ferm (86 YAN)
  • 8 g Fermaid-K (50 YAN)
  • 10mg of zinc carbonate.
  • 1 tsp potassium bi carbonate
  • Total: 296 YAN

Fermentation:

  • – 3 h – 3.3 g Fermaid-O and 11.25 Go-ferm in a 1.8 liter activated starter.
  • +0 h – mixed up honey and water, pitched starter. 65.8°F
  • +12 h- added 1 tsp of O/K nutrient mix, Signs of off-gassing. 63.5°F. 1.146.
  • + 24 h – degassed and aerated with O2 stone. Added 10mg of zinc carbonate.
  • + 48 h- added ½ tsp potassium bi carbonate, 61.3°Ffermenting. Degassed and added 1tsp nutrient. Gave ½ minute of 02 on full blast since regulator broken. Added ½ tsp of bicarbonate to nutrient mix.
  • +3 days – Gave 1/2 tsp of nutrient mix. Aerated with whip. 62.1°F. Gravity 1.138
  • +4 days – 63°F, gave extra ~1 tsp of Fermaid-O (didn’t measure)- thought I could smell sulfur.
  • +5 day – 62.1F, 1.120, degassed morning, afternoon, eveing.
  • +6 day – degassed am, noon, pm.
  • +7 day – degassed am, noon, pm. 1.108. Added remaining nutrients.
  • +8-11 days – degassed twice a day
  • +12 days – degassed twice a day, 1.072 pm
  • +11-14 days – degassed twice a day
  • +15-17 days – degassed once a day. Still active.
  • +3 weeks – 1.052. Stirred. Still off gassing. Added water to airlock. Added a dozen oak cubes. My kid added an oak cube she had put in her mouth!
  • +5 weeks – Sweet but nice balance with tannin. Transferred to 3 gallon and 1 gallon carboy. Nice. Could use some acidity, maybe tannin. FG 1.040. Added a vanilla bean.

After Fermentation:

  • +5 months. FG 1.040. Transferred all to 15 liter carboy, added two stage clarifier, cold crashed for two weeks
  • +6 months – gave 75 mg of potassium sorbate and 1 g of malic acid and 4 g of acid blend.
  • +7 months – bottled.

Impressions:

The fermentation went really well and the final mead was very clean out of the fermentor. I did not detect any off flavors. For the first year I thought the mead was too sweet. The sweetness was not that of raw honey, just dessert level perception of sweetness which is not my forte. In fact, I was actively trying to get rid of it by blending it with dryer meads. However, after about a year something wonderful happened. The mead became slight oxidized and aged well, and it was a crazy good sipping mead.

I’ve visited Shramms Meads and this mead was not as sweet as some of Shramms that I sampled. The mead is sweet, but not cloying and there was no raw honey. That said, about half the judges knocked at as being too sweet. Either the judges said it was a great sweet traditional or said it was cloying. The range of scores of mead evaluated at the same time really speaks to the variability and quality of judging. Some judges were clearly reaching. Orange blossom is hard to come by in Canada and I expect many of the judges were unfamiliar with dessert-level sweet traditional meads. Honestly, whatever, if you like sweet mead, this one hit it out of the park.

Evaluations:

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