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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Absinthe controlling botanicals

Anyone here that makes absinthes or gins with in-kettle macerations: how do you contain the herbs and prevent them from flying down stream into your condenser causing all sorts of flavor and coloring problems? I'm using light botanicals like wormwood that's finely chopped and it's getting all up in my condenser. 

I've heard of using sacks, but the botanical bill on an absinthe is huge. Just pitch the bags in? Do you tie them off to prevent them from sitting on the steam jacket and scorching? I've always vapor infused so in kettle technique is new to me. 


Reply:

I always throw all our botanicals in the pot when doing absinthe. I can't imagine trying to bag them all, but I think it would be likely that you would get some dry spots in the center of the bag. 

Not sure of the design of your still, but it sounds like you are boiling over. I would try either running slower, especially during warm-up, or fill with less volume.


Reply:

Thanks for the help. We're definitely not boiling over. I'm running as slow as I possibly can and still getting specks of herbs and color in the distillate. However, we were able to achieve some success by running slower without the agitator but my fear is that we will run into scorching at some point. Our system is a 300G artisan still run like a pot still for the absinthe runs. We were collecting at less than 5-6 G an hour which is excruciatingly slow for a 300G charge. I believe I'm learning that absinthe is a labor of patience.Whatever we have to do to make the best stuff!


Reply:

We run as just a pure pot with absinthe too, and we have noticed color as well. It does tint the spirit just slightly when cut for bottling, because we bottle as a Blanche. I haven't had issues with particulate though. 


Reply:

We do pot still, bain marie, distillation, with a very heavy botanical load in the pot. The resulting spirit is clear. You should not have any particulates coming across if the botanicals are in the pot. On the other hand, 5-6 G/h sounds pretty fast. You might be running it too hard. You say it is as slow as possible, why can't it be slower? Sounds like you might be running steam heating, and you can not throttle back more? Bain marie's are often useful for absinthes, particularly considering how high the botanical load is for the anise and fennel (almost a slurry). You will not get the oil content you need unless you have those in the pot, you can not pre-macerate to extract the oils. Not for absinthe.


Reply:

I run absinthe and gin via a pot still as you describe and I don't have any issues with carryover of solids. I don't have immersion elements and scorching to worry about though and I run it with a great deal of free head space in the still. You say you are using a 300G charge, what is the overflow volume for that still?

I suspect you have too much product in the still, you either need to reduce the boil rate to suit the charge volume or reduce the charge volume...unless I'm missing something obvious.

 

Cheers,

 

Mech 


Reply:

Have you considered a botanicals out boil - that is to say, pre macerate your botanicals for a period of time, maybe with some low heat applied, the remove botanicals and transfer the liquid to your still. We use this process for our gin - the results have been really well received. Absinthe is on our list of spirits to try and we will be adopting this method.

 


Reply:

Only 6 years late. But how would absinthe botanicals in the 2nd retort of a double retort still perform?