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Spanish_Moss_Gin

Heads and tails when using NGS

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Hi Folks

 

im new to distilling, I’m currently running some test batches using vodka before I move into acquiring NGS as a base.

my question is how do you identify accurately the heads and tails when using pure spirits to start with, there is a lot of advice online about how to do this when distilling from a mash but none that I’ve seen in relation to NGS

appreciate any advice you can give

thanks

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Ok, not to beat a dead horse here but, when using NGS to make vodka, there are really two ways to do it.

1) Just reduce it close to bottle proof, filter it any of several way, add your flavor, sugar, citric (if applicable) then reduce to final proof and bottle.

2) Add some water to NGS so you don't blow up your building, put it in any type of still from a Kurig , to a 1000 plate nuclear powered column that is slightly shorter than the troposphere , warm up the mix and it will come out exactally as it was when you put it in. No heads, tails, hearts, or magic beans will come from your efforts, so it will be impossible to identify these non existent segments. However you can say you distilled it.

Maybe the best way would be to do "simulated cuts" . Just pull the first 2% of the warmed up NGS off into one container, then segregate the next 70% into your hearts container, then run the remainder into a tails container.  Just use the hearts for your Vodka.

The next day, dump the heads and tails into the next batch and repeat the process. Should work out pretty well.

Either way you  are still required to state on the bottle (Contains 100% NGS)

Prost

 

 

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Thanks, sorry I should have been more clear, my initial test batches have been using vodka as the base to distill Gin, I assume your 2%/70% rule still applies though?

-thanks

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@Roger , I'm sure you were just trying to have a bit of fun but you need to see your comments from the perspective of the person who is asking the question.  If a person who has openly labelled themself as a newbie gets a very specific reply from a member with a high reputational ranking, such as yourself, then the OP is going to take that reply seriously and will not see it as the facetious comment it is intended to be.  The OP may not have been following the "GNS Cost and Availability" thread and would not necessarily see your reply in that context.  Also, for someone in the future reading this thread it will mislead and confuse them.

To anybody else who is confused by Roger's and my comments, please read the "GNS Cost and Availability" thread for context.

Edited by meerkat
typo

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11 hours ago, Spanish_Moss_Gin said:

how do you identify accurately the heads and tails when using pure spirits to start with

It's quite difficult because there are very little to begin with. Can you give us a bit of info regarding the type of equipment you're running?

 

 

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I’m just running a tester still right now, perfecting recipes more than anything, from what I’ve read the first 2% seems to be a good amount to take, especially with Gin where a lot of the juniper oils appear in this first amount

thanks

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15 minutes ago, Spanish_Moss_Gin said:

first 2% seems to be a good amount to take, especially with Gin where a lot of the juniper oils appear in this first amount

Im confused, are you redistilling GNS, or are you making gin from gns and looking for the heads cut for the gin run? If the latter, I normally conduct a demisting test -- dilute the distillate to bottle proof, if it's doesn't cloud you're good to go. Taking a "heads" cut to eliminate the possibility of bottle-louching is different than taking a heads cut when redistilling purchased GNS (or everclear, etc)

 

 

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Assuming decent quality NGS, any potential spirit heads cut will be minuscule compared to your gin heads cut (initial juniper bitterness and louching) in volume.  Not to mention, there is no reason to run plates on an NGS gin run, so the possibility of making any real spirit heads cut is really just non-existent.  If you were starting from a non-neutral grain whiskey base, this might be very different.

Your overall botanical load (grams/liter of finished spirit) as well as your production style (vapor distilled vs macerated) is going to have a major factor on any initial "gin-heads" cut you are making on your finished gin run.  High botanical load macerated gin is going to require cutting a bit more than a light botanical load on a carter head still, unless of course you aren't looking to reduce louching, or you are looking for very bold (risking bitterness) flavor profile.

Assuming you've run gin before, you'll note that the first runnings of the still are very bitter, very juniper, and are very oily (will louche notably with water additions).  You'll need to experiment with where you make this initial cut, because it's also significantly high in flavor.

All that said, there are probably a hundred potential variables involved, so take any advice you get with a grain of salt, since every rig will run differently.

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2 hours ago, Spanish_Moss_Gin said:

I guess it’s just a trial and error type of experiment which is fine and half the fun I guess...

