Cultus Bay Distillery

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Everything posted by Cultus Bay Distillery

  1. Odin, I've followed you and your business for years with great interest, mostly on the Artisan Distillers forum, but I'm greatly impressed by your depth of gin knowledge. I've done a boiler-infused potstilled gin for years, and have had very good reception of it, but I could never figure out all of what customers like about it, at least until I read this thread. I use no truly unusual botanicals, no eye of newt here, and macerate them in 50% spirit distilled on site from mostly Washington State barley malt, which satisfies our Washington Craft Distillers license restrictions. I do the actual gin distillation in a smaller essence still, which produces a gin concentrate which we later dilute with the same spirit we macerate in. In my opinion, and the opinions of our tasters and customers, our gin seems "brighter" than most other gins, and I believe the flavor spectrum is full, from front of mouth to back. Although that's in part from the botanicals bill, what you've said tells me that some is also due to maceration/stilling ABV and range of collection temperatures, although I do not do a "heads" cut on the essence run. I'm happy to hear you're not a louching nazi. Our gin sits right at the edge of louching, and can sometimes go from clear to hazy and back again, depending on (I'm guessing) ambient temperature. At any rate, in our literature I describe the tendency to louche as the result of an abundance of flavorings, and the addition of water will cause strong louching such as is happily associated with Pernod or absinthe. We sell our gin in clear glass, and do not "hide our light under a bushel". Thanks so much for this great thread, and I'm glad you're keeping that same goofy avatar.
  2. Andy, I think the difference between your potstill stripping runs and mine are are simply a matter of how far you take the distillation before you shut it down. Making the assumption that most (but certainly not all!) of your alcohol has been collected by the time you've collected 20% of your wash volume, then (with a 10% wash) 1/5 volume at 50% and 1/3 volume at 30% is pretty much the same thing. Understand I'm talking rough approximations, but not far off for a sanity check. As far as %s of heads, hearts, and tails in a final spirit run, that depends a lot on your fermentations and how you distill.
  3. Another datum, if all very ballpark: If I potstill a 10% wash (say 100 gallons for giggles) to a final head temp of 99C, I'll have pretty much all the origonal ethanol in the collected distillate, AND the ABV of that distillate will be, very roughly again, 50%. If I have all the ethanol, 10% of 100 or 10 gallons, in a a 50% mixture, than i have collected 20 gallons of distillate, approximately, or 1/5 of the original still charge. Now that's a stripping run, with no feints separation, and you can argue that 99C is too far, and that my numbers are only approximate (and they are, but pretty close), but the above scenario is a good place to start when trying to predict an outcome. How much you set a side as feints depends mostly on 2 things, your fermentation and your palate so your real numbers may vary a lot.
  4. I've occasionally used phosphoric, which we always have on hand to adjust the pH of our Star San tub below 2.9. That way, the Star San lasts and works until you can't stand looking at it.
  5. This label is from the old "non-commercial" days, and is strictly no threat to your brand, but you can see how it gives me a start to see your barrel logos.
  6. Nabtastic called it, at least in part. When you're doing strictly barley malt mashes, which we do a lot of, you need no nutrients at all. In fact, for us, our barley malt fermentations are as fast as anything I've ever seen, just a bit over two days, and certainly faster than any sugar wash with high added nutrients. We aren't doing any other grain mashes, but I did a lot of bourbon washes in the past, and they also fermented well with no added nutrients. I heard someone once, I think a yeast company rep, say that barley and grapes are yeasts very best friend, and everything that yeast could desire, but for anything else you may need to add nutrients. It's worked for me.
  7. Like RBDistiller, I'm afraid of changing brands and getting a lesser gin.
  8. Ok. My research indicated that not all poitin was made with any unmalted barley, although lots of "less historically accurate" poitin is made with all kinds of fermentables. For reasons of the stipulations of our Washington State Craft Distillers license, which decrees that >50% materials be certified grown in Washington, and because certified barley malt is available to us, while certified unmalted barley is not, we'll stick with the grain bill we're using. At any rate, the green label, the shamrocks, and the name don't seem to legally imply a specific grain bill, and it's a very nice whiskey.
  9. We just introduced our "Irish" whisky, but of course we can't call it that. What we can say is that it's a triple-potstilled single malt whisky with a green label with shamrocks, named "Mulligan XXX". We're hoping people get the idea. Helping things out, a Irish waitress at one tasting we did sniffed it, and said, "Jameson". I'm happy with that. As far as the "known by customers" part, while the first batch was aging, we sold it white at 110 proof and called it "poitin", because it's identical in specifications to that tradition Irish folk spirit. Of course, almost no-one knew what the hell poitin was.
  10. Is there any chance one of your flavoring ingredients is honey? Honey can cause a very very fine (and slow) precipitate.
