Blue Agave Spirit

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Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Wed May 02, 2018 11:04 am

I'm starting a run of Blue Agave spirit and wanted to document my efforts here.

I have started with a five gallon purchase of Raw Blue Agave Nectar
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0031 ... =UTF8&th=1

I'm thinking that this will get me about 4-5 stripping charges through the still so we'll see what kind of output we get and go from there. Maybe a couple more if I plan to add low wines in for re-distillation and higher proof low-wines on 2nd & 3rd and subsequent strips.

My first step will be to set up for an 8 - 10 gallon wash which will produce a little bit of low wines and some dunder which I will then start recirculating through subsequent ferments and stripping runs.

One goal is to keep the wash SG down to the 1.050 area and to also use different yeasts with each ferment for added complexity.

I plan to keep a carboy full of infected dunder which I will add to low wines for spirit runs and also use fresh dunder or a mix of fresh/infected in the next wash.

No added sugar - just blue agave nectar.

I will add nutrients to each ferment (boiled yeast from prior batches) and keep track of and adjust pH and planning to buffer with oyster shells and CC.

I am considering how I might be able to incorporate a smoked component similar to baking and smoking the Pina's. Maybe smoking some used charred and toasted oak chunks soaked in agave-wash or dunder and adding to the various stages particularly low-wines along with the infected muck for the spirit run.

Cheers!
-j
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sun May 06, 2018 5:23 am

I started this with the first wash yesterday. Here’s what i did for a 10 gallon wash. I’ve got enough blue agave to do five of these.

Start my yeast starter by rehydrating 1.0 oz bakers active dry yeast in 250ml water @ 100*F. Hold in a bath @ 100*F.

2 gallons infected backset - pH 3.39 (this is an ongoing blend of backset from various strips). There was a yeast trub slurry on the bottom of the backset container so I siphoned plenty of that too just for some more nutrient.
3 gallons water.
Rolling boil smells yummy!
1 gallon blue agave raw organic syrup.
1/2 cup dried inactive yeast with various Vit B.
1/4 tsp epsom salts.
Mix and aerate very well.
4 gallons cold water and continue mixing.
pH measures 3.49
Add calcium carbonate to bring pH up to 5.25 (30 tsp).

Wash Temp down to 100*F
Add 1/2 cup wash to yeast starter. Wait 2h and make dinner.
After dinner the yeast starter is rapid fire in the airlock. Add another 1 cup of the wash. Wait a couple more hours.
Pitch yeast started into wash before bed.

Wrap fermenter with heating pad and packing blanket. Temp is staying firm around 90*F.

By the morning it’s very frothy and quite active. Expecting a quick ferment. Once the yeasties kicked in it smells pretty good. I won’t be tasting the wash because I used infected backset to start it even though I rolling boiled it for a little while.

I’ll reuse this dunder and infect with lacto for each additional wash.

Starting gravity measured 1.050 so we’ll see how low it finishes and how much low wines are produced from 1 gallon of syrup. This project will be ongoing over a couple months for at least five ferments and strips and to allow some time for the dunder to accumulate and fester a bit inbetween each ferment.

Cheers!
-j
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby fizzix » Sun May 06, 2018 8:59 am

All right jonnys! I saw agave prices back when, and about lost my mind.
About time for someone to do some agave and I wish I was there to do this with you.
Best of success!
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Mon May 07, 2018 4:39 am

Thx Fizzix! It's a little pricey but I figure I'd spend $40-$50 for a higher end bottle and have certainly spent $80+ for something 750ml top shelf and unique....

This morning the Blue Agave wash has been fermenting happily for about 36h in the mid 90's, has a pH of about 4.60, and is down from 1.050 to 1.020 and still very active. I threw in a handful/sack of crushed oyster shells yesterday to help regulate pH.

I might be able to run a strip and harvest some agave dunder one evening later this week.

The backset I used in the initial wash was really a blend of varioius grains and some honey/apple backset from numerous different runs... I just pull out of that bucket (5 gallon carboy) as needed and top it up when I get something to top it with. I'll attach some photo's as I get more.

Cheers!
-j

EDIT:
The initial infected backset was not made from Blue Agave so I'm slightly veering off course just a little bit but it did make up 20% of the wash and the initial blue agave syrup only made up 10% of the wash. We'll give this a couple runs for the blue agave to become the predominant ingredient in the dunder and I'll start a dedicated dunder when I strip this and propagate the infection from the other backset - I might throw in a potato piece and some soil to see if I can diversify the infection a little.
infection.jpg
Starting backset infection -
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Mon May 07, 2018 5:24 am

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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Tue May 08, 2018 7:28 am

This started @ about 1.050 and is down to 0.998'ish in about two days. Very quick ferment but only about 6% potential ABV. Letting it sit for a minute but will run as soon as I can and start propagating infection to dunder.
Cheers!
-j
agave-clearing.jpg
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sat May 12, 2018 6:50 am

This wash has cleared up nicely so I’m working on it this weekend.

- racked off the yeast sediment.
- transferred ten gallons of wash into boiler and started long slow heat. 5k5 element @ 2.8 amps. I’m going to spend saturday slowly heating to 135*F and strip it on sunday.
- added one gallon of infected backset to the boiler to increase organic acid content as it spends the day slow cooking.
- after three hours and up to about 105*F sticking my nose into the boiler is a very pleasant experience.

Thank you ShineOn for the ButteryRumNugget of info on the pre-heat protocol before stripping. I am trying to concentrate flavor profile on this one at every step :)

- the yeast sediment filled about 1/2 of a gallon jug so I topped up with water and popped into the fridge to cold crash and make dormant. I’ll siphon off the clear as the yeasties drop kut of suspension - maybe twice or thrice to clean em up - then as I prep the next wash will bring up to room temp then 100*F and integrate some blue agave wash into the yeast starter to keep the colony thriving.

The only sugars in the spirit will come from the raw blue agave.

Cheers!
-j
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby fizzix » Sat May 12, 2018 7:30 am

This is fun!
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sun May 13, 2018 6:15 am

Here's some snaps of my ongoing infected backset that I'll use for various runs and used for the first ferment / strip in this run.. I'll be starting the new dunder batch from today's strip for the rest of the blue agave runs. The photo of the infection that I uploaded last week (earlier in this thread) was a day after disturbing the pellicle. This one is a week later :)
img_7474.jpg

img_7475.jpg


Cooked yesterday for eight hours with a slow rise in temp from 100*F to 135*F then cooled overnight.
Slow heat-up this morning to start stripping. 2h so far and expecting to take fores at 2.5h. I'll get a sample in the middle ;)
img_7479.jpg


--------------------------------------
*** Thoughts
- I purchased some liquid smoke that I was considering adding (just a little bit) to some low wines to get a bit of a nice integrated smoked flavor into this spirit. Ingredients are Mesquite Smoke Flavor, Molasses, Vinegar, Salt... I'm thinking 5ml or so...
- The other option for smoke that I am considering is to setup to smoke some apple wood chips in the smokey-joe and throw in a handful or two of used oak fingers to soak up the smoke and pitch those into some low wines to macerate for a week or four before spirit run...

I think I know which way I'm going to go with the smoke but not there yet - the idear's just rollin around in my head like a bunch of rocks - like my da always said it was fulla.... Really just looking for a hint of smoke in the end product - similar to what I would get had I actual blue agave pinas that I cooked and smoked in my backyard... Maybe I should just smoke three or four sweet potatoes and distribute between some dunder and wash - they wouldn't be any significant source of sugars so that might be ok... I'm pretty sure the smoke needs to be subtle because age will spotlight it and I want the agave also to be spotlighted...

Don't potatoes propagate some interesting infections ?? Probably not after several hours in the smoker - but if I left em out for a couple days after smoking then chucked em into some dunder...

Hmmm...

Cheers!
-j
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby fizzix » Sun May 13, 2018 7:09 am

Just be careful if you go liquid smoke. A little goes a long way.
And don't be like me where I just tipped the bottle on some marinade and dosed the hell out of it. Measure, then pour the measure.
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sun May 13, 2018 10:31 am

Thanks. I’d be nervous about using the liquid smoke. I think i’ll test out some smoked spuds and make some up first to eat and see what kind of flavor they have. Then I’ll probably do some smoked sweet taters for the dunder so that it’s a subtle thing. Maybe add one into the wash. I don’t know yet.

I’m going to bump up the agave syrup contribution this next wash to 1.5 or 1.75 gallons. Looks like I’ll need to order more agave for what I want to do - small barrel.

Cheers!
-j
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby TDick » Sun May 13, 2018 1:26 pm

Caveat: I know just enough to be dangerous!
I have some reposado and was trying to figure out a drink to cool off with.
All I had was some sugar free lemonade and orange drink - on a diet :( .
Added tequila, splash or orange and topped with lemonade in a Ninja blender and turned it into a slush.
Pretty damned good, tasted a bit like pineapple with a bite.

Just wondering if you put a pineapple on the grille next time to add some smoke flavor and get some extra sugars from the roasting.
Ask Copperhead Road about his peaches, figure it's gotta add something to pineapple as well.

Quien sabe?
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sun May 13, 2018 2:20 pm

Wood chips for smoking
img_7481.jpg


Sweet Taters - Some for eating, some for the agave wash
img_7482.jpg


Smokey joe setup for indirect heat / smoking
img_7485.jpg


She's cookin!
img_7484.jpg


Started the wash and was able to cold crash and wash the left over trub 2x.

1.75g Blue agave syrup
1.25g dunder from last run (pH 4.28)
1/4tsp epsom salts
1/2 cup yeast nutrient stuff
Mix well
7g water to temp (100f)
Calcium Carbonate to pH ~5
SG 1.0xx

Cheers,
j
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sun May 13, 2018 5:40 pm

I have grilled marinated pineapple before and it’s so good especially with a little heat and some pork! I was scoping it out in the produce section but decided i’d stick with the sweet taters to propagate the smoke this run :)

Cheers!
-j
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Wed May 16, 2018 8:17 pm

SG is dropping on the second wash in the series. The ferment doesn’t appear as active but it’s still alive in the bucket. Started at 1.074 now 1.039. Propogated infection to the dunder and pellicle is forming nicely. I think I can do one more run after this one which will give me maybe 7.5g low wines that I will be able to spike with 3g or so infected dunder. I haven’t measured my low wines abv yet but i think I may do a tripple distill and get some more syrup so my goal would be to end up with at least a 10-12gallon spirit run @40%abv made up of at least 25% infected dunder. I’ll need a little more agave syrup for that and a third distillation to bring the abv up for proofing down with agave muck.

I also feel like I can go slightly more aggressive with the smoke on the next wash but we’ll see how a shot of hearts goes down on the next strip.

Cheers!
-j
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Mon May 21, 2018 1:19 am

Sunday night midnight and it’s down to about 1.000. I forgot to wrap it in a packing blanket to keep the temp up so it was a bit slower on the ferment. I’ll transfer to carboys during the week for clearing and re-harvesting the yeasties if I can. Low wines from the first run are smelling pretty good and they smell just about how you might hope they would. Excited to see whether these new low wines have good smoke - I feel like they’ll need a little more agressive smoked sweet tater for the next wash. I’ve got wine grapes coming in next week so I’ll be breaking from the blue agave for a little while to get the wine fermented and pressed then I’ll meed to focus on the grappa production :) might be six weeks before I pick up with blue agave again but good amount of time to propogate some agave dunder infections...

/over
-j
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sat May 26, 2018 3:58 pm

I stripped this last wash Thursday after work. Wednesday I charged the boiler and this time didn’t let it clear nearly as much. I had racked into two carboys and airlock’d to wait for the strip. The trub in one was considerably darker. I took all of the darker trub (3” in the bottom of the carboy) into the boiler feeling that it was mostly smoked sweet tater sediment. The other carboy had regular lighter colored trub which I mostly left behind.

