55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

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JeeterBee
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55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by JeeterBee » Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:15 pm

Hello All,

I was very fortunate this year. A friend called me over to pick his heavy laden plum tree. He has what I believe are mirabelle plums. They are sweat, juicy, and a beautiful golden yellow. I made some wine out of them last year and it was extremely good. This year I made 13 gallons of wine and 55 gallons of plum wash.

For the 55 gallon wash I used:
100 pounds of pitted plum.
.5 oz. Wine Tannin
7.5 oz. Yeast Nutrient
2.3 oz. Biotin wine energizer
8 tablespoons acid blend
6 oz. pectic enzyme
7 packs Lalvin QA23 yeast
I added sugar and water to reach 55 gallons at 10% ABV
I put the pitted plums in a huge mesh grain bag.

The starting gravity was 1.070
It finished in 7 days at .990

On the 7th day I squeezed all the juice out of the bag and ended up with 10 pounds of dry pulp. The pectic enzyme really did its thing plus the plums were super ripe and I also froze them after I picked them.

I let the wash clear for a week and it up cleared nicely. I then carefully siphoned the clear wash off the sediment bed. I ended up with enough wash for 3 full 14 gallon stripping runs and an 8 gallon stripping run. My keg is 15.5 gallons but I don't like to fill it too full especially on a new wash because I don't want to deal with foam.

Stripping run #1 was a 14 gallon load. I ran it as fast as I could and got 2.5 gallons of 55% low wines. I finished the last of the strip in a gallon jug and went all the way down to 10%. It sounds weird but I have 2.5 gallon glass jars that I like to strip into. I also have gallon jars. So the combined strip of the first 2.5 gallons is 55% and the last separate gallon is about 30%.

Stripping run #2 was about the same as run #1. I ran it faster and harder to see what would happen. I ended up with 2.5 gallons of 50% and a gallon and a half of 25%.

Stripping run #3 was similar but I ran it slower. I ended up with 2.5 gallons of 55% and a gallon and a half of 25%.

Stripping run #4 was a bit different. I only had about 8 gallons of wash so I added the extra jar or jar and a half from stripping runs numbers 1-3. This made my total volume of this last run 12 gallons. The yield was: 2.5 gallons of 60% and 2 gallons of 25%.

My totalled stripped volume is: 12 gallons of 50% low wines. I think my wash had a higher original gravity than I recorded.

I added 2 gallons of tap water to dilute it all down to 14 gallons of 40% low wines.

The smell is very sweet and fruity. Next step is a long ass day doing the spirit run.

I want this spirit run to be a good one and I want to make really precise cuts. I have 70 pint jars.

My still is a 2" pot still with a 40" inch tall copper column. I have a 36" long Liebig condenser. I have a 15.5 gallon stainless steel keg for a boiler. I power my still with a 220v internal heating element. I believe I can hit 5000 watts but I strip at around 3500 watts and I do my spirit runs around 1000 - 1500 watts. I usually pack my column with copper scrubbies.

I have a liter of 1/4" raschig rings and some toasted white oak coming in the mail. My in-laws cut down a large japanese plum tree earlier this year. I would like to chop up some of the large logs and try my hand at toasting and/or charring some.

I really don't want to mess this part up. Do any of you brandy makers out there have any advice to give me on how to run, cut, and age this project?

Some of the questions I have are:

1. Should I run it low and slow or kinda fast to carry over more flavor?

2. Should I fully pack the column with just copper scrubbies or use half copper and half raschig rings? Or should I pack only half of the column? Or no packing at all? This is a plum brandy and I believe I want more flavor. I wouldn't want to put all this work in for a plum vodka. Or do I?

3. For the cuts, should I collect into as many pint jars as it takes to get from heads to tails, air, taste, and blend? Or should I play it super conservative and collect 5% foreshots, 32% heads, 32% hearts, and 31% tails? Blending is the hardest part of this hobby for me. I will get it down some day. I hope.

4. For aging, I will try leaving some white and aging some on toasted oak. Should I add some charred oak? I will read up on toasting and charring the plum wood I have. I also have a 5 gallon oak barrel that I used to age last year's UJSSM. Can I use it again to age this brandy or is it spent?

I did remove 200 ml of foreshots from each of the stripping runs. I am still going to remove and discard the first 5% of the run.

I will be doing this spirit run in the next few weeks. I will post an update after the spirit run.

Again any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated. Until then I will keep reading.

Jeet

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cranky
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Re: 55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by cranky » Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:45 pm

JeeterBee wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:15 pm
1. Should I run it low and slow or kinda fast to carry over more flavor?
Depends on your definition of slow and fast. I like a twisted to broken stream, I think my collection rate is usually somewhere around a pint every 10 minutes (or is it 5 :problem: ) I can't say for sure right now. I will have to go see if I can find out exactly how fast I run.
JeeterBee wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:15 pm
2. Should I fully pack the column with just copper scrubbies or use half copper and half raschig rings? Or should I pack only half of the column? Or no packing at all? This is a plum brandy and I believe I want more flavor. I wouldn't want to put all this work in for a plum vodka. Or do I?
No packing
JeeterBee wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:15 pm
3. For the cuts, should I collect into as many pint jars as it takes to get from heads to tails, air, taste, and blend? Or should I play it super conservative and collect 5% foreshots, 32% heads, 32% hearts, and 31% tails? Blending is the hardest part of this hobby for me. I will get it down some day. I hope.
Collect in as many jars as you can, don't ever base anything on percentages, there are too many variables with fruit to try to do that.
JeeterBee wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 10:15 pm
4. For aging, I will try leaving some white and aging some on toasted oak. Should I add some charred oak? I will read up on toasting and charring the plum wood I have. I also have a 5 gallon oak barrel that I used to age last year's UJSSM. Can I use it again to age this brandy or is it spent?
I'd like to get ahold of some Japanese plum wood. If it is green it will need to cure for a year or two...or three before it can be used. My personal preference with plum brandy is to leave it white but everybody has their own preferences. There is no reason you can't age in a used barrel. I purposely have one that is well used because it's easier to control just how much oak (or other wood) gets infused into the product while it ages. You can always drop some dominoes or sticks of wood into the barrel to add more.

