Re: "Making the Cut"
Inline comments in blue.
--- In email@example.com, "James" <jnhaller@...> wrote:
> I think I screwed up! I just completed my very first spirit run. Briefly, I have a 15 gallon system (modified beer keg) with a 2" diameter x 48" long column. On top of this is what I call the head with a reflux condenser sticking out the top and a gate valve into a liebig condenser teed off to the side and down. My precision thermometer is inserted into the insulated head.
If that column is packed with structure packing, you have a great vapor-management vodka still. That wouldn't be my first choice for a Scotch still, but if you run it with greatly-reduce reflux, it should work fine.
> My goal is to make Scotch. I did two stripping runs of 14 Gallons of beer at about 8.5% abv and converted this to about 28390 ml of volume at 38% abv. My distillation run went well and I collected 11089 ml of alcohol at 100% abv.
All the samples were collected in 500 ml (heads and tails) and 1000 ml jars. So far, so good!
> When I was running the still, I roughly defined 1% as foreshots, 9% as heads, 63% as hearts and 27% as tails. The next morning I lined up all of the jars and smelled and tasted each to determine where to "make the cut". I decided to throw the final 500 ml of heads into the hearts because I could find very little of the "nail polish" odor in it. When I came to the tails, I could detect what I thought was a "grainy" odor and taste beginning to appear and gradually getting stronger as the process progressed. My thought was that I should keep some of this grain flavor as it would be needed to define the scotch taste. Remember, I had never done this before.
Often, there is some great flavor in the fractions that are just starting to show signs of the "wet cardboard", and it depends a lot on the wash, the still, how you run it, and what you like. I'm slowly being convinced I need to expand my hearts collection a bit more into heads and tails, and rely on aging to mellow the (slightly) disagreeable part.
> Two days later I recieved in the mail a copy of Zymergy Bob's book, Making Fine Spirits". I immediately flipped to the section on "Making the Cuts" and read about the onset of "wet cardboard taste" that helped define the beginning of the tails. I now believe that what I thought was a grainy flavor needed in the scotch was actually what he calls the wet cardboard taste not wanted in the scotch. In retrospect, I think I was being too agressive in maximizing my hearts output and added too much of the tails. It looks like, for my system, a 10% - 60% - 30% split is going to be very close to the optimum. This also seems to agree with what I read in Bob's book.
> My current plan is to make one additional 14 gallon batch of beer, strip it and then add it to this last distillation run and redistill all of it. Will I lose too much of the scotch taste by double distilling it? Does anyone have any other suggestions.
If I understand you correctly, there's some triple-distilling in there, and that will decrease your flavor intensity, although you may love it. That's why potstilling is an art.
> One more question -- I ran this with about 12" of stainless steel packing in the column. Is this right or do you suggest removing all of the packing?
> Thanks in advance for your comments.
You're sure welcome.
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller Making Fine Spirits