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Clarifying Question

edited November 2017 in General

Bottled some of a 14 month old UJ recently and noticed something I didn't like. At bottling distilled water was used to proof. After bottling things were crystal clear. 2 or 3 weeks later I noticed a haze if you will. I can see nothing suspended, just enough of a haze to take the crystal clear out of it. Now this was only filtered with coffee filters. I want to build a better filtration system and would like to know how ucercial guys do it so I can imitate on a smaller scale. I have access to small vacuum driven lab filtration equipment. How fine should filter pads be?

Do you think this is my problem or is it the off the shelf distilled water? Also have access to deionized water from the lab. Should I give that a go?




  • edited November 2017

    Getting cooler? Probably chill haze/flocking. Put a bottle in the freezer for a couple days and see if it gets worse, and you get dense fuzzy clouds or larger fuzz-flakes. If it doesn't, it could be mineral precipitation. However, if you used distilled water, it's highly unlikely. Warm it up and shake it, does it go away?

    It's tough to filter for chill haze, because you need to keep everything brutally cold to do it (0 to -5c), and standard PP style particulate filters don't not work. Even if you try to filter it cold, the saturated/unsaturated fatty acids that make up the haze just disassociate and get forced through the filters. I've filtered bourbon at .1 micron through standard PP cartridges and still got chill haze after the fact. You really need to go through specialized cellulose filter media, which can attract the longer chain fatty acids and esters, and bind them up in the media (adsorption).

    Pall IR filter sheets are widely used in commercial industry for this. If you got yourself a sheet or two, you could potentially rig something up. They are impregnated with DE and Perlite as well, which make it a bit more challenging than just using a pleated cellulose filter. They make some serious claims about being more effective in the C12-C18 fatty acid range (the ones which cause chill haze), as opposed to being more broad, which would absolutely reduce short-chain esters as well (big flavor impacts).

  • edited November 2017

    Thanks @grim. I was hoping you would chime in. Where could one find a couple sheets if the it filter and would it work as a single layer filter vacuum driven? Or does it need to be layered?

  • edited November 2017

    Can you maybe give me a link to what you think I should try to mimick as far as a filter apparatus?

    Appreciate it.

  • edited November 2017

    A bunch of whiskey distilleries are purists and don't agree with chill filtration. Sullivans cove in Tasmania is one. Instead, they dilute then leave the spirit to simply sit in an IBC for up to a year for the volume to stabilise / precipitate out.

    They place a bottle filled at the same time as the IBC on top so they can check on progress.


    800 x 600 - 88K
  • edited November 2017

    Seems like a lot of work when they could have just taken a little tighter tails cut.

    We just bottle at a higher proof to compensate, I wouldn't ever go under 45%. You could push to 50% to be safe. General trend among enthusiasts here in the state is pushing up towards barrel exit proof. At 55-60% - you'd probably need to go out of your way to cause haze (refrigerating a bottle).

  • From Julian Van Winkle ... of obvious fame...

    I guess I'll put in my two cents worth here just to let you know what I've experienced.

    I chillfilter all my whiskey(actually down to about 18 degrees Chuck), except anything 100 proof and over.You must get the whiskey chilled down to as close to the coldest temperature that it may encounter while being shipped so that it does not cloud up. Jimmy Russell has told me that they do not chill filter their Wild Turkey 101 proof. And I'm pretty sure Marker's Mark does not chill filter. If the whiskey is young(like Maker's 5 or 6 yrears), and you use good water(soft-no minerals) the whiskey should not cloud. I may experiment with my 107 proof sometime by chilling one batch and not chilling another. Tasting the two batches could be interesting. Since there is more alcohol in 100 proof & higher, chilling is not necessary.

    I have a new rye label I started selling in France.(No John & Omar, you cannot get it in the states). It is my 13-year, but it is 100 proof. The customer requested that I not chillfilter the whiskey because that is what sells over there. The label even states, "Unchill-filtered". I have tasted that 100 proof and my 95.6 proof together, and I believe the 100 proof is smoother. Of course it could be the 5 degrees in proof difference.

    My 107 proof will cloud up in a glass since it is not chilled. I do not chill my 107 proof mainly because it saves a step in processing. Hope this answers a few questions.


  • edited November 2017

    they use it as a point of difference in their marketing ;) eg Sullivans Cove American Oak

    I also think it's used to help justify the prices they charge

  • Just looked at Sullivan's cove prices. Looks great but prices are obscene. Excessive excise tax ??

  • the excise rate in australia is currently $82.76 per lal (litre of 100%). there's $23.17 excise on a 700ml bottle of 40%

    we also have a 10% goods and services tax which is applied to the sal price which is effectively a tax on a tax!

    on the SC american oak bottle there's $26.82 gst & $27.52 excise ie $54.34 tax on the $295rrp, meaning there's a bit of margin in the remaining $240.66 - even taking into account the cost of aging for 7+ years

    That said, it is a bloody good drink. haha it'd want to be ;)

  • I have found the haze in my own spirits is improved by using deminerilised water for cutting. It can look fine for six months and then a batch will get a haze, sometimes if chilled in the fridge it can get so bad that it looks like the bottle is full of algae.

