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Louching & Filtering

@Grip started a discussion about louching, which better belongs in here. Louching & Filtering, something that can hit every distiller if a clear distillate is the desired product.

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  • Anyone got any suggestions for preventing and curing louching. It might be a bit late for one batch for me. I diluted down about 70 litres of gin and, in an attempt to hit the exact strength for our custom and excise guys, needed to add about 4.5 litres of water. On one bit of the additions I forgot the always add alochol to water not the other way round (at least I think I did!) The result is that the perfectly clear 70 litres is a very hazy 75 litres. Are there any fixes or do I just have to put this down to experience?

  • Have you tried chill filtering it?

  • What % were you at before adding the water? Was the water pure... 0 PPM dissolved solids? Was this a maceration or vapor style Gin?

    Add enough neutral to make the louche clear. But then you are stuck at that % as if you then add more water you may louch again. You may need to experiment. But basically you have to many oils that will not stay dissolved in that volume at that proof. You would need to dilute the oils with more neutral and then water to reach the point where the oils no longer louch.

    If your water was not 0 PPM of dissolved solids you may have actually freed the dissolved solids in the water causing the louching of the minerals not the oils.

  • @Grip, once it's hazy the only way to get it clear again is filtering. No idea if it makes a difference (probably not) but Austrian farmers are taught to add water to alcohol for diluting down to drinking strength, not the other way around. Most products are getting filtered to get a crystal clear distillate, although recently there is a trend in the direction of naturally cloudy because the filtering takes away flavor. It's still in the mind of consumers that a distillate has to be clear, but the same happened for apple juice, where the unfiltered version is considered special now.

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • @RedDoorDistillery @SDeurope thanks for the advice. It's actually cleared considerably overnight, and yes, filtering makes a difference. Any suggestions for filter medium? At the moment I am using afairly closely woven cloth. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow! Alcohol into water / Water into alcohol - now I'm confused.

  • edited June 2014

    If you are going to try to filter, I'd suggest you chill filter, it'll help some of the oils coagulate and be more easily removed. Any chance you have a chest freezer? You could drop some stainless fustis into the chest freezer overnight. You are going to probably want to pick up a filtration system. A plate system is probably a big investment for occasional filtering, a cheaper approach is to use a small cartridge filter housing and pump it through that instead.


    Otherwise, Red Door's suggestion is probably the easiest. Bring the proof back up with neutral, the oils will be more soluble at higher proof. You may need to dilute with neutral and then reproof again. Try using distilled water with zero tds.

  • I made pure corn whiskey by way of buying Ian Smileys book a couple years before ever hearing the word louche but I certainly had louche, just didn't know what it was called.
    When cold it was crystal clear but at room temp it was very cloudy. I was told that there was too much tails in the final cut and only re-distillation could cure it.
    At that time, I only ever used WalMart distilled water to temper the product to drinking strength (usually to about 42%).

    Fast forward about a decade and I'm thinking I simply carried over a bit of corn oil from the 100% corn mash as I've always tended to keep tails very separated from the hearts cut.

    This thread reminds me that grain oils absolutely can carry over and when they do (my only experience is with corn that is loaded with oil compared to grains like wheat) the louche 'defect' may not be because of dipping into the tails, but rather, it is an oil problem.

  • I have a glycol chiller connected to a heat exchanger and run the distillate through that and then through some 10" filter housings, I have a 5 micron followed by a 1 micron, I do have smaller filters to use if needed, but haven't had to. The filters are dirt cheap, about a dollar a piece when you buy them in quantity. I get suspended colloids(proteins in my case) in my rum when I add a little cane juice to the distillate, the cane juice makes it very cloudy, has to do with molasses(and the proteins in the molasses) in the cane juice, but the flavor added is fantastic and worth it. You can let it settle, if you have settling on top you have an oil issue, if it settles on the bottom you have a protein issue. Basically chill filtering will do as follows: When chilled the suspended proteins and oils(floc) separate from the distillate/liquid while still being suspended, without this mechanical separation the filter cannot do its job properly. Filtering in my opinion, does not affect taste much at all. I filter everything. If you can convince your market to purchase a hazy spirit then all for you, although personally, I wouldn't buy a hazy spirit, and if I won't by my own product, no one will.

  • edited June 2014

    I don't have a market, but i do have an ugly haze problem in what i make for the missus to drink. It's a horrible hazy particulate that settles on the bottom and comes up as a brown cloud when the bottle is disturbed.

    It shows worse in winter and if you put a bottle in the freezer it comes up in horrible clouds that look like algae. It is almost impossible to filter as it's so fine as to dissolve when the bottle is mixed and then settle out again.

    It can be alleviated a little by choosing distilled or demineralised water to make cuts.

