HD Glossary

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HD Glossary

Postby Bushman » Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:23 pm

Glossary of Distilling Terms

ABV Alcohol by Volume, often expressed as a percentage. Example 40% abv.

Activated Carbon A micro porous substrate used to filter impurities out of alcohol. Commonly used where fermenting with turbo yeast,due to the high proportion of impurities generated also when you need a very clean Vodka. Activated carbon made from coconut shells is a particularly good carbon to use.

Aeration To supply with air or expose to the circulation of air.

Aerobic With presence of oxygen.

Agitator An apparatus for stirring liquid.

Airlock A device which permits CO2 to Escape and prevents air from contaminating your fermentation.

Alcohol A member of a class of organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

Alcometer Or alcoholmeter is an instrument used to find the ethanol percentage in a strictly binary ethanol-water solution. Sometimes referred to as a "Proof and Traille".

Aldehyde A volatile impurity found in the fore shots.

Amino Acids One of the nutrients required for yeast growth, amino acids are used to make up proteins.

Amylase An enzyme added during a mash which breaks down starch into fermentable sugars, refers to both Alpha amylase, which, simply put, cuts large starch molecules into smaller molecules and Beta Amylase, which cuts the smaller molecules into fermentable sugars.

Anaerobic without presence of oxygen.

Anneal Annealing means to remove any stresses and return a material to a soft and workable state by heating the metal.

Attenuation Is the percentage that measures the conversion of sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide by the fermentation process.

Azeotrope Liquid mixture of two or more components which has a unique constant boiling point. Maximum azeotrope for alcohol is 192 degrees proof. Azeotropes occur when fraction of the liquids cannot be altered by distillation.

Backins Weak whiskey produced at the end of a double run or at the end of a run through a thumper.

Backset The liquid left in the still after distillation has completed. Essentially a weak, acidic beer which has been boiled for a number of hours. Used in the creation of sour mash whiskey.

Barm The foam, or scum formed on the top of liquor (i.e. fermented alcoholic beverages such as beer or wine, or feedstock for hard liquor or industrial ethanol distillation) when fermenting.

Barrel Whiskey Barrels usually made from white oak.

Barrel Proof See Cask Strengh.

Bead A rough way of proofing of spirits. Shaking the jar and watching the 'bubbles' or 'beads', to determine ABV. The duration, size, and speed will tell the ABV of a spirit to an experienced distiller that can read them.

Beano Is an enzyme-based dietary supplement that is used to reduce gas and break down the starches.

Beer Stripping a crude primary distillation of fermented wash. See stripping.

Beta Glucan Carbohydrate found in the cell wall of grains, can present problems in mashing makes the mash thick and sticky if not properly broken down.

Beta Glucanase Enzyme generated during grain germination that breaks down beta glucan.

BIAB Stands for Brew in a Bag.

Birdwatchers See TPW. Birdwatchers Recipe

Blackpot A submarine still in which the mash is allowed to ferment directly in the still rather than in barrels or boxes.

Blending The art of putting together the different portions of the cuts, or different aged spirits, to achieve the best final product as possible.

Boka Short for Bokakob (sometimes incorrectly referred to as ‘Bokabob’) A type of reflux column,

BOP A "Big Ol' Pot", usually used in mashing production; for large boils.

Botanicals Fruits and herbs used for flavouring gin, including juniper berries as a main component. These can be used either: by soaking the botanicals in neutral and redistilling, Or by placing the botanicals in the vapour stream of the still so that flavours are extracted.

BP Boiling Point

Brix Scale a scale for calibrating hydrometers used for measuring the concentration and density of sugar solutions at a given temperature. A close but not exact formula for converting from Brix to SG is SG=1+(0.004 X Brix)

Bubbler Australian slang for a hobby scale plated column reflux still, a smaller, scaled down version of a traditional commercial style still. Also called a “Flute".

Bubble Caps Used in a column and sit over vapor pipes. Caps provide contact between the rising vapors and descending enriching the vapors. See Picture

Cap The foamy Krausen that forms on the top of a fermenting liquid. A second definition is the removable top of a still. Caps are named by their shapes.

Carbohydrate Hydrocarbon chains of varying lengths, includes simple fermentable sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose), simple unfermentable sugars (maltose), as well as longer chains such as starches.

Cask A container that is shaped like a barrel and is used for holding liquids.

Cask Strength A term used in making alcohol to describe the level of alcohol-by-volume (abv) strength that is used for storage in a cask for maturation – typically in the range of 60–65% abv. Also referred to as barrel proof.

