Jump to content
ADI Forums


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by MDH

  1. MDH

    silvery stuff after on-grain distillation

    The silvery film is the result of fatty acids and other large compounds forming complex larger molecules. Think of tannins in wine precipitating as the bottle ages. They are harmless and will not make it into your final product.
  2. I see similar predictions for craft/artisan industries of all types --- cheese, finer fruit/vegetable varietials, etc. We're headed towards another recession with the unsustainable levels of debt for the average consumer across North America right now. There's room for some more of this kind of local-and-better business, but not that much more. It's not future proof. I wouldn't hedge my bets on it anyway.
  3. MDH

    Spirits Competitions

    The tastings in San Francisco and London are committed completely blind.
  4. MDH

    Spirits Competitions

    My second take: The big sellers are products that win in big categories, AT the important competitions. I don't think anyone cares about what wins niche market categories (e.g. "spice flavored whisky"). But if you get top honors in a category such as Brandy or Whisky people will be very interested in you.
  5. MDH

    Spirits Competitions

    I've asked about this before myself on these forums. My position is one of general skepticism for the vast majority of competitions, especially regional ones. The important are London, New York, San Francisco. The other important ones aren't awards at all, they're just influential people's opinions (eg the likes of Jim Murray, Robert Parker, etc). Media and those on the outer-circles of the industry (e.g. bartenders) do pay attention to these as well and often buy products which appear with top honors.
  6. MDH

    fruity yeast strains

    My TLDR response is that any ale and even lager strain, used in usually warm conditions with a target final ABV of 6-11% in tandem with a distilling strain, will yield a plenty fruity character. Keep in mind these often won't be apparent in newmake but will return as the spirit ages. Liquid Ales produce great character but should be adapted to a sanitized (boiled) wort nearly identical to the one you plan to ferment before addition. That means same pH, same gravity as the wort you're going to be producing. They tend to have a longer lag phase and since whisky worts/mashes are not boiled, this can result in some overwhelming bacterial character you may not want, so priming a touchy yeast you will use to have no lag phase or shock to a new environment first is a good idea. Ultimately when deciding, I think you should nose a wort of your base material and be honest about what works with it. I think of this like making food. You don't combine an onion with strawberries and ham and expect great results. You would not pair an earthy, smoky tasting malt with something that smells like roses and lychee nuts, it would do a disservice to both elements... I recommend taking a lot of dry ale strains, fermenting them dry in tiny quantities and doing some good old fashioned nosing. Try higher temperatures and slightly lower-than-average pitch sizes to increase fruit. Take each resulting beer, nose it at first from a distance, nose it a little more deeply, then empty the stuff into a sink, wait a few minutes, and smell the empty glass. That is literally what the head, heart and tail side will be like. The difference is drastic between strains, especially on the tail side. One will have a musty smell when the glass is empty, the other like apples and rosehips. I guess, sorry to be long-winded, that ultimately fruitiness is not a crutch for character - not that I accuse you of that whatsoever - but the right approach is to work around your base material and develop character that harmonizes, plays off of, compliments and marries well with it. Though!, I second the negative sentiment about phenol-producing yeasts - don't even bother exploring these - I have tried to use some fairly common strains (Lallemand Belle Saison) to attenuate and did not receive results I'd describe as likable in any situation for distilled spirits.
  7. MDH

    Potato Vodka

    For convenience, I'd say dry is better, and is also much better for neutral if you plan for this to be used as a base for other spirits. But everything has volatiles. That's what we're doing, is capturing those. When you work with dry material, you don't obtain volatile flavors it once had. I've tried many potato vodkas - William Chase, Schramm, etc., all made with completely fresh potatoes, that were borderline potato eau de vie. So, it depends what you want.
  8. MDH

    Greenish/Yellow Heads in brandy from Red wine

    Let me know how it goes, Andy.
  9. MDH

    Greenish/Yellow Heads in brandy from Red wine

    If it were that, he'd be getting it from every run. What was the vinification method? Do you make the wine or does someone else? Ask them about maceration times. It could be a volatile component from maceration with grape seed.
  10. MDH

    Best still design for rum?

    My personal vote goes towards simple traditional copper alembics, similar to the ones found in Portugal, Italy, Alsace, the Balkans etc. I say this knowing fully well that yes, you will have to age the spirit for a long time to develop - but all the fruity aromas we associate with it as well as the chocolatey, tarry licorice flavor in the tail which Rum is so well known for will be in full force.
  11. MDH

    WARNING: Oak Wood Barrel Co.

