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Resting spirit - options for microdistillery

Hi,

My name is Jimmy and I am a newbie to SD based in Erskineville, NSW, Australia. We are taking delivery of a SD 4 plate 120L still this week and I’m absolutely ecstatic about joining the SD community.

My gin seems to taste better with a weeks worth of resting and I am looking for options in which to rest my product before bottling. Looking initially at doing 30-60L batches as we work out the kinks.

I am wondering what the community could recommend in regards to storage vessels? There seems to be some debate about food safe plastics vs glass vs stainless steel but would like some pragmatic recommendations.

Cheers, Jimmy

Comments

  • edited January 16

    We use stainless kegs.

    I especially like the old style 5 gallon soda kegs - not sure these exist down there. It’s a manageable size to work with for smaller batches - all stainless - sanitary - and usually inexpensive. Usually not big enough for blending or bottling though, and for really big runs they are way too small. We must have a dozen of these around. Good for feints storage, test batches, etc etc.

    We have a few converted beer kegs too - but they are more difficult to work with for 1 person.

    Depending on your location - you might be able to find stainless drums economically. A nice open top drum with a locking lid is a very useful vessel to have. Have a ferrule welded to the bottom and put it on a rolling base, it’ll be one of the most useful things in the distillery.

    Wine tanks are economical in larger sizes, but you’ve got to be talking about 400+ liters for the prices to start making sense.

  • I believe the correct answer to be. ... It must be stored in SS containers / vessels. Plastic would melt in cases of a fire.

    The blended product needs to rest for approx 5 weeks for a decent marriage between alcohol and water as well as improved taste.

  • Welcome mate, hopefully Moonshine will spot this and put you in the Pro members.

    As Grim said, beer kegs are cheap ($100 or so new from kegking) and it's very easy to get ball valves, ferrules etc welded to them. Soda kegs (19l ball lock) are also cheap and available new and second hand, but with the thin walls are harder to adapt, although it's easy to pressurize them to dispense. I'd suggest replacing the o rings with silicone.

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

  • Hi @richard, so far we are not using the multi shot method. Single shots then resting. Would you use 5 week rest for that method too? Would you recommend resting at still strength, bottle strength or in bottle?

  • Great advice @grim & @punkin - we run a brewery too so I can get my hands on some kegs easily.

  • Beer kegs with the correct dispensing coupling works well, especially if you have CO2 as its a very straightforward matter to pressurise slightly to move the product from barrel to bottling/dispensing heads.

  • edited January 18

    I took beer kegs and cut the valves out and put tri clamp ferrules on them. They work well. I also use them for accelerated aging and putting in whiskey in with wood lingotes. I am just getting one made up with an 8" tri clamp ferrule with an Oak lid for a tank that will breath.

    image

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    450 x 800 - 50K
  • To answer the question on aging spirits and Gin, there is definitely a noticable difference after a couple of months. And over 6 months as well.. I have been told that you accelerate the time with an ultrasound machine but I havent tried it yet. I have an ultrasound machine but havent used it lately. I made some Pitanga gin, which is like a lemon gin and the taste changed a fair bit over 4 months. The lemon flavors backed off a bit and the orange flavors from the barks came out more.

  • Oxidation of terpenes is a major factor.

  • @grim, So grim for lemonaceous compounds after the first couple of weeks they do have a shelf life correct where by the lemon oils are at their most potent. With my Pitanga gin it is still very nice 6 months later but just with not as heavy on the lemony type of flavors. I still drink it anyway.

  • There is another way to age the spirit. Put it back into the still at approx. 55 to 65 deg C and agitate at max RPM for a few days. With the resultant cavitation you will realise up to 3 years worth of ageing.

  • @richard. Your a legend thanks for the information.

  • edited January 18

    This is the layout for my ageing setpoint screen where you select the required product. When the PLC boots up, it automatically inserts recipe values.

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    age settings.png
    656 x 486 - 28K
  • Done damn fine comments in here. I really can't add anymore. Only to emphasise the points above, you should not bottle your product before it has had time to settle.

    Also keep in mind the aspect ratios of your bulk storage vessels. A shorter, wider vessel will produce a more consistent product than a narrow and tall vessel.

    The cause of this comes down some simple chemistry. The dissociation constants and equilibrium for ethanol-ethanol, water-water, ethanol-water are all very different. This manifests itself in the form of stratification thanks to the varying densities of the individual components.

    What this means in simple speak is you get more ethanol at the top of your tank and more water at the bottom. The difference can be as large as 15%abv.

    If your bulk storage vessels are tall, you need to agitate prior to proofing, prior to AND during bottling.

    Stratification will occur in just a few hours following agitation!

    Cheers,

    Mech.

  • We have a mix of beer kegs (spears removed) and fusti's. Beer kegs are cheap, heavy and last forever. Fusti's are light, have big opening, expensive, come with a valve in the bottom and more fragile, so we use them where they don't get moved.

