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.
Why do moonshiners throw out the heads?
Why is Methanol A Concern for Distillers? – If wine contains methanol but doesn’t pose a risk of methanol poisoning then why is it potentially dangerous to drink once distilled? The difference is that the methanol concentration in, say, 5 gallons of wine, is evenly distributed among the 5 gallons.
- For someone to ingest a potentially dangerous amount they would need to ingest more than 5 gallons.or 28 bottles! During the distillation process methanol is concentrated at the start of the production run because it has a lower boiling point than ethanol and water.
- The boiling point of methanol is approximately 148 degrees farenheit, which is quite a bit lower than ethanol (the good stuff).
This means that methanol (148F boiling temp) will start to boil before the ethanol (174F boiling temp). This is why commercial distillers always throw out the first bit of shine they produce from each production run (more on this below). Here are a few examples of the dangers of methanol :
If 5 gallons of wine containing the abovementioned concentration of methanol (329mg/L) were distilled, there could be as much as 8 mL of methyl alcohol in the first jar – a potentially dangerous amount. Scale this up to a 100 gallon batch, distilled all at the same time in a large still, and a commercial distiller could potentially have a very big problem if the methanol was not discarded. Distilling 100 gallons of wine containing 329 mg/L of methanol could result in the concentration of 40ml of methanol, which could be fatal if someone drank it all at once.
What do distilleries do with 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
How much foreshots should you throw away?
Are you planning on doing stripping runs or only spirit runs? Stripping Run A stripping run is the best way to remove water from within the wash. Simply fill the still with wash and run the still hot and fast. Collect everything into one large collection container.
Once there are multiple stripping runs saved, they can be added to a still and run as a spirit run. Think of the stripping run as nothing more than an alcohol concentration step: you can get a larger, more refined spirit if you do a stripping run. Stripping is usually achieved via the use of a pot still, but can be done with a de-tuned reflux still.
Running a pot still as quickly as possible will extract as much alcohol from your wash as possible. The distillate collected is called low wines. The low wines of several stripping runs are then collected and a spirit run is done. Spirit Run Spirit runs are used to distill low wines produced from a stripping run or from a single run in a pot still.
A spirit run is used to separate the heads, hearts and tails for the final spirit, called the spirit run. A spirit run takes a lot more time than a stripping run. Foreshots Foreshots are the first vapors to boil off during distillation. They should not be ingested as they contain methanol and other volatile alcohols.
Always discard the foreshots — they make up around 5% or less of the product collected during a run. Throw out the first 30 ml on a 1 gallon run, the first 150 ml on a 5 gallon run, or the first 300 ml on a 10 gallon run. Heads Heads come off of the still directly after the foreshots.
- Simply put, they taste and smell bad.
- Heads smell like paint thinner or solvent.
- They are not worth drinking and are said to be the main culprit in hangovers.
- Hearts Hearts come off the still after the heads.
- The hearts are the sweet spot during the run: This is the good stuff.
- The easiest way to tell when you’ve reached the hearts is simple: The harshness of the heads is replaced with a mellow, sweet-tasting flavor.
Once that harshness of the heads fades away, you know you are in the hearts. The heart cut is very important and this is where the skill of the distiller comes into play, because they must recognize the end of the heads, and the beginning of the tails.
- Tails Tails come off the still following the hearts.
- The tails start once all of the lower boiling point alcohols have evaporated.
- The tails contain a lot of fusel oil and other alcohols that are not desirable in a finished product.
- The tails are mostly water, proteins, and carbohydrates and do not taste very good.
The tails start once the rich full flavors from the hearts taper off and start tasting thin. The tails make up between 20-30% of the run.
Is there any truth to Moonshiners?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Country of origin
|No. of seasons
|No. of episodes
|251 ( list of episodes )
|December 6, 2011 – present
Moonshiners is an American docudrama television series on the Discovery Channel produced by Magilla Entertainment that dramatizes the life of people who produce (illegal) moonshine in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia,
The series dramatizes their liquor production efforts, law-evading techniques and life. There have been claims by local officials that the show is not what it portrays itself to be. Virginia authorities have stated that no illegal liquor is actually being produced by the people depicted in the show. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) said in March 2012 that, “If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action.” They also said that they had requested for the producers to add a disclaimer to clarify that the show was only a dramatization, “but the request was overlooked”, and the show’s producers, Magilla Entertainment, have stated their documentary content is real.
Portions of the show that feature Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton were taken from a documentary film by Neal Hutcheson. Hutcheson’s documentary was filmed in 2002 and released the same year with the title This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I’ll Ever Make, In 2008, a version of the documentary that was edited for television was broadcast on PBS and the Documentary Channel with the title The Last One, and it received a Southeast Emmy Award in 2009.
- Sutton was arrested in 2007 by ATF agents in Cocke County, Tennessee (led by Jim Cavanaugh of Waco siege fame) for illegally distilling liquor and possession of a handgun by a felon, and was sentenced to eighteen months in jail in 2009.
- He subsequently died by suicide, apparently to avoid serving the federal prison term.
The show’s first season premiered on December 6, 2011. The twelfth season premiered on November 9, 2022, with a preseason special airing on November 2, 2022.
What is wrong with Josh on Moonshiners?
‘Moonshiners’ Josh Owens Talks Motorcycle Crash, Broken Neck, Back, Legs and Arm Instagram / @moonshiner_josh “Moonshiners” star Josh Owens is opening up about a very scary motorcycle crash that left him in pieces, saying he suffered a broken neck, back, arm and legs. Josh posted a video Monday from his hospital bed, updating his followers for the first time on his condition after his severely violent accident earlier this month. Instagram / @ikoniklenzmultimedia Gory as hell, for sure, and Josh admitted he’s hanging on by a thread, but he’s also confident he’ll bounce back. Josh crashed on March 4, while taking part in a motorcycle race at Florida’s Daytona International Speedway.
- Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.
- Shortly after, his “Moonshiners” co-star Richard Landry said he’d talked to some people who talked to family members,
- Who said Josh was doing okay, but was not out of the woods yet.
- One of Josh’s friends started a to help cover what’s sure to be a hefty hospital bill, as Josh doesn’t have health insurance,
according to his friend. Despite all that, he’s staying remarkably positive. In the video update, Josh says it’s only by the grace of God he survived the wreck, and adds, “I’m still here and I love ya’ll.” Get well soon, Josh! : ‘Moonshiners’ Josh Owens Talks Motorcycle Crash, Broken Neck, Back, Legs and Arm
What is the purpose of the distillation head?
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 to do with heads when distilling?
The first part of the collected alcohol which can be used in blending. These contain more alcohol soluble compounds and often have fruity/ester character. Any heads not used in blending can be added to future runs to improve yield.