Wednesday I cooked the boiler charge up to 135*F with the tater-trub and held it there for 2-3h then cooled overnight. Stripped hard and fast on Thursday. Got about 4gallons low wines. After sitting for a couple days I get a very faint hint of the smoke. It’s a bit cloudy with some oils.

All my fermenters are filled with grapes now so will be waiting for a month or so when wines are fermented and grappa is run before picking this back up.

I’ll clean out the still later this weekend and propogate some infection into this generation of agave dunder and let it fester while we wait.

Ciao!
-j
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Sun Aug 05, 2018 7:09 am

Picking up where I left off with the blue agave. I currently have about six gallons of blue agave low wines, five gallons of blue agave infected dunder, and two gallons of organic blue agave syrup. I’ve got some cleanup to do in the cellar too so i’ll be starting this last blue agave wash and pitching my bakers yeasties.

Boil 3 gallons infected aged (2 months...) blue agave dunder and 3 gallons water (sterilize), add two gallons cold water and two gallons organic blue agave syrup, aerate, some pinch or two epsom, maybe a B12 and some more dead yeasties. I’ll pitch plenty of bakers yeast and keep the brute wrapped in a blanket with a heating pad to ferment fast and hard with some good ester production. Plan to strip hard and fast next weekend and save ssome dunder for infection and to top off spirit run in a month or so. I’ll measure and bump wash pH up to around 4.5 - 5.0 for the ferment.

I wonder if agave feints would be ok to add to my other feints for eventual neutral run??

Cheers!
-js

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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Tue Aug 07, 2018 6:53 pm

I didn’t add the epsom salts because they were for the bath and had some other ingredients like menthol. I didn’t have any dedicated B12 either. The dead “yeast stuff” which I used earlier in this thread has all that in there so I poured about 1/3 of the jar in. Hydrated the bakers yeast and pitched sunday evening. Sprinkled some more Monday evening. Not an extremely active ferment but lots of tiny little bubbles dancing on the surface and it smells of co2 when I stick my head down in the bucket. It dropped from about 1.065 to 1.050 so far. Keeping the temp around 85’ish. I’ll keep some of this dunder for my batch next year because the flavor concentrates and when the pH drops it’s real easy to bump it back up. That allows me to use more dunder in the next batch and continue concentrating the flavor.

I might sprinkle a little more bakers yeast in the am or afternoon and I’m monitoring the progress in any case. Hope to be stripping early sunday morning and filling either a five gal bucket or carboy with the stillage for next year.

Cheers!
-jonny
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:18 am

AF is cruising along as expected on this wash. This morning we have a specific gravity of 1.040. It dropped a couple points overnight. pH is also holding tight with a pocket full of shells at 4.86. Started @ 4.90 (I added calcium hydroxide till it was up to 4.90 to start it out).

I’m expecting about four gallons of low wines and five gallons of dunder from this ferment. I might go ahead and pick up another gallon of blue agave syrup to get in another generation and another couple gallons of low wines for the spirit run just to maximize capacity.

Cheers!
-jonny
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby corndog » Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:02 am

let us know how it turns out , i started a corn sugarhead yesterday very slow ferment but still active!
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:53 pm

Hi corndog, good luck with your batch too!

This 3rd wash in the run now measures about specific gravity of 1.025 @ 86*F. It’s got a little ways to go but it’s chugging along. I’m gonna sprinkle a little more yeasties in there for fun.

Don’t think it’ll finish in time for me to be able to strip it this weekend. Maybe I could do it late Sunday if it drops enough.

Cheers!
-jonny
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:41 am

I checked SG this morning and it's just under 1.000 @ 0.998'ish. Appears to have fermented dry from a starting gravity of about 1.065. I didn't have time this morning to xfer to carboys but will do that this afternoon after work. Might strip it later this week or this weekend. Think I'll want a bit of time for infection to propagate in the dunder so I can top up low wines for spirit run. I'll report how much LW I get but expecting about 4 gallons from 2 gallons of syrup like last run.

