The Heads – As the temperature continues to increase, ethanol will boil, and you will be distilling real spirits. But, while the temperature in the still’s pot is climbing through the range of about 175 degrees Fahrenheit to about 185 degrees Fahrenheit, the distillate will still contain many traces of non-ethanol chemicals that can make your final product have a bit more “bite” and flavor if they are added to it.
- For a product like whiskey or Scotch, this might be ideal, because the complexity of those alcohols comes from the combination of trace chemicals.
- However, for a product like moonshine or vodka, which are ideally flavorless, trace chemicals alter and affect the taste of your product negatively.
- The second cut you will make in your run will be around the 185 – 190 degree temperature range.
The distillate collected after the foreshots and before the second cut is called the “heads” of the run. Set the heads aside for further distillation, or to combine the right amount with your final distillate to flavor the alcohol the way you like. The heads should total about 20-30%% of the final amount of your run.
- 1 How much is heads in distilling?
- 2 What is the head on moonshine?
- 3 How much does the average moonshine yield?
- 4 Can you reuse heads from moonshine?
- 5 Does moonshine get weaker over time?
- 6 What is head in distillation?
How much is heads in distilling?
How to Take Cuts During Distillation Learning how to take cuts during distillation may seem like a daunting process to begin with but by following some basic steps and getting some practice, you’ll be a pro in no time! Taking cuts refers to the process where spirit is collected in small portions of similar sizes during distillation as opposed to allowing the distillate to collect in just one large vessel.
This process gives you more control over the flavours and aromas that make it into your final product, allowing you to create something truly unique and to your taste. During fermentation, many compounds are produced along with alcohol such as acetaldehyde, esters, and ethyl acetate. By taking cuts, we can minimise how many of these by-products make it into our final spirit.
Some of these by-products appear earlier on in the distillation, and others come out later or towards the end of the distillation – this depends entirely on the compound itself. Not all these by-products are bad. Some do not taste wonderful on their own, however, it can be beneficial to introduce them in small amounts to contribute different attributes to your final spirit.
The foreshots are the first part of the distillate (usually 50-200 mL depending on what is being distilled) which are discarded as these can contain harmful compounds and off-flavours. The heads are the distillate collected immediately after the first 50-200 mL of discarded foreshots. They can contain some undesirable, but not harmful, compounds and off-flavours. Some of these are blended into your final spirit, however, most will be discarded or retained in a separate container for redistilling in future batches. The hearts are the middle part of a run and are the cleanest and most flavoursome part of the distillate. A minimal amount of undesirable compounds come through into the spirit. They make up the bulk of your final spirit. The tails are the final part of the distillation and contain some vegetal off-flavours. These are also typically discarded, however, like the heads they can also be kept in a separate container for redistilling.
The Stripping Run The stripping run is done first and ‘strips’ the wash down to a cleaner, more concentrated low wine. This distillation is usually done hot and fast, meaning temperature control isn’t as important as the aim is to strip the wash quickly. Just be sure to take care not to run it too hot to avoid the loss of vapour from the condenser.
The purpose of a stripping run is to capture as much distillate from the wash as possible, therefore, there is no need to remove the foreshots (50-200mL) as these can be removed during the spirit run. The Spirit Run Once you’ve completed the stripping run, it is then diluted with water to 40% ABV or lower and then distilled again – this is where cuts are taken. During this distillation run, the flow of the still should be kept slower than on the stripping run, and ideally, the voltage going to the boiler should be controlled to ensure a nice gentle boil – the is a great example of a boiler that can double as a brewing system to make Whiskey and Bourbon washes, and then control the voltage during distillation. How to Take Cuts During Distillation
There are a few different methods to work out how to split and collect the different cuts from a spirit run, some people base it on temperature or ABV, while others evenly split the whole run and then taste and smell later. Either way can work but to simplify things, we’re going to talk through splitting the entire run.
To do this, you will need an adequate number of glass jars, preferably 300-500 mL in size, that will be able to collect the entire run – this amount will depend on how many stripping runs have been done, if it is only one, then approx.24 x 400 mL jars should suffice. For best results, number these so you know where exactly the cut was made.
The next step is to fire up your pot still and get ready to start the process. You will need to discard the foreshots as usual. Depending on how many stripping runs you have done this could be anything from 50 to 200 mL. Once the foreshots are discarded, you can start collecting the remaining distillate into the jars.
Ensure you collect the same volume into each jar (250 mL – 300 mL is usually a good figure – you can test and adjust this to suit your still later) and then set the jar aside. Depending on what you wish to do, and what you’re making, you can stop collecting the distillate once the ABV drops to 10% or below, although some stop it even higher.
You may start to notice some more visible by-products forming in the last number of jars – this could be an oily looking substance or off-colours coming through. We then suggest you let the jars air out for 24 hours for the more volatile aroma compounds to dissipate.
What is the head on moonshine?
Heads – During distillation, the mash is heated in the still, causing the liquids to turn to vapor. Because alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water, the first thing that comes off the still is methanol, commonly referred to as the “foreshots” or the “heads.” Back when I worked for a moonshine brand, people would ask me, “Doesn’t moonshine make you go blind?” Like all tall tales, there is a bit of truth there.
