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Thread: Distinguishing Heads and Tails..

  1. #1
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    Default Distinguishing Heads and Tails..

    I am very new in distilling and I am not very good on telling when my heads are over.. and when the tails start. I keep everything after 173 or so.. Toss everything before which are the heads correct? But I never know when to separate the good stuff from the tails. What are some of the easiest ways to know when the heads end and tails start?

  2. #2
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    I DIDNT WRITE THIS---I COPIED IT FROM SOMEWHERE.


    Making the cuts
    Probably the most elusive part of the distilling process for making whiskey, is making
    the cuts from heads to hearts and then to tails. Making a cut from one phase to the next is
    the point where the distiller switches the output so that itís collected in a different receiver
    than the previous phase. At the end of the spirit run, the heads will be in one container,
    the hearts in another, and the tails in a third one. The question is, when to switch from one
    phase to the next?
    Experienced distillers do this by taste. Even though there are measurable parameters
    like still-head temperature and percent alcohol of the evolving spirit that can be used to
    judge when to make the cuts, taste and smell still remain the most reliable method of determining
    them.
    The empirical parameters for judging the cuts are: the percent alcohol of the spirit that’s
    flowing out of the still (i.e. the evolving spirit); and, the still-head temperature. However,
    these vary from one still to the next, and vary based on the properties of the low-wine (e.g.,
    percent alcohol, and quantity). It is possible to develop a consistent process using the same
    still and the same quantity and a formulation of low-wine, such that the parameters remain
    the same for each run. For example, if a spirit run is being done in an artisan reflux still
    with low-wine that is 35% abv, the begin-cut (i.e. the cut from heads to hearts) is usually
    done when the evolving distillate is at about 80% and when the still-head temperature is
    about 180 degrees. And, the end-cut (i.e., the cut from hearts to tails) is often done at about
    65% and when the still-head temperature is about 200 degrees. However, a spirit distilled
    from a straight malt wash, can often be end-cut as low as 60%. It’s because of these nuances
    that smell and taste become the only truly reliable indicators of when to make the cuts.
    When making the begin-cut, the taste characteristics that the distiller is looking for are
    as follows. When a spirit run comes to boil and the first d istillate starts flowing from the
    still, this is the beginning of the heads phase. The distiller can collect a small sample of the
    distillate on a spoon or in a wine glass and smell it. At this stage, the distillate will have the
    sickening smell of solvents like nail polish remover or paintbrush cleaner. However, before
    long this solvent smell will diminish, and even when a sample is tasted these compounds
    will be very faint. As the solvent character disappears completely, the distillate will start to
    take on a hint of whiskey flavor. This flavor will increase until it becomes very pronounced
    and highly concentrated. It’s when this flavor is clearly evident (i.e., more than just a hint)
    but is still increasing in intensity that the distiller cuts to the hearts phase
    To make the end-cut the distiller needs to monitor the flavor of the hearts through the
    following changes in taste. At the beginning of the hearts phase, the intensity of the whiskey
    flavor will still be increasing, and will continue to do so until it becomes very strong.
    However, as the hearts continue, the intense whiskey flavor will fade into a smooth, sweet,
    pleasant flavor that will persist for most of the hearts. The flavor will change slightly as the
    hearts progress but it will remain sweet and pleasant. Towards the end of the hearts, the
    flavor will start losing its sweetness and a trace of harsh bitterness will being to appear in
    the flavor. This harsh, bitter flavor is the onset of the tails. While a small amount of this
    bitterness is considered to contribute to the “bite” character of the whiskey, the distiller
    should cut to the tails receiver before mush of it is allowed to enter the hearts.
    The tails can be collected until the evolving distillate is down to about 10% and the stillhead
    temperature is about 210 degrees. The reason for doing this is to render all the residual
    alcohol that’s left in the still at the end of the hearts phase. This alcohol can then be
    recovered in a future spirit run.
    The tails phase starts out bitter, and the bitterness becomes more intense as the tails
    continue, but as the tails progress, the bitterness subsides and gives way to a sweet-tasting
    water. This sweet water is called “backins.
    1-----Dont hesitate to ask any question. All questions help us all to keep sharp.
    2---- Put lots of information in your question. It helps the answers to be more accurate

    After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box

  3. #3
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    HERE IS SOMETHING ELSE I COPIED--- I SAVE LOTS OF INSTRUCTIONS


    So the time has come for your first distillation with a pot still you have made. Run your charge and then
    there are only a few steps that need to be followed:
    1. Add boiling chips to your wash - these will help the boiling be smoother. None if internal heat source
    1A--Add whiskey feints if compatable
    2. Heat up the wash to near its boiling temperature - from 78C to 100C depending on its alcohol content.
    3. If you have some means of cooling your condensor coil, turn it when the wash is about to boil.
    4. Once liquid starts to drip from the condenser, turn down the heat on the boiler.
    5. Throw out the first 50 milliliters of your wash. If there is methanol in your wash, it will come out in the first 50 milliliters.
    6. Collect your distillate in small containers.
    • Label each container so you know which is from what part of your run
    • Optimally, you'll probably want 5-10 small containers per run. The more, the better.
    7. After you have collected as much alcohol as you see fit, turn off the heat to the boiler, and let your apparatus cool down for a little while.
    8. Judge the contents of those individual bottles. The first ones may still have a slight "flowery" smell to them - residual from the heads. The middle ones may be fairly neutral - just an "alcohol" smell to them. The last ones may be more harsh - getting into a "wet cardboard" smell. Take the middle ones, and incrementally add in the heads and the tails to suit your tastes. If you find the heads & tails containers (eg the first & last few) too strong, do not use them, but rather add them to the next batch you brew.
    ================================================== ================================================== ========================

    When doing a stripping run - i.e. 'low-wines' for a second run later at higher proof, at what proof read at the parrot do ya'll call it off with that particular batch of wash? My batches started out pulling off 50-40%, but towards the end, were pulling off very weak 20%, with very little bad-taste.

