Friday, February 16, 2018

What is a Refining or Spirits Run at the Distillery?

Output of a refining or spirit run
     A few weeks back, I covered the stripping run and why it is done, today we are going through the reasons for the refining run and why the two run process seems to be preferred by most rum makers.

     Why should I do a stripping run before a spirit or refining run?  The stripping run allows you to significantly reduce the volume of product that needs to be distilled during the spirit or refining run, significantly reducing distillation time.   It will also produce a better tasting alcohol.   For example, if we start with 300 Gallons of Wash we can strip this down to 60 to 90 Gallons of “high wines” and then run a single spirit run this will take much less time and makes it easier to make clean cuts giving you the spirit the flavor and texture that you are looking for.

     Stripping Run temperatures are very different from Refining Run Temperature.  In practice, most distillers collect high wines until the stripping run temperature reaches 208 to 212 degrees F or 98 to 100 degrees C. Remember you don’t make any cuts during this distillation the primary goal is to strip off the water, yeast and other solids that are a part of the wash.  In the refining or spirit run you begin by bringing the temperature in the boiler up slower and getting a better separation f the components that are coming off the still.

Reflux column helps with the refining or spirit run
     The purpose of the spirit or refining run is to give you a very clean final product that you can cut at exactly the right time and yield a higher proof clean product.  You can make your cuts at whatever point meets your personal needs and this will have an effect on the final proof of the spirit.  Some people like to let the cut wait until there are some tails in the blend and others rather have pure hearts with no tails.  This is the choice of the distiller, and yours if you are making the decision.  That is why the stripping run is done hot and fast, while the refining or spirit run is done with less heat allowing for more reflux action in the still and yielding a much cleaner and better tasting final product called the hearts.  Heads are discarded and the tails are retained to be added to the next stripping run giving you a chance to recover the remaining alcohol that is left behind during the refining or spirit run.

     All that is left now is to proof it down to the % ABV that you want to put your spirit into the barrel at.  Allow a suitable amount of time in the barrel and you are ready to set the final proof and bottle it.