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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Corn Whiskey - too much heads

I am making sour mash corn whiskey and getting a larger than expected heads component.  I have few culprits in mind and wanted to run my procedure by the forum and see if anything pops out to people.

1. Am I just doing a poor job of separating the heads during distillation and smearing it into the first part of the hearts, causing me to collect a larger volume before the head flavor goes away?

We have a 200gal direct fire pot still with 6" column with 4 non-bypassable bubble plates and dephelg on top.  I let it reflux for 45 minutes at 165 degrees top of column.

Once I start trying to decrease dephelg/increase the column temp and let distillate out I cannot get anything to come off the still until around 170 F.

(I am at 2800' elevations so ethanol boiling point should be about 170) heads have been running off between 170-172 degrees from 195-175 proof. 

Wash is about 5% alcohol and pot temp is 195. I am getting 2.75 gal heads at 185 proof and 7.5 gal hearts at 160 proof - which leaves heads as %25 of total alcohol in the wash.

2. Is my fermentation creating a high percentage of heads compounds?

From reading some things I think using a different yeast and pitching at a lower temp to create longer fermentation may help with this. 

I am doing all corn mash, letting it sweet mash (lactic) with alpha enzyme for 24 hours before cooking, then adding 30 gal backset, cooking to 190, cooling to 140, adding saccharization enzyme, and draining to fermenter for off grain fermentation. 

I am using lallemonde turbo yeast and pitching at 90 degrees F as per packaging recommendation (pitch between 100-90 degrees).  Also using Servomyces and Fermaid-O organic yeast nutrient.  The fermentations have been rapid and complete, below 1.000 sg in 48 hours. 

We are happy with the flavors and final product, just getting killed on the percentage of hearts we are recovering. (and our mash abv but that is a different story)

Appreciate any feedback! Thanks.



read how Wilderness Trail Dist. describes how to mash. Is that your process? I would add the back-set to the initial cook.

Reply:22 hours ago, Still_Holler said:
Reply:1 hour ago, HottyToddy77 said:

Thank you for the knowledge Silk City Distillers!  I'm running it up to temp right now so I will try to do very little reflux and see how that goes. 

Reply:7 minutes ago, Still_Holler said:
Reply:On 2/27/2018 at 10:17 AM, Silk City Distillers said: