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Calculating the Output ABV

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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby zedzedtop » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:02 am

Usge, you are good at explaining your thoughts. Which page mentions that demisting is for checking for something other than residual tails in the condenser? It seems that if you were using demisting to check to see if you siphoned from below the fusel layer on the low wines, you could have just asked the guy who loaded the still, "Did you throw the whole shitteree in there?" If you knew to check for this it seems you would have known to leave the fusel layer in the low wines container. I do see that the book mentions that the demisting check will come up positive for fusels if you don't separate the two phases before loading the still. Trying to get a handle on this - of course many here are great potstillers and make great product, but the chapter author seems to have a pretty comprehensive knowledge of the scotch production. OTOH, they never mention separating heads, and I can't imagine it's just because they are cheap and want to get as much product as possible. Not for such a high dollar product like a lot of scotches. Maybe they evaporate or undergo a chemical reaction after 10 years in a barrel? Are we simulating 10 years in a barrel by ridding the heads manually?
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby myles » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:04 am

zedzedtop wrote: OTOH, they never mention separating heads, and I can't imagine it's just because they are cheap and want to get as much product as possible. Not for such a high dollar product like a lot of scotches. Maybe they evaporate or undergo a chemical reaction after 10 years in a barrel? Are we simulating 10 years in a barrel by ridding the heads manually?


My gut reaction is that this is right. I have read elsewhere that they do not do a heads cut and let time take care of it. Not sure if this is true or speculation but lets not forget that we are trying to speed up the process that they use. It is possible the heads cut is exactly what this does. don't know.
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby Usge » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:06 am

zedzedtop wrote: Which page mentions that demisting is for checking for something other than residual tails in the condenser?


ZZ, it's from the same chapter on spirit still operation. Just a different paragraph.

This is the paragraph discussing the use of demisting to check for residual tails, etc on the walls and floor of the condenser:

Normally a demisting test is carried out; this involves mixing foreshots with water in a hydrometer jar in the safe and reducing the strength of the mixture to 45.7 percent ABV (Sykes Proof 80). Initially the mixture is turbid, with a milky appearance not unlike the reaction between anis and water. This turbidity is caused by the displacement of water-insoluble residual long chain fatty acids and their esters, which have remained on the inner surfaces of the still and in the sub-pool at the bottom of the spirit condenser from the previous distillation. When the mixture of foreshots and water clears at the stated strength, the spirit is deemed potable.

They then go on to describe other reasons/ways that these fatty acid esters etc., can end up in your product, even when using hydroseparation) and ways to avoid it.

With low wines and feints charges at less than 30 percent ABV, it is still possible to attract distillation problems. Presentation of the floating surface layer of heavy oils or higher fatty acid esters as a charge to the still (by completely emptying the contents of the charger into the still) will result in an episode when the collection of potable spirit (as determined by the demisting test) is unachievable. The whole spirit distillation system will have been contaminated by these esters, and it can take several distillations before satisfactory spirit is again obtained.

The above is why I said...they are checking for the same thing (excess fatty esters, etc. tainting the spirit), using the same test ( "demisting" ) BUT are doing it here for different reason (ie., the accumulation of excess concentration of them by storing feints at too high proof and dumping the entire content of them into the still charge.) So, there are 3 different issues...all easy enough to work around...One is feints from previous run stuck in the condenser and the walls of the still (rinse well). The other is any feints used, (or low-wines feints mix) need to be watered down below 30abv so that the fatty esters, etc., will separate from the higher alc layers. The third is, after it is separated, the "top" of it should not be poured into the still. Demisting of the final output is the test they suggest to determine whether one is successful at keeping out excess fatty esters (caused by several different issues) or not. And this seems a logical approach/way to definitively test for such things. One could only assume results/outcome to varying degrees by following preventative procedures.
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby Usge » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:31 am

Harry wrote:
Usge wrote: The only mention of heavier solubles settling "on the bottom" that I found was not in reference to "low-wines" or still charge, it was in regards to the "condenser" after a run — unless I missed something? In reference to the low-wines and not emptying the entire container, they mention only siphoning off below the top layer. They do not mention anything about the bottom being contaminated as well. At least not as far as I can find. They say..."the surface phase", should not be allowed to enter the pot chamber. And they only speak of what will separate at lower proofs as "floating" not sinking.



The separator I use is for my feints collection, not for low wines. But there's no reason to not use it on low wines. You could hydro-separate the low wines as a charge for a spirit still run. It certainly won't hurt.


