Commercial distilling practices

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Greenrvrshine
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Commercial distilling practices

Post by Greenrvrshine » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:40 pm

Just watched a show on jack daniels distillery, from what I gathered their stills are continually running. How do commercial distilleries make cuts? I've read where alot dont, but do none of them? Not even fores? Jeez, its no wonder you can make such better stuff at home if true. What about beer and wine? Aren't the same chemicals created during fermentation? How am I not blind by now?!

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Husker » Sun Jul 17, 2011 5:09 pm

Greenrvrshine wrote:Just watched a show on jack daniels distillery, from what I gathered their stills are continually running. How do commercial distilleries make cuts? I've read where alot dont, but do none of them? Not even fores? Jeez, its no wonder you can make such better stuff at home if true. What about beer and wine? Aren't the same chemicals created during fermentation? How am I not blind by now?!
>How do commercial distilleries make cuts?

They don't. That's why most commercial shit will give you a hang over. Most of the larger distilleries run a large plate column, and simply remove from a plate that is a few steps from the top. Thus, there are heads always streaming 'past' this plate on their way to the top. Some of them are removed, thus most commerial booze burns like hell, and gives you a headache like hell.

They usually do tap off the very top column, and pull the most volatile fores out. However, those same fores do pass right through the good stuff, on the way to be concentrated.


Now, for commercial design, that is a good setup. You can keep a continuous still running full time, just keep adding more wash with ethanol, and pulling out the water that falls down to the bottom of the column (usually the column is NOT at the top of the boiler). Commercially, you can produce a lot of quantity. However, the quality is no where near as good as a hobbiest that knows what they are doing can do with a single batch run.

> How am I not blind by now?!

Do you drink beer, wine? Then you are drinking it all anyway. The going blind is 'usually' a myth generated by the gooberment, trying to contain their graft payments on the production of booze. If someone is running a still, even if they keep EVERY drop coming off, will not usually have ANY problems, other than hang overs. The few times where there ARE bad things happening, are almost always do to black market caused by gooberment, and people not distilling, but trying to pass off methyl alcohol as booze, or trying to 'de' denature methylated spirits. Again, methylated spirits (POISON booze), is a fabrication of the gooberment, again trying to protect their graft (tax) money. They care more about that money, than about any 'sheeple' who may get harmed (or killed), through ignorance or through black market greed.

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by wildrover » Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:11 am

Hey Husker, thanks for that description of the commercial process. It makes a lot more sense about why the "Cuts", or lack there of, are like they are for commercial distilleries.

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Husker » Mon Jul 18, 2011 12:43 pm

They 'do' cut some of the stuff out. Most of the heaviest, least volatile stuff is easily removed. It will fall out the bottom of the column. However, the heads do pass through the plate where they have tapped off of for production, and much of those heads do move up to the top plate, and are removed. However, there is some which is pulled off in this type continuous still.

Thus, as a hobbiest, we 'can' produce better overall product, and can make much better cuts.
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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Greenrvrshine » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:23 pm

Thanks Husker, answered all my questions. Are you a nebraska fan by chance?

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by wildrover » Mon Jul 18, 2011 2:11 pm

So if they had "stacked" their column for some time before drawing off the plate they draw from, then it would leave out the heads right? Which of course doesn't work for a continuous setup.

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Prairiepiss » Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:28 pm

wildrover wrote: Which of course doesn't work for a continuous setup.
I think you just answered your own question.
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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Husker » Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:39 pm

Greenrvrshine wrote:Thanks Husker, answered all my questions. Are you a nebraska fan by chance?
Yup.
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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Greenrvrshine » Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:09 pm

Florida fan here, still stings tio hear tommy frazier mentioned. Dude was running through our boys like they were midgets.

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by HookLine » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:51 am

Not all commercial distilleries use continuous stills (for flavoured spirits), some use batch systems (with either columns or pot stills).

Even with batch systems, commercial operations still have serious profit pressures to maximise yield, the ol' quantity/quality trade off. So they probably have to make more generous cuts, include a bit more heads and tails than they would ideally like.

We hobbyists can make more conservative cuts in the first place – ie 'waste' a fair bit more – to maximise quality.
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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Greenrvrshine » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:09 am

I wonder if thats where they get Crown Reserve? Actually making cuts? Looked through several bourbon distillers websites last night and only one mentioned heads/tails and they were the only ones I noticed to have a pot still, Woodford Reserve. Whether they really make cuts, I doubt it, but they mentioned it. Their process was different than most as the say they first distill everything to 40 proof and then distill again to I believe it was 120. I guess they distill the entire batch the first time?

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by mash rookie » Tue Jul 19, 2011 6:43 am

Husker, Hookline, I have been planning on building a small scale continuous distillation still just to prove that I could make it work on a small scale.

Your posts have changed my mind about making the effort. I will keep my focus on the art type stills that interest me.

