tequila / agave heart, the real deal.

Putting older posts here. Going to try to keep the novice forum pruned about 90 days work. The 'good' old stuff is going to be put into appropriate forums.

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barrelcreator
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tequila / agave heart, the real deal.

Post by barrelcreator » Wed Mar 19, 2008 8:56 am

A while ago I added to Pervy sages, thread titled "Tequila ? wish me luck - Started My First Agave Wash". Out of respect I am starting a new thread on tequila to document the actual process with Blue Agave hearts. I posted the info in the recipe development thread but there seems to be no interest or responses so Admin of that thread feel free to remove it if needed.

Okay here we go.
(I have many pic, I will post them once I can find my camera cord.)

PLEASE Don't ask how :cry: but I got my hands on a 81 pound roasted blue agave heart!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock: It took hours to process down to shreaded fibers but when I was done I ended up running it through my wine press and got an even 4 1/4 gallons of juice at approx 38 brix!!! I cut it down to 26 brix with an additional 1 3/4 deminralized water. 6 gallons total wash. I added one bag of distillers yeast at 80 degrees and after 24 hours have an amazing fermentation going. I have never seen turbo distillers yeast bubble, boil and foam up like this. I am hoping to get approx. 12 to 14 percent alcohol after fermenting.

I have to say the fibers taste and smell very very similar to yams or sweet potatos. The color and intensity of the juices flavor is unbelievable. In fact I am doing a batch of blue agave nectar right next to it so I can compare and post the real difference between the two. As of right now there is no comparison.

I plan on running it through my 3 foot 2" column, 3" condersor coil style offset head reflux still. I am going to remove the packing and insert a very small amount of copper scrubbing. One or two pulled apart pretty good.

I have never detuned my reflux still and hope the approach I am going to do it the right way to detune a reflux still to mimic a pot still as much as possible. If not or if anyone has suggestions, PLEASE send advise. In that respect, send any advise!!! I don't want to mess this one up. Thanks and I post progress and pics. :lol:

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Post by Jetzon » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:37 am

I'm a Huge Tequila fan barrelcreator!

I wouldn't even know where to begin making Tequila. I'm just getting my feet wet with Whiskey and Brandy making.
I guarantee I'll be reading your post and would really like to see a few pictures when you find that cord. Been there done that :roll:


Good luck with it!

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Post by barrelcreator » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:44 am

Thanks for the interest. This is my first run at Tequila so we will all learn togehter. Everyone, Please feel free to send advise, Im somewhat new at distilling so any info will help us all if its documented and it makes the end batch better. The pics are great, Ill look for the cord today. The thing im most concrened about at this point is the proper way to detune a reflux still to mimic a pot still. Thats the next step and I need advise. Thanks in advance.

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Post by punkin » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:33 am

How come you chose turbo yeast as the best yeast for this project?
Was it a nutrient thing?

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Post by junkyard dawg » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:51 am

can't wait to see some pics. This project is on my horizon, but getting a heart is a challenge. Best luck to ya!

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Post by Jetzon » Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:40 am

Your right Punkin He did use Turbo yeast. I misread that. I thought he said it was fermenting like a turbo. Like bubbling away. I still have two packs of Turbo 24 Pure. I thought about using a spoon full with my super distillers yeast. Basically just to get rid of it. Its a pretty good size pack 7.5oz- 205g
Either that or just toss it in the trash...

Keep the post coming barrelcreator Curious minds wanna know

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Post by barrelcreator » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:41 pm

Turbo yeast cause I had it and didnt want to risk a stuck fermentation. Now that I THINK ABOUT IT, IT MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN THE BEST DECISION???

Most of the threads out there suggest wine yeast in general like lalvin ec1118 as an example are not recommended for tequila production. (See Tater, I do read). But they don't suggest anything other than the cloned wild version. I used the distillers turbo yeast cause I couldnt find a recommendation and wanted to use something that would guarantee the wash not getting stuck seeing I don't have a clear understanding of the chemical composition of agave juice yet and how different yeast will react to it. It was hard enough the get the blue agave hearts, let alone trying to find someone to sell me the right yeast. :cry:

I have red star yeast and because I make 200 gallons of wine a year, believe me there is plenty of DAP and nutrients laying around. Hopefully the distiller yeast doesent affect the flavor. The distilleries farm a natural strain from the agave plant leaves. (cloned version of whats naturally on the plant leaves, same as wine yeasts origin).

