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Thread: Distillation

  1. #111

    Quote Originally Posted by Toxxyc View Post
    Groen, what's your experience been with multiple distillations? I've done a two and three times distilled spirit and I'm VERY impressed with the result after each distillation. I want to do a fourth as well on a future batch, it's just a tad hard because the workable alcohol gets less and less each run (obviously). However, my triple distilled all-grain distillate was superbly smooth. When I do it this way I do a stripping run and don't make any cuts except methanol.

    Second is the same - I just water down the distillate a bit to give it some volume in the still and then run it again (with another methanol cut, but a much smaller and slower cut the second time). The third run is watered down again, and another cut is made, but VERY carefully with smell/taste playing the important role here. I usually get away with only a few ml on the small batch that's kept aside as methanol.

    I also run the third one super slow, from the start, resulting in a very clean (clear and high ABV) alcohol in the end. I want to do the same again, but with a fourth one at the end. I keep being impressed with how much methanol you can keep getting out with each distillation, and how much smoother the spirit ends up. I haven't seen a big decline in the good flavours between a 2 and 3-run distillation, so I want to see how a fourth will affect it.
    In short, depends on what you're making and how you're making it. How focused you are during the runs plays a role, but generally two stilling runs and some filtering...or not. If I do rum/whisky/bourbon on the alembic only, double distillation and zero filtration is enough for me. I stop at about 40% abv and generally pull a 80%-85% spirit. The second run is done dreadfully slow, usually about an 8 hour affair. All cuts incl methanol/foreshots are made on the second run. This is where all your senses/research comes into play, including temperature or parrot readings (although I've never used the parrot), smell, taste and cuts. At the coast I found it a bit challenging, as the boil rate quickly exceeds the efficiency of the cooling in the lyne , I'm slowly increasing the heating and gauging the result, no quick fixes unfortunately.

    If I make a neutral, a strip with the reflux (already pretty clean at this point) double filtration run and a second run through the reflux results in a tasteless neutral at 92%-93%. Excellent for liqueurs. When doing gin, strip through the reflux, double filtration run and the final run through the alembic with the botanical basket in place, dreadfully slow again. Clean neutral and a pronounced gin. I recently swopped juniper berry brands only and the result was astoundingly different. Not bad, just different.

    Technically each activated carbon filtration run could be seen as a "distillation" as you're removing impurities, but not compressing ethanol.

    A lot of drivel here, but if I'm going to make something worth the effort I'm putting into it, it has to reflect that effort and not be for naught, I have done triple and more runs through the still, but there's a point where the fractional increase in quality is not worth the effort or perceived quality increase, not mentioning my time and electricity consumption.

    You could actually get away with two filtration runs, the difference between run once vs none is vast, difference between once and twice run is large, but the difference between twice and thrice run is small. I just leave the third filtration run to complete overnight, so zero effort and small gain is fine.

    You do need to weigh up all these factors though, what's it all worth?

    I forgot to add, I only use the hearts when doing whisky/rum/bourbon, it's in the sweet spot and no worries with additional furfurol/aldehydes. Heads and tails go into a collection jar for a reflux strip at some point.
    I'd blend some when making gin, as I started off with super clean neutral.
    Last edited by groenspookasem; 15th September 2020 at 10:12. Reason: forgot to add

  2. #112
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    See, that's where I differ. I've made a few whisky washes to date, but on all of them I found my favourite being a mix of everything combined. I don't like just the hearts, I include quite a bit of the tails as well. It contains malt flavour I'm very fond of.

    Regarding the cuts, I also do it strictly on smell and taste. Temperature is useless to me when making cuts, and I only use temperature to gauge how fast my wash temp is rising, and when to stop (when the top of my column hits 96% ABV). I usually cut my spirit as described before - one lot at around 80% ABV, another at around 60% ABV and then the last lot up to 96C. When I have to work out my ABV before oaking and whatnot, I mix these first, before adding water. It gives me more end product.

    Also, I don't do any filtration. I've tried it before but found the result uninspiringly boring. I think I'll try it again sometime, now that my palate has adjusted a bit to spirits as well. It's not impossible that I just could not smell or taste the difference back then yet, but there's more to look for now that I know.

