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Everything posted by IanMcCarthy

  1. Andy, I do not. I was under the impression a winery that sent wine or pomace out to a distillery, and received brandy or grappa in return, could sell those bottles without anything other than an 02-winegrowers license in California. Would the addition of botanicals change that to the best of your knowledge?
  2. Oh excellent - that is the best possible answer. Did the list have to be entirely comprehensive, or just the greatest hits?
  3. Working on a distilled grape brandy with many added herbs - sort of a bitters/amaro vibe. The catch is I have a winemakers license, and this would be a "grape brandy with other stuff". Best I can find is where there is a single or dominant botanical, the wording is "brandy flavored with X". What if i have a whole gaggle of botanicals in there? Thanks much ya'll.
  4. Geoman, 1) It is going to take much more than 30 pounds of fruit to make brandy. Of course, smaller scale makes distillation more difficult, because the space between heads and tails is so compact. Even the smallest test batches of fruit I do start with 500# - regardless of your still size. 2) Sugar. Good fruit brandy is just fruit, no added sugar. You need to concentrate the flavor of a huge amount of fruit to get something aromatic. in the case of your 30# peach v 7# white sugar, you are getting much more fermentable sugar from the sugar than the peach. That is going to dilute your fruit flavor. Also, when you don't use sugar, you won't need water. It will start gloop-y, but the fruit will break itself down during fermentation. 3) Fruit quality. Don't use rotten or moldy fruit. Crap in, crap out. This is going to increase the chance of spoilage in a big way - you can't see all the mold spores, and you won't be able to remove them. 4) Temp control - gold star for that. 5) Agitation - You might consider opening your fermentation vessel and punching down the fruit at least once a day. Solids will rise to the top, which will slow down your fermentation, but also increase the possibility of spoilage. Keep it all wet and well-mixed. 6) Pits - get em outa there. You might thinking about adding back a small percentage when you get proficient, but when you are starting out there are source of cyanide that you don't want to worry about. Agitation and funky fruit are the reasons for the ugly fermentation, but consider your base recipe - and try to just use fruit. I have some books in German I can recommend if you speak it, but in English "distilling fruit brandy" by Josef Pischl is a good, if not perfect, starting place. Happy distilling!
  5. Nat - on that subject of Calvados producers using old oak for distillates - they also do the same thing for their ciders, for up to a full year. As I understand it, it is a question of necessity: Fill your tank with cider, and let it sit (ferment) until you have more cider to put in next season. Otherwise, they cask dries out and you get problems with leaking. The effect of leaving low-alcohol, un-sulphured cider around for a full year is a big increase in volatile acidity. Whenever I hear folks comparing American and French apple brandy, they are always quick to talk about terroir and varieties - All true, of course. What is being overlooked, as I see it, is the difference in VA between American and French ciders right before they go into the still. Americans have a distilling culture - ultra-hygienic, selected yeast + acids + enzymes, ferment and distill as quickly as possible - that is very different indeed from the good traditional Calvados producers. The only time I have made something that even faintly reminded me of Calvados, it was cider gifted to be by a winemaker that had sat around for nearly two years. Total nail-polish bomb.
  6. Here is the plan: Farm distillery. Grow fruit, and distill it there. It would happen to be the farm that I live on. Does anyone have advice on the specific legal hurtles involved with this? Is it even in the realm of possibility? Thanks for your help Californios.
  7. Hello all, Last year I started chasing my dream of distilling eau de vie on a commercial scale - currently I am operating out of a friends distillery - he makes vodka from grain and whiskey, primarily. The whole fruit distillate thing is new to him, (he gets a chuckle out of my "efficiency", and the fermentation times for spontaneous yeasts... you might get the picture). Every bit of knowledge I glean from eau de vie distillers I admire includes something along the lines of "the mash but be heated as slowly and evenly as possible". All the whiskey distillers I have rubbed shoulders with have a different take on things. Perhaps there is something cultural here. This distiller tells me there is no difference in running a fast versus slow stripping run - that there are no chemical changes taking place. The little science knowledge I have tells me that heat+time+alcohol+copper might very well be the basis for some chemical changes, and that changing any of those factors - including time - might have a different outcome. Just to be sure, we are talking about duration of heating being here - not speed being a factor in making cuts. It is also worth noting that I pay this friend by the gallon, not by the hour. Hoping some experienced voices can chime in and give some validation to this second and third hand knowledge. Thanks for your time.
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