The big test here is to see the difference between the agave nectar batch and the actual hearts batch. It will really give everyone a clear idea of if spending a hundred dollars on nectar is really worth it or not.

Man im just thinking back at crushing it down. It was sooo sticky, and sweet. The flavor of yams and sweet potatoes were mimics almost exactly in the juice and fibers. I will be experimenting with fermenting a mixture of yams and sweet potatoes in the future to see how close I can get the flavor to either the actual tequila or the nectar batch. My big point here is that if the nectar ends up somewhat close but not really the same as the real thing and the yams are very close to the nectar, you can do yams and sweet potatoes if you want to get close to the real thing and not have to spend hundreds to get close to the real thing.

Or I could be crazy and waisting my time. Oh well, you never know until you try right... By for now, all the pics promised by tonight...

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Post by Dnderhead » Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:55 pm

part of the taste comes from yeast so that was a big mistake should
try to mach as close as possible to what they use

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Post by Tater » Wed Mar 19, 2008 2:48 pm

If your not happy using the turbo and are not to far into fermentations .I would think you could all ways heat wash up high enough to kill yeast and use it for food to feed another yeast.When I cant decide on what yeast should be best I fall back to bakers yeast.Id bet if natural wild yeast isn't handy the Mexicans moonshiners fall back on it same as shiners here did. :wink:
I use a pot still.Sometimes with a thumper

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Post by barrelcreator » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:01 pm

DAM. I had plenty of the red star bakers yest on hand too. Its hard to get in New Zealand but I have some. Bummer. Do you guys really think it will affect the flavor that much. Well, first mistake. Good thing is the next guy that trys this wont make the mistake if he reads the thread!!! :)))

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Post by barrelcreator » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:13 pm

As promised, pics of the process

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2110/234 ... 51b2_m.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3234/234 ... e490_m.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3150/234 ... f26c_m.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2081/234 ... 1688_m.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3133/234 ... de66_m.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3001/234 ... 1669_m.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2022/234 ... c92d_m.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3209/234 ... f3f0_m.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3145/234 ... 8fbb_m.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

Let me know if you can't see them. Im using a friends account and am not familiar with the picture site or how it works. Thanks.

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Post by Jetzon » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:29 pm

pictures work fine barrelcreator... I wouldn't even know where to start making that :lol: Is that the Agave in the trash can shredded up? And the last pictures I would say is the Agave the way you got it?
Nice press there too, I like the little chair that goes with it lol!

Cool pics BC

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Post by BW Redneck » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:36 pm

We can see them all right, they're a little small, so we can't read your hydrometer readings (I can't even read my own when it's ten inches in front of me! :lol: :roll:), but they are just fine the way they are.

Looks almost like a molasses wash to me, it's so dark.
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Post by barrelcreator » Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:10 pm

Yeah the pics arent in series. The hyrometer was at 37 brix before I cut it down to 24 and fermented. The press holds about 100 pounds. I use it for winemaking in fact was a little upset is was going to get strained brown and not the usual red. LOL. Lots of fun Ill keep eveyone posted on the fermentation process. Ive got a rum batch going next to it and the avage is actually darker and the flavor is more intense. The agave nectar batch going next to that one at this stage doesent even come close to comparing to the actual agave heart batch, not even close but we'll see how the end flavor compares.

P.S. The stool is my old brake changing stool that now gets time when Im spending hours crushing grapes or not agave hearts. thanks.

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Post by barrelcreator » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:47 pm

Okay guys the fermentation is going great. With it coming to an end in the next two days I have read probably 20 threads about detuning a reflux still. I have never done this with mine and it seems the more I read the more confused I am about the different methods everyone swears by.

I really need some help here guys, I don't want to ruin this batch by not understanding exactly the best way for me to detune my reflux still. (3 fott 2" column with a 12" long 3" wide condensor coil. Offset head style with an extra valve to shut of reflux if needed.) So I am torn between two methods please offer any advise if possible.

Option one: Remove all the packing and run it wide open. Control the temp by the propane valve and monitor the temp very closely the whole run.

Option two: remove 90% of the packing (leave just a bit) and run the still like I would normally but just let it equilize at a lower ratio and pull off as much as I can with a minimum amount of reflux ratio, say 10% or so.

Im wurried that if I do option one I wont be able to stabilize the temp like it would automaticly do in the reflux mode. On the other hand Im wurried that if I use any reflux ratio I will be above 86% and loose the flavor. The still likes to run at 92 to 95% AT 50% reflux ratio. If the still is just to efficient to get below 86% if I reflux at all then I get no flavor.

