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Al_The_Chemist

Off hearts to trails ratio

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I'm using a new still configuration for this rum recipe. Its a 4" column with 2 bubble plates. 3000 watt heater. 

This was a low wines run. I stop collecting hearts when the distillate was around 74% (and when I start noticing a tangy, almost sour note). I stop collecting tails around 10%.  I collected 2 gallons of hearts and 3 gallons of tails. This seems way off on the ratios.

Any ideas? 

Should I add another plate to improve separation, or increase the height of my column? 

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What are you trying to do?   A white or a barrel aged rum?   Are you changing the reflux during the run?  

3000w on a 4" seems pretty slow on the vapor speed.  I have run over double that for barrel aged.  

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This is intended for barrel aging. I'm looking for a heavy product. I'm not pre-charging, the plates become self charged very quickly once the system comes to temp. These are just standard bubble plates, nothing like a thumper. I agree, I didn't think 3000 watts would push too hard on the kettle. This was a 15 gallon low wines run. 

Though things seemed to dip into the heavier tails far to quickly. There was plenty of good spirit left to collect. 

 

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If you are going to run low reflux which I am surmising from your description of the cuts, I would add more plates.  You could also up the reflux with 2 plates and potentially get more esterification.   I have done single run rum using 2 plates, but used more power, 6000 to 8000w on a 4".   Running like that needs more reflux.   Maybe run around 65%

If you do a strip/finish, then run it more like a pot still with 3-4 plates.  On the spirit run use reflux to compress the heads, then pretty much turn off reflux and adjust taste with power/vapor speed.  

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The initial intend on this one was not to run blend cuts, but just to cut off before reaching too far into the tails. I just didn't expect the deeper tails to come up so early with this configuration.

I haven't tried using 3-4 plates, but from reading up I'm led to believe that level of fractioning will lead to a lighter product? Did you manage to pull a heavy product using the 4 plate configuration? How deep did you collect?

If I can reach a good tasting heavy product, I'd rather run from base wash to final spirit, far less work. I like working with top column adjustments far better than heat adjustments. The results seem easier to register. 

I did run the deflegmater at full for a while to push for some in column esterification, but when that was turned off, it was only the 2 plates regulating the distillation. I made no heat or reflux adjustments. 

So what would be your conclusion, I ran too hot? 

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Do you intend to do 2 runs? this stripping run then a spirit run?

If this is the first run, you called it low wines run, then I suggest you don't do any cuts. Do them on the spirit run only.

With only 2 plates treat it like an alembic pot still.

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If you are going to run two plates as a one and done you will need to adjust the deflegmater to provide some reflux.  Two plates alone with no reflux won't be clean enough for a single run.  

I have not run 4 plates, but I do know people who run like you did as second run.  Running that way is essentially a two run with pot still.  The deflegmater is just used to compress the heads.  

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Sorry for the lack of clarity. I ran 2 strip runs with a non plated pot still run. 

I then ran a finishing (spirits) run from what I collected. In the spirit run I ran 2 plates with a deflegmator. I used the reflux to compress the heads and to allow ester formation. Once I turned the coolant to the deflegmater off I did not turn it on again. Essentially completing the spirit run with an alembic style process. I expected to have around 5-10% heads, 70% hearts and about 20-25% tails. I ended up with 60% tails (stopping at 74%). 

I'm wondering what went wrong. Did I not collect deep enough? 

 

 

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More plates, especially if you are going to complete the run without the dephlegmator. You are getting separation for the heads cut, but you are smearing your hearts into your tails.

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I found that the fermentation process has a greater impact of the tails fraction than the distillation process (garbage in garbage out).  If your wash ABV is over 10% that might be the root cause.

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9 minutes ago, bluestar said:

More plates, especially if you are going to complete the run without the dephlegmator. You are getting separation for the heads cut, but you are smearing your hearts into your tails.

I'll give that a go, though I am then no longer really doing a pot distillation. 

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15 hours ago, Al_The_Chemist said:

Should I add another plate to improve separation, or increase the height of my column? 

or run less power...