    DAD... not yours.. ah, hell... I don't know...

  • anyone in the US and modified high hazard (not full high hazard) that is worried about the MAQ's of 200gal per sprinklered control area for storage of spirits can avoid the spirits counting towards the MAQ by placing in a wooden barrel.. Could be pitch, paraffin, or a poly bag inside if you don't want the contact with oak..

  • I can only say holy crap to the engineering delays caused by the extensive calcs required for the massive high volume sprinkler system subsequently installed in my distillery here in Aus.

    Very expensive delays and very expensive costs.

    Thankfully, my site didn't fall into the next category up or I would have had to cancel my plans as I wouldn't have been able.to afford the million dollar fire supression system.

  • edited January 23

    Interesting that Odin posted a nearly identical screenshot on the iStill thread over at ADI @richard

  • Yes there are conceptual similarities where I have sourced tonnes of varied information across the web. Ultimately this is all compiled together in what I believe to be a best solution for what I am trying to do.

    Basically the still is almost completely automated with options for manual intervention as well.

  • Well I just ran 3 spirits, 3 gins and 1 whiskey through my ultrasound machine and it ages them really well. The two gins were young, like made within a week and after the ultrasound treatment, two periods of 8 minutes, tasted like the have been resting for a year. The Whisky was kind of harsh and was very smoothed out, I was resting it on bits of wood inside my SS keggles, but it definitely really smoothed it out. It still needs a couple of more months in a wooden barrel but I am a beleiver now. Especially for the Gin. What a difference.

  • edited January 25

    I strongly believe the ultrasound impact is temporary. I've been on record more than once saying it.

    Try the bottles in a few months, next to untreated bottles, they'll taste identical.

  • It is likely that the untreated spirit has had a chance to "catch up" with the ultrasound treated spirit. In the chemistry world, ultrasound is used to speed up hard to occur chemical reactions without the addition of heat.

  • edited January 25

    So to be more clear, by temporary I mean two things, that the results of the reaction can be temporary, for example:

    Esterification/Hydrolysis are reversible reactions, in some cases these are potentially equilibrium reactions. It is fairly easy to show examples of temporarily swinging the equilibrium in one direction or the other. There appear to be quite a few equilibrium reactions that can take place. Highly likely that ultrasound can influence the equilibrium points temporarily.

    Ultrasound has significant impact on the composition of dissolved gasses in the distillate, dissolved gasses in the distillate have a direct impact on the perception of flavor. Over time, these dissolved gasses can re-equilibrate.

    And also by temporary I mean that the advantaged gained is temporary - this is "catch up" side.

    Based on tasting more than a hundred barrels at this point, the rate of change of the flavor of distillate slows substantially, with the major changes happening quickly, and then slowing over time. I agree that ultrasound might impact the rate of these near-term reactions, however, that advantage is lost over time as the untreated distillate can easily "catch up". From a market perspective, this could give a slight advantage to getting bottles on a shelf earlier.

  • @grim, I absolutely agree with the above description. The chemical processes are quite complex in spirit aging. It would be interesting to review the scientific literature on the timeline for the individual chemical changes that occur during the aging process and compare this data with some of rapid aging processes.

    Since I work at a university, maybe I will enlist some of my colleagues to do this type of study with me if I am not able to find data in the literature. Sure some of it is already there. Just have not looked.

  • What are your guys thoughts on resting your distilled product in HDPE Drums compared to stainless kegs/drums/tanks? We have seen distilleries like Monkey47 macerating in HDPE Drums but the distilled product they store in stainless tanks.

  • @N_D said: What are your guys thoughts on resting your distilled product in HDPE Drums compared to stainless kegs/drums/tanks? We have seen distilleries like Monkey47 macerating in HDPE Drums but the distilled product they store in stainless tanks.

    depends on fire code for you country/region... here in the US, plastic is not approved for storage, only transportation, and I have seen M47 videos showing storing in glass demijohns too, but the US does not allow for storage or glass over 1.3gal

  • @grim. I believe you. That the ultrasound is temporary and that natural processes will catch up and then improve the ultrasounded product. I have read a couple of academic papers out there saying using ultrasound will speed up most of the reactions but not all of them. Sufficient to fool most drinkers but not experts. There was an academic paper on using ultrasound to age Brandy that indicated the same. At 3 days of Ultrasound treatment with wood about 95% of the biochemical compounds were the same as brandy aged for 2 years in a barrel. Anyway I will keep using it but also rest my gin afterwards.

  • N_D
    edited January 25

    @CothermanDistilling said: depends on fire code for you country/region... here in the US, plastic is not approved for storage, only transportation, and I have seen M47 videos showing storing in glass demijohns too, but the US does not allow for storage or glass over 1.3gal

    Of course it's about fire cods etc, but we are interested to get comments on whether you guys think there is any quality difference in storing gin in HDPE barrels versus stainless. We will use glasdamejeanne in the development but they are only up to 23L.

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