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Proofing Water


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Hey folks,

With a few years of R&D in rum under my belt, I hit a new issue this week. 

A little background:  I have been using EC1118 to ferment a solution using crystalized sugar, and getting pleasant results. The caveat is that it has taken 4-6 weeks to ferment dry. The amount of FermaidK used has been from medium to medium high.

These rums have all responded positively to proofing with our well water, which is of very high quality.

In an effort to speed up fermentation, I did a trial using STILL SPIRITS RUM DISTILLER'S YEAST that contains nutrients and glycoamylase. The desired reduction in fermentation time was met, clocking in at 7 days. The aromas during fermentation were not nearly as pleasant. Smells like a hot fermentation to me, which it is at 90F, compared to the other staying below 80F.  But the distilled rum from this trial has organoleptic quality comparable to anything else I'd done with EC1118.

I noticed right away that the later tails had a haze to them, but the main cut was clear.  The problem occurred when proofing down. The well water caused a slight haze, though distilled water did not.

One of my products has orange rind infused into the rum. Even the clear, proofed to 40% rum, reacted quite strangely, looking much more akin to powered lemonade that the clear orangish liquid we have been use to.  

I'm using a very simple, electric element pot still setup with Chore Boy's stuffed into a 2ft stack.

First photo shows proofing down with well water on left and DI on right.
Second photo has proofed down with DI mixed 50/50 with orange infusion (left) and 55% straight from the still infused orange rind (right)

Next trial I'm considering a turbo yeast. Any suggestions?




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There are lots of posts about haze & cloudiness - try searching the forum.  A lot of them are in a Gin context but the lessons apply.

In short: based on the first photo, I'm willing to bet that your well water has significant dissolved solids and/or other quality issues.  I wouldn't use it for proofing down unless confirming (each time you use it) with a TDS meter that it's under 10-20ppm solids (solids content can vary over time). 

Adding citrus to spirits as an infusion is one of the easiest ways to introduce cloudiness/louching, which often appears as you descend below 100 proof.

Here's my (snarky) translation of your post: "I just did the two things that most frequently lead to haze in spirits.  Why are my spirits hazy?" :) 

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20 minutes ago, FIVE x 5 Consulting said:


Here's my (snarky) translation of your post: "I just did the two things that most frequently lead to haze in spirits.  Why are my spirits hazy?" :) 

Actually, the question is, has anyone experienced haze from a yeast/nutrient/enzyme product?

As mentioned earlier, absolutely zero haze occurred after 3 years of proofing down with quality well water when using EC1118, including infusing citrus rinds.

For the record, I did a few searches, but perhaps did not use the best terms.

And thanks for the snarky translation. It's exactly what I'd look for in a consultant.

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The yeast/nutrient/enzymes should not have an effect on the haziness of your distilled product.

Changes in water profile are the most typical cause of what you see in those pictures. I always recommend against using well water as the mineral and dissolved solids contents can change depending on the time of year and other factors.

The other option could be a distillation issue. Have you changed the manner or cuts you make when distilling?

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I mean, there are three potential factors here:

Tails cut - Going too deep into tails will cause haze, and it will look very much like the clear bottle photo.

Botanical infusion - Orange peel is notorious for clouding, it's also notoriously inconsistent from an oil volume perspective.  Batch to batch oil concentrations can be huge, and can cause the kind of sporadic clouding issues that make you want to pull your hair out.  One batch is fine, next batch (made the same way), clouds.  What gives?  It's the radically differing botanical oil concentrations.  If you go back to some of the old gin texts, you'll see references to large scale processes that were standardizing botanical volumes per batch by first testing for extractable oil content, and then adjusting the amount of botanical to compensate.

Proofing water - Water alone usually doesn't cause this issue, even with higher mineral content, unless it's obviously cloudy pre-proofing.  BUT, in combination with other factors, oil concentration, congeners, other additives, can very often push things over the line.  Using RO/DI takes water out of the equation completely, and can often be enough to keep that balance from tipping when proofing high congener spirits, or spirits with high oils/botanicals content.

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One other thought strikes me.  If the well water is stored in a pressurized tank as well water often is, that tank's inner bladder will degrade over time and can leach into the water (I think those tanks are a 5-10 year replacement item).  And, separately, that tank system can also become infected with biofilm / slime bacteria, which can cause its own issues with proofing down.

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  • 1 month later...

I’m new to distilling but have 46 years in water treatment 

ground water is most always higher in dissolved solids than surface water

most municipal water treatment plants draw from surface water that is high in suspended solids 

both surface and ground water change seasonally 

the main difference is municipal water treatment plants adjust the water before it leaves their facility and enters there distribution system 

one must always assume that the quality of both sources will constantly change 

the only way to address this is to treat at the point of use 

If you want to remove this variable, carbon filter to remove organics followed by reverse osmosis or deionization then uv. Only uv after ro or di because uv only kills microorganisms if it can see through the water. When water is high in solids, both dissolved and suspended, the uv cannot penetrate 

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