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Everything posted by bluestar

  1. This was the first class I took before laying the groundwork for starting our distillery many years ago.
  2. Curious to see what you find, Guy. We were having boxes made for us custom, to hold 3 x 375ml bottles, because we could find nothing affordable. Keep going from one local carpenter to another. Hard to source this at a reasonable price, which for us meant $10 each or so.
  3. Which definition of angel's share? 1) the amount of spirit that is lost to evaporation when the liquid is being aged in porous oak barrels 2) the greater part of the equity in your distillery that belongs to your early investors
  4. It would be nice if the ACSA would start working toward getting spirits the same status as wine...
  5. You always need some sort of ventilation for a distillery, both for air change-over for removal of background levels of alcohol and CO2, but also a higher speed exhaust for when large quantities might occur from spills, still swamps, etc.
  6. Great detailed walk-through by @dhdunbar, and pretty much where we were at after prior discussions with others and TTB. Our understanding was that a distillery could NOT add sugar to a fermentation for brandy (in the production area). Also, that a "standard wine" transferred from a bonded winery could be used to produce brandy, even if they added sugar prior or after fermentation, in accordance with rules for production of "standard wine". But, if the sugar is in the wine after fermentation, it could not be further fermented to increase alcohol levels prior to distillation. Our supposition has always been if you want to use a "standard wine" made at the location of the distillery with added sugar, you could do so only if you produced it in a bonded winery (adjacent or alternating premise with distillery), and formally transferred from the bonded winery to the distillery. But it would really be nice if we could one day get a written clarification from the TTB on this in a notice, rather than having to chase down the labyrinth of the CFR like @dhdunbar just did...
  7. We started with a 1.095 start and finished just under 1.040, but are considering diluting a bit more. That includes 20% of wash as dunder. We are using a high-sugar content (baking) molasses. I don't think you could use blackstrap effectively at the same concentration because of the ash content, unless you plan to add sugar.
  8. Above is the relevant statement, Paul, in your excerpt. While they DO accept shipments of spirits, BOTH the shipper and recipient have to be licensed for alcoholic spirits. And that must meet both federal and state requirements. In a state that allows shipment to final consumers, they MIGHT ship to the final consumer. It depends on the state. In my state, FedEx has determined that they will not allow me to ship to a consumer in my state or any other state. I can ship to someone with a license that allows them to import/export/sell alcohol. On the other hand, I know many people who have shipped spirits, even when not allowed by FedEx, but do so under the nominal aegis of sending wine. FedEx will ship wine to end consumers in most states. If FedEx doesn't check the package contents, how will they know? All they do is ask you what the contents are. So, sure, you might get shipments of spirit via FedEx without having a license, but that could be because the sender is doing so in violation of both law and FedEx policy, or it could be because your state and the source state allows it.
  9. I believe that in Illinois, you could do a retail sale nominally on your premise, and deliver to customer, BUT, you are responsible for age verification both at time of purchase and delivery, and of course carries like UPS and FedEx won't deliver to alcohol non-licensees. So you are limited to delivery services that will take on the age verification task, and that can be expensive.
  10. Actually, you can, at shotsbox.com, although I am not sure if they ship to MO. Of course, if you are ever near Chicago, stop in at the distillery, and we will let you taste everything we make (and you can visit your still pot)...
  11. You should taste our vodka, Paul. We make it in a still that uses your pot! We distill to 192, then 5x charcoal filter, and the result still has a distinctive flavor from the whiskey base we use. We describe it as the vodka whiskey drinkers can enjoy...
  12. Yeah, but neutral of flavor and smell is not formally defined, so if you make an effort even after the 95%+ distillation to remove additional flavors by filtering, for example, even if some flavor is detectible, you probably meet the requirements. There are countries where vodka can be made to lower proof and with more flavor, but they usually can not export that product anywhere as vodka.
  13. This is great where you can do it, but do check to see if a permit is needed or environmental impact study is required, which depends on state and locale.
  14. If the "single barrel" is new, it needs approval, strangely enough. Clearly allowed, but you can't just add new info or language.
  15. This is a great discussion, really provides excellent overview of pros/cons and underlying process of a vacuum distillation for spirit production! Kudos to @Silk City Distillers and @Southernhighlander for taking the time to do so...
  16. Again, I am not criticizing how you are measuring your proof. As you said, you are using the approved TTB methods and equipment. Great! But you were implying, I interpreted, that the SNAP 51 COULD be used to meet this requirement, if only the TTB would allow it. That is my issue. It is not true. Regardless as to your specific experience that every time you have ever used the SNAP 51 at the same time that you used the TTB methods that you got exactly the same result to the hundredths, it is not good evidence that anyone else, or even you for that matter, could successfully replace the TTB methods with use of the SNAP 51 for final proofing. I am taking all this effort to answer your comments because I don't want anyone else reading the thread to come away with the mistaken impression that the SNAP 51 is accurate enough to make the required measurement, even if you are not using it for that purpose! Remember, the thread was started by a newbie asking for recommendations on digital densitometers.