Yes, they seem to be mentioning both...but as in a mixture (feints/low-wines) or "still charge".

To avoid such scenarios, when the low wines and feints appear to be approaching higher strengths (or have reached this situation) the charge can be diluted with water, aiming for a combined strength of less than 30 percent ABV an thus stimulating hydroseparation. The surface phase must not be allowed to enter the spirit still upon charging.


In regards to hydroseparation, it doesn't seem to mention anything about the "bottom" of the container being an issue....just the top.
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby Usge » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:06 pm

Just an update: I did a test this weekend with low-wines only (no feints) using 250ml glass cylinders. One had 35% low-wines in it undiluted. The other one had low-wines diluted with water down to 27%. After the end of sitting one day, there is no discernible visual difference between the 2. There is no apparent separation. So, it appears this has little (if any) impact on low-wines unless they are mixed with feints (as harry mentioned). I have no feints on hand to to retest with. But, will repeat test in the near future when I have some feints saved up, and post back. btw, I'm doing this with corn low-wines/feints, not barley (ie., corn/malted corn/sugar thin mash)
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby zedzedtop » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:34 pm

Not sure how easy it is supposed to be to see the separation. Maybe a slight index of refraction difference? I've been having some particles get into the wines from the stripping runs. I notice that when the overall abv of the wines gets below 40%, the particles stick to the surface if they happen to get near it. Higher than that, they don't. Might be some connection....
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby eternalfrost » Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:40 am

just finished a spirit run. diluted 40% low wines with wash to 25%, came out at 80-60%
much nicer whitedog flavor then diluting with water
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby myles » Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:30 am

eternalfrost wrote:just finished a spirit run. diluted 40% low wines with wash to 25%, came out at 80-60%
much nicer whitedog flavor then diluting with water


Just curious eternal: have you got a general guideline that you use for the proportions of

low wines : wash : added feints

that you use for your spirit runs, or does it vary dependent on what you are running at the time.
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby eternalfrost » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:03 am

well this was the first official spirit run of ujsm. did one before but it was "new wash" from the first few generations and came out pretty crummy.
so it was all low wines and new wash, didnt have any feints.
the next round i plan to toss the top 1/4 of the heads cut,i really dont like heads, save the rest and all the tails as feints. add feints and low wines then dilute with wash till it hits 25%.

after making cuts this time, the combined final abv was ~70% which is nice as a starting cask strength. ill prolly do a pseudo-solara deal where its stepped down from 70 to 40% over a few months to pull out different flavors at different strengths.
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby Usge » Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:50 pm

eternalfrost wrote:just finished a spirit run. diluted 40% low wines with wash to 25%, came out at 80-60%
much nicer whitedog flavor then diluting with water

EF, did you separate it? Or just dump whole thing in (ie., since it had no feints).
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby eternalfrost » Mon Jan 18, 2010 1:54 pm

had no feints so the whole thing went in.
didnt notice any major changes as it went to lower proof, but wasnt really looking for it either.
i always have a slight bit of "oil slick" patches floating on top, but that happens even at 40%. ive purposely scooped some out and tasted, but couldnt detect it compared to a "clean" sample

i toss the first few hundred mLs off each strip run too, so a good chunk of the heads get removed before you even start.
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby Usge » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:28 pm

So, I did a spirit run, no feints, at 27% to see if I could see any difference. I thought at first I could definitely taste/smell a difference in that the heads/tails, etc..seemed to be much smoother/lighter than before. As it came out, I wrote that in my notes. However, this was more than likely the result of the lower proof (running in straight potstill mode) because of the lower proof still-charge, because when I watered it down...you can definitely tell the heads/tails are still there. The other thing that was noticeable, and should have been obvious, (doih) is the lower yield in output when your pot's belly is full of 27% as opposed to 40%. On my 5 gal pot...running 5 gal of combined 27%, I got back about a gallon of feints, and about 500ml of conservative cut hearts. In other words, I got about the same amount of heads/tails I always do running higher proof still charge...just less hearts.

The hearts themselves were not notably different than usual. There was pretty good flavor in it...given I didn't have to water it down too much to get it down to barrel proof. So, there is obvious benefit in that direction...but the loss in heart yield is pretty dramatic with just a 10-13% starting difference.
Still gonna play with it some....but thus far....not so sure this is even worth it for someone who has a small pot and does conservative cuts anyway. Might be more worth it for someone who likes to take a very wide cut for aging.
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby zedzedtop » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:54 pm

500mL of hearts off 5G of 27% - that's not much. People have mentioned I don't get much but I get a bunch more than that. 20G charge of 25-27% gave me almost 3G of 70%. It would have been 2.5G if it was conservative - took a bit more heads (ethyl acetate imo) than usual as an experiment. Want to see if I can get em to go away in the barrel.
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby Tatt2d » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:32 pm

Been reading this from the beginning and never thought too much about it till the gears actually started to start meshin'... So I tried doing some number crunching. If I am not mistaken, This is more than a one or two strip collection + a wash to get a desired % output.

