The amount of toxic byproducts is small but concentrated in the first volume that comes from the still so it is easy to separate and discard. Methanol is particularly toxic and can cause blindness and death if consumed. Even small amounts may cause headaches.
- 0.1 What is the first batch of moonshine called?
- 1 Are you supposed to sip moonshine?
- 2 Why are heads bad in moonshine?
- 3 Can you drink the tails of moonshine?
What is the first batch of moonshine called?
#3 Don’t Drink the Foreshots – Have you heard the wives’ tales of men going blind from moonshining? They’re true. That’s because moonshine contains two different gasses: methanol and ethanol. While having ethanol is important for your alcohol content, methanol is deadly.
Fortunately, with its low boiling point, methanol can be burned off moonshine relatively quickly. Still, you don’t want to drink the initial batch (first 5%) of moonshine, called foreshots, that likely have this methanol in them. TIP: For safest results, it’s always best to distill the liquid multiple times to ensure that all methanol has been removed.
Importantly, you can often identify methanol by its strong solvent-like smell.
How much heads do you throw away when making moonshine?
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.
Are you supposed to sip moonshine?
Definitely! Moonshine is traditionally sipped straight, right out of the jar. You can also drink it in shots.
Why are heads bad in moonshine?
Heads – When distilling, you should separate, or cut, the heads, hearts, and tails. The head of the distillate is the first portion of the run. You can recognise it by its smell. It has an unpleasant smell like nail polish or methylated spirits. You throw away the heads or you can keep it to use as a fire starter for your BBQ.
When should you stop 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.
How do we know when the first substance is being distilled over?
How do you know when the first compound is completely distilled and how do you know when the next compound starts The answer would depend upon how different the boiling points of the two solvents were. If the boiling points were completely different, say one component boiling at 40 °C and the other at 250 °C, then heating the mixture to 40 °C would remove all of the component boiling at that temperature, leaving the 250 °C boiling component behind.
- This the principle of a rotary evaporator, with the high boiling component often being the product of a chemical reaction.
- If the boiling points are similar, say 70 °C and 80 °C, then it can be harder to get complete separation.
- Often in these cases, three ‘fractions’ are obtained: clean 70 °C material, clean 80 °C material, and a small amount of a mixture which distills off between the two.
In this case, a fractionating column (such as a vigreux column) can be used, to get better separation. The boiling point of the distillate can always be measured, as an internal thermometer is often used and as such its possible to see whether the boiling point of the distillate is cleanly 70 °C, cleanly 80 °C or some in-between number (indicating a mixture is being distilled).
Its also worth noting that many solvents form azeotropes with water, and in these cases (such as benzene and water) it is not possible to cleanly distill the two components apart despite the different boiling points, since the mixture has a defined boiling point which is neither that of benzene nor that of water.
: How do you know when the first compound is completely distilled and how do you know when the next compound starts
Can you drink the tails of moonshine?
Only fore-shots contain methanol and acetone (bad stuff) it occurs at the beginning of the run. Tails just are the end of the run and don’t contain any bad stuff.
What to do with moonshine tails?
Collecting the Heart – Once the distiller makes the first cut, the heads are generally either disposed of or redistilled in able to collect more alcohol from them. After the distiller has decided that the quality of the incoming distillate is good enough to keep for drinking purposes, they will cut to “hearts”.
Hearts are ultimately what become the finished product. They contain the bulk of the ethanol we want along with flavors and aromas that make our spirit unique. All good things must come to an end, however. Eventually the emerging hearts distillate will steadily take on unpleasant aromas and flavors, sometimes even developing some bitterness.
This is when the distiller will make another cut and divert the distillate flow to another container for the remainder of the distillation run. The distillate at this point is called “tails” and it has increasingly lower amounts of alcohol. Additionally, higher amounts of bad aromas due to the growing amount of fusel alcohols come over in the still. Waterford Distillery’s Head Brewer Neil determines when to make the cut / Photo Credit: Waterford Distillery