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Condensation in Neck - Anyone doing this?

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We have an issue once and awhile with condensation in bottle necks...vodka, bourbon, whiskey....all proofs from 60 to 90 (temp correct w/ calibrated hydrometer and thermometer). I've read a few posts regarding the topic but don't really see any solutions. We typically proof down and let any given spirit rest for a number of days prior to bottling and still see condensation. We also rinse with whatever spirit we are filling.

Watching a storm build outside popped a thought into my head. Does anyone chill their spirit prior to or during filling? I'm thinking that this might help with pressure fluctuations in the head-space of the bottle and help safeguard against condensation???? Just a thought. I might throw a little vodka in the fridge and then dump it into a bottle to see if we still get it. Just curious if there are any other methods out there.

The only other thing I am worried about is fill level fluctuation since we use a gravity filler. My fill level (which is currently calibrated to 750ml) might see a slight tick up as temp rises, liquid in the bottle slightly expands and compresses the air in the head space. Maybe it won't be too noticeable because of being nearly 1/2 water. ....thinking with the keyboard and rambling now. Fire away!

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I am also looking for good information regarding this. We had one bottling in particular which had a lot of condensation, and from our research and reflecting on our process we determined it was likely due to the humidity in the air during bottling. I am curious if anyone else feels that this might be causing the issue. We recently switch to a new bottling room, which has better AC and therefore better humidity control and the issue seems better.

We also switched from natural cork to synthetic bar tops as well. One train of thought was that maybe the natural cork had moisture in it, or was better at retaining the humidity in the bottle than synthetic cork.

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8 hours ago, Tom Lenerz said:

I am also looking for good information regarding this. We had one bottling in particular which had a lot of condensation, and from our research and reflecting on our process we determined it was likely due to the humidity in the air during bottling. I am curious if anyone else feels that this might be causing the issue. We recently switch to a new bottling room, which has better AC and therefore better humidity control and the issue seems better.

Nah. Look, that humidity in the air will come into equilibrium with the water-ethanol mixture in the bottle in minutes, if not seconds. And by that time the gas in the neck will come into equilibrium vapor pressure with the liquid. The way condensation happens in the neck is just like forming clouds: the liquid has to get warmer than the neck. Like sunlight heating up the liquid, but the room being cooler. Or the temperature drops quickly in the room. Want to get rid of the condensation? Shake the bottle.

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I agree, shaking the bottle is a good way to get rid of it. Also it is obviously purely an aesthetic issue only.

What you are saying makes sense, however why is it extremely common with one bottling of spirits and non-existent in another, when they are sitting next to each other in a store? All parts of process being the same, other than the bottling room conditions?

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If everything is EXACTLY the same, and the two bottlings are intermixed on the shelf and you see the difference, that would be puzzling indeed. But it would have to be EXACTLY the same: same bottle lots, same cleaning procedure for the bottles (solutions, drying, etc.), same distillations and proof (congeners could affect things), etc. We have seen the effect for years, and generally always can be correlated with the difference in the handling climate history after bottling. And you mentioned bottles on the store shelf. Does that mean that the individual cases where not handled exactly the same way and at the same time? Could they have seen different handling climates? Shipped in a warmer truck? Sat in a room at a different time? One case got shaken up before shelved, but the other not?

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Things are not identical, but extremely similar. Strictly taking one product, our third vintage versus our fourth vintage of brandy. Same varietal, same type of barrels, roughly the same aging period, same distillation proof, same barrel proof, same cutting and filter process. The biggest differences were that we transitioned from natural to synthetic cork and we moved our bottling line from a moderately climate controlled room to a very well climate controlled room with low humidity. 

For comparison many of the spirits we bottled before the move (all in synthetic besides the one brandy) had varying levels of condensation, with the 3rd vintage of our brandy being the most noticeable. After the move we have not seen the issue at all (yet). We store all our spirits in our climate controlled warehouse, where it comes back to our store. We do all of our own trucking to and from our warehouse so they don't spend long outside of these types of environments.We have an automated rotary filler so our bottling batches are fairly large typically and the issue seems to be either present or not present for the entire bottling run. At this point I'm still quite convinced it is the rooms humidity during bottling, as we bottled our 3rd vintage in July and it was awfully humid out, but I'm always looking to improve my knowledge base.

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9 minutes ago, Tom Lenerz said:

Things are not identical, but extremely similar. Strictly taking one product, our third vintage versus our fourth vintage of brandy. Same varietal, same type of barrels, roughly the same aging period, same distillation proof, same barrel proof, same cutting and filter process. The biggest differences were that we transitioned from natural to synthetic cork and we moved our bottling line from a moderately climate controlled room to a very well climate controlled room with low humidity. 

For comparison many of the spirits we bottled before the move (all in synthetic besides the one brandy) had varying levels of condensation, with the 3rd vintage of our brandy being the most noticeable. After the move we have not seen the issue at all (yet). We store all our spirits in our climate controlled warehouse, where it comes back to our store. We do all of our own trucking to and from our warehouse so they don't spend long outside of these types of environments.We have an automated rotary filler so our bottling batches are fairly large typically and the issue seems to be either present or not present for the entire bottling run. At this point I'm still quite convinced it is the rooms humidity during bottling, as we bottled our 3rd vintage in July and it was awfully humid out, but I'm always looking to improve my knowledge base.

We use all synthetic shanks with wood tops (Tapi). We noticed condensation a day after bringing it up to our tasting room. Haven't had a chance to do my chilled experiment yet...hopefully soon!

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Trust me, of ALL the things you listed there, the humidity of the room is the LEAST likely contributor to your problem. It is just plain PHYSICS. Just a few degrees difference in temperature during the handling for an hour or so could make the difference. ANY exposure to sunlight can make the difference. Bottling at a different temperature can make the difference. Etc. etc.

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Simplest solution is to get a neck sleeve that completely covers the headspace in the bottle so nobody can see the condensation. That's what most people do.

Also we've found that if we bottle a 60F spirit and then the next week the weather changes and it goes up to 80F (our storage space is not climate controlled), we have issues with corks popping, even with a heat shrink neck sleeve. We like to bottle slightly warmer spirit now to prevent that.

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Negative. Oddly enough, our problem kind of resolved itself. I have no idea what changed, but something did!

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