Distilling Advice

Other discussions for folks new to the wonderful craft of home distilling.

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Distilling Advice

Post by Tater » Wed Apr 23, 2008 3:59 pm

This has been posted on forum a few times before Uncle Jessie was last to post it.Fourway was first I saw post it back on old forum. but it so reverent I'm putting a sticky on it.--------------

I thought this info might be useful to you, It is one of the most important pieces of info that I have gotten from this site, It might sound weird at first, but I can tell you, I no longer use a hydrometer at all. Anyway, this was given to me when i first started this hobby...

"just go by what's coming out.
you smell it.
you put it in a spoon and burn it.
you drip it on a plate and burn it.
you taste it.
you rub it on your hands and smell it.
you rub it on your hands and feel it.
you put it in a little vial or bottle and shake it and look at the bubbles."

"as long as it lights easily in a spoon it's over 100 proof.
When it won't light in a spoon but will light on a plate it's under 100 proof but over 75 or so.
If it burns clear and blue and steady with a flame you can't see in sunlight it's very pure.
If it burns with a yellow "beard" it's got some fusils and impurities... the bigger the beard the more off it is."
"See how much liquid is left in the spoon after the burning stops."

"Taste your output, compare it to the taste of the liquid left in the spoon after burning.
Tasting isn't very accurate for strength (and it gets less and less accurate the more you do it) but it is the most accurate test of how your stuff actually tastes (imagine that)."

"Catch some of the output and rub it between and all over your hands.
Move your hands from arms length toward your face, see how close you have to get to smell it.
Feel how fast it evaporates.
Feel when you rub it between your hands whether it feels oily or slippery (like soap) or scrunchy. "

"Learn to recognize how those feelings correspond to smell and taste and to how it burns."

"Put an half an ounce to an ounce of your output in a small glass bottle or vial with a tight fitting cap and give it a vigorous shake.
Look at the bubbles that form briefly along the edge of the liquid in a string like beads. (READING THE BEAD)
bigger more uniform bubbles happen at higher proof and it will stop "beading" altogether as you start to drop below 100 proof. "

"Do all these things at regular intervals every time you run.
Pay attention to how these sensory tests correspond to one another at different points in the run."

"Don't expect to understand exactly what you are seeing and smelling and tasting and feeling the first several times you do it.
Remember that you are training your senses as much as you are learning an intellectual set of tests... the senses learn through consistency and repetition."

"Just keep doing it, consider it an integral part of your process even if at first you can't tell what good it's doing."

"It will all come together. There are people who can nail proof within two or three points by rubbing the liquor between their hands. The only thing they've got that you don't is experience... and if you don't do the tests whether you "get" them or not you'll never gain the experience. "

Once you senses are trained to tell proof, purity, etc... then this dilution calculator might help.
http://homedistiller.org/calcs/dilute" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

I hope this helps you out a bit.
I use a pot still.Sometimes with a thumper

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by trthskr4 » Fri May 02, 2008 2:16 pm

Tater, I notice that when it burns in the spoon that it starts off pure and blue, then it forms a ring of liquid around the outside of the spoon seperate from the center pool. When it forms this ring it begins to burn with a yellow tip, very small at first but as it burns all the way down the yellow "beard" at the tip of the flame gets larger and brighter. What should this tell me?

After the spoon cools, only took one try to remember to let the damn spoon cool, the leftover has a very very slight tails flavor and other wise drinkable. This is at 69% abv by hydrometer and 1/2 gallon into 5 gallon wash and 1 gallon tails run.
15 gallon pot still, 2"x18" column with liebeg condensor on propane.
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by wineo » Fri May 02, 2008 3:55 pm

Thats the best discription Ive ever heard Tater! As usual,You nailed it! :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Tater » Fri May 02, 2008 8:35 pm

trthskr4 wrote:Tater, I notice that when it burns in the spoon that it starts off pure and blue, then it forms a ring of liquid around the outside of the spoon seperate from the center pool. When it forms this ring it begins to burn with a yellow tip, very small at first but as it burns all the way down the yellow "beard" at the tip of the flame gets larger and brighter. What should this tell me?

After the spoon cools, only took one try to remember to let the damn spoon cool, the leftover has a very very slight tails flavor and other wise drinkable. This is at 69% abv by hydrometer and 1/2 gallon into 5 gallon wash and 1 gallon tails run.
Looks like you mostly answered your own question.Pure and blue is a good description of way high proof ethanol burns off as temp increases to make rest of burn off that is lower proof and not as clean
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by trthskr4 » Sat May 03, 2008 2:34 am

I had heard this before and tried it, I theorized the same and explained it to the missus that way. Thanks for reassuring me. Great post and I'm trying it. :D
15 gallon pot still, 2"x18" column with liebeg condensor on propane.
Modified Charles 803 w/ 50gal boiler, never ran so far.

