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bluestar last won the day on August 10

bluestar had the most liked content!

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About bluestar

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  • Birthday 09/11/1956

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    Chicagoland & Southwest Michigan

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  1. bluestar

    GNS Cost and Availability

    It was approved because he did not submit a formula saying he used GNS. If he had, he could still get an approval for that statement, I believe, if he specifies that the GNS is itself distilled from 100% grains.
  2. bluestar

    GNS Cost and Availability

    Re-read the thread. Sorry, technically, if you do that, you are breaking the law. Sure, you can get a COLA approved, but the COLA approved without a formula means you are approved for making vodka according to general standards, which means you are starting from something that is not yet classified as a spirit, and then distilling it to become vodka. If you take a spirit not classified vodka and do something to it to make it vodka, you changed classification, and by law (CFR) you are required to have a formula. The COLA approvers don't necessarily know that unless you happen to put something on the label that says explicitly that you are making the product that way. I am guessing your COLA was approved because nowhere on the label does it say it is made from previously produced GNS, does it? And, if you have a formula, it will tell them you are making from GNS. By the way, that formula MUST say the GNS is itself made from 100% grain, if you are going to say the final product is from 100% grain. So, this is another illustration of the point I made previously in the thread: that people who get a COLA approved that is not suitable for the product they are making often assume it can used for that product. No. You are obligated by law to make sure the product labeled as per the COLA meets the requirements of that label. Without a formula, the approval of the COLA is only saying that such a label is legal for a product that fits the label as prepared. Without a formula, how can the TTB know if what you are going to put into the bottle fits the label requirements? They can't. Also gin, if made from GNS, requires a formula for the same reason. And again, the COLA will be approved without it, if nothing on the label indicates the gin was not produced directly from fermentable.
  3. bluestar

    Macerating and distilling with Plates

    You need to do an aggressive clean, but PBW followed by citric acid at elevated temperature seems to do the trick. Real problem with everything in pot and using plates is just not getting enough volatile oils across.
  4. bluestar

    Getting absinthe to louche properly

    Just to make clear, since @geraldmarken did not describe how he is louching: the product may not louche even just lowering temperature and proof, it is how you do so that matters as well. You should drip ice cold water into the product. Louching should begin to be observable as you approach 40%, but should continue to increase until somewhere between 20-30%, and may finally appear to thin below 20%, by virtue of dilution.
  5. bluestar

    Getting absinthe to louche properly

    I concur with @indyspirits, you need to get deep into the tails, and distill out to nearly dry to get more tails for recycle. The latter will start to show hydrosol effect, with proof getting so low that oils will be coming out of solution in the distillate. That leaves you with a damp mass of seed afterward in the pot. Consider you start out with a very high proof (70% ABV) slurry to begin with. Key is to make sure the base spirit is very clean to begin with, since essentially you are not taking much if any of a cut: many may not take a head cut at all.
  6. bluestar

    GNS Cost and Availability

    You answered your own question at the very end: if you produce to the standards, then what is in the CFR constitutes the formula. The TTB does that for many spirits with clear standards of identity, and then rely on the COLA that you submit to not only be "legal" but truthful. For example, if you put on the Vodka label "distilled from grain", a required part of the label to indicate what the product is distilled from, they don't require a formula to check against, they require you to distill it from grain. They do the same for whiskies: if you are Rye Whiskey, you don't need a formula, but you must be 51%+ of rye in the mash; if you don't have an age statement, you don't need a formula, but you do need to be aged at least 4 years in new charred oak barrels, because the standards say so. It seems strange but makes sense: all you are sending them one way or the other is a filled out form (for formula and COLA), the combination of what you put on the forms with the rules in the CFR require you to make the product you eventually make and label to be made a certain way. By submitting the COLA (and possibly formula), and using the subsequent label on the product, YOU ARE LEGALLY BOUND AND ARE AVOWING TO MAKE THE PRODUCT AS LEGALLY DESCRIBED BY COLA (AND FORMULA) and relevant sections of the CFR! Strange how many distillers don't understand this, even some of the established craft distilleries. I have heard a distiller saying it was okay to use a label with no age statement, because the TTB eventually told them to remove the age statement (in this case, because they kept trying to use a legally unacceptable wording of the age statement), even though the whiskey was less than 4 years old. Give me a break! So, same for vodka: the standard says you will distill above 190 proof and if necessary charcoal filter to eliminate any distinctive flavor for the source. So you are legally obligated to do that. By the way, the text cited is specific to eliminating the need when harmless additives are employed, it was always so for general standards of identity.
  7. bluestar

    GNS Cost and Availability

    See my most recent post. There is both a procedural and legalistic reason for why something classified initially as Neutral spirits needs a formula to convert it to Vodka, and something must be done to it.
  8. bluestar

    GNS Cost and Availability

    Yeah, you are being a bit of a pain, but since others might share your confusion, allow me to spell it out and bludgeon you over the head with it a bit, okay? Vodka does not "require" charcoal filtration, but such filtering is a means by which one can show you have met the requirements (from the CFR): ‘‘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. Yes, you can just distill to make vodka, by getting over 190 proof AND achieving lack of distinctive character, etc. But you can also buy GNS (over 190 proof) and charcoal filter to do the same. Some of us do both. I can tell you, for a fact, that charcoal filtering cleans up flavor and aroma, so it is any easy route to get there. Here is why you must do SOMETHING to the GNS (other than just dilute it) and MUST submit a formula: since it was NOT classified as vodka, even if above 190 proof, then the TTB and you must ASSUME it did not fulfill the requirements for vodka, that otherwise are about standards of character, because IF it did, then it SHOULD have been classified as vodka. And now, if you are going to make said GNS that is NOT vodka into vodka, you must do something to it, and if you are not re-distilling it, adding water won't be enough to show that you have done something to modify it to guarantee it is without distinctive character, etc. And you need the formula, not only because you are changing category, but also to show what procedure you are doing to meet the requirement. Sorry, no wiggle room: if you are purchasing GNS (not classified already as vodka) to make vodka, you need a formula submitted and approved, and something in that formula will show that you are doing something to the GNS so that it will meet the requirements for vodka.
  9. bluestar

