Chasing the wet dog.

Many like to post about a first successful ferment (or first all grain mash), or first still built/bought or first good run of the still. Tell us about all of these great times here.
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Chasing the wet dog.

Postby Mike6090 » Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:36 am

I have gotten pretty good at this of late and wanted to share a story. The trick to finding tails is being able to smell them and they don’t smell like wet dog or cardboard to me. What I found works is to take your inaugural sacrificial cleaning run and save it for posterity. If that’s 5 gal at 10% collected in 8oz jars it should break out like this. The first 8oz is foreshots and dangerous. The next 8 is marked jar 1 and clearly heads. (Well, it seems to be most of the time) Jar 2 might be hearts 3 and 4 are clearly hearts 5-6-7 your getting into tails and at 7 is likely tails. Seal these all up and revisit them in the morning. Check each jar with the alcoholometer and mark the first jar at 50%. Get a brandy sniffer from the antique store and use a 5cc syringe to measure out 5cc of water and 5 of your sample. Smell this and you can pretty easily determine which jar has the odd odor. Don’t worry too much if your not sure about one. If 5 smells like vodka, 6 is ok and 7 smells like something is clearly off you got your dog. Now mix that jar “7”with 50% water and marks it tails. Smell it every day for a week or two and use it as a reference for checking your samples as they come off the condenser. You can quickly educate your nose by having a good reference smell.
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Re: Chasing the wet dog.

Postby still_stirrin » Sun Mar 25, 2018 10:00 am

It depends on the wash...different ferments produce different smells (and tastes). Training is good, but there are no absolutes in this hobby. And experience is the best teacher.
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Re: Chasing the wet dog.

Postby bluefish_dist » Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:45 pm

Personally I can tell the smell of tails, but I would not call it wet dog. I have also found that smell is not as good an indicator as taste. Best to dilute and taste.
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Re: Chasing the wet dog.

Postby Wild Bill » Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:04 pm

In my limited experience I have no problem with identifying tails by smell and taste. However I am having trouble finding the break between late heads and early hearts. Late heads are very seductive and I have to take a wide cut to ensure I do not include too much heads. I hope with more experience I can id heads like I can with tails.
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Re: Chasing the wet dog.

Postby Yummyrum » Mon Mar 26, 2018 1:24 am

Mike6090 , I think your trick to bottle the stuff for reference is a good one . Certainly only having 7-8 choices will make cuts of a real run hard but having this many for training purposes is good :thumbup:
I also commend your dilution recommendation. ...I also endorse such methods Better Cuts with Better Dilution

I also concur with the Tails not smelling like wet dog or cardboard ....musty smell ...yeah I get that . Re-fluxed tails verses pot still tails are like chalk and cheese .Tails from a potty and even mildly refluxed still have the Musty smell ,once you get to 4 plates in flute or a packed Reflux still , then Musty is no longer and a very strong but nasty smell/taste like predominantly 1-Butanol prevails due to the compression .
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Re: Chasing the wet dog.

Postby Bushman » Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:09 am

I agree with yummy, very different animal comparing flavor from a pot still vs reflux.
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Re: Chasing the wet dog.

Postby Swedish Pride » Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:09 pm

Bushman wrote:I agree with yummy, very different animal comparing flavor from a pot still vs reflux.


more like wet squirrel?
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Re: Chasing the wet dog.

Postby Jimy Dee » Sun Apr 01, 2018 3:57 pm

When I started this hobby I could not tell the difference when running my pot and thumper. But the tails from my first run of the reflux still was like a kick in the butt - it was crystal clear. Good post and well worth adopting if smell evades you. Thanks.
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Re: Chasing the wet dog.

Postby kiwi Bruce » Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:36 pm

+1 Mike6090... I like this idea...especially for anyone new to the hobby, It will give them a very good idea what their looking for, considering most will have never smelled or tasted heads and tails, this is a good place for someone with no reference point at all to start. They may only need this for the first half dozen runs...then you'll have the know-how. Good thinking !
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Re: Chasing the wet dog.

Postby bluefish_dist » Sun Apr 01, 2018 5:05 pm

In the last two weeks I have had two different groups who asked what a particular bad flavor was in a friends spirits and another craft distillery. I let them smell tails and they both said, that's it. It does appear that it is not obvious when you are into the tails for everyone.
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