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a few BASIC questions

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  • goodmle23
    I am an experienced winemaker, and now want to try distilling. I ve built a simple pot still with a large flask, some copper tubing, some icewater for
    Message 1 of 10 , Mar 6 2:03 PM
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      I am an experienced winemaker, and now want to try distilling. I've built a simple pot still with a large flask, some copper tubing, some icewater for condensation,etc...and it works. I've started by just distilling some of my wine, thinking that I'd get brandy...and I guess I did.

      But my questions involve what determines the ultimate taste of my brandy. I started with pretty good wine, but the brandy is somewhat tasteless. Are there particular wines that are used for making brandy? Also, obviously, my brandy hasn't aged. But does aging a brandy in glass, even with oak cubes, accomplish anything. I have access to old oak barrels, though it would take me a lot of runs in my 2 liter still to have enough brandy to fill up a small 8 gallon barrel.

      Also, while 've tried to make the appropriate cuts and eliminate the first condensate, I find that the brandy still has a "chemical" taste. I'm not sure if that's due to the things that I don't want in it, or if it's just the taste of the brandy. Any thoughts?

      Lastly, the book that I read suggests discarding the low alcohol tails. But then I end up just diluting the excessively high proof brandy with water...so why not continue the distillation and use the tails until I get to the desired proof?

      Thanks, in advance.

      Lee
    • tgfoitwoods
      Lee, Because I m not exactly sure how you made your cuts, it s hard for me to tell exactly what you ve got, but I have a theory about grape brandy flavor. Most
      Message 2 of 10 , Mar 6 10:50 PM
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        Lee,

        Because I'm not exactly sure how you made your cuts, it's hard for me to tell exactly what you've got, but I have a theory about grape brandy flavor. Most of the good flavors that come out of the condenser are esters, the organic equivalent of a salt, the product of a reaction between an organic acid and an organic hydroxide (an alcohol, in other words). Esters form faster when the mixture is heated, as in boiling, and when the acid content of the wine is high enough, often too high to make a good glass of wine.

        From what I hear, the wines of the Cognac region tend to be acid, and as we know, the brandy is superb. I've got almost 5 gallons of low wines from my own cabernet franc grapes, from a wine whose acid I could never really control, and I think the spirit run of this stuff may give me the best brandy I've made.

        Aging brandy in glass, on heat-treated oak, works very nicely indeed, especially when combined with evaporation and oxidation of the oak compounds leached into the brandy. Even a lackluster brandy can profit a lot from this. If that "chemical taste" is just from wide cuts, aging will also mellow that; I'd start by leaving the container open for a few days, with just a cloth or cotton stopper, to evaporate the harsher congeners. You'll lose a couple of percent ethanol in the process, too.

        While I would not put the tails in your brandy, because their problem is way more than just insufficient ethanol, it's also a lot of high-boiling congeners that taste bad. Save those tails and throw them back in the still for the next run.

        ..and you are very welcome.

        Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller Making Fine Spirits

        --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "goodmle23" <lg1111@...> wrote:
        >
        > I am an experienced winemaker, and now want to try distilling. I've built a simple pot still with a large flask, some copper tubing, some icewater for condensation,etc...and it works. I've started by just distilling some of my wine, thinking that I'd get brandy...and I guess I did.
        >
        > But my questions involve what determines the ultimate taste of my brandy. I started with pretty good wine, but the brandy is somewhat tasteless. Are there particular wines that are used for making brandy? Also, obviously, my brandy hasn't aged. But does aging a brandy in glass, even with oak cubes, accomplish anything. I have access to old oak barrels, though it would take me a lot of runs in my 2 liter still to have enough brandy to fill up a small 8 gallon barrel.
        >
        > Also, while 've tried to make the appropriate cuts and eliminate the first condensate, I find that the brandy still has a "chemical" taste. I'm not sure if that's due to the things that I don't want in it, or if it's just the taste of the brandy. Any thoughts?
        >
        > Lastly, the book that I read suggests discarding the low alcohol tails. But then I end up just diluting the excessively high proof brandy with water...so why not continue the distillation and use the tails until I get to the desired proof?
        >
        > Thanks, in advance.
        >
        > Lee
        >
      • White Bear
        Great answer and good advice WB    ________________________________ From: tgfoitwoods To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com Sent:
        Message 3 of 10 , Mar 7 3:45 AM
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          Great answer and good advice
          WB
           
