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large distillers Head cuts

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Do most large distillers cut a predetermined percent of their run for their head control.

Dose the grain bill radically change the head percent of the run?

Is there a general rule of thumb that the industry accepts for percent of Heads of the total run? I am not talking about the art or style. JUST a generally accepted percent or do they mostly use temperature control to determine the cut.

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Yes, and it can be done by plates, temps, ABV or usually a combination of the above.  Keep in mind your large distilleries are basically computer controlled.  So the whole production process is a repeat of a repeat of a repeat and so will the 10,000 next batches they make.  Like any hobby or sport, repetition makes you good at what you do.

Grain bills can change things a bit but usually if going by ABV or temps it's the same thing.

It's a matter of knowing the equipment and the process being used.  Obviously a reflux still will be different than a pot still.  A fractioning still different then the previous two.  Do you strip or one and done? Use a doubler or not?  But if you use the same process every time regardless of grains things will be darn similar.  You may need/want a slightly different cut depending on the length of aging but overall will be the same for rye vs bourbon vs american whiskey if using the same equipment and process.

Now compare a brandy to a whiskey using the same equipment and cut points will likely be quite different with more heads retention.

Every combination of process and equipment will produce something a bit different but generally the same across different spirits.  You just need to learn how that equipment produces spirits and get used to it.  Repetition will help you get better with every new run done the same way and you notice patterns in ABV, temps, smells & taste profiles of the spirit at the cut points you like.  When you get to this point you want to log barometric pressure and factor that in as the pressure does affect boiling points.

So yes they all do it, but might use different methods.

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Thanks for your reply.     I have been distilling for quite awhile and realize there are a lot of variables. I was just wondering for forecasting, if I could use an accepted industry standard, a percent loss of the gross batch run.. I wanted to backup my cost projections with a generally accepted loss of heads. for a grain bill that I have not done.   I'll just use my past experience. I was hoping to give 3rd party validly to my numbers.

Thanks again Bob




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As pointed out above you have to specify your process, product, and equipment to make a fair comparison. The practices of the scotch whiskey industry are fundamentally different from the bourbon industry which is different than the cognac industry etc. If you are looking at heads cut as 'loss' this especially matters as how the heads cut is reprocessed will radically alter this number.   

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