Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

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zed255
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Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by zed255 » Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:22 am

I'm pretty sure I know the answer to my query, or at least where my leanings are, but will ask anyhow.

I have stripped a batch of AG whiskey based on 75% 2-Row Malted Barley, 15% Flaked Red Wheat, and 10% Flaked Oats. Using those grains I re-steeped and produced a gumballhead as well, which is also stripped. I have about 26.5L of AG low wines at 28% ABV and about 23L of Gumballhead low wines at 38% ABV

My quandary is this: I have enough AG low wines for 2 spirit runs in my small pot still, and another 2 spirit runs to process the gumballhead, but neither amount of low wines alone would be a comfortable charge for my keg boiler. My keg needs about 12L to ensure the elements stay submerged and a quick calculation suggests my elements *should* remain submerged, but would come to within a couple liters of the danger zone for the AG and the Gumballhead would be on the hairy edge of exposing the elements. Would you:

1) Go ahead with multiple runs in a smaller still, keeping AG and Gumball separate
2) Risk a single run in the keg for each, again keeping AG and Gumball separate
3) Use the keg for each, but add some water to ensure the elements remain covered
4) Put the AG and the Gumball together in the keg and do one larger run

This is my first AG whiskey, so I'm disinclined to mix the AG and Gumballhead together. I'm also not inclined to add water and possibly dilute the flavous. I'm not a risk taker either, so multiple runs in the small pot looks like the best choice. Other opinions? My current available equipment is a 15.5 US Gallon keg boiler with internal elements, a 16 qt stock pot rig and a Brewzilla 35L with distilling lid. The Brewzilla has the volume and element positioning to be an option, but not without some modification. It has no power control outside of switching elements on or off (120V version has 500W and 1000W elements, so without adding a power controller and running the elements on their own only 500W, 1000W and 1500W steps are possible).

Just thought I'd throw out the question should anyone have had a similar experience and advice based on that experience.
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by Deplorable » Tue Sep 29, 2020 1:19 pm

Why not add a layer of marbles to the bottom of you keg boiler to effectively raise the bottom and ensure your elements stay covered?
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by zed255 » Tue Sep 29, 2020 2:49 pm

I did give that some consideration but thought that might stifle convection in the boiler leading to trapped product under the material. Maybe this is not really an issue, I have no experience with adding inert volume to the boiler to alter the liquid level.

As a secondary question, how does the gumballhead compare to the real AG it is derived from? Are they vastly different animals?
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by jonnys_spirit » Tue Sep 29, 2020 3:40 pm

I don’t know the answer but am interested. How do the low wines compare?

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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by Swedish Pride » Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:58 pm

Run the ag first, no way you collect 14 l on the spirit run.

Add heads and tails from ag run to the sugar head, that should keep you in the safe zone for that run as well
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by Windy City » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:23 am

zed255 wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 2:49 pm
As a secondary question, how does the gumballhead compare to the real AG it is derived from? Are they vastly different animals?
I have run Jimbo's recipe a few times. I am generally not a fan of sugar heads but this actually changed my mind.
It was different then the AG but after some time on oak it was very tasty.
I also did not feel guilty using it in a mixer like I do with my AG.
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by zed255 » Wed Sep 30, 2020 12:44 pm

Swedish Pride wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:58 pm
Run the ag first, no way you collect 14 l on the spirit run.

Add heads and tails from ag run to the sugar head, that should keep you in the safe zone for that run as well
Hadn't thought of that. This might be the direction to go to use the keg for a single run on each. Like I had speculated earlier, I should stay in the safe zone for the AG, but adding the AG feints to the gumball low wines (or even a little AG backset) will give the added volume needed to stay safe.

Thanks for the suggestion.
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by zed255 » Wed Sep 30, 2020 12:51 pm

jonnys_spirit wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 3:40 pm
I don’t know the answer but am interested. How do the low wines compare?

Cheers,
-jonny
Well, I will update when I get it done.

The AG low wines are oily and cloudy, having an interesting nose. Smells like there's lots to offer and in a good way.

The gumballhead is cleaner and milder smelling, with crystal clear low wines. Per Swedish Pride's suggestion of adding the AG feints to increase volume might bolster the gumballheads flavour too.

I will make a final decision on how to get these runs done, just have a new option to mull over.
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by zed255 » Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:10 am

Well, I have gotten around to doing the spirit runs on the AG. The gumballhead to follow. Ended up doing two tandem runs in the smaller pot still and will likely end up doing the same with the gumballhead. I have some observations and need a little advice.