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by lowflyingmule » Sun May 11, 2008 10:41 am

This is the best hands on tutorial that i have seen on this subject yet...nice.

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Fourway » Mon May 12, 2008 3:37 pm

Cool! I wonder who the original poster was. :)
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Tater » Mon May 12, 2008 6:05 pm

Fourway wrote:Cool! I wonder who the original poster was. :)
I was thinking it was you :wink:
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by blanikdog » Tue May 13, 2008 8:31 pm

tater wrote: ... "Put an half an ounce to an ounce of your output in a small glass bottle or vial with a tight fitting cap and give it a vigorous shake. Look at the bubbles that form briefly along the edge of the liquid in a string like beads. (READING THE BEAD)
bigger more uniform bubbles happen at higher proof and it will stop "beading" altogether as you start to drop below 100 proof. "

A great post, tater. I've been doing this since I first heard of it - I think it was goose who mentioned it - and it works. I only use a hydrometer to see how clever I am at judging the bead these days. :)

I feel vindicated after saying in the yahoo forum many, many months ago that one doesn't really need a hydrometer to check abv. I got myself into a lot of trouble from one or two contributors for saying such a thing. :lol: :lol:

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Uncle Jesse » Wed May 14, 2008 6:18 am

I believe the first person to post this was "banjopicker"
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Pikluk » Sun May 18, 2008 7:02 am

one of the good advise i got here"got so many :)", sorry can remember who it was, but its a good one.

DON'T BE GREEDY !!!

i run a reflux column on spirit run i put in 3gallons at about 50%, first and last liter go back in next batch.
even if i would trow those out would still be cheep booze,cheep quality booze :).

i use to be a dry gin fan because most of the vodka"those in acceptable price range" smell to me like rubbing alcohol.
now for a fraction of the price i make a nice non smelling rubbing alcohol vodka.the hell with gin :P

anyway just dont be greedy it doesnt pay.make your cut right or just like me go overkill till you get the hang of it.i still dont have the hang of it but vodka is easy when you have the right hardware.
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by stuartashers » Tue Oct 07, 2008 4:03 am

Now I'm soooooo glad I got the net I'm not alone! knowledge if only I had it years ago it would ov'e saved sooooooo much heart ache (money the curse of freedom(tax the curse of ""free man""!!!)) Now free at last except for tax noo escape from that unfortuneatley. A toast to us all for if it weren't for men like us man would not have evolved. Were the pioneers of man kind keeping the arts of old alive god bless us all.

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by please35 » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:58 am

Dear Tater

thank for teaching how to find the qulity of millet wishky.

I am novice I want to start millet wishky to produce.Pls help me how can I do.

is it wishkey or wine I dont know.Pls teach me.

regards.

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Tater » Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:26 am

please35 wrote:Dear Tater

thank for teaching how to find the qulity of millet wishky.

I am novice I want to start millet wishky to produce.Pls help me how can I do.

is it wishkey or wine I dont know.Pls teach me.

regards.
Best advice I could give ya is to start reading parent site and this one don't forget the sticky's.Take into account the advice giving by the experience of adviser and how long they have been distilling. :) And good luck to ya
I use a pot still.Sometimes with a thumper

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Glock19Fan » Thu Jun 11, 2009 1:52 pm

I have a question about the "beading" test.

In my experience, smoother, typically lower proof alcohols seem to have the larger, longer lasting beads, while the higher proof stuff seems to have more numerous, smaller beads that only last a couple of seconds.

Does anyone know why I get different results?

Like shaking everclear. You get lots of tiny bubbles that last for just a couple of seconds.

I always thought the larger bubbles came from water?
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Hack » Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:40 pm

I seem to get larger bubbles that stay longer when I include more tails in my hooch. How big the bubbles are and how long they stay is no indicator of proof.

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Tater » Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:22 am

Hack wrote:I seem to get larger bubbles that stay longer when I include more tails in my hooch. How big the bubbles are and how long they stay is no indicator of proof.
Works for me Only way i had to tell proof for long time was the bead.Worked for all the old timers I ever knew as well. .
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Hack » Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:05 pm

tater wrote:
Hack wrote:I seem to get larger bubbles that stay longer when I include more tails in my hooch. How big the bubbles are and how long they stay is no indicator of proof.
Works for me Only way i had to tell proof for long time was the bead.Worked for all the old timers I ever knew as well. .
For me, I read the bead by how much of the bubble is above the top and how much is below. So it's helpful if the bubbles are large and they stick around. Half above and half below seems to be pretty close to 100. I've had stuff where I made really tight heads and tails cuts where the bubbles didn't stick around at all, but the hydrometer indicated 140 proof. Now that I'm learning what I like, I'm leaving a bit more tails in when I make cuts which makes for bigger bubbles that stick around longer.

