Polishing Finished Spirits

Treatment and handling of your distillate.

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SourMash56
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Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by SourMash56 » Mon Oct 26, 2020 4:27 am

I mainly make a Bourbon style whisky to precisely suit my own taste. In the normal course of events I am extremely happy with my finished spirits but recently I have found I have a lot more spirits than I consume myself or with friends. Last January I put 2 five liter jugs of finished, crystal clear Whisky away in a 'safe' place and mentally tagged them for the christmas holidays this year.

When I took the jugs from their hiding place I noticed the bottom of the jugs looked 'dusty' but, on examination, I discovered that the dustiness was on the inside and that in the 10 months since bottling there had been some settling out of something that was not otherwise visible in the spirits.

Bottles in my drinks cabinet, that might be there for a month, don't have this but a bottle that's been in the cabinet of 6 months does show a very slight haze on the floor of the bottle.

Whatever it is I have to believe it's a microscopic particulate from the time the spirit spends on White Oak during aging and flavoring, which is usually 3-6 months.

My problem is how do I remove this particulate or polish my finished spirits before bottling. I can't use carbon and I am hoping there is an answer out there that I haven't been able to find by searching the forum.

All replies and suggestions welcome.

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Durhommer
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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by Durhommer » Mon Oct 26, 2020 4:46 am

Its prolly corn oils falling out of suspension. Most everything stays behind in the still sometimes oils make it over (tails maybe) I usually filter thru brown coffee filters triple up when I bottle anyway that's what I was told and that's what I do it works for me
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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by still_stirrin » Mon Oct 26, 2020 4:58 am

I’ve found that coffee filters won’t filter it out because the precipitate is so fine. It does settle, but is easily stirred. Oaking in a cask will usually catch the precipitate in the wood’s pores. But if you’re storing in glass and you want to leave it behind, the best thing to do is to rack (siphon) the clear off the top.

But fear not, that “powder” does add some flavor to your white spirit. So shaking the bottle before pouring is not a bad idea. If served “neat”, then you just relax and enjoy the rich flavors. Don’t worry about a little cloudiness. Enjoy it.
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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by SourMash56 » Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:00 am

Thanks for the input guys. I use LME cause I'm too lazy to mash grains and I cut very early into the tails so I'm pretty sure it's not oils but thanks for the suggestion Durhommer.

Still_Stirrin: I Oak in 20lt stainless steel kegs using Oak mini staves. I regularly store White Dog samples from my spirit runs and use these for making other things from time to time. The White Dog has no such problem, even after sitting for a year, so I'm pretty sure it's coming from the Oak. Problem is how to remove such fine particulates. Cloudy whisky.....not for me thanks ;-)

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by still_stirrin » Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:13 pm

Sourmash,

If you believe the “dust” is from the wood chips, then the coffee filters should work. As Durhommer suggested, you might double a couple up when you pour it from the stainless (Cornelius?) keg. I use a funnel with the filters in it and pour the whiskey through it. If you’ve got a lot to filter, you may need to change the filters a couple of times through the process. You can filter it into mason jars before filling your favorite decanter. It’ll clean it up for you.
ss
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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by stillanoob » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:52 pm

Stuff some cotton balls into the spout of the funnel and use the coffee filters too. I haven't done that with spirits but it worked with extracts (like a spearmint extract I made).

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by NZChris » Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:20 pm

I rack off the clear, give the jar a swirl and filter the dregs through my liver.

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by SourMash56 » Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:06 pm

Thanks for the offer to clean it up for me, ss but I think you're a long way from my place. No buffalo or antelope around these parts.

Anyhoo,I do strain my whisky as it's taken off the Oak but that's to catch bits of wood dust you can see. I use three layers of non-woven, medical grade, cotton swabs on top of a stainless steel scrubber in my funnel. That works fine and the whisky has a crystal clear appearance after that but....

Thanks stillanoob, I used to use cotton wool as part of my straining kit but one time I was out of cotton wool and went on without. The result seemed just as good so I stopped using it. Maybe I should try again.

If that doesn't fix things I think I might try the coffee filters or maybe get some lab filter paper and see what happens. I've also heard you can use Applewood charcoal to filter whisky without affecting the flavor or color but I've had no luck finding any of that where I'm from.