The runs went smoothly, save for higher ABV than expected - my hearts cut is at 70% ABV. Heads are surprisingly minimal, to the point of having my wife double check and agree with my assessment. I ran about 24l of 28% ABV, with about 3l of low wines extra to process later in some way. I only rejected the first 800ml, which seemed low but I cant argue with the smell and (diluted) taste. Hearts started in at 77% ABV and ran down to 59% ABV, with most of the collection above 70% ABV. I suspect with the autumn weather and cooler temps in the house I may have gotten more pronounced passive reflux. Not sure though as most report lower ABV from their pot stills.

My quandary is where I come to the tails. I am not finding anything particularly off-putting to make good choices in my tails cut and blending. My tails jars are starting at 55% ABV and I ran batch 1 down to 13% ABV and batch two to 3% ABV. Some jars have a small amount of oil on top and all are crystal clear. The smell and taste are of course variable as one would expect, with quite a few having a good deal of the grain / earthy character in one way or the other (smell / taste / both). Only a couple jars were picked out by my wife as cardboard / musty / dog fart, and of those only maybe two I'd reject outright. Those were very low ABV.

I don't want to stuff up this whiskey with too much tails, so can anyone offer some advice? I have done a few prospective blends, all of which were different but all seemed pleasant in their own way. I may have to involve other noses / palates because I'm lost on this one, it is nothing like a sugar shine where cuts are way more obvious.
Last edited by zed255 on Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by still_stirrin » Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:19 am

zed255 wrote:
Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:10 am
...I don't want to stuff up this whiskey with too much tails, so can anyone offer some advice?
Sure....don't get "greedy". Cut tight on the top and be gentle with the bottom.
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by zed255 » Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:01 am

SS, I agree with not wanting to be greedy. I have learned that lesson already.

All I really want is to add enough to achieve an initial ageing strength of about 62% ABV, if reasonable to do so without resorting to water. I'm just stymied by the lack of clarity in what I have to choose from. Too much is actually appealing, so how to choose the best of the tails and reject the rest into my feints.

My plan is to basically step-age this with new well seasoned oak, about 2/3 toasted and 1/3 medium charred in glass with a breathable cheese cloth layer between the jar and swing top glass lid. This worked well for my rum. I plan on a gradually reducing ABV over the course of at least 18 to 24 months before final proofing and bottling to try and get the best qualities from the wood over time.

What do folks look for when choosing? I think it should be fairly obvious what to avoid, but if you have more than you need that seems good, what then? In this case I'd use less low ABV tails than higher ABV tails to achieve my goal of diluting without water, though the low ABV jars are where my most questionable tails are.
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by zed255 » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:16 am

For what it might be worth, I ended up keeping the blend fairly clean, just a little late heads and a little early tails.

The bulk is one container with a little toasted oak and a little light char oak. The balance I split, one on a sliver of toasted oak only, the other on a sliver of light char oak only. I proofed down to 62% ABV to start the process and will gradually adjust proof down over the course of 18-24 months to see how this turns out.
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by n_plains_drifter » Thu Oct 29, 2020 4:53 pm

Howdy Zed,

I did a similar experiment with AG & GH a couple of months back. I'm running a basic pot on an 30l boiler. A difference btw my AG and yours was that there was a very discernable tails cut, starting at about 55%. Everything from that point on went to feints.

For the gumball head, II was pleasantly surprised to get a dramatic difference than my sugar wash, using the spent grains from a ~50l whisky ferment across another 80 or so l of gumball head. I did a couple of strips for a GH to be aged on oak, using up the feints from the AG. The overall character was far different from a normal sugar wash (I use a simplified Birdwatchers tomato based). The tails had a distinct resemblance to those from the AG.

I had a couple of fermenters that hadn't quite kicked off right, so I combined all of the grain together, split it up i to 3 fermenters, added more sugar and yeast and let her rip. That batch has seen one spirit run, but I've got 2 more in the plan, because I want to see how a 4X distillation of GH compares to my 4X of BirdWatchers.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised! I'm gearing up for another AG mash and ferment in the next week.

Best, Drifter

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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by 8Ball » Fri Oct 30, 2020 3:48 pm

Piggy back sugarheads are a great way to stay out of your aging stock.

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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by n_plains_drifter » Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:10 pm

8Ball wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 3:48 pm
Piggy back sugarheads are a great way to stay out of your aging stock.
Do tell, not sure what you mean by 'piggy back'. Details?

Thanks, Drifter

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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by Corsaire » Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:54 pm


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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by 8Ball » Fri Nov 13, 2020 8:10 pm

n_plains_drifter wrote:
Fri Nov 13, 2020 6:10 pm
8Ball wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 3:48 pm
Piggy back sugarheads are a great way to stay out of your aging stock.
Do tell, not sure what you mean by 'piggy back'. Details?

Thanks, Drifter
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Re: Mixed run - AG and Gumballhead?

Post by n_plains_drifter » Mon Nov 16, 2020 2:35 am

Ahhh, got it. Thanks!

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