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JustAndy

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  1. Pitching yeast into a mash that already has alcohol in it is stressful and damaging to them. At the beginning the yeast are building their membrane walls and reproducing and the presence of alcohol can affect this behavior. There are some components of heads/tails that can be consumed & cleaned up by yeast during fermentation, but I would add to an already working fermentation if that was the goal.
  2. It sounds like you aren't using a commercial still, please make sure you have an appropriate pressure release valves and safe discharge piping, especially if you are running mash in the thumper.
  3. If your mfg doesn't know all this stuff already, you are probably in for a nightmare to get a 3 column system to perform adequately.
  4. I totally agree with what you're saying about the local rate of water addition, but I think there is also a chemical transformation (or maybe it's physical, I am an accountant by education...) related to adding the water in small (slow) doses over a longer period of time. Each addition of water is accompanied by an infusion of oxygen from the mixing process and then this is given time to settle and normalize with the environment before the next addition. It seems to better protect the nose/perfume of the spirit. A cognac distiller told me the dilution must happen slowly enough that almost no raise in temperature occurs (for the mixture of alcohol and water). I certainly can't explain exactly what's going on, but my experience doing it both ways directs me going slowly, which aligns with the guidance given by enough distillers who I respect to think that it is a real phenomenon. I look at it as the difference between chopping garlic and smashing it. Scientists have proven why there is a difference in flavor (in the 90s there was a big boom in garlic research), but my great grandmother who couldn't read also knew that it happened without caring why.
  5. They do have a certification, but it has very little meaning. I know of an ADI 'Certified Farm Distillery' that has never produced anything from raw material, their products are a GNS based vodka (no redistillation), a GNS based gin, and a pre-aged kentucky bourbon which they illegitimately label as distilled in Oregon. So these certifications are all kind of meaningless without enforcement. The only certification I can think of that has any enforcement at all is the certified texas whiskey program https://texaswhiskey.org/
  6. I've worked at two places that dilute from still strength to bottling strength in a day or two, and a place that takes 4-6 weeks. My organoleptic experience is that there is a significant quality impact to diluting brown spirits like whiskey and brandy rapidly. Taking time to do it might be a luxury, but we produce a luxury product and an extra month is negligible if it's already waited 4-6 years in barrel. Tank stratification was an issue at one place where the gin was proofed rapidly in a 2000 gal tank, but thorough mixing is required whether you are diluting a small amount or a large amount, fast or slow.
  7. That's only true if the yeast slurry and the rum backset were the same, since the additions happened 10 days apart I would question that they were from the same batch. If the slurry was just sitting for 10 days, it's likely to be less healthy / have lower vitality and cell count. The backset could also be from the top of the tank (clearer) vs bottom of tank and sludgier with more unfermentables, ash, etc that skew your readings. 1.085 to 1.015 is 80+% attenuation which is what Omega lists the yeasts specs as, and it might have died out earlier in the 2nd batch from the combination of less viable slurry and damage from starting fermentation in 5% abv medium with a crashed pH. I wouldn't be concerned about the flavor contribution of champagne yeast at this point, I would be more worried about spoilage from the incomplete ferment sitting. If you add champagne yeast I would check out scott labs helpful guide, as it's a pretty harsh environment to pitch yeast into https://scottlab.com/restart-stuck-fermentations hindsight is 20/20 but it would have probably worked a lot better to combine your 4 ferments into 2, and then started 2 new ferments.
  8. On our still the thermal mass of the water in the depleg at the start of the run is enough to condense all the vapor, load the plates, and cause the still to run in total reflux for about 5-10 minutes. If I wanted to stay in reflux, I would need to use the manual bypass valve but that's not usually what I want. There are instances where having separate inputs for the depleg and product condenser would be nice, but having used stills setup that way they are much fussier to get adjusted and keep consistent.
  9. 200 gal of yeast slurry seems insane to me, where is it coming from? Did you measure the pH throughout the process ?
  10. This is exactly how our 3 plate Kothe still is setup. The manual bypass valve is important, as you need to be able to flow water to make sure the water retained in the dephleg is starting out cold and not hot from a previous run.
  11. Is the lab still glass and the other copper? Grapefruit aroma is sulfur based, which copper can reduce.
  12. I can tell you we use sodium carbonate, which definitely works, why what you're doing isn't working is beyond my scope.
  13. I dont see anything in your links that suggest using calcium hydroxide instead of sodium carbonate. I would look at the solubility, a quick google suggests that calcium hydroxide is "is only slightly soluble in water (0.16g Ca(OH)2/100g water at 20°C) forming a basic solution called lime water. The solubility decreases with increasing temperature. "The solubility decreases with increasing temperature. "
  14. We use soda ash (Sodium carbonate) which works well enough at a smallish scale and is relatively easy to source and safeish to handle. It depends on the stillage, but it's about 2 - 3 lb to bring 900 L of whiskey stillage up to 5 pH.
  15. We have a client that filled into their own used pinot noir casks, all french oak, some used for a single season, some used for 3 seasons. Every after an extensive steaming regime, the barrels still imparted a winey taste and a red to pink color. They also filled into some seguin moreau alc 2 barrels (french wide grain), some standard wine size and some puncheons. The difference is night and day, one tastes like brandy and one tastes like a cocktail. The amount of oak imparted by even the puncheon is pretty dramatic and they will need probably need to transfer out after a year or 18 months. Peroxy carb treated wine barrels seem to be working better than fresh wine barrels, although each barrel becomes a mystery as to how active it is. I wish I could advise more specifically to peach brandy, but we don't make it and I've only tasted two that did much for me, one from Peach Street Distillers and another peach eau di vie made from a white donut peach by Capovilla in Italy. The others I've had were lacking in peach character. From working with and distilling peaches for a flavored whiskey I think the selection of peaches will matter as much or more than the selection of barrel.
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