Second run alcohol percentage

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Second run alcohol percentage

Post by New to distilling » Tue Aug 16, 2016 7:18 pm

Hi Folks forgive my ignorance as I usually use a reflux still and sugar washers for neturals but have recently purchased a stainless Steel pot sill with a high-ish narrow stainless steel cap almost like a very small fractioning column. I have never made corn whiskeys, bourbons etc but am beginning my foray into it by reading some of the recipes and techniques.
My question is, when doing a second run with a pot still (no thumper) what percent purity alcohol comes out of the still for the hearts?

I have experimented and can do a first run when distilling a sugar wash with about 50% purity but found I can up that by adding pot scrubbers into the column and slightly refluxing it to have it coming out at 80% purity depending on how many pot scrubbers I add.
I'm keen to try my first bourbon but figure why do two runs when I need only do one retaining the flavour. But what percentage should I take it to?
Any advice?

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by NZChris » Tue Aug 16, 2016 8:33 pm

It is what it is after you have made your final selection for your cut.

This might help. http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 63&t=13261

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by Johnnywhiskey » Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:28 pm

New to distilling wrote:Hi Folks forgive my ignorance as I usually use a reflux still and sugar washers for neturals but have recently purchased a stainless Steel pot sill with a high-ish narrow stainless steel cap almost like a very small fractioning column. I have never made corn whiskeys, bourbons etc but am beginning my foray into it by reading some of the recipes and techniques.
My question is, when doing a second run with a pot still (no thumper) what percent purity alcohol comes out of the still for the hearts?

I have experimented and can do a first run when distilling a sugar wash with about 50% purity but found I can up that by adding pot scrubbers into the column and slightly refluxing it to have it coming out at 80% purity depending on how many pot scrubbers I add.
I'm keen to try my first bourbon but figure why do two runs when I need only do one retaining the flavour. But what percentage should I take it to?
Any advice?
One run or two runs? I think you will find strong opinions on each side of that debate, particularly for bourbon and other American-style whiskeys. I make bourbon with one run run on a CM column with packing and use the dephleg coolant flow to stabilize the proof between 130-135 for the hearts. From trial and error I found that below 120 the flavor and mouth feel got too heavy, and above 145 too much flavor was stripped out. By adjusting the reflux to keep the proof roughly constant it makes head-to-head comparison between runs easier.

Some do one run with reflux but keep the refux constant, and it works for them. Some do two pot still runs without any reflux. I like using the controlled reflux so I have more control out of the final proof, and "arguably" commercial bourbon distillation is more like 1 and a 1/2 distillations, not two distillations, and two pot still distillations strip out too much flavor. On the other hand, single malt whiskey is probably better done as two distillations, or one run refluxed to a higher proof.

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by New to distilling » Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:33 pm

Thanks, My biggest issue was stripping out the flavor, bit of trial & error I guess, hopefully not too much error!

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by New to distilling » Wed Aug 17, 2016 12:47 pm

Cheers Chris, Just viewed it, that makes sense,

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by NZChris » Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:39 pm

Johnnywhiskey wrote: .... and two pot still distillations strip out too much flavor.
I'd be treating that statement as an opinion, not a fact. In my experience, pot stills are a poor tool for stripping out flavor. You can control how much flavor you want in your product by how deep you strip and how you decide on your final cut.

A single pass with a simple pot still doesn't produce a high enough abv for oaking and aging, plus the yield and flavor of it's so called 'heart cut' is pathetic compared to the product from a second pass, where you would normally have three or four strip runs in the boiler, producing a much greater volume of spirits to choose your cut from.

A fermenter that will hold four charges worth of wash will fill your cellar much quicker than messing about with single runs, be they pot still, or reflux.

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by steelmb » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:11 pm

NZChris wrote:
... A fermenter that will hold four charges worth of wash will fill your cellar much quicker than messing about with single runs, be they pot still, or reflux.
That would be a matter of opinion as well.
I believe MCH may have said it best. "It's your hooch, you get to choose."
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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by GrassHopper » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:51 pm

steelmb wrote:
NZChris wrote:
... A fermenter that will hold four charges worth of wash will fill your cellar much quicker than messing about with single runs, be they pot still, or reflux.
That would be a matter of opinion as well.
I would have to agree with NZ on this if I understand what he means. I used to do one charge at a time in my fermenter. I had to wait till each was done to distill it. I now do four charges at once and I can distill two times a day for two days. It's a no brainer. Doesn't take me forever to fill my oak barrels anymore. That is a matter of opinion of course. YMMV

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by Hound Dog » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:54 pm

I agree with NZC. I always strip and run low wines no matter what I'm making.
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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by Johnnywhiskey » Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:52 pm

Out of curiosity, for those that do a stripping and spirit run, what is the proof of your final hearts cut before barrel proofing?

