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kelbor

Culture growing in my bottled rum?

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Hello,

Just had a customer return a bottle of rum that has what appears to have cultures growing in it. This rum was barreled at 125 proof and then filtered through .5 micron filter, cut to 80 proof with RO water and then bottled. I have inspected the rest of the bottles on our shelf here in the tasting room and see similar floaties (though it appears to be settled to the bottom before being jostled).  They appear similar to cultures that can grow in Listerine says the customer (I have never really gotten into using that stuff so can verify this). 

Is this anything anybody else has experienced? Could it be dangerous to health?  

Thanks!

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Photo?

 

 

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Ethanol above ~20% alcohol is antiseptic for most bacteria with ~15 minutes of contact, most stuff being less than a minute. Being in a bottle at 125 proof I don't believe that it's possible anything biological could grow. It's more likely a chemical reaction with something in the bottle pre-bottling or in the batch of rum. What's your bottle cleaning protocol? 

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I cant get a good one on my cell phone...Ill grab my good camera and try to take one tomorrow. Here's what I have now...

IMG_2321.JPG

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Just now, Foreshot said:

Ethanol above ~20% alcohol is antiseptic for most bacteria with ~15 minutes of contact, most stuff being less than a minute. Being in a bottle at 125 proof I don't believe that it's possible anything biological could grow. It's more likely a chemical reaction with something in the bottle pre-bottling or in the batch of rum. What's your bottle cleaning protocol? 

No bottle cleaning method deployed (yet).

bottles are at 40%

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It's haze - usually fatty acids, fatty acid esters, fusels, etc.  It's absolutely not biological.

Assuming your RO is good, you could chill filter (complicated), bottle at a higher proof (probably undesirable), cut tails earlier (but what about all the barreled product?).

It's common though, warm it up and shake the bottle, it'll go away.  Put the bottle in the freezer for a few days, it'll come back.

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13 hours ago, bostonapothecary said:

The Micro Organism of Faulty Rum, a cautionary tale.

Hmm..I tried to follow that article but it seemed outdated, antiquated, and downright inconclusive. I don't use caramel to color my rum (which it seems they focused on) and Im not sure where you get "cautionary" as they found no ill affect of the supposed organism in studies. Am I missing something? 

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20 hours ago, Foreshot said:

I can't tell for sure but it's likely saponification: https://homedistiller.org/wiki/index.php/Saponification

 

Proof slower or cut tails tighter. There may be other suggestions but those are the two I've heard of. 

 

I agree...It really does look like saponification. We distill on to two barrels at a time so hopefully this is a isolated case of pulling too much fatty acids from the tails. I do run a doubler on my still, during the rum spirit runs, in which I place the first portion of tails from my previous spirit run. This fraction is approximately 75%ish ABV down to 30%ish ABV (hearts is 83%ish down to 75%ABV). This could be increasing the amount of fatty acids in my finished spirit regardless of the cut points perhaps..... 

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Chill haze: https://homedistiller.org/wiki/index.php/Chill_Filtering

I can't tell really well from the picture but I can see specks like saponification. Like SCD says, they are different issues though the root cause is similar/same. 

You can search on this forum for slow proofing to read up on how people do it. Some proof a little every couple of days, some do 1 ABV/day, some take a year to do it. 

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Thanks team!

I'm not getting what I would call haze. Its super clear after bottling and super clear after sitting on the shelf - Time in the bottle is creating a settled "cloudy/gooeyness" that rises into suspension when agitated....

So you think slow proofing rather then tighter cuts may be the issue? I do cut a bit more liberal on the tails side (not to wet dog/musty paper liberal though) as I was trying to capture a bit more flavor and figured barrel time would smooth it out a bit....

I have been toying with the idea of slow proofing and now I guess I have a reason/experiment to actually implement it. 

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Haze, Floc, Colloid, can look like fluffy clouds, can look like fog at the bottom.

Take a bottle and put it in the freezer for a few days.  You'll get more of it.

If you warm it up, and shake it, it should completely disappear, only to return again over time, or when forced through cooling.

Saponification is a one-way, irreversible reaction, it is the process of turning the fatty acids into soap.  This is a flavor impact more than a visual impact, and essentially ruins the spirit.  Some people would say that saponification borders on pseudoscience, especially when people argue that you need to proof over decades time.

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Slow proofing will help but tighter cuts will fix it for certain. You're getting too many heavier compounds that eventually will cause haze/saponification. 

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13 hours ago, kelbor said:

Hmm..I tried to follow that article but it seemed outdated, antiquated, and downright inconclusive. I don't use caramel to color my rum (which it seems they focused on) and Im not sure where you get "cautionary" as they found no ill affect of the supposed organism in studies. Am I missing something? 

To be honest, I was trying to be a little bit of a humorous troll. Quite a few years back many rum enthusiasts were discussing the myth of raw meat in Guyana rum noted by Peter Valaer in the 1937 IRS survey of rums. Raw meat was very likely responsible for the "micro organism of faulty rum". Quite the strange and improbable rum story.

I don't completely believe the saponification idea because I keep surveying spirits with the birectifier that have very significant non acetic volatile acidity. Acidity is far more important to grander sipping spirits than is commonly thought. Turbidity that comes and goes however is very common.

I was just given a bottle of Hawaiian rum that has something gnarly floating in it. My guess is that there was a well distributed extremely thin collection of plaque like stuff on the insides of the bottle that was not rinsed and it slowly de-laminated and gathered into a wispy mass. Of course I'll still drink it.

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So just to clarify it a bit:

Chill haze: Fairly Common. Comes from tails. Presents as haziness when diluted and/or chilled with water/ice. Can be considered a cosmetic fault. Chill filter will fix but may also change flavor profile. A fair number of craft folks won't chill filter either because they feel it affects flavor profile or because they don't want to spend the money on the equipment to do it.

Semi-congealed glob(aka Jellyfish): Not common. Also from tails, but a larger amount than haze alone. Presents as a hazy cloud in bottle. I've never seen this in person but described as a jellyfish looking cloud on other forums. Same fix as above. It's a cosmetic fault.

Release residue/Dirty bottle: Common. Bottle molds may have release agents on them to ease glass removal. It can present in the spirit post bottling. Or there's just dust or other junk in the bottle from being handled. It's recommended that you use some of the same spirit you're bottling to clean the bottle.

Saponification: Fairly rare. Sap is caused by specific chemistry. It presents as snowflake-ish like crystals. It is both a cosmetic and flavor flaw.

SCD and BA don't believe that it's probably Sap since it is rare and requires specific chemistry. I stated that it might be as the image you posted looks like it. It could also be junk like BA suggested. Without "being there" it's too hard to tell. Based on your description you have jellyfish level of tails in there. Cut a little tighter and rinse your bottles it will help reduce the likelihood of this repeating.

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