  3. #113
    I use backset for whisky,rum,bourbon on the second run, works well enough to punt the flavor. The content of the the heads and tails is the reason I discard it. I'm not worried about volume and prefer to grab ethanol at the peak of purity. Head/tails or blends is a guaranteed headache inducer for me, there's a lot more taste in tails, but also some other things...Looks like I was spot on with the 2c temp variance between the coast and upcountry. I stop at 94C.

    Temperature is a good indicator, but you dont have to use it. I like making decisions using all of the available data, blend some science into art, but I'm biased when it comes to my methods ;-) Do keep in mind that wood aging hearts also imparts flavor over time. Good becomes best but mediocre can only become good.

    I filter neutrals only, I dont really need to as the reflux produces a clean end product, but the difference in taste (or lack thereof) is big enough that I swear by it. High proof ethanol with no taste is odd, but I prefer a blank canvas when making other things. Do note that super clean neutrals are ready for immediate usage.

  4. #114
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    OK so see, that I didn't know. I know about the unwanted crap in the heads/foreshots or whatever they're called, so I keep them aside (I don't know what I'm planning to do with it, but anyway). I didn't know there's crap in the tails as well. What sort of stuff is in there? I'm not someone who gets hungover easily, but I don't want to make other people sick with my stuff.

    I found quite a bit of alcohol still in my wash when I hit 94C in the column. Maybe it's a thermometer thing or something, still design, I dunno. At 94C though what drips out of the cooler is still pretty damn strong. Like 35% ABV strong. I've tested it before. It only starts dropping off once I hit around 95C, which is why I go all the way to 96C.

  5. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakeslouw View Post
    If I use the T500, I constantly have to sit and tune that bloody water supply for the cooling jacket, you can't walk away.
    Update on this: sorted out my process now I don't need to baby-sit.

  6. #116
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    Went through the thread and I really need to ask why you guys : apart from the foreshots, why discard anything?

    Commercial distillers certainly don't. Nor do I.

  7. #117
    Quote Originally Posted by jakeslouw View Post
    Update on this: sorted out my process now I don't need to baby-sit.
    you can't just drop a bomb like that and not expand, I clipped a clothes peg to the damn needle valve, works better, but still babysitting the thing.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by jakeslouw View Post
    Went through the thread and I really need to ask why you guys : apart from the foreshots, why discard anything?

    Commercial distillers certainly don't. Nor do I.
    discard = reuse in another run in my books

  8. #118
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    Ah, so reuse, that's cool. I can get with that. Think I'll try the same in the future. I found my tails being a tiny bit cloudy, and tasting a little bit "dusty", if that makes sense. So if I can just redistill them in a next batch - why not. Think I should start a nice whisky wash again this week. Sommer tomorrow. Got like 50kgs of malt around here anyway.

  9. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by groenspookasem View Post
    you can't just drop a bomb like that and not expand, I clipped a clothes peg to the damn needle valve, works better, but still babysitting the thing.
    Aha. I use the GF2 controller. I set the initial temp to 80degC and let it get there on it own. I then manually step by 2 degrees until the foreshots start at around 84 degrees if I recall. Once the foreshots are done (the trickle stops), I then step another 2 degrees at a time until the heads start. Then 2 degrees every time the dribble stops, and each step set gets put into its own container. When I'm at around 94 degrees, I'm usually pretty much into the tails (I do taste and measure ABV each step set though) and that goes straight into my tailings drum.

    Quote Originally Posted by groenspookasem View Post
    discard = reuse in another run in my books
    Indeed. The tails often go into the next fermented wash to boost the ABV slightly.

  10. #120

    Quote Originally Posted by jakeslouw View Post
    Aha. I use the GF2 controller. I set the initial temp to 80degC and let it get there on it own. I then manually step by 2 degrees until the foreshots start at around 84 degrees if I recall. Once the foreshots are done (the trickle stops), I then step another 2 degrees at a time until the heads start. Then 2 degrees every time the dribble stops, and each step set gets put into its own container. When I'm at around 94 degrees, I'm usually pretty much into the tails (I do taste and measure ABV each step set though) and that goes straight into my tailings drum.



    Indeed. The tails often go into the next fermented wash to boost the ABV slightly.
    I'm going to give that a twirl, I've been running in "power mode" on the bluetooth/connect controller, but it does make sense to step it on pot temp to equalize to head temp whilst in full reflux. I'm assuming that your water flow is adjusted to take it out of full reflux after you've reached the end of each step? Do you keep outlet temp at it at around 55c?
    Last edited by groenspookasem; 15th September 2020 at 15:45.

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