The heads portion of the distillate comprises mostly methanol, and consuming methanol can lead to blindness and even death. So inexperienced whiskey makers can indeed create lethal cocktails — albeit unintentionally. We have even heard stories about Prohibition-era bootleggers and moonshiners purposefully sending batches of heads to bars that hadn’t paid for their last shipment.
The concentrated methanol killed every customer in the bar that day, sending a very serious message to the bar owner. In the world of whiskeys you can legally purchase, the heads section is always cut out.
How much of a moonshine run is methanol?
How Much Methanol is in Moonshine? The amount of methanol produced during methanol can vary based on the strain of yeast used. Typically, about 10% of the alcohol created can be methanol. If your fermentation creates 10% alcohol in total, you are looking at 1% of your total mash to be methanol.
How much does the average moonshine yield?
How Much Alcohol Will a Still Produce? – Before we get started, a reminder: Distilling alcohol is illegal without a federal fuel alcohol or distilled spirit plant permit as well as relevant state permits. Our distillation equipment is designed for legal uses only and the information in this article is for educational purposes only.
A 1 gallon run will yield 3-6 cups of alcohol A 5 gallon run will yield 1-2 gallons of alcohol A 8 gallon run will yield 1.5-3 gallons of alcohol A 10 gallon run will yield 2-4 gallons of alcohol
For the researchers, science nerds, alchemists, and truth seekers, here’s why:
Can you reuse heads from moonshine?
Second Run – Siphon off your beer and charge your still. Again, replace 3-3/4 gallons of water into your fermenter so your yeast doesn’t die while you distill. Distill your whiskey in the same manner you did during your first run, being conservative with your cuts until you gain more skill.
Anything collected under 80% ABV on this run is considered a Sour Mash whiskey. Congratulations! This spirit is a palatable moonshine when collected directly out of the still. Collect your run down to your stopping point. Again, I recommend 70% ABV for beginners, perhaps a few degrees into the 60’s if you are bold.
Save all of the spirit run as good sippin’ whiskey. Most moonshiners keep running their stills long after they are finished with the spirit run, collecting down to about 20% ABV before stopping. Together, the heads and tails are reused as feints. I do not normally go as low as 20%, you’ll have to find your comfort zone.
If you start to get blue or green flecks in your spirit, you’ve gone too far or run things too hot. Repeat the Process After your run, collect 1-1/4 gallons of backset to return to the fermenter for your next batch. Repeat the process starting at the Second Fermentation.You are now producing a simple sour mash whiskey and with practice you will be able to produce a very high quality moonshine.
Age this whiskey in an uncharred oak barrel to produce a traditional Tennessee-style whiskey. Safety first, Duke boys. Have fun!
How long does a run of moonshine take?
How Long Does It Take to Make Moonshine? – As you can see, the process of fermenting and distilling moonshine is quite time-consuming. In general, you can expect it to take between 1-3 weeks to make moonshine, as the mash must ferment and the distillation process must be continued until the final shine is safe for consumption.
Does moonshine get weaker over time?
So you’ve found a bottle of moonshine from yesteryear. Is it still fit to drink? This is a question I’ve asked myself recently. I heard different things coming from different sources, so I decided to do a little research on my own, and here’s the answer.
So, does moonshine go bad? In short, moonshine, like other plain spirits, does not really go bad. This means moonshine has an indefinite shelf life, unless you are dealing with a flavored option (which can spoil as a result of its high sugar density). Coming up, I’ll go over everything you need to know about moonshine and its shelf life so you can get the most out of your spirits.
Keep reading to find out if your moonshine is still good (or whether you should just chuck it!).
What is head in distillation?
Heads serve as the receiving vessel in microscale distillation apparatuses during mixture purification procedures. With the glass surface that cools rising vapors, the devices trap the returning liquid inside circular depressions at the base of the tube.
What percentage is foreshots?
Glossary: Foreshots Foreshots are the first vapours to boil off during distillation, usually containing compounds such as acetone, methanol, and aldehyde volatiles. Distillers always discard the foreshots and never allow them to be part of the final product.
Depending on the base material used to make the spirit and the apparatus used, foreshots can be 2% to 5% of the overall volume collected. We always consider foreshots and “heads” as separate parts of the early spirit collection, as for spirits like Gin (or others who are redistilling Neutral Spirit) foreshots are likely to contain the dregs of the previous run left in the tubes.
They may also contain some harmful compounds and are always discarded, while the heads are perfectly potable spirit, but simply an undesirable flavour for their recipe. As the risk of collecting nasty compounds is low when redistilling a pure Neutral Spirit, for gin makers, foreshots are often just 0.1 – 0.2% of the total run, while the heads can be a further 1-3% depending on the recipe.
- In this case heads are collected separately, added to tails and sometimes used to make other products.
- Many distillers who are starting from a wash (i.e.
- Not rectifiers transforming previously distilled Neutral Spirit) such as Scotch Whisky makers and Moonshiners, do not make that distinction and simply separate the distillate as foreshots, hearts and feints.
: Glossary: Foreshots