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by NZChris » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:52 pm

Close enough to 62.5% that sometimes I don't dilute. My last UJSSM cut was 64%.

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by Johnnywhiskey » Sat Aug 20, 2016 4:34 pm

NZChris wrote:Close enough to 62.5% that sometimes I don't dilute. My last UJSSM cut was 64%.
Interesting. In my limited experience with double distillations, my heart cuts usually ended up closer to 70% or more, particularly when you add some feigns to the spirit run. Maybe you run your stripping out longer than than I did? I don't have any experience with UJSSM, but poking around the forum it seems like most of the members who run UJSSM end up with a higher spirit proof than 125.
GrassHopper wrote:I now do four charges at once and I can distill two times a day for two days. It's a no brainer. Doesn't take me forever to fill my oak barrels anymore. That is a matter of opinion of course. YMMV
As time saving as it would be, I'm not in a situation where I could scale up to a fermentation 4X my boiler. That would be over 100lbs of grain and 40 gallons of liquid--not that it cannot be done, just not a good fit for me. Plus, there is something to be said for smaller runs. I just finished up a couple of batches of bourbon, and now want to experiment with a 10 gallon batch of oat whiskey, and maybe brew 10 gallons of beer and distill that. 10 gallons is a better size to experiment with, rather than 40.

Stay Thirsty, JW

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by NZChris » Sat Aug 20, 2016 6:14 pm

Johnnywhiskey wrote:Interesting. In my limited experience with double distillations, my heart cuts usually ended up closer to 70% or more, particularly when you add some feigns to the spirit run. Maybe you run your stripping out longer than than I did? I don't have any experience with UJSSM, but poking around the forum it seems like most of the members who run UJSSM end up with a higher spirit proof than 125.
I run most strips until the collection vessel is 30% or below and don't put feints back into either run of most products.

When I put my distillery together, I knew that the products I liked to drink weren't made in a single pass in a pot still and figured that I was never going to make as good a quality likker in a single run, so I sized the fermenter for three or four charges and built a Charantaise style preheater to speed up stripping. With only one wait for heat up, it will strip four charges in a day and uses bugger all cooling water. One weekend of stilling puts more likker in my cellar than I could drink in six months.

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by Johnnywhiskey » Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:33 am

No doubt that reflux column distillation can be used strip flavor to the point of producing a flavorless spirit. However, a reflux column can also be used to produce highly flavored spirits too. For example, Armagnac is traditionally single column distilled. I’m no brandy snob, but Armagnac is well known for retaining more flavor than its double distilled cousin Cognac. Similarly Bourbon has a very robust flavor profile—due in part to the way it is distilled (as well as the barrels used and aging conditions, but that is also in part to balance strong character of the white dog). Essentially every bourbon is single distilled (despite the marketing otherwise), and has been largely column distilled since before the civil war. Same goes for American rye whiskey. I’m not saying that single distillation is better than double, but devil is in how you run your still, regardless of the design. Column distillation provides additional flexibility to control your distillation. You can use that flexibility to remove or preserve the flavor of your mash based on what proof you distill at.

BTW, any chance you could post a picture of your preheater? I'd be interested in seeing how you designed that.

Stay Thirsty, JW

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by NZChris » Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:17 pm

Johnnywhiskey wrote:BTW, any chance you could post a picture of your preheater? I'd be interested in seeing how you designed that.
Do an image search for Charantaise preheater, mine was designed from an old drawing that comes up in the search. It has 1.75 turns of worm in the bottom of a vessel the same volume as the still and that works well for me. Both my pot and preheater are lagged. A well plumbed system should have the next charge pouring less than five minutes after you finish a strip.

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Re: Second run alcohol percentage

Post by New to distilling » Tue Aug 23, 2016 12:25 pm

Well I've just put down my first grain whiskey. Going to try the sweet feed receipe going to run it through my semi fractioning coloum at 65% hoping the flavour will still be there.

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