           

           
           
          From: tgfoitwoods <zymurgybob@...>
          To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2013 12:50 AM
          Subject: [new_distillers] Re: a few BASIC questions
           
          Lee,

          Because I'm not exactly sure how you made your cuts, it's hard for me to tell exactly what you've got, but I have a theory about grape brandy flavor. Most of the good flavors that come out of the condenser are esters, the organic equivalent of a salt, the product of a reaction between an organic acid and an organic hydroxide (an alcohol, in other words). Esters form faster when the mixture is heated, as in boiling, and when the acid content of the wine is high enough, often too high to make a good glass of wine.

          From what I hear, the wines of the Cognac region tend to be acid, and as we know, the brandy is superb. I've got almost 5 gallons of low wines from my own cabernet franc grapes, from a wine whose acid I could never really control, and I think the spirit run of this stuff may give me the best brandy I've made.

          Aging brandy in glass, on heat-treated oak, works very nicely indeed, especially when combined with evaporation and oxidation of the oak compounds leached into the brandy. Even a lackluster brandy can profit a lot from this. If that "chemical taste" is just from wide cuts, aging will also mellow that; I'd start by leaving the container open for a few days, with just a cloth or cotton stopper, to evaporate the harsher congeners. You'll lose a couple of percent ethanol in the process, too.

          While I would not put the tails in your brandy, because their problem is way more than just insufficient ethanol, it's also a lot of high-boiling congeners that taste bad. Save those tails and throw them back in the still for the next run.

          ..and you are very welcome.

          Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller Making Fine Spirits

          --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "goodmle23" <lg1111@...> wrote:
          >
          > I am an experienced winemaker, and now want to try distilling. I've built a simple pot still with a large flask, some copper tubing, some icewater for condensation,etc...and it works. I've started by just distilling some of my wine, thinking that I'd get brandy...and I guess I did.
          >
          > But my questions involve what determines the ultimate taste of my brandy. I started with pretty good wine, but the brandy is somewhat tasteless. Are there particular wines that are used for making brandy? Also, obviously, my brandy hasn't aged. But does aging a brandy in glass, even with oak cubes, accomplish anything. I have access to old oak barrels, though it would take me a lot of runs in my 2 liter still to have enough brandy to fill up a small 8 gallon barrel.
          >
          > Also, while 've tried to make the appropriate cuts and eliminate the first condensate, I find that the brandy still has a "chemical" taste. I'm not sure if that's due to the things that I don't want in it, or if it's just the taste of the brandy. Any thoughts?
          >
          > Lastly, the book that I read suggests discarding the low alcohol tails. But then I end up just diluting the excessively high proof brandy with water...so why not continue the distillation and use the tails until I get to the desired proof?
          >
          > Thanks, in advance.
          >
          > Lee
          >
        • Jim Graves
          Way back, around the 14-1500 s, brandy was placed on ships going to Africa and brandy could not be sold in Europe until it crossed the equator.  The trip
          Message 4 of 10 , Mar 7 6:18 AM
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            Way back, around the 14-1500's, brandy was placed on ships going to Africa and brandy could not be sold in Europe until it crossed the equator.  The trip caused the brand to swish in the oak barrel, thus aging it perfectly.  a friend of mine in east Tx a number of years ago took the design of a rock tumbler and converted it to roll a small oak keg.  we placed some very, VERY, cheap brandy in it and started it to tumble.  Six months later we had excellent brandy.  The theory is true, rocking and rolling in oak ages it perfectly.  Also, it was many many times faster then going to the equator and back!  Just food for thought, why wouldn't this work for whiskey?  My guess is that it would....
             
            Jim




            From: White Bear <sha_man_1@...>
            To: "new_distillers@yahoogroups.com" <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2013 5:45 AM
            Subject: Re: [new_distillers] Re: a few BASIC questions

             
            Great answer and good advice
            WB
             
             

             
             
            From: tgfoitwoods <zymurgybob@...>
            To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2013 12:50 AM
            Subject: [new_distillers] Re: a few BASIC questions
             
            Lee,

            Because I'm not exactly sure how you made your cuts, it's hard for me to tell exactly what you've got, but I have a theory about grape brandy flavor. Most of the good flavors that come out of the condenser are esters, the organic equivalent of a salt, the product of a reaction between an organic acid and an organic hydroxide (an alcohol, in other words). Esters form faster when the mixture is heated, as in boiling, and when the acid content of the wine is high enough, often too high to make a good glass of wine.

