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fa20driver

Malt Whiskey from Tails?

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As a byproduct of making a malt vodka, I get a lot of tails.  I mean a lot.  So, I figured that I could make a significant amount of malt tail whiskey to age.

I have heard that it makes a very rich, tasty product.  I will be aging in 30 gallon barrels.  From the taste of the new make (just running it today) it is definitely different than a mostly hearts cut and has a lot of flavor.  I will probably collect it in fractions so that I don't accidentally go too deep into the ultra tail parts of the tails.

Any advice from those who have made whiskey from an all tails product? 

I'm running it through 3 plates, collecting at about 160 proof down to 140 proof.  This would essentially be the third distillation for them

IE, I expect it to have to age longer, so what char would be preferable in a 30 gallon barrel? 

How long would one expect it to age in a Northeast Climate ranging from about 45 to 90?

I also added in a small portion of the very late malt heads into the still - IE, great rich flavor, but still a slight little burn that I don't want in my Vodka.

Was also thinking of doing a quick run through charcoal before barreling if that might help clean it up, although the main run seems pretty clean so far.  Not really sure how deep to go into the tails since it is already mostly tails...

This is pretty experimental for me so any thoughts welcome....

 

 

 

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Interesting idea but I'm not sure you can classify it as "Whisky" since it already came off the still way higher then 160 proof (while you were making vodka). I may be wrong about that though as it does seem to be a bit of a grey area since the product you are now making is coming off the still at 160 or less...Im sure more informed people will be along shortly.

As far as how long to age it - That is a personal matter and is dependent of many factors such as the age of the barrel and personal preference for the 'whiskies' profile.

 

As far as getting a lot of tails, try slowing down your run a bit and periodic "re-stacking" of your column with the dephlag control as you get close to the tail. Your large tail volume could be from here or perhaps from a unhealthy ferment. If it was me, I'd be looking at way to reduce my amounts of tails rather then trying to find ways to utilize them.....Good luck! 

 

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We are actually doing the same thing as an experiment although we are combining the late heads and tails of various product distillations (wheat vodka, corn whisky and whisky) together and running those as a whisky.  To be honest we don't have a clue how this is going to turn out but our thought process is the same as yours and the flavour was similar to what you describe.

Hope it works for both of us!

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16 hours ago, kelbor said:

Interesting idea but I'm not sure you can classify it as "Whisky" since it already came off the still way higher then 160 proof (while you were making vodka). I may be wrong about that though as it does seem to be a bit of a grey area since the product you are now making is coming off the still at 160 or less...Im sure more informed people will be along shortly.

 

 

Actually, It should still qualify as whiskey produced under 160,

When I make the Vodka, I first strip it and then take the main heads/tails cut via the second run through 3 plates - which results in a product below 160.  It is these heads/tails that I am using for the Whiskey.

It is on the third run that I actually produce the neutral through about 19 plates - which has very little heads/tails left since 90% of them were cut via the previous run. 

The Vodka is produced on a much smaller still with reduced flow rates, so stripping the heads/tails on the larger still saves a boat load of time on the smaller.  Probably seems strange, but it works.

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12 hours ago, mheisz said:

We are actually doing the same thing as an experiment although we are combining the late heads and tails of various product distillations (wheat vodka, corn whisky and whisky) together and running those as a whisky.  To be honest we don't have a clue how this is going to turn out but our thought process is the same as yours and the flavour was similar to what you describe.

Hope it works for both of us!

Mheisz -

Good luck with that.  I'm curious to know how that product would be designated, since you are combining the different products after they are distilled.

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16 hours ago, kelbor said:

As far as getting a lot of tails, try slowing down your run a bit and periodic "re-stacking" of your column with the dephlag control as you get close to the tail. Your large tail volume could be from here or perhaps from a unhealthy ferment. If it was me, I'd be looking at way to reduce my amounts of tails rather then trying to find ways to utilize them.....Good luck! 

 

Thanks for the suggestion - As a brewer by trade, my ferments are pretty clean - I even "pasteurize" the wort before pitching since it is mashed at a temp where lots of stuff can survive.  Since my Vodka process involves three different distillations, I make very conservative cuts on the second run so that very little of the tail smell or burn gets to the final distillation.  The resulting Vodka is really clean and probably not cost effective on a larger scale, but that is the beauty of craft distilling and self distribution. 