Looking forward to putting some of this on oak for down the road and keeping some white. I've got a batch of "cointreau" style macerating (DIY oaked and aged brandy and naval orange peels with some other stuff) so I can make it 5:O'Clock here ASAP.

Cheers!
-jonny
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Mon Sep 03, 2018 5:26 am

Spirit ran this yesterday. Topped up with fresh dunder, 100ml vinegar, and 100ml sulphuric acid. I took 24 fractions and about 1.5gallns of that was middle hearts. Some good bits hidden in the heads and tails so gonna let em sit out for the week before deciding the cuts. I’ll be saving this dunder for another batch next year and highly recommend it.
B4941336-E3EA-4922-8BE9-C911ABA83979.jpeg
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby still_stirrin » Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:59 am

Looks like the makin’s of some Molotov cocktails there J.S. “Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire”.
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby Fivey » Mon Sep 03, 2018 5:38 pm

jonnys_spirit wrote:
Thank you ShineOn for the ButteryRumNugget of info on the pre-heat protocol before stripping. I am trying to concentrate flavor profile on this one at every step :)


Hi JS
For the sake of clarification, I assume this wasn’t some private message advice, but the heat-rest-strip process ShineOn describes in the first post of this thread?
viewtopic.php?f=101&t=70778
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:34 pm

Hey Fiver, yes - that was about the same time ShineOn’s butter rum thread popped up so I did an extended slow heat up and hold on that stripping run. It did not produce butter though - most likely due to me letting the wash sit for probably a week or two before stripping and therefore the diacetyl was removed by the yeast. Oh well. Not sure the Blue Agave particularly needs a butter flavor.

I’ll be blending my 24 fractions later this week and testing small shots throughout the week. Some of the fractions are dark and smokey (i did smoke a couple sweet taters) and some are bright and fruity. I’ll probably keep a little white and most on oak for ageing. I did make strong margaritas the other night and while they were quite tasty this spirit will be mostly for sipping but can still do a nice cocktail as well.

Cheers!
-jonny
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby jonnys_spirit » Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:15 am

Taking some time testing the heads side of this cut. Not feeling the tails end as much. No decisions on the cuts yet but Im finding that making some glasses from the various jars for sipping over a week or so really helpful for me. Might pick up a couple bottles of commercial high end agave spirits for some good comparison notes.

Cheers!
-jonny
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby TDick » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:04 am

Some kind of something agave is on my To Do list so I'm very interested in your runs.

jonnys_spirit wrote:This 3rd wash in the run now measures about specific gravity of 1.025 @ 86*F. It’s got a little ways to go but it’s chugging along. I’m gonna sprinkle a little more yeasties in there for fun. -jonny


Neophyte question :?: How do you decide to add more yeast? Also are there preferable yeasts to use?

jonnys_spirit wrote: Might pick up a couple bottles of commercial high end agave spirits for some good comparison notes.
Cheers!
-jonny


I regularly go by the ABC store just to see what's new and marketing/labeling bullshit the big boys come up with. I don't know if you have it where you are
but Olmeca Altos Tequila is pretty damned good and reasonably priced.
I haven't tried the Anejo but I actually prefer to Silver to the Reposado for sipping and a cocktail.

Can't wait to read more about your success!
:D
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Re: Blue Agave Spirit

Postby ShineonCrazyDiamond » Mon Sep 10, 2018 2:33 pm

Johnny,

I only had one tequila from another member here. He made good cuts and brought it to the last meet. He also kept the tails out becuase they were icky.

It was not tequila, and we all agreed.

Fortunately, he saved all his tails in one big jar and happened to bring them. He added a good portion of that jar to his spirit, and in spite of the jars alone, together they tasted like tequila.

I doubt YMMV. Just a thought.
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