            From what I hear, the wines of the Cognac region tend to be acid, and as we know, the brandy is superb. I've got almost 5 gallons of low wines from my own cabernet franc grapes, from a wine whose acid I could never really control, and I think the spirit run of this stuff may give me the best brandy I've made.

            Aging brandy in glass, on heat-treated oak, works very nicely indeed, especially when combined with evaporation and oxidation of the oak compounds leached into the brandy. Even a lackluster brandy can profit a lot from this. If that "chemical taste" is just from wide cuts, aging will also mellow that; I'd start by leaving the container open for a few days, with just a cloth or cotton stopper, to evaporate the harsher congeners. You'll lose a couple of percent ethanol in the process, too.

            While I would not put the tails in your brandy, because their problem is way more than just insufficient ethanol, it's also a lot of high-boiling congeners that taste bad. Save those tails and throw them back in the still for the next run.

            ..and you are very welcome.

            Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller Making Fine Spirits

            --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "goodmle23" <lg1111@...> wrote:
            >
            > I am an experienced winemaker, and now want to try distilling. I've built a simple pot still with a large flask, some copper tubing, some icewater for condensation,etc...and it works. I've started by just distilling some of my wine, thinking that I'd get brandy...and I guess I did.
            >
            > But my questions involve what determines the ultimate taste of my brandy. I started with pretty good wine, but the brandy is somewhat tasteless. Are there particular wines that are used for making brandy? Also, obviously, my brandy hasn't aged. But does aging a brandy in glass, even with oak cubes, accomplish anything. I have access to old oak barrels, though it would take me a lot of runs in my 2 liter still to have enough brandy to fill up a small 8 gallon barrel.
            >
            > Also, while 've tried to make the appropriate cuts and eliminate the first condensate, I find that the brandy still has a "chemical" taste. I'm not sure if that's due to the things that I don't want in it, or if it's just the taste of the brandy. Any thoughts?
            >
            > Lastly, the book that I read suggests discarding the low alcohol tails. But then I end up just diluting the excessively high proof brandy with water...so why not continue the distillation and use the tails until I get to the desired proof?
            >
            > Thanks, in advance.
            >
            > Lee
            >


          • goodmle23
            Thanks...and your answer is literally from the horse s mouth . I used your book to build my first still, and the only variation that I made was that I used a
            Message 5 of 10 , Mar 7 7:45 AM
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              Thanks...and your answer is literally "from the horse's mouth". I used your book to build my first still, and the only variation that I made was that I used a 2L erlenmeyer flask, as it heats well on my hot plate. But starting with 2L of wine, I get about 350 cc of brandy, after the cuts. I think my next step will be to use a 5L flask, as they're readily available. While I understand your reasoning about using a pressure cooker, there's something not very exciting about a pressure cooker, and I'm looking around for a larger boiling vessel. I imagine that, once I start making a beer out of grains, that the issue of residue burning on the inside will become significant.

              I do wonder, though, why you designed your beginner still with the copper tubing and pump for the ice water. I've seen other still designs where the vapors simply rise up into a copper tube which then takes a bend and continues, coiled, through a bucket of icewater. By doing that, one eliminates the need for the pump that you called for. It also makes the measurement of the copper tubing less significant. But you must have had reasons for your design.

              I do agree that using a pump is far easier than simply running water via gravity. Had I done that, I'm sure something would have tipped over.

              Thanks for your help.