Which one guys... Thanks.

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Post by CoopsOz » Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:12 pm

This is what I would do, remove the packing and open the valve all the way. You are gonna get some inherent reflux from the column anyway. You don't equalise a pot still like you do a column, get the wash up to temp and then cut the propane right back, just enough heat to keep it going. Your temps will gradually rise, I for one don't touch my power until I'm in the tails. The distillate will start to flow in a stream, back off the power until it is about 2mm. Don't be concerned with the temps, they are completely different than what you are used to. I wish you luck.
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Post by barrelcreator » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:10 am

Thanks for the advise. Thats what I will do. Could I ask you to elaborate a bit on the comment

"Don't be concerned with the temps, they are completely different than what you are used to."

So start drawing off above 174 degrees, dump first 150ml, and run it until what temp. If not can you please maybe just give me some perameters and I will know what to do. Thanks.

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Post by CoopsOz » Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:46 pm

No, don't rely on a temp to start drawing. Running a pot still is not as complex as a neutral rig. Just fire up the still and collect in small batches, 10 or more jars is not uncommon. I use an eprouvette (sp?) and collect between 67% and 53% approx, but this is for UJSM and for my setup. It is impossible for me to give you figures as I've never ran agave nor have I ever run your still. There is a chart on the parent site which has the temp vs % but it needs to be tweaked for ones personal setup.

Image

Just run it slow and you should be right.
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Post by spiritsofcatemaco » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:12 pm

So start drawing off above 174 degree....,
If you run a pot still at this temp you can't expect any ethanol, only in a reflux column you will get the alcohol out a 174-175. Study the graph in the post above and once you understand it, it will help you tremendously to understand the process of distilling.

As CoopsOzz says, it depends on your still but it depends also on the ABV of your wash. You will get out the alcohol corresponding to the ABV in the wash and to what happens inside your still, respectively how much reflux occurs inside you still. If it is a pot still, probably the dripping starts somewhere between 188 and 190 with a ABV of around 13% in the wash. If the wash has a higher ABV the temp will be lower, but if ABV is lover the temp will be even higher when dripping starts.

During a 2nd run (spirit run) ABV in the still will be much higher, maybe 40%, the dripping will start at a lower temp and the product will drip out much more concentrated.

I took notes on my last run, nearly in a compulsive way: every 10 minutes temp at the still head, volume of product that came off the still, ABV, and taste/odor ore other characteristics of each batch. I'v got over 30 data points. I then draw them up on a graph in a spreadsheet and 'till then understood how the biz is going. It's not so complicated as it sounds but it helped me to understand and I got now a much clearer picture in mind. So I suggest you and all other novice to take at least once the time and do it like a scientific to understand the basics. Probably all that would not be necessary if we would have a master distiller by the side who walks us through the process several times. At least I can't count on one and had to do it by my own.

Anyway. I would like to taste that tequila and I'm sure you will get a superb product out it. If you mess up the first time don't hesitate to redistill everything together with the tails.

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Post by barrelcreator » Sat Mar 22, 2008 2:13 pm

Once again thanks for all the advise. I read all the rest of the pot still info on the master page and felt good enough to do a run on the avage nectar batch (not the agave heart batch). If you remember in the thread, I was doing them at the same time to see how they compare against each other and see if the nectar was worth the money. Although I have my suspisions, I will save my opinion until the agave hearts batch is done and I can compare them next to each other.

Heres what I did.

Removed all the packing, closed the reflux valve completely and fired the beast up. At 175 or so I started getting drops. I let that go until the temp raised to 180. (150ml). Then I started collecting at a steady stream. At 188 degrees the alcohol percentage was 78, a while later at 190 it dropped to approx 72, at 194 it was running off at 68 to 70 percent. I know im getting some flavor at that percentage but would like to run it lower for more flavor.

All is good but my only question is, won't I start picking up bad flavors at approx 194? If this is true, a can't run my reflux still completely detuned with no reflux rate and get anything lower than 70 percent.

I would run the temp higher but through reading threads, I got the impression that after 194 the flavors start to go bad. I would love to collect at between 65 percent on the high end and 50 percent on the low end but unless my concern of temp going over 194 is false, I dont see that I can because this means I would probably be up in the 200+ degree range with my still to achieve 65 to 50 percent. Anyone??? Thanks.