If the pros could effectively remove heads on a continuous operation you would think that they would.

Even accounting for the greed factor, if they could run their plated stills conservatively and produce a headless product there would be someone producing a super top end stuff that we would all know about.
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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Husker » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:27 am

Heads 'can' be fully removed in continuous production, for neutral. They usually do that with multiple columns, #1 feeding #2, #2 feeding #3, etc. Then they tap off from one column to the next (or the final product), by tapping off a plate or 2 under the very top. Then each column will remove say 90% of the remaining heads. So the first column would remove 90% of them. Then the next column would remove 9% of them (99% gone), etc, etc. NOTE, the figgers I type here are simply that, a 'guess'. I have seen these designs, and under stand the why, but I have no experience at all with them, and I do believe that the distilleries would protect their information about how they run, as trade secrets.

Now, if they are producing whiskey, etc, in a continuous operation, then they can not strip out everything. Thus, they do try to remove some heads (and most or all of the nasty tails), but I doubt they can really remove them all. I know that when I drink mass produced commercial shit, I get a hell of a head ache. I can EASILY tell today, where before I started carefully producing my own, I would not have 'known' any better, and simply accepted that if you drink till you get decent drunk, that you will feel like shit in the morning.

The Woodford Reserve process interests me. It sounds like how I produce whiskey. First stripping run, I get 36-40%. Then I run again, and end up with 130 for the combined final product, which is where 'I' age whiskey at. Their production sounds hauntingly similar to mine. I might have to sample some of theirs, lol.


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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by mash rookie » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:01 am

Like your experience at your sons wedding, the only time I wake up with a headache is when I have been out to bars with friends and am forced to drink even top shelf Bourbon.

Sadly, being out of aged UJSSM, I had my girl pick me up a bottle of Knob creek yesterday. It used to be my favorite. Poured myself one on the rocks. It tasted like shit.

My girlfriend started laughing when I was making faces. I told her it didn’t taste good. She said that I am a bourbon snob. I said no, just spoiled.

I am going to have to make larger batches.

Although I love a mechanical challenge, I love the results from the batch method. There are plenty of other ideas floating around in my coconut to play with.

Your posts reminds me that challenges aside, Good booze is the goal.

MR

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by HookLine » Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:45 pm

As I understand it, it is even a bit more complicated than what I said before, because a tiny bit of heads and a little bit more tails can add good flavour, if left to age properly. The tails in particular convert over time to desirable flavours.

But that requires quite a bit of time, at least a few years, to do it right.
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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Dnderhead » Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:38 am

Hooks got it ,without some heads/tales then you have no flavor,a pot still if used right does this .
that is the art of distilling "flavored" spirits. having the right amount and the right ones.if you have
to much then it will take forever or never age it out.

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by mash rookie » Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:11 am

Dnderhead wrote:Hooks got it ,without some heads/tales then you have no flavor,a pot still if used right does this .
that is the art of distilling "flavored" spirits. having the right amount and the right ones.if you have
to much then it will take forever or never age it out.
I love the tails in my UJSSM. There is a lot of flavor there. I am not sure what advantage heads would be for aging. They are definitely part of the flavor profile on commercial booze. Do you think that they actually want some in there for aging?
Those guys do know there stuff. I would never discount a pro. They have been doing this for two hundred years.
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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Dnderhead » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:23 am

" I am not sure what advantage heads would be for aging""
I fiend that much like the flavor is in tales for grain, its in the heads for fruit.but like said its knowing how much to take.
with either it needs to be a balancing act.you just have to lacquer a taste for it. the "raw" product will be different than aged.

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by blind drunk » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:14 am

I am not sure what advantage heads would be for aging.
I agree. The really nasty parts are pretty useless to us hobbyists, but some of the later head have some nice flavor in them. With my grain mashes, I find some nice chocolate notes living there. It's worth experimenting with the better heads, although the likker will need more aging time on oak. I wouldn't like it clear.
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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by banter_king » Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:59 am

I have been finding with my UJSSM that on some runs there is a good jar that i add in from the late heads. It not always the last of the heads jar and because being completely consistent is difficult the jar sometimes isn't there at all. It definitely adds a bit of bit to the mix but there is an interesting flavor there that i would give a very good review of.
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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by JonB » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:03 am

Just a comment on the original post. I saw the same show the other night and found a few inconsistencies.
First the yeast they use was as black as coffee. Never have seen this unless this is a starter that was using heavily toasted grains. But why?

Second they said the dawg goes into the barrel at 146 proof. I thought this was too high and would dissolve tannins. I read 125 proof is the recommended strength for aging.

Lastly they filter after aging not before. Anyone ever try this with good results?

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Re: Commercial distilling practices

Post by Dnderhead » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:42 am

first at 146pr it it age a bit faster but rougher,,many filter after as this makes it nice and clear.
it removes any sediment that mite have came from barrel. other leave this in saying"see this is unadulterated"

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