I'm running DWWG now. I've got a 10 gallon wash that will finish to ~10% and 7.2L of low wines @ ~40%. Those two together would give me 45L @ ~14.8% ? And If I'm wanting a spirit run to start at 20% to give me an output of ~68%, right ? This would mean multiple Strips prior to the spirit run ? How many?

Also - Doesnt the speed of the run impact the output %? More heat, faster and lower%? Less, slower and higher%?

My head was hurtin just to figure this far... I'll get back to it tomorrow...



Note: I'm very inexperienced at the pot runs. Only one batch of flavoured DWWG spirit run so far...
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Re: Calculating the Output ABV

Postby Usge » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:26 am

Yea ZZ....it wasn't much. Way I do things....I take the total amount of potential alc for my run (estimated) based on aggregate abv of my stillcharge, and then divide it by 15 to 22 pint jars. I usually get about 1.25 Gallons per run total output. Out of that, maybe .25 gal or so is clean enough to cut out as hearts. The rest has "obvious" signs of heads and tails in them. In terms of jars...there is never more than 1 or 2 jars in the middle that are clean. The rest of it is either transitioning from heads, or too tails. So, I might be able to add 1 or 2 jars on either side if it's really faded and that's about as far as I can go before I'm getting into obvious heads or tails. The most I can collect per jar is a full pint...so the most I usually get is 4 pints—more commonly it's about 3. And that ain't much to start with — it's even less when I'm not collecting in full pints. It goes really quick round here, but I'm pretty much at my limit of what I can physically, and safely, handle with my 5 gal pot. I'm aware of people running 5 gal or 25L pots who keep much more than that. All I can say is, they must be keeping a good portion of heads and tails...by that I mean faded to some degree or another but obviously there. I've done that for oaking, but not for whitedog. Just can't stomach the burn.

As to this run....because there was less alc overall...I was collecting in smaller lots (300ml per jar). There was one clean jar...the one before had detectable heads in it, but I kept it and adjacent jar on either side of my initial cut to see if I might be able to blend them out later. While I was doing the run, tasting off the output, I tasted tails and moved the next jar early....so it only had 200ml in it. That, plus the previous clean jar...made up my hearts at 500ml at 150 proof.

Blending: I let it air for a day, then started trying to blend in the adjacent jars. I'd take a teaspoon of my hearts...and add one teaspoon of an adjacent jar into a shotglass. I spent an hour trying to find a way that it might blend in...and no matter what I did...I could taste the heads/tails in it and it would burn. The way I test for it, is I put a teaspoon of the distillate and a teaspoon of distilled water into a shot glass and swirl it around. I pull it into my mouth and let it sit on my tongue. If it starts burning like hell, and is bitter, etc., I spit it out...it's no good. The late heads/early tails jars were still sweet, not too bitter, but definitely had the smell, and taste of heads/tails and they burned on my tongue — in fact would make it completely numb even at lower proof. When added to my blended 500ml hearts...it immediately added sting/burn to it. So, I left them out.

Most I ever got was an undiluted charge of 48% of sourmash that I dripped off into full pint jars using the CM setup on my Ga Ridge head. I ran it 13 hours before I shut down, just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. I mixed near 1/2 gal of it that was about 170 proof. It was very light and soft to drink with a good nose and good sourmash flavor/taste in your mouth so nobody wanted to water it down. It's just after you swallered it....that the fireworks begin :)

As I've described it before...They nose it, and make a face like..hmm..that smells good. Then they take a small sip into their mouth and ponder it. Then they swallow it —their eyes open up real big, they get a panicked look on their face and their eyes go blank...and they hold the glass out in front of them and back up....then shake their head from side to side and go WHOOOOOOOooo! with slobber hanging off one side of their lip. I watered some of it down to reasonable proof and it made for some very easy whitedog drinking. But, they drank a good portion of it just like it came...one sip at a time...howling at the moon. That's the good stuff!

I need to replenish my drinking stock here, but have more runs lined up and I'll post back on how those go down the road. Got beer to make too! Out of everything!
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