Cavitation The rapid formation and collapse of vapor pockets in a flowing liquid in regions of very low pressure, happens in a dephlegmator when water volume or flow is incorrect.

CCVM Condenser controlled vapor management still. Diagrams of a CCVM

Channeling Is the unequal wetting of the packing in the tower. If channeling occurs, poor mass transfer happens, and therefore, less efficiency of the tower.

Charge The volume of alcoholic beverage wash, or low wines going to the still.

Charring Burning the surface of oak staves and dominoes or inside of casks, by setting on fire, used to develop flavour to be imparted to spirit. There are various degrees to charring.

CM Cooling Management reflux still.

Condenser An apparatus in which hot vapors are cooled and condensed into liquids. Different types of condensers

Congeners Impurities. These minor chemicals give liquor (spirits) distinctive character and flavors. Found in both heads and tails. Maybe considered desireable or undesirable depending on quantity and type.

Conversion The enzymatic transformation of starches into various fermentable and non fermentable sugars that occurs during the mashing process.

Cuts The process of separating different types of alcohol through the foreshots, heads, hearts and tails cuts made during the final distillation run. KiwiStiller Guide to Cuts

DADY Distillers Active Dry Yeast

DAP Diammonium Phosphate


De-gas Term for relieving gas by stirring finish wash, before settlement stage and racking.

Density Meter Portable device that measures specific gravity thus allowing the distiller to make precise cuts.

Dephlegmator A pre-condenser at the top of the column that sends distillate back toward the pot. This process increases the reflux and the purity of the spirit.

Dextrose Basic sugar also known as corn sugar.

Distillation The process of boiling and condensing a mixture of volatile liquids that changes the relative concentrations of those liquids in the output.

Distilling 1.5 Process for doing multiple runs; First run is a stripping run, second run you add the low wines in, top up with fresh wash and do a finishing run.

Diastatic Power Is an indicator of the amount of enzymes available to convert malted grains to sugars.

DME Dried malt extract. When dissolved in water and fermented can be distilled.

Double Distilling A process where the distillate is distilled twice first to remove alcohol and second distillation is to make cuts separating heads, hearts, and tails.

Downcomer A pipe or tube for conducting fluid material downward usually conveying liquid from one tray to the one below in a bubble tray column.

Dropping the Bead Also called “cutting” or “proofing,” the process of lowering the strength of liquor by mixing it with weaker alcohol or water.

'Dry' ferment or wash Term indicating completed fermentation of 1.00 or less specific gravity (SG).

Dunder Any waste from processing sugar cane or sugar cane product left from the boiling after distilling rum.The stillage from a rum distillation, commonly poured back into a new wash to add flavour characteristics. Can also be stored and allowed to support the growth of a mixture of bacteria, providing a richer flavour to the rum.

DWWG Death Wish Wheat Germ recipe. Death Wish Recipe

Entrainment The upward transportation of liquid droplets by vapour in a plated reflux column. This is caused where vapour travels too quickly up the column.

Enzymes Proteins that assist conversion of starches into sugars that will ferment.

Esters Fermented by products made by yeast action that contributes fruity characteristics, aroma, and flavor to the wash.

Ethanol Otherwise known as ethyl alcohol. A clear colorless, flammable oxygenated hydrocarbon with a boiling point of 78.5 C. Drinking alcohol.

False Bottom In a mash tun the false bottom is slotted copper pipe, the slots of which allow wash to drain while holding back the grain, while the false bottom in a brew kettle is a perforated plate or bazooka screen.

Feints Often used to refer to a mixture of heads and tails to be recycled into a following run. Some feel feints refer to tails only but not always defined as such on the various forums.

Fermentation A change that takes place when yeast converts the sugar to alcohol.

Ferrule A metal ring or cap placed on the end of a column to secure it. Ferrules are also welded to boilers to add columns, electrical elements, drains, etc. See Picture.

FG Final Gravity The density of the wash after fermentation. Knowing the original and final gravity of a wash allows you to determine the percentage of alcohol of the wash.

Flake Stand The container filled with water in which the condenser is cooled.


Flocculation The clumping and settling of yeast out of solution, forming a cake-like substance in the bottom of the fermenter.

Flute Scaled down commercial type plated still.

Foreshots A small amount of low boiling distillate containing acetone, methanol, and aldehyde volatiles.

Fractional Still Has a vertical column still using plates, bubble caps or packing. The process separates spirits into different volatility.

