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Still_Holler

Corn Whiskey - too much heads

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I am making sour mash corn whiskey and getting a larger than expected heads component.  I have few culprits in mind and wanted to run my procedure by the forum and see if anything pops out to people.

1. Am I just doing a poor job of separating the heads during distillation and smearing it into the first part of the hearts, causing me to collect a larger volume before the head flavor goes away?

We have a 200gal direct fire pot still with 6" column with 4 non-bypassable bubble plates and dephelg on top.  I let it reflux for 45 minutes at 165 degrees top of column.

Once I start trying to decrease dephelg/increase the column temp and let distillate out I cannot get anything to come off the still until around 170 F.

(I am at 2800' elevations so ethanol boiling point should be about 170) heads have been running off between 170-172 degrees from 195-175 proof. 

Wash is about 5% alcohol and pot temp is 195. I am getting 2.75 gal heads at 185 proof and 7.5 gal hearts at 160 proof - which leaves heads as %25 of total alcohol in the wash.

2. Is my fermentation creating a high percentage of heads compounds?

From reading some things I think using a different yeast and pitching at a lower temp to create longer fermentation may help with this. 

I am doing all corn mash, letting it sweet mash (lactic) with alpha enzyme for 24 hours before cooking, then adding 30 gal backset, cooking to 190, cooling to 140, adding saccharization enzyme, and draining to fermenter for off grain fermentation. 

I am using lallemonde turbo yeast and pitching at 90 degrees F as per packaging recommendation (pitch between 100-90 degrees).  Also using Servomyces and Fermaid-O organic yeast nutrient.  The fermentations have been rapid and complete, below 1.000 sg in 48 hours. 

We are happy with the flavors and final product, just getting killed on the percentage of hearts we are recovering. (and our mash abv but that is a different story)

Appreciate any feedback! Thanks.

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22 hours ago, Still_Holler said:

I let it reflux for 45 minutes at 165 degrees top of column.

Longer time periods under total reflux can sometimes cause higher levels of ester formation in the still, especially with high volatile acidity washes.  Compressing/Stacking heads in the column can become counterproductive, this is a case where more doesn't necessarily mean better.

22 hours ago, Still_Holler said:

I am doing all corn mash, letting it sweet mash (lactic) with alpha enzyme for 24 hours before cooking,

You are going to create a lot of volatile acids (lactic, acetic, etc).  This generally wouldn't be called sweet mashing, this is bacterial sour mashing as opposed to backset sour mashing.  Adding in backset, you are basically doing both.  This combined with the long reflux is going to create lots of ethyl acetate and ethyl lactate.  EA is very very headsy.

22 hours ago, Still_Holler said:

I am using lallemonde turbo yeast and pitching at 90 degrees F as per packaging recommendation (pitch between 100-90 degrees).  Also using Servomyces and Fermaid-O organic yeast nutrient.  The fermentations have been rapid and complete, below 1.000 sg in 48 hours. 

48 hour fermentation sounds like you are fermenting on the hot side, this will also generate more heads.

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1 hour ago, HottyToddy77 said:

http://adiforums.com/topic/8046-bourbon-mash-question/?tab=comments#comment-45532

 

read how Wilderness Trail Dist. describes how to mash. Is that your process? I would add the back-set to the initial cook.

Thanks, that is a great mash technique article, we do add the backset pre-cook.

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Thank you for the knowledge Silk City Distillers!  I'm running it up to temp right now so I will try to do very little reflux and see how that goes. 

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7 minutes ago, Still_Holler said:

Thanks, that is a great mash technique article, we do add the backset pre-cook.

wilderness trail and fermsolutions are the same people. Fermsolutions has some good enzymes and yeast. 

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On 2/27/2018 at 10:17 AM, Silk City Distillers said:

Longer time periods under total reflux can sometimes cause higher levels of ester formation in the still, especially with high volatile acidity washes.  Compressing/Stacking heads in the column can become counterproductive, this is a case where more doesn't necessarily mean better.

You are going to create a lot of volatile acids (lactic, acetic, etc).  This generally wouldn't be called sweet mashing, this is bacterial sour mashing as opposed to backset sour mashing.  Adding in backset, you are basically doing both.  This combined with the long reflux is going to create lots of ethyl acetate and ethyl lactate.  EA is very very headsy.

48 hour fermentation sounds like you are fermenting on the hot side, this will also generate more heads.

Do you know of any yeast strains that would produce less volatile acids in this type of mash?

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