  17. I am not sure what we are debating, now. I know I was not saying you were not properly using the analog methods to make a measurement. Is what you are saying is that you are checking the SNAP 51 by using the analog methods, and that is how you are regularly verifying that it is as accurate as those measurements? Okay, if I assume that was what you meant, my point earlier is that it remains only coincidence, that your unit so checked happened to repeatedly do so, because as the unit is designed and built, the manufacturer does not and can not assure that the accuracy is any better than +/- 0.2 degree proof, which means you can not extrapolate from even 1000 measurements to that point and assume going forward the instrument is measuring correctly thereafter. Even if your particular meter, by some act of the gods, happens to just manage to do so, there is no reason to assume another SNAP 51 will do so, or that yours may not suddenly stop behaving that way.
  18. Absolutely correct. CF: Angel's Envy. But keep in mind, when you do create your statement (ie, description) and your fanciful name, you must be sure that these can not be possibly misread as the description of an existing category. This is particularly a challenge when using descriptions for DSS where the description will include a phrase that is an existing category, like 'Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Wine Barrels', because the description for the existing categories are also allowed to contain additional adjectives as well and still be considered a description of the existing category. And since when you submit your label, and it is denied or sent back for correction, it is not always obvious in the TTB comments what is wrong with the language, correcting it can be a challenge. To wit: you might be able to use the phrase "Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Wine Barrels" since it is the clear description of a modification of an existing category with additional processing described in your formula, but maybe not "Wine Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey" (NB, I have not filed this to know that it would be refused for a DSS). My point being, don't assume because one wording is not accepted on the label for your DSS formula, that a slightly rephrased version won't pass muster...
  19. More plates, better separation in the cut, higher proof. For whiskey, depending on still design, too many plates might push you over the 160 proof limit with a reasonable cut. To some degree, more flavor in the distillate with less plates (but that is a complicated effect). For our still, even 4 plates is too much to keep below the 160 limit, so you can also consider 3 plates or 2 plates, or NO plates. Also depends on the starting proof of your wash or distiller's beer. BTW, a vodka still can work with less than 20 plates, but again, depends on still design and what you are charging the pot with.
  20. Correct. We do a couple (our "railroad" gin and our genever).
  21. But you shouldn't. It is only accurate to +/- 0.2 proof.
  22. First, just to be clear, I agreed with your point that it is tedious. BUT, while it may not be rocket science, it IS chemical lab technique, which I assure you some small distillers don't understand or have much experience with, even if you and I do. Sometimes my answers here are meant as much for the other possible readers of the thread as they are to the person I may be responding to. So I do agree that "we should all know how to do, and do very well", my specific point, but that many do not. But I also DISAGREE with your second point. The SNAP51 can not meet the TTB requirements, and I don't know how you would know it is "dead on" unless you are regularly testing it against a unit that is 10x more accurate or better. Anton Paar rates the accuracy to 0.1% ABV, or 0.2 deg proof, even though it reads out to the 0.01 digit. That is not accurate enough to measure proof to better than +0, -0.3 since your range on an individual reading would be +/- 0.2, which is more than is allowed legally. If the SNAP51 had twice the accuracy of 0.05%ABV or 0.1 deg proof, you could possibly claim you are in the range if you had a spot on reading of -0.15 proof, for example. But not really. The -0.3 proof under measurement allowed by the TTB is NOT intended as providing an accuracy range for your measurement. It was intended to allow some loss in %ABV during bottling, so that if you measured close to perfect from your bottling tank, you would end up within the range after being in the bottle (not obvious to find in the CFR, but explained at length to me by a visiting TTB officer during our inspection, see section 5.37 (2) (b) (3) ). Hence, the expectation that you will measure more accurately than +0, -0.3 proof to allow a drop within that range. The guideline is that you should be able to measure 0.02 proof accurate (after averaging, for glass you read to 0.05), so that is 0.01% ABV accurate or better. Here is an example of how you can (and TTB says some do) run into trouble using something like a SNAP51. You measure something as 100.0 proof (readout may be 100.00, but only accurate to tenths). Since your accuracy is 0.2 proof, that could actually be 100.2 proof, and that would be illegal if tested at that proof in the bottle.
  23. Not sure what your point is here @Skaalvenn, or if you are just being humorous? Really, if you use the glass hydrometers per the gauging manual, you can get to the required accuracy, but it is slow and requires precise lab methods, like measuring temperatures after full equilibration of equipment to 0.1 deg C accuracy. Many people purchase the regulation calibrated hydrometers for $250 or so, but don't invest the even greater amount required for a precision calibrated thermometer or a temperature controlled bath, and so can not meet the TTB requirement. And setting up the baths for temperature equilibrium, etc., means (at least for me) that a single measurement can easily take a half hour (remember, you have to repeat the measurement at least 3 times to get the required statistical averaging). Hence, why we eventually purchased one of the approved digital densitometers, and now know for sure that the Snap is not accurate enough.
  24. I agree the DMA35 (and SNAP equivalents) are good working digital hydrometers. But now that we have a precision unit that meets the TTB requirements, and have been able to see how our DMA35 and SNAP40 perform with respect to it, we know from experience they are not a substitute for the higher accuracy instrumentation required by the TTB.
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