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Dilution of Distillate

Hi, everyone.

I have been distilling for 3 years now and have recently obtained a 4 inch column still.
I am based in South Africa and mostly do rum and some "mampoer" (schnapps).
When I try to dilute my rum down to drinking strength it becomes hazy.

When I use 'n shot glass to taste the flavor and mix a small amount of distillate with reverse osmosis water, the product remains clear.
As soon as I try to dilute a larger quantity, it becomes hazy.
Does it have something to do with the amount of mixing?

In the shot glass the RO stream mixes the product vigorously, but the larger volume not as much.
Is it a problem with my cuts or just the way in which I dilute my spirits down?

Does anyone have an answer for me?




  • As you probably know already, the haze is oils falling out of solution. Alcohol is not truly ambiphillic but does keep oils in better than water does. Adding a lot of water at once dilutes a small portion far more than once it mixes around, causing hydrophobic oils to form haze. From my reading, you can dilute down to 100 proof without problems, but take it slow from there. I generally work with 40-60 proof gallon batches, and add that last portion from 100 proof to 80 proof 3 gallons or less at a time. Rule of thumb would be no more than 5-10% of the volume with each addition, I guess. Someone else probably has better insight, but I haven't had any haze issues this way.

  • I had a 10-gallon batch of Gin almost down to 87 proof, circulating through a 1micron filter, and I threw in the contents of a sealed container that held leftover low proof gin and a bit of rinse water from my bottling machine, about 1 gallon, and it got cloudy as served absinthe... I let it circulate for hours... no change... next morning I threw in about a liter of 190 proof and it went clear in a few minutes.... just a liter in 10 gallons.... then slowly added water down to 87, and it went crystal clear... Must be some sort of super-saturation point that you can go past that triggers it.

  • I hear the brandy guys are really sensitive about dilution speed for exactly this reason.

  • I should note that I haven't had problems with well-cut vodka. After Cotherman's comment, I'll be very careful with the gin and rum.

  • edited February 2016

    Worth noting - you aren't going too deep into tails, are you (on the rum)?

  • We never ran into tails, distilled to 20 proof. Just did a test dilution out of paranoia, adding the water as fast as possible to liter. Maybe we had a very low-oil ferment or this sample size was too small, but no haze even tried to form. Still going to be paranoid about addition rate for the full batch, though. It'll be interesting to figure out what's different for Anro.

  • Sorry that was addressed at the original post - you clearly know what you are doing.

  • Distilled to 10% and no tails? I don't understand that bit.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • edited February 2016

    Not really, no. We did a pure-molasses wash, fermented to below 1 Plato, stripped, and run back through as normal. As the proof dropped, the molasses flavor faded but no tails flavors ever came forward. This is the first rum we've done since I started and after all the reading I did, I was surprised several times. Came out very nice.

    Keeping on topic: Based on the asking of the question I assume this is a new problem, but the phrasing is a little unclear. Has this clouding only started since you switched to a column?

  • edited February 2016

    Sounds like you have been collecting tails to me.

    That will definitely cloud upon dilution. Unless I am misunderstanding?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • The only time I have run into this was when I kept a shit-load of tails in whiskey because they tasted and smelled oh so good. Went to cut it down to 40% and it looked like soapy water.

  • Thank you for all the comments. I have used a boka reflux still before this column still. I assume that there is some sort of high local concentration of water that forms if the distillate is not mixed properly. I did notice previously that by using a handheld mixer the distillate does not become hazy quite as fast, but that was with my smaller boka reflux still. Now the volumes are larger and I tried doing it in one go. I collected the whole run in 500 mL containers and tried to make very certain that I did not add any tails. I will add the distillate to my next run and then try the 5 - 10% dilution rule of thumb that RobertS suggested.

    I understand the issue of the oils going out of solution, but diluting 30 mL of hearts (1 ounce) with 60 mL of water (2 ounces) vigorously does not result in a haze. As soon as I go to larger volumes and do not have that aggressive mixing the haze is formed.

  • Be sure to go for the gentle end! I'll be bottling next week, so we'll find out then if I should have been more paranoid about tails myself.

  • Some protocals recommend that you dilute/blend and let rest for a period of time. Then chill for a period of time pior to bottling.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited February 2016

    It's often good practice to freeze a sample bottle to see what kind of chill haze you get, even if you are crystal clear after proofing.

    Spoke to a rum guy a few months back, he said he got slammed with a number of customer complaints regarding chill haze.

    The trend towards non-chill filtered whiskies has helped shift perception among enthusiasts, but that doesn't carry over to mass market.

    If you are running on the bleeding edge of clouding, chances are you are going to go opaque when cold enough.

  • Brown bottles.

    Many premium brands use them.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I have the same issue - especially with the brandy and peach that I made.
    In a German book about fruit brandies, it talks about the need to dilute with a drip but I haven't really had the time to rig something up that would drip-dilute over a day or so (plus I'm lacking the patience).
    What if found helped though was to dilute through a silicon hose that was submerged in the alcohol. This seemed to more gradually dilute compared to pouring water in through a funnel.

  • Don't forget about blending temperature too, especially the temperature of the water.

  • I try to have my dilution water come to the same temp

  • If you know how much water you are going to add, does it make any difference to do it the other way round? Start with the water and add the alcohol to it.

  • As the issue with haze seems to be oils dropping out of solution - yes. Instead of gradually lowering the ABV, you'll immediately go to a low ABV with all your oils dropping out and then slowly increase

  • I think if you added the alcohol to the water slowly, you'd end up with a mess.

  • I've tried adding the alcohol to the water and found that I fucked up the ABV every time.

  • edited February 2016

    I really like Alcodens, spot on, every time. Do everything by weight and temperature correct every reading. I remember what a struggle it was trying to do it trial and error, because the temps are all over the place. If you don't mix well and temp correct every single time, way off.

    I mentioned it to my dad one day, and he laughed and said he knew all about it, they used it for alcohol dilution is his big pharma qc lab.

  • @grim said: It's often good practice to freeze a sample bottle to see what kind of chill haze you get, even if you are crystal clear after proofing.

    On that note, update on my end. Did small proofing tests and checked for chill haze. Had some floating bits at bottling proof in an ice bath. Ended up taking my entire bulk storage to just above bottling proof and ran it through a chiller to about 24F and then a 1 micron filter. Cleared it right up.

    Any luck on your end, @Anro?

  • edited March 2016

    Did you notice any taste impact?

  • I've got a bottle cougar in the freezer that has gone completely hazy.

  • Gave a bottle of my latest rum to a friend a few weeks ago. He left it in his truck during the night and the temp dropped almost to freezing (rare here). I asked him how the rum was and he said "Oh, it tastes great but is it supposed to be cloudy?"

    I think from now on I will cut it down to 45% instead of 40%

  • Just write non-chill filtered on the label, and sell it as a benefit.

  • So I just left the bourbon out of the freezer and it went clear again. I guess it was a colloid that dissolved again when the temp went up. Oils turning to fats as the temp drops then re-liquefying when it goes back up. Just like olive oil does.
    Do the these temp protocols actually work?? My assumption is that the product would either be stable at room temp, or not.

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