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Post by barrelcreator » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:24 am

Was hoping that someone could respond to my above concern. I am waiting on a response before trying the next run. Thanks.

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Post by Old_Blue » Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:53 am

All is good but my only question is, won't I start picking up bad flavors at approx 194? If this is true, a can't run my reflux still completely detuned with no reflux rate and get anything lower than 70 percent.

I would run the temp higher but through reading threads, I got the impression that after 194 the flavors start to go bad. I would love to collect at between 65 percent on the high end and 50 percent on the low end but unless my concern of temp going over 194 is false, I dont see that I can because this means I would probably be up in the 200+ degree range with my still to achieve 65 to 50 percent. Anyone??? Thanks.
BC, Those questions are kind of suggestive because even though there is science behind temps, abv, and volume, only your nose and taste buds can tell you when you have it right for you. Will you start picking up bad flavors at 194? I don't know...your bad flavors or mine? Do as PintO, wineo, and others have suggested, collect in small amounts and taste/smell as you go. Its a proven method and you'll find you own balance.
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Re: tequila / agave heart, the real deal.

Post by Pervy Sage » Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:01 am

I'm sooo jealous - I'd be happy just to get your discarded fibers - hahahhaa.

So how did it come out?

I read they try to ferment on the fiber, and run the first distillation hotter than the second...can't find the link but seem to remember 215 F and 195 F (temp in the boiler, not at the head).

My nectar spirits got f'd up by leaving just a few chips of toasted oak in for three days (i think it was 9grams to three liters)...but i was real carefull to discard the heads and tails, and after it aged for two months the flavor profile changed quite a bit. I'm about to do it again, sorry I didn't stop by sooner...
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Re: tequila / agave heart, the real deal.

Post by Pervy Sage » Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:16 am

found the info I remembered...http://ianchadwick.com/tequila/distillation.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow ....written by Ian Chadwick:

The first distillation takes 1.5-2 hours at around 195-205F (95-96C). It takes the must at 4-5% alcohol and turns it into a product of around 25%, a five-to-one increase. The alcohol boils off leaving most of the water and solids behind.

The first product, called the ordinario (or sometimes called tequila primero, this was originally known as vino ordinario), and is about 25% alcohol, although it may be as low as 20%.

Alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water - 78.32C (173F) when it's pure. But when in a mixture like a wort, water and ethanol form an azetropic mixture - a constant-boiling mixture. In simple terms this means the alcohol cannot be completely separated from the water. Somewhere around 95% pure, the mere act of boiling won't remove any more water. And when mixed with water, the alcohol's boiling point increases to about 88-90C (190.4 - 194F).

To make things more complicated, boiling points drop with altitude. so the temperature of the stills has to be set according to the local elevation. The temperature of the stills will also be set by the producer according to the amount of alcohol in the fermented must.

At El Tapatio (La Alteña), some of the fibre from the tahona pit remains in the must during the first fermentation, and must be cleaned out of the still between batches. Carlos Camarena, the owner, believes that leaving the fibre with the juice for as long as possible enhances the final product's flavour and aroma.

The second distillation takes 3-4 hours. When completed, the result has about 55% alcohol and is called 'tequila' (originally vino refino, or refined liquor). At Herradura, the first distillation is generated by heating the must to 90C. Their second distillation is done at 95-100C.

The heated alcohol is passed through a condenser to cool the vapours. The condenser has coils filled with water which carry away the heat. Sometimes the warm water is used to heat other areas of the plant before it is returned to the condenser. In the 19th century these condensers were sometimes encased in a shell of cement and rock to help draw the heat off.

During the distillation process, the first portion of the distillate (the head) to come out of the condenser is drained off. This contains the lighter methyl alcohol - unwanted and toxic, it arrives first because it has a lower boiling point (64.8C or 148.6F). The head also contains other unwanted components like aldehydes, so this portion is discarded. The end portion (the tail, or colos) contains heavier elements and water, so it is also discarded.

The desired portion is the middle section, el corazon, the heart, which is the best part and saved for the second distillation. This portion is called the 'ordinario' in the first distillation, and tequila in the second.

The heads and tails of the first distillation contain usable alcohol and organoleptic compounds that can contribute to the body and flavour of the tequila, so these are often re-distilled once afterwards to capture any extra tequila and make he result more robust. In some distilleries, they may also be discarded.

