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Scuppernong/Muscadine Distilling


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Hey folks,

So we are a small distillery in Central NC, and one of our intended products requires a high proof brandy for fortifying wines. We're using Scuppernong grapes for the distilling stock on this. I'm wondering if anyone else out there has some experience with these grapes and distilling. I've heard from a couple of other wineries in the region that they have to make huge cuts to the distillate to get a decent hearts cut. After about 4 batches with the wine on our pot still, I'm finding some similar results. I'm trying to determine how much of these faults have to do with fermentation and storage, and what if anything, could be attributed to the grapes themselves, or possibly the farming practices.

We've had lots of acetaldehyde and sulfur aromas from the batches. I had suspected some oxidation issues, but even a very new batch of wine had these same faults.

It's the cheapest grape we can use in this area to do a fortifying spirit, so I'd like to find an economical way to distill it and eliminate the faults.

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So I was able to get a clean hearts cut at 172 Proof yesterday. I ran a stripping run through our pot and thumper, then a spirit run through the pot and thumper, hit about 164 proof here, and I wasn't content with the quality. Combined the batches and did one final spirits run just through the pot and yielded 92.9 PG's at 172 Proof. So 5 distillations, if you will. It's a clean spirit, with a nice, almost candy grape aroma. We'll be using this for fortifying wines and possibly bitters.

Now, this took 960 gallons of wine, about 212 PG wine delivered, so the hearts cut was a 43% yield. That seems very low to me...

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  • 1 month later...

Been working on this issue for a couple months. Finally realized I'd been misidentifying a sulfur heads smell with vinegar or acetic acid.

Finally today took a heads sample, diluted it to 50 proof and adjusted the pH to 6 with KOH. I'm running that through my lab still and am quite impressed with the results. I've been having to take deep heads cuts because of the overpowering sulphur burn that lasted well into the hearts. The heads off of this lab sample now are so much cleaner, and the I've been able to get a pretty sizeable hearts cut off of what I thought would be throwaway heads. It even still has some decent aroma.

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