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Tips on making rough vodka smooth?

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captnKB    20

did you make a heads cut? <-----Thats a joke

Good filtration using granulated carbon and lots of it will make for a smoother tasting vodka

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captnKB    20

1 pound per 50 gal @100 proof is a good rough approximation. The key is to pass the spirits through the carbon slowly. I like to setup a slow recirculation system where you go from holding tank to carbon filter to pump and back to holding tank at a slow rate. 

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BRDC    4

The biggest difficulties with small scale charcoal filtering is compacting and channeling. You can easily solve that problem, get a better flow rate, and maximize your charcoal's usability by forcing the vodka up from the bottom instead of the top of your filter. 

 

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Skaalvenn    24

I don't think a diagram is quite necessary.  One simply puts carbon in a tube and pumps vodka in from the bottom instead of pumping it in from the top.

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BRDC    4

It is basically a cascade system pumped into the bottom of one pipe out of the top and then into the bottom of the next. Don't skimp on quality hoses and clamps. A good deal of pressure can build up and the last thing you want is to have vodka running down the drain. 

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BRDC    4

We use a 12x30 mesh granular carbon. buyactivatedcharcoal.com is a great source as they can do 50# sacks and 2,000# super sacks. They have the best pricing that I have been able to find. Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Winston

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HedgeBird    24
7 minutes ago, BRDC said:

We use a 12x30 mesh granular carbon. buyactivatedcharcoal.com is a great source as they can do 50# sacks and 2,000# super sacks. They have the best pricing that I have been able to find. Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Winston

Are you getting the regular 12x30 or the acid washed?  Thanks for the lead!

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BRDC    4

We use the acid washed. We have found that it performs a little better and our set-up allows our filter to remain flooded so the carbon does not dry out. Also if you use multiple pipes like we do, a 40 mesh screen gasket is adequate to keep the carbon in place. 

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On 5/18/2016 at 9:58 PM, Skaalvenn said:

I don't think a diagram is quite necessary.  One simply puts carbon in a tube and pumps vodka in from the bottom instead of pumping it in from the top.

man you sir are one smart feller.

 

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On 6/1/2016 at 10:06 AM, HedgeBird said:

Any recommendations for websites selling good granulated carbon in larger packages?

there are several places, but I like ebay, real coconut carbon, steam activated

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Mulderbri    1

we use www.buyactivatedcharcoal.com  They have the coconut.  They have small quantities and large.  It comes rinsed so we don't even rinse.  We gravity feed from a holding tank placed above our stainless steel housing and feed into the bottom.  It runs really slow by design and gives us great results in one pass.  We filter once after proofing down to 90.

 

Happy Filtering.

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We're able to filter about 6G of 100 proof using 5.5lb of carbon. Up until the 5th or 6th gallon, the product is tasting very neutral and towards the end, the flavor from our grain bill starts to pull thru.

Make sure you rinse your carbon first, fill up a bucket with desired amount, use hot water to rinse, stir, and allow to sit for a bit. Most of the carbon will settle at the bottom, pour off the liquid from the top of the carbon, refill ( a couple inches above where the solids sit ), stir, and add carbon/water to whatever vessel you are using as the filter system. We have a 6 foot, 3" diamater column with a hopper on top, coffee filters on the bottom held by a giant hose clamp. Once the water from the top of the hopper has dropped, start adding your alcohol. I use hot water as you can tell by feel when the water is starting to turn in to alcohol. Of course, I go by taste too. The first jar will be a little diluted but everything after should start drippingg out good and neutral. It is a time consuming process but it works depending on how much you need to filter. I've noticed that the higher the proof, the more flavor pulls thru, so I definitely proof down to 100 or less. 

Any other tips I can think of besides carbon filtering- 

make sure your cuts are on point

add more hieght, packing, or plates to your still ;)

 

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Skaalvenn    24

" We're able to filter about 6G of 100 proof using 5.5lb of carbon. Up until the 5th or 6th gallon, the product is tasting very neutral and towards the end, the flavor from our grain bill starts to pull thru."

 

No offense, but if 5 pounds of carbon is only lasting you 5 gallons of vodka you probably need to look at your distilling operations.  I run about 100 gallons through a few cups worth of carbon before I change it out.  And I don't need to change it out, it's just that carbon is cheap enough that it's not worth the hassle of having to run it twice if the spirit output is not clean enough.

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No offense taken! I suppose some of the results could be subjective. I could run 100G of our bourbon bill thru a few cups of carbon, but I wouldn't be expecting a neutral tasting product from it. 

