What's in the wash?

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What's in the wash?

Postby JeremyF » Sun May 02, 2021 8:14 am

Being absolutely paranoid about methanol it has taken me a while to consider the use of a still.

TLDR: I will be OK distilling home made and commercial red wine as it's fermented under controlled conditions.

I'm a chemist. This should be easy. But home distilling strips me of all of the process and procedure and equipment that I'd have available to monitor and test (and I don't have access to the testing equipment any more) and it's a real thing for me to not wake up dead.

With all the reading and watching I've done over the last few years I've finally overcome this concern especially if completing controlled fermentations, simple washes with commercial yeasts.

However I still have a quantity of home made and commercial (red) wine that is less than lovely that I want to "clean up", and I don't know hoe some of it has been made. The home made wine was made using a commercial yeast so I'm reasonably happy that I can distil this with reasonable safety. But just to make sure I looked through the newbie information to see what was there.

What are cuts and why do we do them? viewtopic.php?f=57&t=11918 good solid information and a really good reference at the end of the article that made me look at other references (did I mention I was paranoid).

So for anyone who's looking to distil red wine this next article is a good read (especially if you suffer from insomnia) and really help me understand that if I follow normal protocol and even have a little bit of smearing in the headshots, I should be well clear of any real nasties in the finished product (especially as most distillers seem to leave out a fair volume of headshots)

https://www.bio-conferences.org/article ... _02028.pdf
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Re: What's in the wash?

Postby Sam. » Sun May 02, 2021 8:43 am

G'day mate, let me make a few points for your consideration.

1. If your that worried about methanol, do you drink wine? or any other fermented fruit beverage? If the answer is yes then you are already consuming the highest percentage of methanol by volume that is readily available on the market.

2. Methanol has a much lower boiling point than ethanol so with any still that can separate fractions you can cut it out.

3. Yes on point 2, there will still be TRACES of methanol that will be bound in the water content and continually be dispersed throughout the run.

4. If your truly worried about methanol, ditch the wine and make a wash that is from grain or sugar, inherently less methanol production from fermentation.

5. At the end of the day it wont be methanol that gets you, it will be over consumption of good quality booze (ethanol). At the end of the day it is a poison but we are all willing to accept the risk for the return.

Also, welcome to AD :D
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Re: What's in the wash?

Postby Clickeral » Sun May 02, 2021 5:27 pm

So typically you remove a portion at the start to allow for Methanol in the wash/distillate. However ill make it very clear you can literally collect everything off the still (I don't recommend this) and drink it without more then a large hangover

The main issue is when people add multiple runs together without removing the methanol portion and the methanol builds up.

As you are aware ethanol counteracts methanol, the methanol myth comes from people adding other products to stretch the yield and was mainly from prohibition times when people added wood alcohol etc
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Re: What's in the wash?

Postby RuddyCrazy » Sun May 02, 2021 5:42 pm

Hi Jeremy,
The only run I've done with red wine was buying a 5 litre cask from the bottle shop then mulled it using mulling herbs and a fresh navel orange, kept the mulling temp under 70 C to stop the alc burning off then stripped it. Did a spirit run my my 2" pot still, took cuts then tempered it down to 65% and onto toasted/charred French Oak for 9 months. This is a fantastic drop with the full citrus flavour and I've now made this 3 times as it's just so nice.

No it doesn't matter what still you use and cuts must be taken then left to air for a day atleast, yes you will lose some to the angels but we don't want to drink that anyway do we :laughing-rolling: . The heads will smell like nail polish remover and the hearts won't even have a smell now as we get onto tails the scent of wet cardboard or a mangie wet dog come to the fore. With brandies some of these tails hold the goodness of the project so intense testing and smelling is needed to find just what can be blended in the final drop.

My favourite is French Oak now for whisky American oak does give a nice flavour but for Brandies the French Oak stands out.

Now by stripping the wash to get low wines and when enough low wines are collected temper them down to 50% or a bit less to do the spirit run and yes take cuts and let them air for a day.

Have a good read of some of the recipies on this forum not only in the tried and true but also in the recipe discussion as there is a world out of learning.

Cheers Bryan
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Re: What's in the wash?

Postby RC Al » Sun May 02, 2021 11:17 pm

In reality methanol is one of hundreds of chemicals that can make it through from a wash.

The complex mix of bound chemicals and water change where the actual boiling points happen by the individual wash ingredients and the differing reactions that happened over days and maybe even weeks or months of the ferment.

If you dig deep enough you will find that heads is more towards acetone and if there is methanol it will present more towards the tails.

Relax, undo the buckle, have a go and bear in mind that learning cuts it the single most valuable skill in the hobby and the only way to get those right is to do it. With relatively little practice you will be making better than the bottom half of store bought spirits.

As it sits, if its not great wine, your going to make some not great brandy if you pot still it, to clean it up to a neutral, you will need a run or two through a good reflux still.

This one is good one on cuts too viewtopic.php?f=57&t=2859
Last edited by RC Al on Sun May 02, 2021 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What's in the wash?

Postby JeremyF » Mon May 03, 2021 9:56 am

Thank for the replies, I feel like I overstated the risk, it's more my "paranoia"

You'll both be relieved (you gave it no more that a cursory thought) that I have seriously overcome my concerns, I was amazed in the difference in flavour profiles as the process evolved. I did my sacrificial run on some quite horrible commercial red wine that I picked up cheap on Grays online and then 20L of home made red wine.

I'm running a lot of stripping runs to get enough to do a spirit run.
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