    I've always assumed it is proteins or something to do with the water chemistry.

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

  • Just an observation. I never had haze with product from a t500. A friend has one too and he cuts his with filtered tap water. Not RO. And no haze ever.

    The first cut I made with the dash I used RO water like I always do and got haze. I have had no haze using the same process since. Weirdness!!

  • I've had it with potstills, copper columns and plated stills. I only started using a plated still in earnest this year, but i've always had the haze. I believe it's from my tap water.

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

  • With tap water I get haze. Using spring water its all clear

  • Doesn't help me when i am running 160l washes. I use deminarilised water to cut, but i have only tap water to use for washes.

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

  • For wash it only use tap water from garden hose. I use garden hose water for my beer to. If it's good enough to drink its good enough for me

  • why not attach a water filter system? They are not so expensive.

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • they won't change the chemistry of the water. I have one in my shed already, but to get good filtering you have to run at 3 l/min or less. The water is still hard though and i think that's what is causing my haze.

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

  • @Sunshine said: why not attach a water filter system? They are not so expensive.

    I'm a home brewer :))

    Enough said

  • I wouldn't have thought it would make a difference using tap water for washes. It's getting distilled anyway?

  • @cunnyfunt said: I wouldn't have thought it would make a difference using tap water for washes. It's getting distilled anyway?

    I'm with you CF, minerals, proteins, etc... just can't carry over.

  • I know I am going to cop it for asking this. Can't you use the dragon to distil some water to cut? Or is this sacrilege?

  • edited June 2014

    nothing sacrilege about it. However cost/ benefit is a little off. Reverse osmosis is more cost effective

  • @cunnyfunt funny you mentioned the t500 I cut a guart from my friends t500 and it was made with cracked corn and used well water that I always used and it went hazy but all the sugarhead runs never did. Think it is from the corn.

  • Tap water for Ferment is fine. As the dissolved solids would not come over in the vapor. You just need to neutralize the chlorine so it does not kill off your Yeast. For dilution of spirits distilled or RO water. If you have dissolved solids in the water you cut with you will get haze. Most people don't like cloudy vodka.... lol

  • edited June 2014

    That's a lovely theory but i use demineralised water from the ironing section of my supermarket to cut with and still get the haze. I don't think it's from the barrels, i don't think it's from the dominos, i don't think it's from the cut water and it happens in all my brown spirits (some years worse than others)

    I think it's from the city water i ferment with. I think (because i have discussed it in the past) that it's to do with the treatment of our water and that it's not particles carrying over, it's from the actual makeup of the water after treatment, they use both soda ash and fine carbon dust in treatment. Seems to me the hardness of the water has something to do with it, i can't think of anything else and i'll be glad to hear from someone who does know what it is.

    I think a major clue is that putting a bottle on ice increases the precipitate 100 fold and it turns to look like thick algae riddled water.

    Some previous discussions...

    My new stainless liebig @ AD

    Sugar in the Boiler @ AD

    Distilling clouds? @ AD

    Diluting for spirit run? @ AD

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

  • OK. To summarise from what you helpful guys have come up with - I need to bring the temperature of the gin right down, and then filter. Chill to coagulate the oils present (from the botanicals I guess) as low as possible and to encourage any proteins to form longer molecular chains and then, when they least expect it, filter them out. I've just tried it with a couple of bottles left in the fridge for 10 hours, and it certainly looks a lot better. I've left it out to warm up. I'll see what it's like in the morning. (blast- another sleepless night :-S )

  • edited June 2014

    @punkin have you ever used a TDS (Total Devolved Solids) meter on any of the water you use?

    I'm getting a reading of 4ppm from my reverse osmosis water. (cartridge is 8 months old) That water is dead. I figured out tonight the suspended haze I got last time I diluted my spirit was caused by a mineral cartridge I added to the system for our drinking water. Reverse osmosis water is unhealthy to drink for extended periods without putting mineral back in.

    RO water is great for brewing too. Start with dead water and make your own water profile

    I think it's worth a shot if you have tried most things.. The downside of RO water is you waste water running through a RO membrane.. It's slow too. But... 0-10ppm solids in your water!!

  • edited June 2014

    Yeah i'd never get an RO system past her because of the waste, once she found out about that it would all be over.

    She has me after drips that don't drip. :))

    Is this type of cheapie any good mate?

    Digital TDS Meter Tester Filter Water Purity Quality FC @ eBay

    Says a resolution of 1ppm but an accuracy of only +-2%. Do they need calibrating? What is it going to actually tell me seeing as i use demineralized water for cutting? Does it work on whiskey/rum?

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

  • I had some hazed neutral. I ran a fish pond air bubbler air stone in it and it clear up overnight ... worth a try?

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