Perhaps charcoal would clean up anything that happened to get through from going deeper into the tails but I don't like risking it.  If the tails make good whiskey, I would rather age that since the Vodka already pays for itself and it is expensive to put malt whiskey up in a barrel for 2+ years... 

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Well you can't call it whiskey if distilled above 160 proof; however, you can call it "light whiskey."

Light Whiskey:

Whisky produced in the U.S. at more than 80% alcohol by volume (160 proof) [but less than 95% alcohol by volume (190 proof)] and stored in used or uncharred new oak containers

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10 hours ago, fa20driver said:

Mheisz -

Good luck with that.  I'm curious to know how that product would be designated, since you are combining the different products after they are distilled.

I m in Canada.  We have different naming rules to go by so there are a few options.   We won't have all that much so if it turns out we will cross that bridge when we get there.  

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You can also easily pull the tails from your final column run at under 160 if you want. If you have the valves set up, just bypass the column when you start getting tails and collect them without going through plates.

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Does anyone else this this is a suspect approach?  I can't fathom the possibility of processing tails into something palatable let alone having any commercial benefit.  Please correct my naiveté.

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Scotts and many others use the feints from previous runs and put them in the wash or low wines of the next run. You'll also see "Reserve" spirits from feints. It's also pretty common with home distillers.

 

Example here, all "Queen's Share" bottles are feints runs: http://maggiesfarmrum.com/buy-now/

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Yes - interested if there is ant historical/ factual detail on the 'Queen's Share' of is it simply marketing & branding.

Yes - Commercial Rum distilling Down Under pushes all their Pot Still Feints to a Column Still for Vodka production yet takes a heart -tails cut for their of the feints as their Column Still Rum.

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While there might be some merit for feints collected in a single pass pot still run, you are going to really hit diminishing returns quickly if trying to re-run feints collected out of a multi-plate column still run, even less if you are talking about the final run of a multi-run process that includes stripping, etc.  Congener composition and high boiling alcohols are going to be significantly more concentrated, and usable product yield is going to be pretty small.

Pretty sure this meme came right out of the hobby community, when pot stills were significantly more prevalent than column stills, and product yield was disappointingly low for the effort involved.

Whats the vodka product yield in PG compared to the total potential alcohol (PG) in the starting wash?  If the product yield is north of 50% of the total PG, I can't imagine the product yield from the feints run would be anything but tiny.  If your vodka yield is very low, say 20%, than there is probably some merit in the process.

 

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Vodka yields are south of 50% total yeild, and since I'm doing three distillations for the Vodka, the tails aren't coming off the vodka still, they are being cut from the second distillation (3 plates) resulting in quite a bit of tails between 150 and 40 proof.  I just stop the "pre Vodka hearts" when there is the slightest hint of tails coming through.  Truth is I could probably continue processing the tails into vodka, but if I can get good tasting whiskey out of it them - why not.  I did a run using all of the combined tails and it came out pretty nice.  I guess time will tell...

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On 2/3/2017 at 9:42 AM, Foreshot said:

 

Scotts and many others use the feints from previous runs and put them in the wash or low wines of the next run. You'll also see "Reserve" spirits from feints. It's also pretty common with home distillers.

 

 

Of course, as do we. But the OP wasn't talking about adding feints to the next strip. He's (or she's) talking about making single malt from tails -- two very different things.

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1 hour ago, fa20driver said:

the tails aren't coming off the vodka still, they are being cut from the second distillation (3 plates) resulting in quite a bit of tails between 150 and 40 proof.

Well shit! That's not what I think of when I think of tails!! This clarifies things quite a bit.

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Yea, the tails that come off the Vodka still are pretty nasty and bitter, with some burn, especially once the proof drops below 190.  I would be suspect of anyone using them for anything...  although if I had thousands of gallons of them I would be inclined to probably try...

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You dump those back into your next strip, right?

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Since I'm just pushing the hearts through the vodka still, I've already made conservative cuts before the spirit ever hits the vodka column, so what little "tails" I get from the Vodka column doesn't amount to much volume.  As soon as I start to get any hint of tail taste coming off the vodka still I just stop the run and flush the still. 

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