    Label Design Guy

    Where is he located?
  10. bluestar

    Precipitate in triple sec

    You DEFINITELY don't want to use wax-coated oranges. And you can't really get the wax off, without also removing some of the oils you are looking to extract from the peel. I would not be surprised if this changes things for the better for you. Good luck!
  11. bluestar

    Whiskey Hypothetical

    Diacetyl is a fault, except when it is not. Same for beer as for whiskey. In fact, I LOVE the affect of diacetyl in appropriate whiskey, and beers for that matter. Often it is a byproduct of "old fashioned" sour mashing, which is the intentional growth of lactobacillus in the beer after fermentation by yeast, and something that sweet mashes were prone to (sour mashing helps prevent it). We do this in our products intentionally. Yes, in the marketplace, we see both good and bad reaction to this. For many new whiskey drinkers, it can draw them into drinking whiskey when modern versions seem too austere or tight to the unaccustomed palate. Not only the diacetyl, but other esters can prevail, giving a fruitier and more floral nose to the whiskey, just as it does for beers. For some experienced whiskey drinkers, they may also find they can enjoy the style as something different from what the majors offer, like expanding from lagers to Belgian ales. But we do get a lot of blowback from "traditional" whiskey experts, who will declare that whiskies should all taste like that overaged, tower-distilled, sour mash that they have been cranking out since prohibition (a little tongue in cheek there, LOL).
  12. bluestar

    Whiskey Hypothetical

    First, on taste, we will simply have to agree to disagree. Although I suspect you have not had that many sweet mash bourbons of quality. Since Kentucky dominated the industry after prohibition, and since it pretty much exclusively made sour mash, that is what has dominated the industry. Sour mashing had been experimented with since the beginning of the 19th century, but was not standardized as a process until Crow in 1831. It gets quickly adopted throughout Kentucky and Tennessee, for the reasons I described. Also about this time the Coffey tower still is introduced, and is well adopted in Kentucky by the latter part of the 19th century, instead of pot stills. This is "modern" bourbon: sour mashed and distilled in a Coffey tower still. Since sour mashing is the earlier of the two modernizations, and introduced as a standard by Crow, hence why he is the father of "modern" bourbon. I prefer the "old-fashioned" stuff: sweet mash in a pot still. Of course I do, why else would I make it? Well also because, as you say, the point of a craft distillery should be to do things that a large distiller is unlikely to do, IMO. By the way, you seem to imply that I implied that sour mash was not traditional. If you read what I wrote again, it agrees with what you said: it is traditional, made since the early 19th century, but the sweet mash is an earlier style, although not the current tradition, if you like. Not that sweet mash wasn't made in the 20th century. For example, while Ten High today, made in Kentucky by Barton, is a sour mash, originally, it was produced by Hiram Walker in Peoria, IL. It was cheap bourbon, but as with many bourbons produced in Illinois, it was sweet mash. I think this is in part where the 20th century reputation of inferior quality for sweet mash comes from, producers like this outside of Kentucky making very cheap bourbon. But one shouldn't assume that a good bourbon can't be produced by sweet mash, in fact, I would argue, if you are using old production methods (not lots of bulk chemicals) and you are not using limestone spring water, you would NOT want to sour mash, since this would overly acidify your mash. Hence, why sweet mashes were produced in areas where less alkaline water was used.
  13. bluestar

    Lessons in Barrel Aging

    This is correct. It is unclear if the requirement is because it is finished in a second barrel, or that it is because it is finished specifically in port barrels, and they call this out, thus suggesting a flavor profile from the port, and that drives the category and need for a formula. You would have to check some of the "double barrel" COLAs to see if it is solely the use of any second barrel.
  14. bluestar

    Mid-Sized Distributor

    Distribution is always a challenge. Small, medium, or large can be good or bad. Keep in mind that whatever the distributor, their primary job is distribution, not marketing. Marketing is your job, and sales is a responsibility you share with your distributor, effectively. You did not say what was wrong with your small distributor, but sometimes problems can include slow or late payments, inability to keep enough stock on hand, and inability to efficiently make deliveries. A medium or larger distributor may address these issues. Your concerns about production levels with a big distributor are warranted.
  15. bluestar

    Whiskey Hypothetical

    Yeah, this is a little tricky. At one point we had to discuss this in detail with a TTB officer. Because we do the same thing: we make a new-make corn-based (80%+) spirit (under 160 proof) that later in the production will be either not aged, aged in new charred oak, aged in used charred oak, or even redistilled again. If you need to record it in storage on a monthly BEFORE it is decided how then storage will be done, then technically it is unaged corn whiskey. Bourbon has to be stored in oak until aging is done. But if you keep it in production, in a tank, that can be treated as a bourbon or corn whiskey designate, which means it is not yet typed or classified, but intended for that use. Since it is not typed until stored, you don't have to submit a formula. But technically, if you stored it as a specific type, then changed your mind, you might have to use a formula.