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by critical taster » Wed Nov 17, 2010 4:50 pm

Okay, I don't even have a still yet, and reading this "how to" nails it. This is why I wanted to get into this hobby. The chance that I can one day soon stand over a batch of my own "squeezins" and perform the artisan acts of quality and purity testing is very exciting.
Do I have to pay extra for that?

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by madmonk » Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:47 pm

Am still reading up on all aspects of distilling. Man, I'm gonna have to just go for it pretty soon, but there is just sooooo much good info on this site... Thank you all who have contributed your knowledge and experience.
An old-timer told me once that some less-than-scrupulous moonshiners would water down the likker some (more volume to sell to the city folks), then add lye, which would give it some bite and improve the bead. Anyone heard of this?

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by BrooklynTech » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:58 pm

I did my first run on my pot still. 3 gallion.
10 cans of frozen grape concentrate 100% juce
8 lbs white sugar
1 pack (quite a large pack) of turbo yeast from Canada

Did it in three batches

Did not have alcoholmeter when I started but have one now.

Average is about 55%, but they all burn easy w/an almost invisible blue flame.

Could my meter be off?

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by rad14701 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:27 am

BrooklynTech, that sure sounds like one expensive wash recipe... :shock:

You can find much cheaper recipes than using that much juice concentrate... :)

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by blanikdog » Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:32 pm

Haven't read this thread for a long time and when I read the post about Millet Whisky I actually began to salivate. Maybe I should be called Pavlovsdog. Best whisky I've ever made and it's all gone. Bugger, just in the middle of fruit pickin season too.
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by BrooklynTech » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:52 pm

rad14701 wrote:BrooklynTech, that sure sounds like one expensive wash recipe... :shock:

You can find much cheaper recipes than using that much juice concentrate... :)
Can't get much fruit here except from the market.

Will try to get some Mangos in a few months.

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by LWTCS » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:13 pm

BrooklynTech wrote:Will try to get some Mangos in a few months.
Good luck with that.

I'm hoping to run some mango from my mango wine makin friend this spring too.
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by OlympicMtDoo » Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:40 am

Great post Tater, Really hits home for me, I used to have a hot tub for years, and when I first got it I hade a great big tote full of test equptment and chemicals and all sorts of stuff. After using the thing everyday for about a year I learned that by smell, feel of the water, the sides of the tub and so on, that I needed NO test equipment at all to tell me what chemical or additive was needed, how much and when, even ph. I'm going to try this with my spirits. Thanks
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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by roddy104 » Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:52 am

cooling water to the still. is there a temperture spread or is there an ideal temperture?

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by rad14701 » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:05 pm

roddy104 wrote:cooling water to the still. is there a temperture spread or is there an ideal temperture?
Several lines of thinking on this...

First is the fact that you never want to shock cool the distillate vapor back into liquid... This can impart unwanted flavors that may not result from more gradual condensation back into liquid state...

Second is considering whether or not you are monitoring the %ABV of the spirits with a parrots beak during the distillation run... If you are then you want to maintain the temperature within the calibrated temperature of the alcometer in the parrot beak either by cooling the product to that calibrated temperature in the condenser or by cooling the parrots beak using a separate coolant control...

And some like having the product come out hot so as to have any remaining low alcohols dissipate on the way to, or from within, the collection jar... When using a parrots beak this is only possible if using one that is liquid cooled and the amount of time the low alcohols have to dissipate is dependent upon the amount of time the distillate is open to the atmosphere prior to reaching the parrots beak...

Hope that all makes sense... :crazy:

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by FloridaShine » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:50 pm

Tater!
and everyone else on this forum, I am new to this. I primarily want to make good tasting moonshine.( using Producers Pride all grain for my first ferment! making just 5 gal to test and learn.
I started building a 2 inch Boka Reflux Design Still. Will this work for moonshine? Or are you removing flavors!
I made my reflux so I can use it without the 48 inch column to run as a pot still.
What would you recommend, I want to learn how this reflux works, and from reading its toward making vodka's?
Appreciate Y'all's advise!
Also is there any books, Videos, that detail using the reflux still?

Thanks a bunch!

Dennis

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Re: Distilling Advice

Post by Copper Thumper » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:42 pm

good thread tater...

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