  11. Just personal opinion and experience speaking, but by far the most innovative and carefully made spirits I've tasted were made in old warehouses, barns, and outbuildings, but when I taste in a gleaming fancy distillery I expect the spirit to taste like marketing, rather than quality. I've been wrong, some, of course, and Woodinville Whisky makes a very nice bourbon in an upscale "distilling palace". YMMV. ZBob
  12. Interesting. The initial red color of red cabbage does indeed degrade to a bluish color as time and (if I recall) pH change.
  13. Admittedly, we're a tiny operation at the moment, but our location on a recreational waterway determines that we also can't discharge waste coolant. I built a closed-loop heat exchanger from a Harbor Freight shallow well pressure system, a 24" Harbor Freight fan, a shroud, and a BMW M3 radiator. Although our ambient may (depending on what part of California you''re in) be lower than yours, the system cools our potstill and both condensers on the column still. The column has a 5500W element, and the potstill burner supposedly can put out ~25,000W, although after boilup we drop it way back. Because the delta-T is lower, chilling wort is slower than I'd like. I do have a modification ready to install that should increase our cooling capacity greatly. It's a couple of drip irrigation "misters" between the fan and the radiator, so I'll get all that phase-change energy from vaporizing the mist. See it here.
  14. Great advice! I've encountered some relatively flavorless juniper berries, but fortunately never used them in a commercial product. Penzey's Spice Company is very good (in my opinion) for quality, but they stopped selling in bulk at bulk price. Now we use San Francisco Spice Co. for the "easy" botanicals, and Mountain Rose (I'm an ex-pat Oregonian) for the less common ones. So far our flavor has been great. I'm not sure exactly the reason, but people comment (and I agree) that our gin is "brighter" than most London Dry types.
  15. I completely agree. I just tend to look at everything through a potstiller's eyes,
  16. Bluestar, thanks for handling what I've come to call the "magic boiling point myth", which often ends with the proponent stating that if you can hold the wash temperature higher than the boiling point of ethanol, but lower than that of water, you can get just ethanol out of the condenser. I've been known to rant on the subject, and you did much better than I often do. Actually, as beverage distillers we almost never run into totally immiscible liquids, although we commonly deal with non-water-or-ethanol mixtures that approach concentration of immiscibility. Our gin, for instance, is close to louching (incipient immiscibility), such that temperature or ethanol concentrations can cause or reverse louching. I think everyone's absinthe is similarly unstable. Even in essential oil distillation, where those oils are mostly immiscible with water, much of the oil is actually mixed with the water as a hydrasol, Hope I didn't muddy the water.
  17. That's truly cool. My ancestor was Robert Philson, a shopkeeper in Berlin, and he was arrested with Harlan (sometimes Herman?) Husband. The stories of the army's progress in the history books are hilarious.
  18. Thanks for the kind words, guys. What AC-DC and 3d0g refer to is that we've known each other for years on multiple hobbyist distillation forums. Starting with the old Yahoo Distiller and New Distiller forums (where I may still be a moderator) grown out of New Zealand home-distilling legalization, international hobby distilling forums have been a huge factor in developing and disseminating the theoretical and applied information that all of us now take for granted. Shortly after the turn of the century, there was so much awful, dangerous, and superstitious distillation misinformation running rampant, that it was seriously difficult to get good facts about our science/art. The situation was so bad that I wrote "Making Fine Spirits" (Amphora Society) just to give the beginner some trusted facts and procedures he could build on. While I can't prove it, I'm betting that most of the artisan distillers here started with information, first-, second-, or third-hand, that we hammered the BS out of in the hobby forums. Truth be known, I'm kinda proud of all of our efforts.
  19. Hi. I'm Bob, the designer, builder, recipe wrangler, tax-bungler, chemist and engineer at Cultus Bay Distillery, a tiny distillery on the banks of Cultus Bay. Our DSP is now about 9 months old, and we started conventionally producing a vodka, and old gin recipe of mine, as well as a triple-potstilled single malt white whisky we've named (legitimately) poitin. On St. Paddy's day we bottled our first batch of aged poitin, proofed to 86, as an Irish whisky (actually a single-malt with an Irish name and shamrocks, hoping they'll figure it out). I'm a potstiller and brown liquor maker by nature, but for the vodka and gin base we built one of the new (to me,anyway) condenser-controlled vapor management stills, which appears to work beautifully, even in the ham-fists of an old pot-thumper like me. I've read the ADI newsletter for perhaps a year, but I never realized there was a forum. I love a good forum.
  20. Is that Liberty Pole Spirits?! My 3-greats grandfather was arrested in Berlin Pennsylvania by Washington's (or maybe Hamilton's) army during the whiskey rebellion, and his crime was erecting a liberty pole, from which flew the motto "Liberty, but no excise". In my "amateur" days, I used that name of my gift bottles.
  21. Have you contacted Swede? I think he's still on the Artisan Distiller forum.
  22. Hey, 3d0g. ZBob here. Looking forward to this forum.