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HEADS

BEER STILL

LOW WINES

HIGH WINES STILL

TAILS

HIGH WINES

SPIRIT STILL

SPIRIT

TAILS

figure 1: WOODFORD RESERVE TRIPLE DISTILLATION METHOD In a double distillation process, you take your fermented wash, distill (“strip”) it, and wind up with a low wine of approximately 20-30 percent ABV, depending on the alcohol concentration of the starting wash. There are no fractions separated from each other. Everything is collected in the same distillate collection vessel. The low wines are then re-distilled for a second distillation. Heads, hearts, and tails fractions are collected separately from each other. The hearts serve as the product spirit. The heads and tails are combined and redistilled with the low wines in the next spirit distillation. (It should be noted that there are variations on the double distillation technique, such as where the feints are recycled and the ratio of feints to low wines in the still.) In a triple distillation you have some kind of “intermediate” still that primarily serves to recycle the feints. You don’t need to own a third still (or even two stills) to practice these techniques, but for those seriously considering the triple distillation path, it does make workflow much easier. All you really need are good liquid management and record keeping practices because you are going to be shuffling a lot of different liquid streams around. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM  

METHOD ONE This is the technique that Woodford Reserve purportedly uses to distill some of their whiskey. It is also arguably the “simplest” of the techniques I’ll be discussing. Woodford takes their fermented wash and distills it to a low wine that contains about 20 percent ABV. They then distill the low wine in an intermediate still to produce a high wine of 55 percent ABV. During the second distillation, the distillery takes two fractions, the high wines and the tails/feints. The feints from this distillation are recycled with the next wash in the beer still. The high wines then proceed to a third distillation. During the third distillation, the heads and tails are collected separately from the hearts/spirit cut (about 78 percent ABV). The heads and tails are recycled into the next middle still/high wines distillation while the heart cut then moves on to the maturation warehouse. If it sounds confusing, I can assure you it’s not too bad. We can easily break this down into a few key points and steps. 1. Distill your wash in the wash still. a. Collect everything that comes off the still. This becomes your low wine. 2. Distill your low wine. a. No heads cut. b. Collect high wines and tails separately. c. High wines go into the next distillation and tails/feints are recycled with the wash in the next wash distillation. 3. Distill high wines. a. Collect heads and tails into feints vessel. b. Collect hearts/spirit and send to maturation. c. Recycle feints with low wines in the next intermediary distillation. The question inevitably arises: Where do you make the cuts for these distillations? And here, the distiller has quite a bit of room to experiment. For instance, take the intermediary distillation where we are only cutting out the tails from the high wines fraction. You could cut from hearts to tails relatively early in the distillation at 65-55 percent ABV,which would be the standard cutting range for many double-distilled spirits. This would give you a “lighter” high wines fraction to pass 99

Profile for Artisan Spirit Magazine

Artisan Spirit: Spring 2021  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Spring 2021  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

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