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Lees - in or out?

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We are experimenting with a few rum styles - sugarcane blackstrap molasses and unrefined sugar, in various combinations. So far we have racked off the rum from the lees, but curious if anyone out there puts the lees in with the run.  

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I attended a rum class at the Moonshine university and they said to NOT rack and put everything in the still for added flavor profile. 

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A rotatable outlet not at the bottom of the fermenter maybe help

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Lees always in. You can choose to distill on or off grain, but even the scots will distill their sparged beer with lees still in after fermentation finishes.

I can understand that in some "niche" scenarios, such as with honey, you may want to clear the ferment first. This will let you distill into the tails a little more without flavors that would otherwise clash with the flavor. In Whiskey, the lees are practically necessary.

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No right or wrong here.  In or out is going to yield two different profiles.

There are a few journal articles on this, let me see if I can dig them up later.

One thing that stood out to me, is that distilling with yeast will increase the total esters in the distillate.  If I recall, it's somewhat indiscriminate, so while you'll get more fruity esters, you'll also get some of the funkier esters as well, and a number of other compounds (fatty acids, etc), which you might find desirable or undesirable based on what you are going for.

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So for example, based on the Nykanen paper, which found a P<0.001 significance between Ethyl Laurate and distilling with yeast, here is a table from Nykanen's Aroma of Beer, Wine, and Distilled Alcoholic Beverages:

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 9.01.44 PM.png

You can start to make some assumptions on whether or not you would distill on lees for the style you are aiming for.

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Another vote for distilling WITH lees.  That said, we've never tried to rack above yeast for any product so ours may be more a matter of convenience as all of our pumping takes place out of the bottom of the fermentor.  Never have had any trouble or undesired flavors with this method though.

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+1 for lees, pretty much the same story as ThomasM.

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On September 3, 2016 at 8:05 AM, Silk City Distillers said:

No right or wrong here.  In or out is going to yield two different profiles.

There are a few journal articles on this, let me see if I can dig them up later.

One thing that stood out to me, is that distilling with yeast will increase the total esters in the distillate.  If I recall, it's somewhat indiscriminate, so while you'll get more fruity esters, you'll also get some of the funkier esters as well, and a number of other compounds (fatty acids, etc), which you might find desirable or undesirable based on what you are going for.

Thanks for the links. Very helpful. 

We are getting along nicely in product development. Just one phenolic/vinyl note we need to eliminate, which I think is coming off the chlorine/chloramine in the water supply. We will be reacting it out with some metabisulfite in our next batch to see if that gets us where we need to be. 

EDIT: we did add the lees in with this batch. Turned out very nicely for us. Added a lot of green apple, banana and pineapple notes. Once we eliminate that vinyl note, we'll be totally golden. It does seem to come out with carbon filtering, so we are going to run one more test and see what we can see. 

Edited by Lassiter Distilling Co
Adding omitted information

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I quit bringing yeast into the pot when I got a lot of diacetyl in an early batch.  My ferments are very consistent now, going to rethink and experiment...

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A couple ml of Alpha Acetolactase at the start of ferment will prevent diacetyl from forming.

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2 hours ago, Beach Time said:

I quit bringing yeast into the pot when I got a lot of diacetyl in an early batch.  My ferments are very consistent now, going to rethink and experiment...

Howdy there, quick question:  Are you referring to diacetyl in the wash or in the distillate?

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52 minutes ago, Beach Time said:

Distillate

Obviously any fermentation will have some amount of diacetyl, but I can't imagine what effect carrying the lees into the still would have on diacetyl perception specifically.  In my experience, the time to minimize diacetyl is during fermentation.  Clean it up prior to distillation and you won't have to worry about it.  Curious to hear how your experience goes when/if you decide to add the lees back to distillation.

Best of luck!

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17 hours ago, Shindig said:

Great topic you all! Let's keep the rum discussion going :)

I'll raise you.

Clostridium, Propionibacterium, and Lactobacillus.  In ... or out?

Yeast are soooo boring compared to bacteria.

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3 minutes ago, Silk City Distillers said:

I'll raise you.

Clostridium and Propionibacterium in ... or out?

Yeast are soooo boring compared to bacteria.

*Chanting* IN THE STILL! IN THE STILL! 

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7 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

I'll raise you.

Clostridium, Propionibacterium, and Lactobacillus.  In ... or out?

Yeast are soooo boring compared to bacteria.

Yes! Yes! 

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Since I use live dunder in my ferment, I rack the wash off of the lees. Tried leaving them in and ended up with more of a funky taste than I could handle. The dunder adds all of the acids that you want and they are enhanced during the reflux phase. I keep my still in 100% reflux during the spirit run for at least an hour before letting anything through. I now end up with a very clean, very complex rum that is basically drinkable off of the still. 

 

Forgot to mention I add 20% backset back into the next wash. Done hot, it helps with the thick molasses. I'm now on my 12th generation and other than the pH dropping, each generation gets better and better. My live "dunder pit" is in a 55g drum that is sealed and is now 18 months old. I generally add 4% to my wash right about the time that the ferment is slowing.

Here's the thread on my dunder experiments.

 

https://www.stilldragon.org/discussion/1041/the-big-dunder-pit-thread/p1

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