 

I should add that the owner likes to run extra product from AG runs thru the carbon filter to make vodka. I'm assuming that this is why we get the results that we do. 

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JustAndy    12
Quote

We're able to filter about 6G of 100 proof using 5.5lb of carbon. Up until the 5th or 6th gallon, the product is tasting very neutral and towards the end, the flavor from our grain bill starts to pull thru.



All the places I've worked, our carbon dosage rates were 10-to-40x less than what you are doing. Try pumping the spirit from the bottom slowly as described earlier in the thread? 

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10 4, thanks! Definitely passing the info along. 

Out of curiosity, was your spirit neutral coming off the still? At this distillery, the owner will take some of the collection from a bourbon or molasses run to filter, I'm wondering if this is why it takes that high amount carbon to strip the flavor out. 

9 hours ago, JustAndy said:



All the places I've worked, our carbon dosage rates were 10-to-40x less than what you are doing. Try pumping the spirit from the bottom slowly as described earlier in the thread? 

 

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3 hours ago, Beerstripper said:

At this distillery, the owner will take some of the collection from a bourbon or molasses run to filter, I'm wondering if this is why it takes that high amount carbon to strip the flavor out. 

To make vodka? Um....

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Skaalvenn    24
On 11/22/2016 at 7:51 AM, Beerstripper said:

Out of curiosity, was your spirit neutral coming off the still? At this distillery, the owner will take some of the collection from a bourbon or molasses run to filter, I'm wondering if this is why it takes that high amount carbon to strip the flavor out. 

I'm talking vodka, so yes the spirit was neutral coming off the still.

(*edit* See recent post on 11/23/16 - It appears I was wrong and have thus deleted misinformation in this post.)

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Tom Lenerz    12
11 hours ago, Skaalvenn said:

B.  190 proof neutral distillate proofed to 80 without carbon is not allowed to be called vodka as it was not passed through carbon.

Not that I make vodka, so this is strictly out of curiosity. The way I read it, there is an 'or' for treatment with carbon, at least in the BAM. Is their an actual requirement for carbon treatment in the CFR for vodka?

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Skaalvenn    24
3 hours ago, Tom Lenerz said:

Not that I make vodka, so this is strictly out of curiosity. The way I read it, there is an 'or' for treatment with carbon, at least in the BAM. Is their an actual requirement for carbon treatment in the CFR for vodka?

Hmm it appears I'm wrong, I could have sworn that it said treated with carbon was a requirement.  Learn something new each day!

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr;sid=5ea7acdd54dff93dbce97e668013dfd8;rgn=div8;view=text;node=27%3A1.0.1.1.3.3.25.2;idno=27;cc=ecfr

Quote

(a) Class 1; neutral spirits or alcohol. “Neutral spirits” or “alcohol” are distilled spirits produced from any material at or above 190° proof, and, if bottled, bottled at not less than 80° proof.

(1) “Vodka” is neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.

https://www.ttb.gov/spirits/bam/chapter4.pdf

Quote

Vodka:  Neutral spirits distilled or treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials so as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color

 

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Technically, the "or" has a conditional "if":  

Quote

as to be without distinctive character, aroma...

Which would be interpreted to mean, if the distillate collected at above 190 proof does have a distinctive character or aroma, it would need to be treated such that the final product to be labeled as vodka be "without distinctive character..."

Now, all that depends on the incredible subjectivity of the word "distinctive" which I don't believe has been herewith defined.

Which is interesting, because even the TTB appears to acknowledge this, looking back to an older ruling:

https://www.ttb.gov/rulings/97-1.htm

Specifically in the background section:

Quote

The standard of identity for vodka was promulgated in 1949, in T.D. 5707, 1949-2 C.B. 252. The standard for vodka provided that it was neutral spirits distilled from any material at or above 190 proof, reduced to not more than 110 proof and not less than 80 proof and, after such reduction in proof, so treated as to be without distinctive character, aroma, or taste. Although no explicit definition of the term "distinctive" could be found in the hearing record, the testimony indicates that vodka is to be as tasteless and odorless as possible.

We all know that you can distill at 190 proof and still be chock full of distinctive flavor.  Which would mean it could not be labeled as such, without subsequent treatment to remove the "distinctiveness".  But then, really, what the hell is the point of vodka?

I think we all agree though, that going from Bourbon to Vodka with only carbon treatment is not possible within the regulation, as they are directly contradictory.

Where is Dunbar when you need him?

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