Fusel Oil A bitter oil found in tails. A liquid composed of amyl and isobutyl alcohols.

Graham Condenser A condenser that has the coolant-jacketed spiral coil running the length of the condenser.

Grain Bill Mash ingredients, mash bill, or grain bill are the grains and their ratio used in brewing from which a wort can be obtained for fermenting into alcohol.

Grist Grain that has been separated from its chaff in preparation for grinding. It can also mean grain that has been ground at a grist mill.

Heads Spirits from the beginning of the run that contain a high percentage of low boiling alcohols and other compounds such as aldehydes and ethyl acetate.

Hearts The desirable middle alcohols from your run.

HETP Height Equivalent of a Theoretical Plate. HETP Calculator

Hydrometer Sometimes referred to as an SG meter is an instrument that measures the weight or gravity of a liquid in relation to the weight of water. Cannot be used to measure alcohol already in a mixture. Sometimes referred to as wine or triple scale hydrometer for measuring sugar content in washes. How to read hydrometer

HERMS Heat Exchanged Recirculating Mash System.

Infusion Involves immersing nuts, spices, herbs, or fruit during the distillation process and leaving to soak until desired flavor has been drawn out. Gin or Vapor basket serves the same purpose but instead of immersing the botanicals in liquid they are infused by the vapors passing through.

Inverted sugar Is created by combining a sugar syrup with a small amount of acid (such as cream of tartar or lemon juice) and heating. This inverts, or breaks down, the sucrose into its two components, glucose and fructose, thereby reducing the size of the sugar crystals.

Lees What is left in your fermenter after the liquid is siphoned into the still usually contains spent nutrients and barm.

Liebig A straight-tube jacketed condenser at the product end of a still.

LM Liquid Management reflux still.

Low Wines The spirits collected from a stripping run.

Lyne Arm In a pot still the tubing from the pot’s head to the condenser.

Maceration Is the same process as infusion but the botanicals are broken up, sliced, diced to expose larger surface areas.

Mash A mixture of ground malted grains and hot water.

Malting The process used to prepare grains [commonly barley and wheat] into a form where fermentable sugars can be produced (by mashing). Malting grain breaks down the protein-starch matrix in grain, allowing the starch to be accessed by enzymes to convert it to fermentable sugars. Malting also produces the enzymes needed for this conversion. Malting involves 3 main steps: Germination, Kilning and Gristing.

Malt Sprouted Dried grains. Malted grains contain enzymes that convert starches into fermentable sugars.

Mash Tun A double-jacketed tank with a false bottom in which hot water and grains are mixed.

Modular Still A design approach that subdivides a system into smaller parts called modules or skids, that can be independently created and then used in different systems.

Must A fermentable liquid that uses the sugars from fruit.

Neutral See NGS.

NGS Neutral Grain Spirits 190 + proof alcohol.

Oaking Aging your liquor in oak barrels, chips or sticks.

OG Original Gravity The density of the wash before fermentation.

Packing Material used in a still’s column to increase the surface area and thus the reflux and quality of the alcohol.

Parrot A device resembling a bird that attaches to the still or is at the point of collection that floats the alcoholometer (alcometer, proof and Traille hydrometer).

PC Short for Product Condenser

Perforated or sieve plates vapour passes up through small holes.

pH A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The pH scale used ranges from 0-14.

Pitch The process of adding yeast to the wash.

Pitch Temperature The temperature you chill your wort usually several degrees below the intended fermentation temp to limit unwanted ester production.

Plates Sometime referred to as trays are located horizontally at intervals in a column, often contain bubble caps or perferations that enrich the reflux.

Pomace The dry or pulpy residue of material from which a liquid (as juice or oil) has been pressed or extracted.

Pooling An accumulation of standing liquid. Pooling usually occurs when a lighter vapor is condensed to liquid and drops back down onto plates during reflux distillation.

Pot Still A simple batch distillation unit used for the production of heavily flavored distillates for beverage use. It consists of a boiler and an overhead-vapor pipe leading to a condenser. Usually chosen for stripping runs and the making of whiskey and rum.

Proof A measurement of alcohol 100 proof is equal to 50% abv.

Puke The boiling over of a still.

Punching down the Cap The "cap" is the solid mass that float to the top of the fermenting vessel during fermentation (usually the pomace). "Punching down" simply describes the process of breaking up the cap and pushing it back down into the fermenter so that the cap stays moist during fermentation.

Racking Syphoning from one container to another making sure to leave the sediments in the bottom of the first container.