    Would you go further than that? I don't think I was into the 'tails' all that badly due to taste, but i was getting a little cloudiness in the jug.


    The second run came off starting at 80%, I stopped the second run at 50%, will rerun the leftovers in another stripping run.

    The way my pot is currently setup, there is no thermometer.
    ================================================== ================================================== =========

    9) How do I run a Pot Still ?
    A pot still is fairly straight forward to use. Turn it on. Once the temperature is up to about 60 °C turn on the cooling water to the condensor. Make sure you throw away the first 1 00 mL per 20L wash, as this will contain any methanol that might be present. Segregate the distillate into 500 mL lots as it comes off. Only keep (for drinking) that which doesn't contain fusels (smell off) - probably below about 92 ° C, however you should keep distilling past here, untill about 96 ° C, as this fraction, although high in tails and not good for drinking this time, can be added back to the next wash and cleaned up OK then
    1-----Dont hesitate to ask any question. All questions help us all to keep sharp.
    2---- Put lots of information in your question. It helps the answers to be more accurate

    After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box

  4. #4
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    MORE SAVED INFO. i CANT GUARANTT THE EXACTNESS AS ALL THINGS ARE DIFERENT FOLKS EXPERIENCES


    1-- FORESHOTS should start to emerge at a head temp of about 174 deg F--discard the first
    150 ml

    2-heads should start at about 176F TO 195F---collect heads in 8 ounce glasses till %ABV reaches 85% than start collecting main body

    3-- from 196F to 201-203F collec the main body----stop collecting main body when %ABV reaches 50 to 65%

    4-- Collect tails from 50 to 65% ABV till head temp becomes unstable and rises to the 200+degrees F range.

    5-- Stop collecting tails at about 20% ABV

    6-- mix heads and tails for the next low wines run

    7--always save heads and tails((feints)) to add to the subsequent low wines runs

    8-- When you have enough feints to make a run just with feints, do so for a very special result ?????



    RUNNING A STILL BY HEAD TEMPERATURE

    ON BOTH POT AND REFLUX STILLS , DISCARD ANYTHINH UNDER 75C-167 F.

    stop collecting with the pot at --198 F.

    stop collecting with the reflux still at 98 C-- 201 deg F
    1-----Dont hesitate to ask any question. All questions help us all to keep sharp.
    2---- Put lots of information in your question. It helps the answers to be more accurate

    After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box

  5. #5
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    MK, in my experience an exact temp can lead to uncertainties. I dont know what still your useing but just remember to toss out 100-150mls with a pot still tower and at least 50-100mls with a reflux tower. Now these are estimations and pretty much open for debate. But if you start with those figures and work from there you should get the forshots removed.
    Now with the heads I know with my setup that I get about a pint and a half, but I dont toss that out until I can give a good sniff the next day or somewhere there about that time span. IN the beginning of the run I do toss the first full pint of juice that comes over and that is for sure the foreshots and a good portion of the heads. Then I start collecting and the next day I use my nose to pick out what smells petroleum like and where it gets very soft smelling. Again collect in small jars like 1/2 pint quantities so you can really seperate the good from the not so good, and you do that with your nose.
    The tails will come after a few hours and just keep collecting, until your temp gets up pretty hot like 198-205F. Agaiin these are open for debate and once you learn your setup you 'll be happier with the end result.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the responses! I guess I will have to use my senses then. But I do have another question that you brought up about the temperatures getting over 200 degrees. Many places I have read say to keep the temperate around 173-190 while distilling. Now as I use low to medium heat do I follow this? Should I kill the heat once it reaches 190+ and let it cool or just let it run naturally and collect the higher temps in different containers?

  7. #7
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    Once your temp is set and your in the collection mode the temp will gradually increase on its own. This perfectly normal and the finishing temp is really up to you and your nose. Most dont go beyond 195-200F cause your really close to the tails but I've read recently that some folks like to drink the tails. I cant knock em for it. Just collect in lots of smaller jars so if what you get at the higher temps isnt to your liken its not mixed up with all the good stuff. 200F is pretty much the end so just keep that in mind and let your nose be your guide.

  8. #8
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    This is a jug of heads and the nasty look and smell of tails. Some like it and some just add it to the next boil. Let your nose be your guide in the morning when you line all those jars up and start sniffin to figger out what is heads - hearts - and tails.

  9. #9
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    MK, one more little tidbit of a suggestion. Go to the top of the page - see where it says (Advanced Search) type in -- Foreshots-Heads-Hearts and Tails. That will take you to some other threads -- then scroll down to the thread with the same title and what you just searched. That may shed a little light on things too. Just more info to add to the arsenal. Hope this helps ya.

  10. #10
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    sure has.. appreciate it guys

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