    Not sure how my post could've been taken literally. I hope these people are found and imprisoned. Having a track record this long certainly goes beyond the realm of all legal plausible deniability.
  12. MDH

    Women in distilling

    Well, I know that Distillery Nonino is run by three women...
  13. MDH

    Hello From Toronto

    Are you anticipating some change in the distribution structure or taxation in Ontario?
  14. Hello everyone, I have two books which have served their purpose. Traditional Distillation: Art and Passion by Hubert G.R. - if you want to know both the approach and attitude of Cognac distillers, this is both a novel read and a good reference. Distilling Fruit Brandy by Josef Pischl - This is a much more technical, straightforward, less "flowery" book by a German experienced in schaps production. He goes into precise detail about sourcing good quality fruit, fine-tuning a dephlegmator, etc. I am selling for $15 each. They will be shipping from an address in Canada and the shipping cost will be calculated when an address is provided. It is worth mentioning, that the Canadian dollar is currently 80% of the USD. Please DM if interested!
  15. MDH

    Chocolate Liqueur

    Not sure if I'd pour dark chocolate, with all its sugar and other products, into the still. Instead, I'd put a blend of dark, medium and light grade cocoa nibs into the boiler and do a very careful run through a few plates. Cocoa is very high in fatty acids; some of the short and medium chain will make the fresh spirit smell not so good, and it'd be wise to age the resulting distillate for a while and also do a careful tails cut to avoid louching. Since Vanilla, to me, is an important part of chocolate, I would infuse the cocoa spirit with vanilla bean for a while. You'll get a little bit of straw color, though. There are a few examples to work from that already exist - Distillerie Mozart does age their chocolate distillate, though I don't know precisely how long they age it for. They don't sweeten theirs. You may want to pick up a bottle, do some nosing.
  16. In the spirit of the Brooklyn Bar Menu generator, I'm wondering if someone here would do the honors to come up with a Artisan Brand Story Generator?
  17. MDH

    Resting White Spirits After Distillation & Proofing

    All spirits improved from resting, even white spirits, because there are chemicals which break down, oxidize or react with other chemicals which are distilled over from the mash. The effect is more noticeable if you are making spirits with wide cuts, such as unoaked rums or eaux de vie. It's not uncommon for French and German distilleries to age white fruit spirits for several years after distillation.
  18. MDH

    Do I need to be a Mad Scientist?

    I have seen an increasing amount of fairly basic jobs, such as small-sized vineyard management, asking for specialized degrees. I would hope these positions offer flexibility to their applicants in this regard. Credentialism is a serious and real issue that is costing an entire generation much more money and time than it did to their parents and grandparents. I would not trust a highschool graduate to be my heart surgeon, but I'd certainly trust one who showed incentive and interest in learning to distill a spirit.
  19. MDH

    Changing pH of wash

    You're right, yes, that would count as pasteurization. But in terms of what heating our mash does -- certain strains of bacteria can survive temperatures up to 70-80 degrees. Certain strains of clostridium can even survive boiling, which creates a challenge for large scale food preservation - canned foods are heated by pressurized steam to 120+ degrees Celsius! Since most of us are heating to only 63-67c, many strains of lactobacillus survive and will gradually take over the mash, working anaerobically on it, as the fermentation winds down and yeast autolyzes into nutrients. This is, of course, ideal - lactobacillus is essential to the character of a developing whisky as it ages. They produce lactic acid itself, and many other compounds which are desirable flavor precursors. We just don't want them metabolizing citric acid.
  20. MDH

    Changing pH of wash

    If you are not pasteurizing your mash, like most don't, then citric is less than ideal. Certain strains of lactobacilli will metabolize it into diacetyl. Instead, malic acid is ideal - it does not impact the performance of fermentation like some organic acids do, and is metabolized into the very ideal lactic acid by bacteria.
  21. MDH

    Chlorine impact dramatic over chloramine

    Yes. Chlorine reacts with organic matter, including some important micronutrients. This is how it prevents microbes from reproducing in your drinking water. This reacted organic matter is also well known in public pools as "disinfection byproducts". The smell and taste of them is unpleasant. My only recommendation is that you find a way to warm and vigorously aerate the water. You can also add a small amount of ascorbic acid solution to your water, then proceed to add baking soda. This reaction yields dehydroascorbic acid and salt. This is the government recommended method of removing chlorine from water. That being said, I can't speak for the effects of the new acid on your spirit... Any organic reactant open's the pandora's box with something as complicated as fermentation.
  22. MDH

    Rum fermentation got strange

    Likely pediococcus damnosus. Unfortunately this is an anaerobic bacteria which does not form a discernable pellicle, so it's difficult to identify. It ruins your ferments from inside out. This is one of the worst of the infections you can have. Anything it has touched should be extremely well sanitized.
  23. MDH

    33 questions on taste rich distilling

    Just a bit of pedantic nitpicking. The dead yeast itself doesn't create off flavors. Autolysis byproducts include fatty acids that are important precursors to the aromatic profile of long-aged spirits. It also provides micronutrients to lactobacilli, which are important to the profile of many whiskies. If dead yeast were itself the cause of off flavors, distillers would be found using high flocculating yeasts and clearing their mashes completely, since all yeast are killed during the distillation process.
  24. MDH

    Premature tails in distillate

    Second this. Do a run without increasing the heat as you get into the hearts.
  25. I have to say, I just saw some equipment from this company at a distillery less than twenty miles from them, and it looked very well made.