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To compress, or not compress...


Brewstilla

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Interested on hearing peoples thoughts on compressing heads using a couple plates, switching to pot still for hearts, and back to a couple plates for tails. I am sure this is product and system dependent, but just as a general discussion. 

We create many products, rarely the same a few times in a row, so sitting on a bunch of random feints to recycle is a bit of a pain. My concern with compressing is losing those favorable congeners that live in late heads and early tails. Curious to hear folks real life experiences. 

I have tried it and it certainly helps yield, however we are not far enough along into our barrel aging to see its impacts on the final products.

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  • 2 months later...

When recycle our feints into the strips. At the end of a quarter or a production cycle we usually have 2 full totes of un-recycled low wines and feints. These we run again as Queens Share Barrels. It's true that we don't know how those barrels will turn out but if what went in is any indication of what comes out then it will certainly be something special. 

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We used to do things along this line in a 3-plate kothe still with a large depleg distilling mash in a single pass; running a fair flow of water to the depleg to put the column into full reflux for a while and then easing down the water to trickle out the head, down to little-to-no active cooling to bring the proof down to a whiskey/brandy range, then once the proof dropped too low cranking the depleg water back up to bring the proof back up. After the tails cut there wouldn't be too much alcohol left in the system but it was run out at a relatively high abv and turned off when vapor into still head was 100C but due to the depleg the parrot proof was about 50p still. I think this is the method Kothe more or less teaches and I've seen a number of other distilleries that do things similarly.

After a few years of working that way, I think it's the wrong way to do it. The result is a small, pretty nasty heads portion which gets discarded, a grainy, harsh tasting heart that doesn't mature well, and a small amount of tails that need to be reprocessed but are missing the interesting elements of the very late tails. I really think it's a better approach to double distil everything, use no active reflux for the heads, recycle the heads and tails to the next batch, and run the tails out to near zero. That's my $.02. Sometimes we have to do things with compression when there is only enough raw material for a single distillation (making fruit brandy is hard that way) and there can be some interesting aspects of single pass distillates with aromatic raw materials but I don't like it for whiskey.     

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