 

you'll think it's fun until you "send to loss" your your umpeenth run.  ?

 

 

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Another noob question 😃 

 

If i am running NGS through my Pot and i make a small heads cut. I should run it down to about 40% then give up? I started with about 35% NGS. Sorry i know its a dumb question...but its driving me nuts looking for answers. 

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You run it until about 10%. Then just dump out the remainder.Keep in mind that you really are not trying to accomplish anything except produce a label that says "Distilled by". There is not much info out there, as that would shed light on the "NGS craft vodka scam", so there is really no right or wrong way to do it.

just put it in at 40%. Boil the crap out of it as fast as you can to get it back out and your done. 

I have always wondered though, why dump any of it? Why not just use the diluted fake craft that's left in the pot, as the water to reduce the fake vodka down from the 140+\- that the pot distills over. I wonder if Mr. T does that ?

prost 

 

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59 minutes ago, Roger said:

Why not just use the diluted fake craft that's left in the pot, as the water to reduce the fake vodka down from the 140+\- that the pot distills over. I wonder if Mr. T does that ?

Mind ... blown

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I worked a place that redistilled GNS through a 20 plate column, and there was a clear heads component that was removed. The distillate was noticeably cleaner than the starting GNS, and also different than the same GNS run through carbon. The distillery used 3 different GNS sources for various contract projects, and there were differences between them and they performed differently under redistillation (meaning a different sized heads cut). We also made a vodka on the same column from a 100% wheat mash base. It's not very interesting to redistill GNS and I'm glad I dont need to it anymore, but there are certainly reasons to do it beyond the label impact.     

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1 hour ago, JustAndy said:

The distillate was noticeably cleaner than the starting GNS, and also different than the same GNS run through carbon

You seem to have worked at a lot of different places and its given you a lot of insights. You had post on proofing times at different distilleries that was also interesting. Thanks for sharing. I figured there was no real wrong way to make vodka from vodka, but i guess even that can be messed up.

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I've worked at 4 distilleries; I've worked for 8 years at a 100% grain-to-glass distillery where we make about 30 different spirits (fruit brandy, whiskey, wine brandy, liqueurs, misc), a few years at a larger distillery which did malt whiskey and about 30,000 cases/year of gns based gin, a midsized distillery that focused on vodka/gin/simple liqueurs, and a start-up that did gns-based spirits which I left over their misleading labels. So i am not insensitive to Roger's points about some of the dishonest marketing practices which are deployed, but I have first hand experience that redistilling GNS can sometimes be beneficial and worth doing. I've also done consulting for a handful of projects but more for fun than for profit. My wife also writes for numerous wine & spirits mags (and just wrote a book about scotch), and I travel a lot with her visiting other producers which is always very educational. 

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I trully appreciate everyone's input in this issue, and don't mean to be dismissive in any way. I am just pointing out that the distillation (after commercial NGS production) is essentially nothing but process. It isn't nuance, or technique, it is just process. There is no conceivable way that using a "lesser piece of equipment" and by that I mean a still that is not able to increase the proof of an alcohol, can remove anything at all from an already produced NGS. The "process" of distillation has already been accomplished at the NGS stage.

A still can certainly remove components that are "left in" a non NGS proof distillate, but that is a completely different thing. The way to change the makeup of an "NGS" has to start at the beginning. The mash bill, the yeast, the fermentation temp, the fermentation time, etc.. All those things affect the end result.

The distillation "process" on the other hand is not going to remove anything the 2nd or 3rd or 50th time, if the proof is not increased. The only thing that a post NGS distillation can remove, is impurities that are added post NGS process (Such as water contaminate.

with that said, I am assuming the question asked was I reference to a pot still, not a column that had the capacity to change the actual makeup of the distillate.

prost. 

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12 hours ago, Roger said:

There is no conceivable way that using a "lesser piece of equipment" and by that I mean a still that is not able to increase the proof of an alcohol, can remove anything at all from an already produced NGS. 

 

with that said, I am assuming the question asked was I reference to a pot still, not a column that had the capacity to change the actual makeup of the distillate.

prost. 

NGS is produced using a fundamentally different piece of equipment than a batch pot still.  A pot still can very definitely improve NGS since a continuous system can not remove all heads.

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