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Distilling.. Legal...?

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Ryue

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Is there such a thing as legal distilling, and if not, why have a distilling page when forum rules say no talk of said activities...?
 

bleme

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It is legal to distill water and 'cleaning solvents' for personal use.
 
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Ah, so in other words, non-alcoholic distilling. Lame, I got excited. Lol
We had a policy for a long time of closing down any talk of distilling alcohol. That policy has changed. If you do it, you might be breaking laws - you'll have to determine that. But there's no law against talking about it, and that's how things stand here at HBT. I don't make the rules here, but I do like this one because I'm wholly in the Don't Tread on Me camp.

Might change tomorrow; it's a subject in flux at the moment.
 
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Ryue

Ryue

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Well in that case, has anyone ever thought about distilling mead? I don't know how well that would work out, could be disgusting or delicious. Would the honey flavors/aromas still carry over? Or would you just end up with (in the case of my cinnamon elderberry mead) a mildly fruit tasting mouthwash..?
 

madscientist451

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You can put anything you want in a still: Mead, cider, wine, even beer.
Distilled mead would be called mead brandy?
If I were going to try it, I'd make a low strength mead, add the nutrients in steps, let it age 8 weeks or until it tasted decent before distilling. If you make a wine strength mead and don't let it age, I believe all the nasty flavors will come through the distilling process. (I haven't tried it, so I'm just speculating).
 
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Ryue

Ryue

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If you make a wine strength mead and don't let it age, I believe all the nasty flavors will come through the distilling process. (I haven't tried it, so I'm just speculating).
My mead is sitting right at 19.5% ABV, but is still very smooth and sweet. No off flavors (to my novice palete..) though I am sure aging could always help.
 

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My mead is sitting right at 19.5% ABV, but is still very smooth and sweet. No off flavors (to my novice palete..) though I am sure aging could always help.
BAAAH!! Please forgive me for beating on this statement, but I just got home from a lengthy conversation with a so called "beer expert" at a local pub. This guy was a piece of work.
There is no such thing as a "novice palate".
If it tastes good to you, that sure as hell works for me.
Apparently, since I don't care for banana esters in Belgians, I don't have a sophisticated and educated palate.
Competition beers are a different animal. You must make the beer to fit the BJCP guidelines. Aside from that, the beauty of homebrewing is making what tastes good to you. Rant over.... Drink on...
 
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Ryue

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I definitely agree with you SEndorf, what I meant is that I haven't tasted enough varieties to be able to pick up subtle hints that a more experienced brewer might detect. My mead was a first attempt at brewing, and it was also my own recipie. I used no nutients, energizer or anything else to help support the yeast in a 1.146 SG, as well as I used a Champaign yeast. (while it worked fine for me, I know others like to poo-poo it's use)
So while I think it turned out great, I am sure that there is some essence in there somewhere that shouldn't. Lol

Edit: I also stressed the temp multiple times from it being in the garage when the temp dropped to near freezing, fermentation stopped and then I brought it inside.
 
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SEndorf

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I hear what yer sayin Ryue. A few different batches with some variations will allow you to pick up on some nuances.
I'm just coming off a bad experience and over-reacted...:)
 

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We had a policy for a long time of closing down any talk of distilling alcohol. That policy has changed. If you do it, you might be breaking laws - you'll have to determine that. But there's no law against talking about it, and that's how things stand here at HBT. I don't make the rules here, but I do like this one because I'm wholly in the Don't Tread on Me camp.

Might change tomorrow; it's a subject in flux at the moment.

Along those lines, we can discuss marijuana then? Its legal at a rec level in CO and med in HI, f***ing obama smoked pakalolo too. I dont use it but we can discuss it, right?
 
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Along those lines, we can discuss marijuana then? Its legal at a rec level in CO and med in HI, f***ing obama smoked pakalolo too. I dont use it but we can discuss it, right?
Well, this is a brewing forum, and it's been decreed that distilling discussion is inside the brewing circle.