              Lee

              --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, White Bear <sha_man_1@...> wrote:
              >
              > Great answer and good advice
              > WB
              >
              >
              >
              >   
              >
              > ________________________________
              > From: tgfoitwoods <zymurgybob@...>
              > To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
              > Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2013 12:50 AM
              > Subject: [new_distillers] Re: a few BASIC questions
              >
              >
              >  
              >
              > Lee,
              >
              > Because I'm not exactly sure how you made your cuts, it's hard for me to tell exactly what you've got, but I have a theory about grape brandy flavor. Most of the good flavors that come out of the condenser are esters, the organic equivalent of a salt, the product of a reaction between an organic acid and an organic hydroxide (an alcohol, in other words). Esters form faster when the mixture is heated, as in boiling, and when the acid content of the wine is high enough, often too high to make a good glass of wine.
              >
              > From what I hear, the wines of the Cognac region tend to be acid, and as we know, the brandy is superb. I've got almost 5 gallons of low wines from my own cabernet franc grapes, from a wine whose acid I could never really control, and I think the spirit run of this stuff may give me the best brandy I've made.
              >
              > Aging brandy in glass, on heat-treated oak, works very nicely indeed, especially when combined with evaporation and oxidation of the oak compounds leached into the brandy. Even a lackluster brandy can profit a lot from this. If that "chemical taste" is just from wide cuts, aging will also mellow that; I'd start by leaving the container open for a few days, with just a cloth or cotton stopper, to evaporate the harsher congeners. You'll lose a couple of percent ethanol in the process, too.
              >
              > While I would not put the tails in your brandy, because their problem is way more than just insufficient ethanol, it's also a lot of high-boiling congeners that taste bad. Save those tails and throw them back in the still for the next run.
              >
              > ..and you are very welcome.
              >
              > Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller Making Fine Spirits
              >
              > --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, "goodmle23" <lg1111@> wrote:
              > >
              > > I am an experienced winemaker, and now want to try distilling. I've built a simple pot still with a large flask, some copper tubing, some icewater for condensation,etc...and it works. I've started by just distilling some of my wine, thinking that I'd get brandy...and I guess I did.
              > >
              > > But my questions involve what determines the ultimate taste of my brandy. I started with pretty good wine, but the brandy is somewhat tasteless. Are there particular wines that are used for making brandy? Also, obviously, my brandy hasn't aged. But does aging a brandy in glass, even with oak cubes, accomplish anything. I have access to old oak barrels, though it would take me a lot of runs in my 2 liter still to have enough brandy to fill up a small 8 gallon barrel.
              > >
              > > Also, while 've tried to make the appropriate cuts and eliminate the first condensate, I find that the brandy still has a "chemical" taste. I'm not sure if that's due to the things that I don't want in it, or if it's just the taste of the brandy. Any thoughts?
              > >
              > > Lastly, the book that I read suggests discarding the low alcohol tails. But then I end up just diluting the excessively high proof brandy with water...so why not continue the distillation and use the tails until I get to the desired proof?
              > >
              > > Thanks, in advance.
              > >
              > > Lee
              > >
              >
            • Ellen Zachos
              Hello everyone, I ve been lurking for a while, learning what I can. I ve just been given a copper alembic 5L still which I d like to use to distill brandy.
              Message 6 of 10 , Mar 8 2:58 PM
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                Hello everyone,

                I've been lurking for a while, learning what I can. I've just been given a copper alembic 5L still which I'd like to use to distill brandy. I've made wine for more than 10 years, from wild and domesticated fruits and vegetables, and I'd like to try distilling some of those wines into brandy.

                Most of the books I've looked at focus on making shine from various mashes, which isn't my goal right now. I'm looking for detailed instructions on how to distill brandy from wine. Any suggestions? I'm happy to buy a book if you think there's a good one. I have never distilled before...total newbie on this front.

                The recent posts about aging on oak have been helpful, and yes, I've looked through the archives. Still, I'd like some basic instructions on the process from start to finish.

                Thanks.
                LN
              • Tom
                LN, I can suggest two books that will help you. They are: Making Fine Spirits by our own Zymurgy Bob and Distilling Fruit Brandy by Josef Pischl. Both books
                Message 7 of 10 , Mar 9 7:57 AM
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                  LN,

                  I can suggest two books that will help you. They are:

                  Making Fine Spirits by our own Zymurgy Bob and Distilling Fruit Brandy by Josef Pischl. Both books are loaded with information. The former gives much more detail on actual distilling than does the latter.