The results of the second distillation begin at a much higher alcohol content - 75-80%. The initial portion (the head) is discarded as it is in the first, and as the distillation continues, the alcohol content of the tequila slowly drops as more and more of the water and other compounds are boiled off. Towards the end, the alcohol content coming from the still is 15-20%, and in the tequila the percentage has dropped to around 55%. The tequila is removed and the remaining product is the tail - which is discarded.

The middle portion of the second distillation is raw tequila.

Most producers take the tequila away when it is at about 55-60% alcohol (110-120 proof), and dilute it with de-mineralized water to the desired proof (38-40% or 78-80 proof). Some producers will distill to even higher: up to 75° GL (GL or Gay-Lussac is equal to 1% of alcohol at 68°F/20°C). Manuel Payno's description of 1864 says the tequila was distilled twice, ending up with a product of 46% alcohol.

Many distiller will leave it at a higher alcohol level if it is to be aged in barrels, to allow for some evaporation during aging. However, at La Alteña (El Tapatio and El Tesoro), distillation continues until the tequila is about 40% alcohol. This means more of the agave-saturated water and more organoleptic compounds are in the tequila. Carlos Camarena does not dilute his raw tequila with water. This gives it more body and a silky texture. La Alteña is the only distillery to use this practice.

Since barrels lose alcohol during aging, however, La Alteña distills some tequila to 100 proof twice a year, to add to the barrels to restore the weaker tequilas to their original proof.

All tequila is clear right after distillation. Any colour comes later, from aging in wooden barrels (barricas) or from additives like caramel (in mixto only) or wood essence. Before bottling, most tequila is filtered through activated carbon or cellulose filters.

The heads and tails from the second distillation are generally discarded without re-distillation.

The residue (or dregs: vinazas) in the stills from the distillation is also discarded.

Column stills (or Coffey stills, named after its early-19th century inventor, Aeneas Coffey) stills are more efficient, but are not often seen in the tequila trade. They can do the full distillation in one pass, not requiring a second distillation - it is a continuous process. The only column still I have seen is at Tequileña, the producers of Asombroso Tequila. However, because the CRT requires all producers to distill twice, those producers with column stills continue to use an alembic still for first distillation because they have no other way to prove a second distillation was done in the column still.

All tequila must be double-distilled by law, but some companies have gone even further to triple-distillation for some of their brands - such as Cofradia's Casa Noble Crystal. Triple distillation seems to have started with Porfidio, but has not caught on as a trend with many distillers. Some tequila aficionados say triple distillation reduces the agave flavour too much, but it isn't evident with the Casa Noble.

Also, newcomer Corzo promises triple distillation according to avenuevine.com:

Additionally, Corzo Añejo’s aging process is longer than that of some super-premium competitors. The spirit is distilled twice, put into small white oak barrels for two to four months and then taken out and distilled a third time. Finally, the Tequila is put back into white oak barrels and aged again, this time for more than a year.

However, Bob Denton, tequila expert, seriously challenges claims of triple distillation, and writes, "You cannot go to a any distillery and watch a third distillation being done. Not a single one. Nobody using pot stills does a triple distillation. However, many distilleries who make tequila for export ("private" label) will put nearly anything you want on the label and the CRT doesn't care one iota. The part nobody seems to grasp is that a third distillation is enough to take most, if not all, of the agave flavor out of it. What makes a vodka easy to drink? No flavor. How is that done? Extra distillation."

Mezcal was traditionally single-distilled, since the introduction of the NORMA for mezcal, all commercial mezcals are double-distilled as well, and a very few are offering triple distillation. Backyard producers may only distill once.

The economics of tequila are interesting. Guillermo Sauza, of Los Abuelos, has said of 30,000 litres of liquid produced from the ovens, there are only 10,000 left after the first distillation, and 2,500 after the second. So there is less than one tenth the volume at the end.

Slow distillation (alquitara) is another traditional, premium process, but not often practiced these days. It means heating the must at slightly lower temperatures. Herradura's distillation is done this way.

Laboratories are now required at every distillery, and technicians or scientists check each batch, measuring and recording the scientific fingerprint of each tequila. Sugar and alcohol content are recorded and, along with other chemical data, this information is given to the CRT to assess.
Sweet As'

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Re:

Post by violentblue » Thu Aug 28, 2008 11:18 am

Image Image Image
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I hate chasing links

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Re: tequila / agave heart, the real deal.

Post by Roverlander » Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:27 pm

Dredging this one up from the past. Doing a similar experiment,wondering how this turned out? What ABV did the wash end up at starting at 26 Brix? Did the ferment stall at all?

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