WRT MJ, if you're discussing how to use it as an ingredient in the creation of beer or similar, that's inside the circle. Go for it. But starting a thread on growing it, smoking it out of a bong fashioned from a 4" Monola Blahnik pump, that stuff is outside the circle, and will be dunktanked to the bitbucket. Casual references are gonna be ignored of course.
 

triethylborane

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Well, this is a brewing forum, and it's been decreed that distilling discussion is inside the brewing circle.

WRT MJ, if you're discussing how to use it as an ingredient in the creation of beer or similar, that's inside the circle. Go for it. But starting a thread on growing it, smoking it out of a bong fashioned from a 4" Monola Blahnik pump, that stuff is outside the circle, and will be dunktanked to the bitbucket. Casual references are gonna be ignored of course.

yeah Ive seen it referenced for brewing and ppl seem to be sheepish about saying marijuana when referencing flavors

the hell is a 4" monola blahnik pump though
 

bleme

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You could distill a mead. The good mead flavors are pretty volatile and don't like heat so I would think that distilling wouldn't be favorable. I think I'd be happy with the 19% and stick to that.

I might have a friend who might run a homebrew competition. After the competition, he might take all the extras that scored less than 30 and dump them together in a still. I might have tasted some of his cleaning solution and it might have been quite tasty, with none of the off flavors that the original beers got dinged for.
 

JohnSand

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To the original question: I think it is illegal to distill liquor without a license and tax stamp. But the feds are not coming to arrest you for making a few gallons of hooch. It's like the limits on homebrewing, nobody really cares how much you brew. If you are not selling it or flaunting it, it's okay.
 

Sailingeric

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To the original question: I think it is illegal to distill liquor without a license and tax stamp. But the feds are not coming to arrest you for making a few gallons of hooch. It's like the limits on homebrewing, nobody really cares how much you brew. If you are not selling it or flaunting it, it's okay.
I have done a couple batches of rum that turned out decent but unless doing it in a large scale it was not every cost effective. Beer is much more bang for your buck.
 

JohnSand

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I agree Eric. When I first started brewing, a friend asked when were we making whiskey. I told him that the learning curve was too steep on something that would take years to be ready. I brewed twice a month my first year, and it took all of that to learn to make craft quality beer. I would just be sampling my first batch of aged whiskey now.
 

triethylborane

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I agree Eric. When I first started brewing, a friend asked when were we making whiskey. I told him that the learning curve was too steep on something that would take years to be ready. I brewed twice a month my first year, and it took all of that to learn to make craft quality beer. I would just be sampling my first batch of aged whiskey now.

I made some vodka in college, I was o-chem lab TA and built some glassware condensers for my apartment still. It worked but what was the point when you could get popov (or worse) for $7 for 1.5L? My output was 0.1L and a lot of time. I make some of my own liqueurs and have aged some out, but even so, the production scale for distilling to be effective on several parameters doesnt work out for me.

Reminds me of the guy who made a BLT from scratch. I see people talk about homemade this and homemade that, but for me there is a point of severely diminishing returns.

 
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I see people talk about homemade this and homemade that, but for me there is a point of severely diminishing returns.
For me, it's not always about the returns. What return do you get when you climb a mountain? Many of these DIY things are just another attempt to understand how things work, how they are made, and to know that I can do it. I suspect that's true for many others on this forum.
 
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Ryue

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For me, it's not always about the returns. What return do you get when you climb a mountain? Many of these DIY things are just another attempt to understand how things work, how they are made, and to know that I can do it. I suspect that's true for many others on this forum.
I feel the same, Passedpawn. Fermenting my own booze, distilling (hypothetically, that is...), building a table, butchering an elk, working on a car or even just making dinner are all things that I can immerse myself in and enjoy the fruits of my labor when the project is finished. It's not about what I get out of it, how much I saved or made or what-have-you, its about the pride of making something for yourself and seeing what YOU accomplished afterwords. Something my generation (yes, I barely count as a Millennial..) rarely have the propensity to do.
 

triethylborane

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For me, it's not always about the returns. What return do you get when you climb a mountain? Many of these DIY things are just another attempt to understand how things work, how they are made, and to know that I can do it. I suspect that's true for many others on this forum.

The mountain part is quite eye opening, my man have you been toking herb from an alligator skin bruno magli? I jest, but my point is - for me - (keyword) there exists a point where I have to stop going down the rabbit hole. Its an issue of allocation of resources, I suppose.

