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hawk

cloudy product when diluted

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At ADI last week, I thought we'd solved the problem. We're getting clear distillate even cut to 40%, but when we add water (including a melting ice cube), it clouds. Two separate people said chilling very cold will cause the oils to drop out and cause cloudiness, and then you can filter them out.

Tried that today and it stays clear even in the freezer. Only thing that works for us is first diluting to produce cloudiness, then filtering, then re-distilling. Hate that last step!

We hope this is an oddity of our simple pot still during our test period, and that column and bubble plates will fix it. But does anyone know why we're getting cloudiness only with dilution and not with freezing?

Thanks,

Hawk Pingree

San Juan Island Distillery

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It does sound like a problem with oil dropping out of solution as you decrease the proof. What product is this? Is it a gin?

S.

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It sounds like you may be getting saponification, perhaps from adding water too fast.

Try drastically reducing the speed at which you add water, particularly as you get closer to 40% abv. Perhaps you will get a clearer spirit.

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It does sound like a problem with oil dropping out of solution as you decrease the proof. What product is this? Is it a gin?

S.

It occurs both in our apple eau de vie and in the gin that we then make from it with one more distillation.

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It sounds like you may be getting saponification, perhaps from adding water too fast.

Try drastically reducing the speed at which you add water, particularly as you get closer to 40% abv. Perhaps you will get a clearer spirit.

To be clear, it always stays perfectly clear while we add water to get it down to 40%. But diluting further is when the oils start to drop out. So we're dealing with oils that respond to water but not to freezing.

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Have you tried letting the cloudy spirit age in glass for a bit. I've seen gins that when deproofed end up cloudy, but that once they've rested in glass for a bit they clear up and stay clear ...

Also, be careful of the tempurature when you deproof, as that could also lead to cloudiness.

If that doesn't work, at least for the gin, you may want to reduce the amount of botanicals and herbs you're using ... and you may find that you can keep the flavor you want with less cost and eliminate your problem at the same time.

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The oils (or heavy alcohols) from the botanicals are soluble in alcohol (above certain temperatures) but insoluble in water (below certain temperatures). Once the % of water exceeds a threshold (where the alcohol is not enough to keep the botanical oils dissolved)the oils go into suspension in the water and emulsifies. These micro "oil" bubbles then causes the cloudiness. (Also called the "ouzo effect")

To remove it - filter it (but you loose the botanical oils in the process and the aroma/taste associated with it).

To prevent it from happening reduce the amount of botanicals (also reducing the aromas/taste).

There is no way of maintaining the aroma/taste levels (associated with the oils) and have it clear in a "below threshold" alcohol %. That is why ouzo and absinthe turns cloudy after diluting with water beyond the threshold %. Aniseed tends to do it quite often.

Alternatively evaluate your botanicals and slowly reduces only those components that produces the "oils/heavy alcohols". It will lead to a slight bouquet/aroma change but that's the way it is.

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What I've found with both my gin and a couple of experiemental products that have had this issue, is that I can pull back the amount of herbs and botanicals and still retain the flavor, hence my prior comments. Yes I know I'm pulling out flavor components, but the point is that I had so much in there, that the drinker doesn't notice the difference.

The gentleman that just posted makes a good point as well ... if you filter to address the cloudiness you're simply removing the oils that come from your herbs and botanicals, and that provide flavor components. While you may or may not notice the difference, you're simply wasting herbs and botanicals at that point.

My advice would be to try experimenting with lower quantities of your herbs and botanicals and see what happens (for your gin).

For both your eau de vie and gin, I would strongly suggest you try letting each product rest in glass or stainless for a bit, as the cloudiness may go away on its own (i.e. the oils may drop back into solution), after a few days. As an example, when my gin is first deproofed it is slightly cloudy or opalessent, but we rest it in glass and it clears up after a few days and is fine.

Now, if you're making an Absinthe you want to go waaaay in the other direction and get so much oil in it that it does get cloudy when deproofed. This is one of the reasons that Absinthe is bottled at such high proof.

S.

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What I've found with both my gin and a couple of experiemental products that have had this issue, is that I can pull back the amount of herbs and botanicals and still retain the flavor, hence my prior comments. Yes I know I'm pulling out flavor components, but the point is that I had so much in there, that the drinker doesn't notice the difference.

The gentleman that just posted makes a good point as well ... if you filter to address the cloudiness you're simply removing the oils that come from your herbs and botanicals, and that provide flavor components. While you may or may not notice the difference, you're simply wasting herbs and botanicals at that point.

My advice would be to try experimenting with lower quantities of your herbs and botanicals and see what happens (for your gin).

For both your eau de vie and gin, I would strongly suggest you try letting each product rest in glass or stainless for a bit, as the cloudiness may go away on its own (i.e. the oils may drop back into solution), after a few days. As an example, when my gin is first deproofed it is slightly cloudy or opalessent, but we rest it in glass and it clears up after a few days and is fine.

Now, if you're making an Absinthe you want to go waaaay in the other direction and get so much oil in it that it does get cloudy when deproofed. This is one of the reasons that Absinthe is bottled at such high proof.

S.

you may want to have the water you're diluting with analysed, sometimes high iron or calcium content can create a haze.

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