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What Does Triple Distilled Mean? Explained (2024 Updated)

what does triple distilled mean

Last Updated on March 21, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Distillation plays a big role in concentrating flavors, not just increasing alcohol content and improving its smoothness.

Double distillation is common for most hard liquors. But what about triple distilling? Do they triple distill to create strong whiskies with bolder flavors?

Before getting into that, let us answer the question, what does triple distilled mean? Keep reading to find out.

What’s Triple Distilled?

Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey | Liquor Laboratory

Simply put, triple-distilled whiskies are spirits that go through three distillations. A third copper pot still is placed in between the wash and spirit stills.

Unlike double distillation, triple distillation produces higher alcohol spirits which normally hits close to 80% ABV. 

It is operated in single batch distillation. Triple-distilled Irish whiskey is very common though there are other variants.

Triple-distilled single malt Scotch is produced by Auchentoshan and Rosebank (both the historic brand and its newer distillery).

How Triple Distillation Works 

Triple distillation is completed in three parts. It begins with the fermented wash being heated to a certain level to separate alcohol. 

The alcohol is strengthened more during second distillation, where the head, heart, and tails (also called feints) are collected. 

The flavor is also concentrated as soluble salts, and sulfur-containing compounds are dissolved during the process. Cuts of the heart, head, and tails continue to the third pot still. 

The cuts depend on the particular fraction of aromatic and flavorful compounds the distiller wants to capture.

Read: What’s The Most Expensive Irish Whiskey?

4 Methods of Triple Distillation 

4 Methods of Triple Distillation 

1. Two Cuts In The Intermediate Still

The intermediate pot’s process is still the same as how double-distilled works. However, in this method, the heart is not called as heart or middle cut but high wines. Heads and tails are now called strong and weak feints accordingly. 

These strong and weak feints are still redistilled in the middle before it goes to the final, with the high wines.

Auchentoshan uses this with their single malt whiskies and other products.

2. One Cut In The Intermediate Still

Intermediate Still Pot

This method is probably the simplest. Auchentoshan practices this method by taking the cut from the intermediate still, which has no distinction whether it is strong feints or high wines. 

The difference is that the strong and weak feints are still redistilled in the second still and put into the third still. 

For instance, Auchentoshan triple distills differently from Springbank’s Elburn because they want a tighter cut and a higher strength of alcohol, giving you a lighter spirit.

3. No Cut In The Intermediate Still

Springbank added triple-distilled whiskies to their roster using this triple distilling method.

Low wines are collected from the first still pot and go to the intermediate still, leaving 20% for the final distillation. 

It is redistilled before combined with the foreshots and the feints collected from the third still.

Eighty percent of this combination is processed for final distilling together with the low wines. 

4. One Cut Each In The Wash Still & In The Intermediate Still

Irish Pot Still

Denis A. Nicol, an expert in whisky making and distilling, authored this particular method. From the intermediate still, blank runs are made then the strong feints are collected and brought to the spirit still. 

However, the weak feints or the tails are also collected and redistilled. The recycled heads and tails will go straight to the final distillation stage. 

Triple Distillation vs Double Distillation 

Triple Distillation vs Double Distillation 


Triple distillation has smoother compared to double-distilled whiskies. Multiple distillations remove heavy components. The most volatile congeners, called the heads or foreshots, are commonly removed first after the first distillation. 

The least volatile congeners (2) are the tails or feints. When these two are cut out or redistilled, volatile components are eliminated. It smoothens the texture of the final spirit. 

Read: Top Irish Whiskeys To Drink Straight


Connemara Irish Whiskey with glass

Triple distilling helps with the concentration of flavors. Triple-distilled whisky has a more savory taste since the distiller concentrates a size of aromatic and flavorful compounds. 

It can be more costly than double or continuous distillation, but it has a smoother taste and is more complex. 

Distilling the spirit thrice also lessens the acidity of the grains with the help of water-soluble compounds. 


A glass of whiskey with ice

Triple-distilled single malt whiskies or other whiskeys processed thrice have a smooth, rich, and subdued finish. 

They have no similarities with the flavor profile of whiskies that went through continuous distillation.

They also have the same finish spin-offs with a single pot distillation or on in huge stills.


Are all Irish whiskeys triple-distilled?

No, not all Irish whiskeys are triple-distilled. They also have whiskeys that were distilled twice.

However, claims about Irish whiskey products being smooth tasting could be true.