                  Enjoy,

                  Tom

                  --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, Ellen Zachos <ez@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Hello everyone,
                  >
                  > I've been lurking for a while, learning what I can. I've just been given a copper alembic 5L still which I'd like to use to distill brandy. I've made wine for more than 10 years, from wild and domesticated fruits and vegetables, and I'd like to try distilling some of those wines into brandy.
                  >
                  > Most of the books I've looked at focus on making shine from various mashes, which isn't my goal right now. I'm looking for detailed instructions on how to distill brandy from wine. Any suggestions? I'm happy to buy a book if you think there's a good one. I have never distilled before...total newbie on this front.
                  >
                  > The recent posts about aging on oak have been helpful, and yes, I've looked through the archives. Still, I'd like some basic instructions on the process from start to finish.
                  >
                  > Thanks.
                  > LN
                  >
                • virgil hoskins
                  Hi guys virgil here, Sorry to jump on this e-mail but you brought on a question about Z bobs book,, Is the book being offered as a E-book for my kindle ?    
                  Message 8 of 10 , Mar 9 4:35 PM
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                    Hi guys virgil here,
                    Sorry to jump on this e-mail but you brought on a question about Z bobs book,,
                    Is the book being offered as a E-book for my kindle ?
                     
                     

                    --- On Sat, 3/9/13, Tom <tomhawk412@...> wrote:

                    From: Tom <tomhawk412@...>
                    Subject: [new_distillers] Re: distilling brandy
                    To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
                    Date: Saturday, March 9, 2013, 10:57 AM

                     
                    LN,

                    I can suggest two books that will help you. They are:

                    Making Fine Spirits by our own Zymurgy Bob and Distilling Fruit Brandy by Josef Pischl. Both books are loaded with information. The former gives much more detail on actual distilling than does the latter.

                    Enjoy,

                    Tom

                    --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, Ellen Zachos <ez@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Hello everyone,
                    >
                    > I've been lurking for a while, learning what I can. I've just been given a copper alembic 5L still which I'd like to use to distill brandy. I've made wine for more than 10 years, from wild and domesticated fruits and vegetables, and I'd like to try distilling some of those wines into brandy.
                    >
                    > Most of the books I've looked at focus on making shine from various mashes, which isn't my goal right now. I'm looking for detailed instructions on how to distill brandy from wine. Any suggestions? I'm happy to buy a book if you think there's a good one. I have never distilled before...total newbie on this front.
                    >
                    > The recent posts about aging on oak have been helpful, and yes, I've looked through the archives. Still, I'd like some basic instructions on the process from start to finish.
                    >
                    > Thanks.
                    > LN
                    >

                  • Ellen Zachos
                    Thanks Tom, I just bought Making Fine Spirits and eagerly await its arrival. I had bought Distilling Fruit Brandy back in January but returned it. As you
                    Message 9 of 10 , Mar 10 11:13 AM
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                      Thanks Tom,

                      I just bought Making Fine Spirits and eagerly await its arrival.  I had bought Distilling Fruit Brandy back in January but returned it.  As you mentioned, there wasn't much actual distilling detail, so it wasn't the right book for me.  I think Bob's book will be the one to get me started.

                      LN

                      On Mar 9, 2013, at 10:57 AM, Tom wrote:

                       

                      LN,

                      I can suggest two books that will help you. They are:

                      Making Fine Spirits by our own Zymurgy Bob and Distilling Fruit Brandy by Josef Pischl. Both books are loaded with information. The former gives much more detail on actual distilling than does the latter.

                      Enjoy,

                      Tom

                      -

                    • J
                      Hubert germain-robin has recently released a book which provides some aspects of his distilling techniques he uses to make his world renowned brandy, but is
                      Message 10 of 10 , Mar 10 4:34 PM
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                        Hubert germain-robin has recently released a book which provides some aspects of his distilling techniques he uses to make his world renowned brandy, but is more of a journal type memoir than an instructional manual or book. 



                        On Mar 10, 2013, at 11:13 AM, Ellen Zachos <ez@...> wrote:

                         

                        Thanks Tom,


                        I just bought Making Fine Spirits and eagerly await its arrival.  I had bought Distilling Fruit Brandy back in January but returned it.  As you mentioned, there wasn't much actual distilling detail, so it wasn't the right book for me.  I think Bob's book will be the one to get me started.

                        LN

                        On Mar 9, 2013, at 10:57 AM, Tom wrote:

                         

                        LN,

                        I can suggest two books that will help you. They are:

                        Making Fine Spirits by our own Zymurgy Bob and Distilling Fruit Brandy by Josef Pischl. Both books are loaded with information. The former gives much more detail on actual distilling than does the latter.

                        Enjoy,

                        Tom

                        -

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