Distilling old wine

Treatment and handling of your distillate.

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Virginia Gentleman
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Distilling old wine

Post by Virginia Gentleman » Thu Jun 02, 2005 12:48 pm

Whenever I can I sample moonshine made by other local folks around here. The last two I've tasted (from two different fellas) have had a distinctive sweet taste to them (not the same taste as too much heads or tails). So I asked about them further, and turns out they were both made from "old wine." Just thought it was interesting that that's what both of these folks used. Not sure why they both happened to have enough old wine sitting around to distill (definitely not cheaper than making your own wash). I know folks use cheap wine when they're just starting out and don't want to mess with a mash.

Flavor was interesting, different from my sour mashes and rums for sure. Didn't like it as much. To each his own, distill what ya got, I guess. Anyone else mess with old/cheap wine?

I do have a case of very bad champagne in the basement I plan to recycle sometime, because I sure ain't drinking it as is.
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Re: Distilling old wine

Post by LeftLaneCruiser » Thu Jun 02, 2005 1:01 pm

Virginia Gentleman wrote: I do have a case of very bad champagne in the basement I plan to recycle sometime, because I sure ain't drinking it as is.
By all means do.. I'm quite sure it turns into a very nice Cognac-style brandy. 8)


As for distilling old or bad wines, i've done that too. And if a wine i make turns out not that tasty at all i will distill it immediatly.
I have some nice brandies aging which you couldn't drink with a straight face when they were still wines. :P

KJH

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Post by Brett » Thu Jun 02, 2005 1:23 pm

:D

This is another reason why im getting into stilling, i like to experiment with country wines and so many end up undrinkable :( (cucumber and mint just as one) well that and i like a nice fruit brandy (although my testers did used to be in small quantaties).

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Post by The Chemist » Thu Jun 02, 2005 1:24 pm

I think leftlane had the important point--what you were tasting from these guys wasn't "moonshine" at all, but brandy.

Also, when doing pot distillation, the product from the first (often incorrectly called "stripping" sometimes--from a technical sense, stripping is removing all the congeners from the ethanol) distillation is called "low wines".
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Sat Jun 04, 2005 3:51 am

I will distill the champagne for sure, LeftLane. Not doing any good settin' in the basement. Will let ya'll know how it turns out. I forgot that congacs are basically made from champagne grapes.

Brett, that's mighty adventuresome of you, cucumber and mint wine! Sounds like something I would try. One of these days I hope to mess with a mint bourbon, you know, mint julep style. I think Early Times makes one, but probably adds the mint after distillation.

Off to the Graves Mountain Bluegrass Fest to hear music all day and play some in the parking lot.
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Post by Guest » Sun Jun 05, 2005 5:56 pm

I have used quite a few batches of home made wine that didn't turn out quite that good. So far, the strawberry was the best after it was distilled. mBlueberry was good...(especially after using the tater method and adding some syrup) But....my favorite was the water mellon, if ya make the syrup by simmerin' the water mellon juice on the stove for a while to evaporate alot of the water before adding it to the spirit and sugar....DAMN!! it taste like a jolly rancher. Takes a couple batches to get it right.

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Post by Jim » Mon Jun 06, 2005 3:28 pm

I have used some banana wine in my reflux still.
some things struck me funny were that the flavor or smell wasn't stripped out of the wash when it went through the scrubbers, (not a very good tasting spirt :( ) and how 2 trips through a britta filter cleaned it up to a very neutral spirt. :D

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Post by The Chemist » Mon Jun 06, 2005 4:13 pm

In Uganda, they make a product from bananas called Waragi--it's pretty nasty.
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Post by Brett » Mon Jun 06, 2005 4:54 pm

i once tried to make a wine with banana, only i added melon, strawberry n kiwi fruit, idea was to make a tropical fruit wine, that didnt work out so well tho n ended up down the drain it smelt n tasted like vomit (high alcohol vomit tho). Now if i had just had my still back then :(

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Post by Jim » Mon Jun 06, 2005 5:27 pm

not meaning to hijack the thread

But I am glad that I am not the only one that thought bananas would make good wine, I did however make a nice dried banana wine from the banana chips at the bulk food store.

Jim

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Post by Tater » Mon Jun 06, 2005 5:38 pm

Used banana in fruit recipe once. didnt care for it either.Had to much banana taste. almost like the peels to me at least. Had a friend who liked it.So it wasnt wasted.Made some mango other day I liked its taste
Last edited by Tater on Mon Jun 06, 2005 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Grayson_Stewart » Mon Jun 06, 2005 5:39 pm

Just for the record....never try canteloupes.....I didn't even want to distill it cause it was so nasty.
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Re: Distilling old wine

Post by Virginia Gentleman » Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:07 am

LeftLaneCruiser wrote:
Virginia Gentleman wrote: I do have a case of very bad champagne in the basement I plan to recycle sometime, because I sure ain't drinking it as is.
By all means do.. I'm quite sure it turns into a very nice Cognac-style brandy. 8)
So I ran the champagne last weekend, and it turned out pretty well. It's a 100 proof brandy/cognac that I put on oak (some charred, some not) and has already taken on a nice pale brown color and smoothed out a bit.