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

  • Dirty secret about bourbon, they can talk limestone limestone limestone, but if you visit, and look close, you'll see all proofing water is RO or RO/DI. Everything that came before that filter is irrelevant.

    Even the distilleries that claim to use rainwater... yeah... right before they push it through a RO.

  • A post from Pint-o-Shine (who consults in the Kentucky whiskey industry) a while back, comfirms that no-limestone-water proofing.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • edited November 2017

    @punkin said: sometimes if chilled in the fridge it can get so bad that it looks like the bottle is full of algae.

    What proof?

  • 40%

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

  • Lots of craft guys are setting a new floor at 45% for exactly that reason.

  • Yeah just avoiding the added processing involved. Time is money.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • @grim, looking into the IR filter sheets and I believe, If I am correct, what I would need would be the K 250 IR " Chill filtration of tannin containing spirits or white spirits high in fatty acids". with the digging I have done I have only found them sold by the case of 100. Any idea where one could get single sheets for experimentation?

  • Chilled two bottles that were cut from the same batch. One at 40% and one at 45%. The 40% showed the haze I mentioned at the beginning of the post. The one at 45% showed no haze that I could see. If any it was very slight. There was a big difference.

  • edited November 2017

    Trying to find you some sheets.

    Nice test, big difference right? Exactly why the craft guys (and gals) don't make 80 proof whiskey anymore.

    Compared to the headache associated with trying to chillfilter, just make 90 proof instead and save yourself time, headache, and losses.

  • I thought it was law in the USA that for resale, it had to be 80 proof ??. Our side it's generally 86 proof.

  • Thanks @grim. I would like to play with the filters if I can.

  • @richard said: I thought it was law in the USA that for resale, it had to be 80 proof ??. Our side it's generally 86 proof.

    80 is minimum.

    Are we talking apples to apples here, I know there are some variations in how proof is defined around the world. I'm talking 40% abv.

  • The discussion mentioned proof and I continued in that vain. Yes 40% abv.

  • @grim, and anyone else who'd like to chime in, what do you commercial guys use as particulate filters? I have not had any problems with particulates but If I can get better filters than the coffee filters I am using now that will work with the filter apparatus I have I would like to do so.


  • edited November 2017

    Big volumes, plate and frame filters are most cost effective, but running small batches, you'd lose gallons just to wet the media.

    We use 10" Code 7 Polypropylene filters in Pall housings.

    We always do a final polish with sub-micron, 0.22 or 0.10. We've done side-by-side tests of only 20 micron char filtration next to .1 final polish - the spirit is noticeably clearer with more sparkle, especially in a nice quality bottle. The 20 micron char-only-filter looks muddy/hazy in comparison.

  • edited November 2017

    Here is a good cheap housing.

    Pall Advanta ALT11G23ABH4 Stainless Steel Liquid Filter Housing w/ Clamps @ eBay

    Ask him to check his shipping price, because it's outrageous, but if you could get this for $150, its a screaming deal.

    You can get cartridges cheap from St. Pats, as long as you flush and keep them in good condition, they'll last a while.

    Letina 40x40 Plate-and-Frame Filters @ St. Patrick's of Texas

  • @grim, what sort of pump would be necessary for use with the filter housing you mentioned above. Sorry for so many questions, I just know little about it.

  • edited November 2017

    Easiest would be to run a little peristaltic pump. Can generate sufficient pressure easily - plus - because it's displacement, it will pump in air when you are done filtering, which will purge the housing of any remaining liquid in the filter.

    Filtering small test batches, I always use a little peristaltic, very low waste. I have a Cole Parmer unit from eBay, relatively inexpensive. Nice thing is, it's simple, tubing is inexpensive, and you can generate enough pressure without worrying about flow rates. Most peristaltics have adjustable speeds, so you can dial in as appropriate. They are good multitasker pumps - carbon filtration, particulate filtration, etc etc.

  • Thanks. Have a Masterflex. Whats your opinion on membrane filters? Would those do the job at bottling 6 or so at a time?

  • edited December 2017

    Hoo boy. I have a bunch of barrels I put away with very loose tails cuts so this thread hits close to home. City would be unfriendly to the IBC option and we're already marketed at 80 proof, so that leaves me with filtering.

    I know to filter in descending sequence so that I don't jam five expensive filters with junk a cheaper one would have handled like a champ. My attempts at chill filtering have been hit or miss so far - rum worked fine but I had to give up on a whiskey that just wouldn't budge. I can get down to about -3c, so I think I just need to find the right filter medium to run it through.

    The Pall Seitz IR Pads would require me to kit out with new equipment on the hunch that they work well, no beuno. I can push for experimenting if people here think it's worth it. If I understand correctly, it comes with a major advantage over micron rated filters in that it chemically binds the oils to cellulose?

    I was actually completely unaware of cartridge codes (PDF), I assume 7's spear configuration is for the sake of a strong seal? I've been using Code F so far, apparently. @grim, are you just using micron ratings or are there a type of chemically-active PP filters I haven't found yet? I may have just used a small enough rating so far.

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