Something my generation (yes, I barely count as a Millennial..) rarely have the propensity to do.
Millennials are far too prone in lauding their "work" when it is expected and/or common. When it becomes uncommon, such as crafting cheese or making beer or in your case distilling alcohol, thats when it sort of passes into that realm of merit or accomplishment. Thats how I see it, at least. Dont mistake me, Im all for you distilling, I had fun with what little I did.
 

Sailingeric

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I feel the same, Passedpawn. Fermenting my own booze, distilling (hypothetically, that is...), building a table, butchering an elk, working on a car or even just making dinner are all things that I can immerse myself in and enjoy the fruits of my labor when the project is finished. It's not about what I get out of it, how much I saved or made or what-have-you, its about the pride of making something for yourself and seeing what YOU accomplished afterwords. Something my generation (yes, I barely count as a Millennial..) rarely have the propensity to do.
. I agree with you, I love the learning and how it all works, and.there is a lot with distilling- making cuts, blending, aging and woods to use, different types of still for what you are making, but other than a few small batches here and there I will be putting my brewing time and money in beer. As for the mountains climbing analogy, I have not climbed a mountain but have made many ocean passages on sailboats and making a keg of beer or a bottle whiskey will never compare to land fall after a couple weeks at sea. :rock:
 

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For me, it's not always about the returns. What return do you get when you climb a mountain? Many of these DIY things are just another attempt to understand how things work, how they are made, and to know that I can do it. I suspect that's true for many others on this forum.
That really nails it.. In a nutshell..
 
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Well in that case, has anyone ever thought about distilling mead? I don't know how well that would work out, could be disgusting or delicious. Would the honey flavors/aromas still carry over? Or would you just end up with (in the case of my cinnamon elderberry mead) a mildly fruit tasting mouthwash..?
done right, you will end up with something more like authentic schnapps.. not the sugary watered down syrup you get in the store, but the true German clear, wonderful aroma 100+ proof stuff...


Do some fancy tweaks to your process, such as doing the unthinkable and adding fully drinkable, distilled mead to your next mead must and place in a still and boil the must (...gasp) and collect the alcohol vapors that hold the honey aromatics and then cool and pitch yeast into the now sterile must and add nutrients according to hightest's mead.xls sheet... when ferment is complete, add enough recovered alcohol to stop fermentation and back-sweeten...
 
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Ryue

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done right, you will end up with something more like authentic schnapps.. not the sugary watered down syrup you get in the store, but the true German clear, wonderful aroma 100+ proof stuff...


Do some fancy tweaks to your process, such as doing the unthinkable and adding fully drinkable, distilled mead to your next mead must and place in a still and boil the must (...gasp) and collect the alcohol vapors that hold the honey aromatics and then cool and pitch yeast into the now sterile must and add nutrients according to hightest's mead.xls sheet... when ferment is complete, add enough recovered alcohol to stop fermentation and back-sweeten...
Now that is what I am looking for. So, for clarity: you would distill a batch of mead, then add the distilled mead to a new batch of must and distill again, then pitch yeast, ferment and add back distilled alcohol when fermentation is complete? What ratio of distilled mead to undistilled must would you do?
I am about to start a 5gal batch of mead this weekend, I may have to set some aside to experiment with.. [emoji482]
 
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Yes, you have it correct, I would add enough to stop fermentation is all....

additional info - if you had 5.0 gal of 10% mead, that is 20proof, and 1.00 proof gallons (5.0 x .20) If you add 1 gal of 120 proof honey distillate, that is 1.2 proof gallons, for a total of 2.2 proof-gallons, and total volume of around 6.2gal, and 2.2/6.2 = 35.5proof proof, or 17.75%, probably not enough to stop fermentation completely, but now you get the math... 20-25% should stop nearly everything...

*you could add vodka to the honey/must the first time for simplicity, since you are aiming to capture the aromatics that would be lost in boiling or even carried out with CO2 in fermentation...

*watch how much power you put to boiling honey, you don't want to scorch the honey, the pot, or electric elements...