JeeterBee
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Re: 55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by JeeterBee » Mon Sep 23, 2019 11:53 pm

Good info Cranky.

Sounds like you recommend no packing.

I don't think my plum logs have seasoned enough. I would guess that they have only sat through the summer. They might need another 6 months to a year. I will set some aside for a future project.

I think this will be quite the run experience. I am curious to see what the taste difference is between aged white brandy and toasted oak brandy.

I really hope I yield enough brandy to make it to next year's plum harvest. Next year I will try to pick 200+ pounds.

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cranky
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Re: 55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by cranky » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:53 am

JeeterBee wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 11:53 pm
Sounds like you recommend no packing.
I don't think there is a benefit from packing in a pot still when it comes to brandy.
JeeterBee wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 11:53 pm
I really hope I yield enough brandy to make it to next year's plum harvest. Next year I will try to pick 200+ pounds.
Mine never makes it that long but I never get more than a bottle or two even in a good year.

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Re: 55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by Ogopogo » Wed Sep 23, 2020 7:08 pm

Here’s what I’m doing with my 200lb of plums this year.
Ferment to 10-11%. Fairly quick Stripping run, then a slow ish spirit run. I dehydrated about 20lb of plums to add back to the aging with toasted French oak strips.
I’ve done this with apricots, apples and cherries and get ridiculous brandy.
I think I’ll add some raisins to a small batch and see how that goes.
Just some ideas for y’all

JeeterBee
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Re: 55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by JeeterBee » Wed Sep 23, 2020 8:53 pm

Sounds like some yummy liquor. My plum brandy from last year is about a year old. It has been sitting in my oak barrel aging nicely.

stillanoob
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Re: 55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by stillanoob » Thu Sep 24, 2020 6:37 am

Nice! I wish I could have gotten 55 gallons worth of plums this year.

I really like the plum brandy I made this year white. There is so much subtle floral plum notes in there that I just couldn't oak it. I find it perfect between 45 and 50%.

Keyser Soze
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Re: 55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by Keyser Soze » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:32 pm

I just got 120 lbs of large red plums from a friend. I wish to make brandy out of 100 of it. Did I read right? 100 pounds left you with 10 lbs of dry pulp? Also I have all stainless steel so should I add a little copper screening in the column to smooth it out or do I just run with no packing. First fruit wash for me and I love plum eau d vie.
There are none so blind as those who will not shut up and listen.

CikCikCikPogodi
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Re: 55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by CikCikCikPogodi » Mon Oct 05, 2020 2:12 am

Keyser Soze wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:32 pm
I just got 120 lbs of large red plums from a friend. I wish to make brandy out of 100 of it. Did I read right? 100 pounds left you with 10 lbs of dry pulp? Also I have all stainless steel so should I add a little copper screening in the column to smooth it out or do I just run with no packing. First fruit wash for me and I love plum eau d vie.
You need to wait little bit longer for larger plums add some sugar around 2-3% when water rises up its ready.
I am waiting too for water to rise up, smaller ones were already distilled.

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Oldvine Zin
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Re: 55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by Oldvine Zin » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:10 pm

So I also just finished a plum run from a little over 100 lbs of plums from the neighbors tree.
I de-seeded all the fruit into a 30 gal brute, that left me with about a foot of head space in that container. Added a bit of pectic enzyme, a couple ounces of EC 1118 yeast nothing else, the natural sugars is what I wanted, it sugared out at 20 brix so enough sugar and acid for me.

Fermented down to .9 and ended up with about 13 gals of juice after pressing, stripped that down to about 4ish gal of 30 abv. Ran a spirit run on that and after cuts ended up with 4 liters of 65 abv no added water needed.

My kitchen smelled so much like ripe plums I really hope that those aromas come through on the finished product.

I drained a 1 gal gibbs barrel that had some gumball head that had been ageing for a couple of years, and filled it with the plum, almost perfect amount for that barrel, a 1 gal gibbs holds 3.9 liters.
Don's Plum.JPG
Something I noticed on the gumball was while I started out with 3.9 liters of 60% when I drained it I was left with 2.5 liters at 67%. Seems like that the angles preferred the water over the alcohol.

Stay safe
OVZ

Keyser Soze
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Re: 55 Gallon Plum Brandy Project

Post by Keyser Soze » Fri Nov 20, 2020 3:41 pm

I completely forgot to check the starting gravity. Rookie mistake :oops: I did get 2 6 gallon fermentation buckets with 6 inch caps on top and some good plum wine. Used different yeast pkg in each bucket ec1118 and D47. Froze plums beat with a paint mixer and added 2 gallons or less of water to each. This weekend is straining time and 2 weeks to clear and my first run is on. I hope. No added sugar, but I will have a half batch of wine to mix with the low wines for flavor during the spirit run. I remember this stuff from my uncle Willie, a Gotscheer from Ridgewood. Clear and able to remove paint. Mmm mmm!
There are none so blind as those who will not shut up and listen.

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