NZChris; I think my liver is probably too old to try that one ;-)

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by still_stirrin » Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:57 pm

SourMash56 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:06 pm
Thanks for the offer to clean it up for me, ss but I think you're a long way from my place. No buffalo or antelope around these parts.
I think you misread my reply...go read it again.
SourMash56 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:06 pm
Anyhoo,I do strain my whisky as it's taken off the Oak but that's to catch bits of wood dust you can see. I use three layers of non-woven, medical grade, cotton swabs on top of a stainless steel scrubber in my funnel. That works fine and the whisky has a crystal clear appearance after that but....But what????
SourMash56 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:06 pm
Thanks stillanoob, I used to use cotton wool as part of my straining kit but one time I was out of cotton wool and went on without. The result seemed just as good so I stopped using it. Maybe I should try again.
If it’s the oils, most common to corn, that has caused a “cloudy/hazy” spirit, especially after tempering to 40%ABV, then filtering might not get it for you. If it is just “dust” particulate from the wood chips, then filtering should help. So, it depends what you’ve got, and that may be recipe and process dependent.
SourMash56 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:06 pm
If that doesn't fix things I think I might try the coffee filters or maybe get some lab filter paper and see what happens. I've also heard you can use Applewood charcoal to filter whisky without affecting the flavor or color but I've had no luck finding any of that where I'm from.
Charcoal will pull some of the flavor (and colors) out, especially some of the qualities imparted by aging on oak. So, I wouldn’t recommend this option if your intent is to maintain to flavors.
ss
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
My LM/VM & Potstill: My build thread
My Cadco hotplate modification thread: Hotplate Build
My stock pot gin still: stock pot potstill
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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by SourMash56 » Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:14 pm

still_stirrin wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:57 pm
SourMash56 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:06 pm
Thanks for the offer to clean it up for me, ss but I think you're a long way from my place. No buffalo or antelope around these parts.
I think you misread my reply...go read it again.

Apologies, I thought it said "I'll clean it...." My bad :oops:

SourMash56 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:06 pm
Anyhoo,I do strain my whisky as it's taken off the Oak but that's to catch bits of wood dust you can see. I use three layers of non-woven, medical grade, cotton swabs on top of a stainless steel scrubber in my funnel. That works fine and the whisky has a crystal clear appearance after that but....But what????

As I said the whisky appears crystal clear after straining but....clearly it's not as crystal as it looks given that some extremely fine, almost invisible particulates, settle out over time.

SourMash56 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:06 pm
Thanks stillanoob, I used to use cotton wool as part of my straining kit but one time I was out of cotton wool and went on without. The result seemed just as good so I stopped using it. Maybe I should try again.
still_stirrin wrote; If it’s the oils, most common to corn, that has caused a “cloudy/hazy” spirit, especially after tempering to 40%ABV, then filtering might not get it for you. If it is just “dust” particulate from the wood chips, then filtering should help. So, it depends what you’ve got, and that may be recipe and process dependent.
Cloudy or hazy whisky is easy to deal with, I just recycle it :thumbup: I don't use corn so I doubt it's oils. It is definitely dust but it's so fine the whisky appears crystal clean after straining.
SourMash56 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:06 pm
If that doesn't fix things I think I might try the coffee filters or maybe get some lab filter paper and see what happens. I've also heard you can use Applewood charcoal to filter whisky without affecting the flavor or color but I've had no luck finding any of that where I'm from.
still_stirrin wrote; Charcoal will pull some of the flavor (and colors) out, especially some of the qualities imparted by aging on oak. So, I wouldn’t recommend this option if your intent is to maintain to flavors.
I only mentioned this because while visiting the websites of various distilleries in Kentucky I seem to remember one saying they polish their whisky by passing it through Applewood charcoal that the distillery produces for that specific purpose. For the life of me I can't remember which distillery - I really am gettin old - or maybe I just imagined it.

Anyway thanks for all the input the debate helps me sort out what I need to do. :thumbup:

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by thumper123 » Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:42 pm

This has all been a thorn in my side forever. I age my bourbon in glass with charred oak strips for four years then cut it to 100 proof. At that point it gets hazy (before that it's crystal clear). This makes me think along the oils theory, but at 100 proof? I think they should be still dissolved at that proof. I don't really care if there's haze in my whiskey as 99% is drunk by yours truly, but the few bottles that I pass along to my kids and friends at Christmastime is another matter - it has to be perfect in every way. I've been super careful with my tails and that has made a little difference, but at this time I filter through a vacuum powered 1 micron filtering setup. It's slow, slow, slow. Coffee filters are slow too. You have to change them umpteen times (as well as the 1 micron guys). Christmas is coming and my grandchildren are now drinking too. Any help would be appreciated.