*you can cool to pitching temp in the still, just put a reverse airlock on it... or use a chiller, but make sure it is extra sterile, as there are no hops to help you kill other bugs!

* the first time you may want to do this in a glass lab still like heart-magic.com has... this still is perfectly legal if you use it as intended, for steam extraction of essential oils... what you dabble with after is on you...
 

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Could not resist a very short story. My mother and her older sister would take care of the last run of the still in early winter when their Dad left the farm to build Pullman cars in Chicago for the Soo Line.

It was not legal.
 

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I've had distilled mead and it does not carry over like a mead flavor but more so floral note with a slight background of honey. Very tasty I'll say but probably not what you're looking for if chasing meads flavors.
The raspberry melomel that was distilled was a nice drink white at 90p and definitely had more of the mead carryover than the traditional.
Does not taste like a brandy, or schnapps imo, I guess it could be sweeten to taste for a nice round spirit but the cuts may be tricky with honey almost like fruits it's more so in the heads than the hearts and the tails should be avoided at all costs.

Collect is small jars and let breath for 24 hours before trying to blend.

If you try this please post results as I know an orchard guy who distills his leftovers and is legal to do so, sooo!)
 

parrothead64

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technically not distilling if your making it from extract, but I agree if you’re not selling it, I don’t think the police are coming for you.
 
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I have 3-5 gal oak barrels once used from Balcones in Waco Tx.

I just pulled off a 5 gal traditional after 2 months and it's great, a 1 ltr barrel would only be good for 1 week or less tops and it depends on the char level, or toast level.

A new barrel with a new char and not been used for anything before I'd suspect it would over oak very quickly as opposed to a once used whiskey or rum barrel which would be slower reaction and more subtle taste.

Plus 1 litre is a tease if you're hosting but could get you an idea of what to expect from a larger barrel with more time.

5 gal barrel costs me 110$ from my lhbs and with meads I can get multiple uses but each one is extended a couple days to a week or more.

If you can make mead you can tear down a whiskey barrel and make new char.

I personally like the white oak cubes with a med toast over the barrel, it's easier to add oak verses remove.
 

golfindia

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The oak spirals from ebay or Amazon work great. Jack Daniel's barrel wood chips sold for smokers are another Nice source of wood aging material.
 
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Ryue

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I have 3-5 gal oak barrels once used from Balcones in Waco Tx.

I just pulled off a 5 gal traditional after 2 months and it's great, a 1 ltr barrel would only be good for 1 week or less tops and it depends on the char level, or toast level.

A new barrel with a new char and not been used for anything before I'd suspect it would over oak very quickly as opposed to a once used whiskey or rum barrel which would be slower reaction and more subtle taste.

Plus 1 litre is a tease if you're hosting but could get you an idea of what to expect from a larger barrel with more time.

5 gal barrel costs me 110$ from my lhbs and with meads I can get multiple uses but each one is extended a couple days to a week or more.

If you can make mead you can tear down a whiskey barrel and make new char.

I personally like the white oak cubes with a med toast over the barrel, it's easier to add oak verses remove.
I have a 3L oak barrel from Golden Oak Barrels that I age my mead in. I am getting ready to buy a 20L (5.25 gallons) here pretty quick for like $130. For my recipie, 3 or 4 months imparts a wonderful rich flavor. I highly recomend the brand to anyone who wants one ranging from 1L to 20L.
 

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Another good option would to buy a half barrel planter, most in my area are whiskey barrels cut in half. Usually around 40-45 bucks.
I'll take the staves apart, cut them on the table saw or band saw into 1"×1"×5" soak them in water for 12 hours.
For a nice med toast I'll put them in the oven wrapped in aluminum foil with holes poke in it for 2 hours at 400°f

400 for 2 hours brings out the vanilla in the wood (American white oak)

I like to start out low on the oak because it's easier to add than to remove, I would go with 2 fingers until you see color changes, give a swirl and taste. If you need longer than do so but if you need to take out you can keep the fingers in a quart of your choice of spirit and save for another day.
I like to soak them in Appleton estates high ester rum for a nice flavor profile.
Some in Honey Bear Bourbon.
 

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Something I have always wanted to try... someday i will get around to learning about it.
 
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