Three distillations on copper pot stills are very common for Scotch whisky brands, but Irish whiskey products came out first. But what makes Irish whiskey different?

Is there an American whiskey that is triple-distilled?

Yes, there are American whiskeys that are triple-distilled. Andalusia Whiskey Co. and ASW Distillery are known to triple distill their single malt whiskies.

Woodford Reserve also has various triple-distilled whiskey products. These are rye, malted barley, grain, or mixed mash bills. 

What Does Triple Distilled Mean in Vodka?

Triple distillation is a process used in the production of vodka to refine and purify the spirit, resulting in a smoother and cleaner taste. During triple distillation, the vodka undergoes three separate distillation cycles, where it is heated to create vapor and then cooled to condense it back into liquid form. Each distillation cycle helps to remove impurities and undesirable compounds from the alcohol, resulting in a higher level of purity and a smoother finish. Triple distilled vodka is typically associated with premium and ultra-premium brands that prioritize quality and craftsmanship in their production process. The extra distillation steps remove more impurities, resulting in a smoother and more refined final product that is often favored by vodka enthusiasts and connoisseurs.

What Does Triple Distilled Mean in Whisky?

In whisky production, triple distillation refers to a process where the whisky is distilled three times in succession, resulting in a smoother and lighter spirit. Triple distillation is less common in whisky production compared to vodka or some other spirits, but it is used by some distilleries, particularly in Ireland. The additional distillation cycle helps to refine the spirit further, removing more impurities and creating a lighter and more delicate flavor profile. Triple distilled whiskies are often characterized by their smoothness, with less pronounced flavors and a milder finish compared to whiskies distilled fewer times. Triple distillation is often associated with Irish whiskey production, where it is believed to have originated, but it can also be found in other whisky-producing regions around the world.

Is Triple Distilled Better Than Single Distilled?

Whether triple distilled is better than single distilled depends on personal preference and the desired characteristics of the final product. Triple distillation generally results in a smoother and more refined spirit compared to single distillation because it removes more impurities and undesirable compounds from the alcohol. However, some people prefer the robust and bold flavors of spirits that have undergone single distillation, as they may retain more of the original character of the base ingredients. Ultimately, the choice between triple and single distillation comes down to individual taste preferences and the specific qualities sought in the final product.

What Does Triple Distilled Water Mean?

Triple distilled water refers to water that has undergone three separate distillation processes to purify it and remove impurities. During each distillation cycle, water is heated to create vapor, which is then cooled and collected as liquid water. This process helps to remove contaminants, minerals, and other dissolved substances from the water, resulting in a higher level of purity compared to water that has undergone fewer distillation cycles. Triple distilled water is often used in laboratory settings, pharmaceutical production, and certain industrial applications where high-purity water is required.

What Alcohol Is Distilled 3 Times?

Several types of alcohol are commonly distilled three times to achieve a higher level of purity and refinement. One of the most well-known examples is vodka, which is often triple distilled to create a smoother and cleaner spirit. Additionally, some whiskies, particularly Irish whiskey, may undergo triple distillation to produce a lighter and more delicate flavor profile. Other spirits, such as gin and rum, may also be triple distilled by certain producers to achieve specific taste characteristics or quality standards.

Is Triple Distilled Vodka Stronger?

Triple distilled vodka is not necessarily stronger in terms of alcohol content compared to vodka that has undergone fewer distillation cycles. The strength of vodka is typically determined by its alcohol by volume (ABV), which is regulated by law and remains consistent regardless of the number of distillation cycles. However, triple distilled vodka may have a smoother and cleaner taste compared to vodka that has been distilled fewer times, as the additional distillation cycles help to remove more impurities and undesirable flavors from the alcohol. Ultimately, the perceived strength of triple distilled vodka depends on individual taste preferences and the specific qualities sought in the final product.

Key Takeaways

Triple-distilled whiskeys are liquors that go through a meticulous distillation process to turn collected liquid into a smooth spirit. Like column distillation, intermediate distillation allows the reflux level to segregate the unpleasant flavors. 

Additional time inside the cask’s charred layer gives the Irish whiskey, Scotch, or any smooth whiskey an even smoother texture.

The key to understanding how triple distillation works is to see that distilling the spirit multiple times increases alcohol and refines the texture while concentrating the flavors. 


  1. What is fermentation?
  2. Vapour pressure
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