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1 minute ago, Beach Time said:

I found that the fermentation process has a greater impact of the tails fraction than the distillation process (garbage in garbage out).  If your wash ABV is over 10% that might be the root cause.

So higher ABV in the wash is actually detrimental? That seems counter intuitive. Can you elaborate? 

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9 minutes ago, Al_The_Chemist said:

So higher ABV in the wash is actually detrimental? That seems counter intuitive. Can you elaborate? 

It can be.  Yeast is more stressed which can cause off flavors.   We pay for sugars, so in the end it really doesn't matter how much you use from a cost point of view.   Use more sugar, get more product, use less, get less.  The difference can be use less, get a better product so more usable product while spending less for sugar.  You might have to do more runs or run a bigger system to get the same amount of product, but it will be better. 

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12 minutes ago, Al_The_Chemist said:

So higher ABV in the wash is actually detrimental? That seems counter intuitive. Can you elaborate? 

The higher OG & ABV both stress the yeast and make the yeast produce more congeners. You could also try changing yeast strain, adding/increasing nutrients, lowering fermentation temp, incremental feeding. Lots of variables to sort out. 

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2 hours ago, Beach Time said:

The higher OG & ABV both stress the yeast and make the yeast produce more congeners. You could also try changing yeast strain, adding/increasing nutrients, lowering fermentation temp, incremental feeding. Lots of variables to sort out. 

That makes sense. I'll tune the recipe. I'm still training my nose to what constitutes "off" for Rum. Any hints? 

 

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When I ran my first batches and struggled getting the results I was intending, I reached out to 4 distillers I had met along the way.  3 of them returned my call within 24 hours and their input helped me connect some of the dots and eventually sort out the main issues (it took me over 12 months and dozens of batches to develop my process and I continue to make adjustments).  the 4th blew me off so another case of the 80/20 rule (I guess). :lol:

In the spirit of the 3 that did help me (James Y, Kelley S & Joe D), here are some pointers but you will need to make that journey yourself.

* yeast health is first & foremost, you should be able to get down to 0.998 FG, if your final gravity is more than 1.010 then figure out how to lower that number. (some suggestions already posted)

* use backset say 20% (+/-)

* are you trying to get any funky island flavors? read the Arroyo papers.

* compact your heads, a lot of the "good" esters blurr with the heads (ethyl acetate) and you could lose them in the heads cut

* making good spirits is like making good BBQ, low & slow.  I bet 80% of the bad booze I've tasted was due to running too hot or too much heat flux. (BOTH heads & tails in a spirit? cum'on man!) 

* get a small cocktail straw and use it to grab 1/2 drop samples out of the parrot for tasting to determine final cut point. it is YOUR rum use YOUR taste to make that final decision. Louching, nosing and eyeballing are BS, taste rules, and 1/2 drop is PLENTY to determine the final cut.

* what constitutes off? you will have to make that decision based off your personal preferences and goals for the product.

* raw spirit straight off the still can be rough (especially if you took a small heads cut trying to capture esters) and a few days/weeks in stainless can work wonders

 

 

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You may find that rum with molasses will need a higher og as it will not finish as low as other fermentations due to the unfermentables.  Depending on the quality and quantity of molasses your rum may finish 1.01 to 1.02.   That puts your opening sg 1.08-1.09.  

For me rum was one of the easier products to make.  Pick your mix of sugar vs molasses. Get your pitch ph correct, 5.2-5.4.  Use a good rum yeast, I use lallemand RM.  Add nutrients, I use lallemand  GN and use the rate they recommend for sugar washes.  Adjust ph as needed during the fermentation, but I find that it doesn't usually need any due to the calcium in the molasses.  Run your fermentation at 90 deg and you should have a decent base rum.  

I think a lot of the trick to the big producers rum is what they add after distillation.   

 

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Besides the SG that's pretty much mu procedure. I use back-set to lower the ph and add some "flavor". I use V1116 yeast. 

Once I balance things out I'll start playing with Shermanii and Butyricum.

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