Rakia A term for fruit brandy popular in the Balkans. The alcohol content of rakia is normally 40% ABV, but home-produced rakia can be stronger.

Raschig Rings Pieces of ceramic tubing, approximately equal in length and diameter, used in large numbers as packing in a column. See Picture

RC Short for Reflux Condenser.

Reflux Formed when vapors condense and re-vaporize in the column of a still.

Refractometer A refractometer is used to measure the density of a solution. Usually measures in Brix but some refractometers will read both Brix and Specific Gravity.

Rummager A mechanism that stirs up the liquid in the still to prevent solids sticking to the bottom.

Saccharification The process of breaking a complex carbohydrate (as starch) into simple sugars.

SG Specific Gravity. SG meters are a hydrometer calibrated to measure sugar content in a wash to determine potential alcohol. SG Calculator

Shot Gun A type of condenser with multi-tubes where the vapors pass through the tubes surrounded by coolant.

Single footin' A single run, with a thumper.

Singlings Un-proofed whiskey that has gone through one distilling and will be distilled again.

Slant Plate A liquid collection plate used in a Bokakob style reflux still.

Slobber Box Similar to a Thumper but the inlet does not go down into the liquid. See Picture.

Slop Hot stinky spent corn mash from the still.

Smearing When heads, hearts, and tails are combined. Occurs when a still is run to fast or collecting without separation as in a stripping run.

Sparging At end of mashing, a process in which hot water is sprayed on or run through the grain bed to extract additional sweet barley water.

Spirit Run The final distillation producing finished whiskey.

SPP Spiral Prismatic Packing used in reflux type stills. See Image

Stripping The process of running low abv wash through a still with no head or tails cuts to remove alcohol that will be re-distilled.

Stillage The liquid and solids remaining in the boiler after the distillation is complete. Typically contains water, a small amount of ethanol (~0.1%) as well as dead yeast, fusel oils and possibly solids remaining from the wash,fruit pieces and grains etc.

Sugar head Grain ferment that sugar has been added to achieve a higher alcohol potential.

Sweet Spot The head temperature in a reflux still between 174 degrees F. and 180 degrees F. This range produces a sweet tasting spirit and is considered the heart of the distillation run.

SweetWater the water distilled from the still once "all" alcohol is removed.

Tails A distillate containing a high percentage of fusel oil and little alcohol collected at the end of a run. Often describes as the smell of wet cardboard or dirty socks.

Tincturing Flavoring liqueurs by soaking flavorful ingredients in already distilled alcohol. Tincturing tends to make the alcohol sweeter than those distilled.

Thumper A secondary vessel connected to a pot still, used as a second distillation in line. An experienced distiller can "shoot the thumper" with a flavour agent to add flavour to end product. the ole boys suggest shootin' it hot, but you gotta keep your wits about you. AKA "doubler". See Picture

Toasting Partially burning oak (staves or inside of casks), by raising their temperature without setting fire, used to develop flavour to be imparted to spirit. Some wrap dominoes/partial staves in aluminium foil and toast on BBQ.

Top Shelf A term given to high quality spirits.

TPW Tomato Paste Wash sometimes referred to as "Birdwatchers". A simple wash used for creating a clean simple neutral "vodka like" spirit. Birdwatchers Recipe

Tri-clamp A clamp used to attach to Ferrules. See Picture.

Trub Term used for the lees, or layer of sediment, left at the bottom of the fermenter after the yeast has completed the bulk of the fermentation.

UJSSM Uncle Jesse Simple Sour Mash. Recipe made from Corn. Uncle Jesse's Recipe

Valve plates vapor passes up through holes that have liftable caps that direct the vapor down and sideways.

VM Vapor Management reflux still.

Wash Fermented substrate containing alcohol, generally between 8-14%abv, ready for distillation. Also called beer or wine depending on the ingredients.

Worm A coil submerged in a water-filled container. Alcohol-laden steam condenses to a liquid in the coil.

Wort Liquid containing fermentable sugars ready for fermentation. Generally only used where the liquid has been produced by mashing starch containing raw ingredients such as grains.

WPOSW Winos plain old sugar wash recipe. Winos Recipe

Yeast Any of a certain unicellular fungi, generally members of the class Ascomycetaceae. Many types of yeast are capable of producing ethanol and carbon dioxide by the anaerobic fermentation of sugars. Yeasts are composed of approximately 50 percent protein and a rich nutritional source of B vitamins.

Zymurgy The study or practice of fermentation in brewing, winemaking, or distilling.
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