One neophytic question I have is re: methanol and congeners in a run like this. Do less of these compounds come across when you're running champagne or wine versus a regular grain or sugar wash? Thanks.
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Post by LeftLaneCruiser » Thu Jul 21, 2005 8:10 am

Unfortunately: no :cry:

Wines, and especially red wines, are the drinks with relatively the most methanol in them. Due to the pulpy parts in the must / mash when fermenting (the skins etc.).

KJH

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Post by KatoFong » Thu Jul 21, 2005 8:51 am

Running another batch of orange wine either tonight or tomorrow. Should get a couple of bottles' worth of brandy out of it. I'm very excited. The last batch aged on charred apple wood for a couple of weeks and the flavors evened out considerably and the color is a lovely orangey red.

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Post by Guest » Thu Jul 21, 2005 9:00 am

LeftLaneCruiser wrote:Unfortunately: no :cry:

Wines, and especially red wines, are the drinks with relatively the most methanol in them. Due to the pulpy parts in the must / mash when fermenting (the skins etc.).

KJH
Right, fruits in general will make more methanol than grain or sugar. Agave, though, takes the prize! Some Central/South American countries, notably Costa Rica, don't allow tequila sales because of the methanol content.

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Post by The Chemist » Thu Jul 21, 2005 9:10 am

That was me, above, somehow got bumped off.
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Post by Yttrium » Thu Jul 21, 2005 9:55 am

I've often heard that pectin in fruits is what gets converted to methanol....One thing that I've been thinking about doing is dumping some pectin, used for canning fruits, into a small test wash just to see what happens.
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Thu Jul 21, 2005 10:40 am

Thanks LLC. Sounds tasty, Kato. I may steep some sliced apples in mine to play with the flavor a bit. Seems to be asking for some fruit.

I had no idea CR doesn't sell tequila. I was there a year ago and must not have ordered any. Mostly drank Imperial, smoked Derbys and carried around a bottle of a local Aguardente de Cana which I really like. Made from sugar cane, similar to rum.
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Post by KatoFong » Thu Jul 21, 2005 11:34 am

VG If you can find them, you might try some sour-flesh cherries or some black currant. They have flavors very complementary to wine, and might be just what your cognac is looking for.

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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:14 pm

Cool, the crunchy organic grocery probably has them. I've soaked plain old cherries in shine and it tasted good, plus the cherries have quite a kick if you eat them.
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Thu Jul 21, 2005 11:34 pm

The wife happened to have a bag of black currants in the cupboard so I threw a small handful into a quart of my brandy that's a nice light brown from the oak it's sitting on. Our fiddle player loves gin raisins (soak white raisins in gin and eat the raisins) so she'll be the first taste tester.
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Tue Jul 26, 2005 1:05 am

Kato, the currants turned out real nice. Slightly sweet, real compliment to the brandy/cognac and oak. And the currants themselves are pretty tasty to eat too. THanks for the tip!
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Post by KatoFong » Tue Jul 26, 2005 6:18 am

You're welcome, VG. Glad to hear the currants helped. I might try something along those lines in my own brandy.

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Post by blanikdog » Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:19 pm

I've just gotta try currents in my brandy.
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Post by blanikdog » Tue Sep 11, 2007 12:06 am

Woe is me :(

Yesterday I bottled four litres of brandy. I filtered it through a coffee filter, added a smidgin of sherry and a little glycerin, shook it and put it in the shed full of high expectations.

Today I had a look at it and it has a sort of cotton woolish, cloudy haze floating about half way up both bottles. It actually looks like a thin cloud, but hard to describe. The rest of the brandy is perfectly clear. It has no nasty smell - I decided not to taste it - and otherwise is apparently perfectly OK. I aged it on pear wood and was fine until I bottled it.

Any ideas on what I may have done.

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Post by wineo » Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:33 pm

Whatever it is in there will probably settle out over time.I wouldnt worry about it too much.Ive got 6 gallons of wine ready to run for brandy,but caught a cold this week,and wont be going near my fermenters and carboys till Im over it.
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Post by blanikdog » Sat Sep 15, 2007 12:21 am

Thanks wineo. I thought it may have been tails, but it can't be as it was 65abv before I diluted it before bottling.
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Post by blanikdog » Thu Sep 27, 2007 5:09 pm

This brandy hasn't lost the jelly type sediment. I tried filtering it through coffee filters but to no avail. I then siphoned it into a couple of Mason type jars and disposed of the sediment. The Brandy tastes fine, but I have no idea what the sediment is.

The only difference from previous batches was that I used Pear wood for aging and I doubt that this could be the reason. Not a problem as I have a further two gallons which I aged on french oak - old barrel staves from local wineries - and it is absolutely delightful and has a gorgeous colour.

blanik

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Post by duds2u » Fri Sep 28, 2007 3:42 pm

Did you have any foaming when you were distilling?

I had something similiar happen to some malt whisky feints a while ago. I had a bit too much heat in the boiler and it foamed up and puked on me. After a couple of weeks this strange jelly stuff appeared, I filtered it out and reused them as usual with out any problems.
My theory is that it was proteins from the foam, then again wiser heads than mine may have a better take on it.

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