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by NZChris » Wed Oct 28, 2020 2:38 pm

thumper123 wrote:
Wed Oct 28, 2020 12:42 pm
This has all been a thorn in my side forever. I age my bourbon in glass with charred oak strips for four years then cut it to 100 proof. At that point it gets hazy (before that it's crystal clear). This makes me think along the oils theory, but at 100 proof? I think they should be still dissolved at that proof. I don't really care if there's haze in my whiskey as 99% is drunk by yours truly, but the few bottles that I pass along to my kids and friends at Christmastime is another matter - it has to be perfect in every way. I've been super careful with my tails and that has made a little difference, but at this time I filter through a vacuum powered 1 micron filtering setup. It's slow, slow, slow. Coffee filters are slow too. You have to change them umpteen times (as well as the 1 micron guys). Christmas is coming and my grandchildren are now drinking too. Any help would be appreciated.
Look up "chill filtering"

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by The Baker » Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:52 pm

If there is maybe a problem with 'oils', siphon from below the surface....

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by NZChris » Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:43 pm

You don't have to put the whole jar through the filter. To save time, I only ever filter the dirty liquor. If a filter doesn't work as well as you hoped and you've put the whole jar through it, you're back where you started and you might as well have racked off the clear and drunk the dregs.

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by thumper123 » Fri Oct 30, 2020 6:30 am

Thank you all for your advice gentlemen. Unfortunately, I've tried most of this stuff to include chilling which I always do before I filter. Also, you're right about not having to filter the whole jar, NZChris; I might just bottle the top liquor and drink the hazy part myself. I'm going to take a serious look at my wash racking process that The Baker has suggested. I currently siphon the top liquid from a mash then strain the rest through screen, rack for a day then run it so at least some of the oils are present - there is definitely corn oil cooked out in the mash. I've looked at my local craft distiller's filtering methods. Of course they cut to 80 proof, but don't seem to have my problem. I think they are just looking for a good polish. They use a BIG 1 micron filter with high suction. Overkill for me.

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by SourMash56 » Fri Oct 30, 2020 11:51 am

A number of years ago I had a problem with haze in my 'finished' spirits. I tried altering my recipe, I washed/rinsed my Oak carefully before use but no matter what I did the problem persisted.

A wise old distiller, more experienced than me, suggested it might be caused by my water either in the wash or, more likely, in letting my spirits down to bottle strength. The solution, for me, came about when I bought and fitted a simple reverse osmosis system where I drew water for my spirits. For me, this completely solved the haze problem and I've never looked back since.

My current problem, and the subject of this thread, is definitely particulates so fine they are almost invisible until they have enough time to settle out.

I've ordered some lab grade filter papers and see how I get on with them. If I find any positive method or results I'll post back here asap.

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by Durhommer » Fri Oct 30, 2020 12:00 pm

I been thinking on that setup the ro deal I just use bottle water right now so that really sounds good using the ro system
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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by jonnys_spirit » Fri Oct 30, 2020 12:55 pm

I'd think that distilling would clear up any mash issues. I use bottled spring water for proofing. That might help as a test?

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by thumper123 » Sun Nov 01, 2020 8:24 am

I've always used distilled water to cut, but not in the mashing so maybe I'd better concentrate on that. My haze precipitates out when chilling, but it's existence at all is surprising in that I only cut to 100 Proof (from barrel strength of 130). Supposedly the haze shouldn't be there until you get down to around 90 or so. Thanks again for your help. At present I'll live with the haze - it certainly doesn't affect the taste.
I've given up on the laboratory type filtering. It's just too slow, and you have to change the filters very often because they're so small. This winter I'm going to build my own filtering system using multiple coffee filters and air pressure instead of the weak suction commonly available on scientific sites. If successful pictures will follow.

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by Durhommer » Sun Nov 01, 2020 9:09 am

Let us all know what you come up with
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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by thumper123 » Tue Nov 17, 2020 11:57 am

I finished my filter, and it works great. I tried to attach a pic, but no luck. If any of you want to see it I'd be happy to send pic via email.

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by hellbilly007 » Tue Nov 17, 2020 2:17 pm

Sourmash, did you happen to rinse your filters before using them? I've had particulate from various brand coffee filters come through in the coffee, so I'd imagine it's possible in your liquor

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Re: Polishing Finished Spirits

Post by thumper123 » Fri Nov 20, 2020 7:06 am

I'm using four coffee filters which is entirely doable with a little pressure. Nope, nice and clear.

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