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Distilling Technique: Sea Monkeys

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Ok, so at the start of the year I tried a new technique (new to me, at least), and I thought I'd share it with the other distillers here at WS. If you have a look at the picture below, taken in a nice place in Sacramento, there's a nice photo of Batch #17, which I bottled in February of 2009. Note the absence of our good friends, the sea monkeys. There is really no sediment, and the color is pretty much the same as when I bottled it, save a couple shades of brilliance that fades slightly after about a week.

 

I have found that with my Absinthe, color stability is greatly improved when there's little or no sediment. To get rid of sea monkeys, I tried the opposite of what creates the sediment in the first place. As many of you know, I rest the colored/aromatized absinthe in used chardonnay barrels before bottling. As a practice, I color the absinthe in a stainless steel tank, remove the coloring herbs, and allow it to cool over night. The next day, I proof the absinthe to exactly the bottle proof (65% abv) by diluting it with water, and let it sit another two days. At the end of the two days, there's a pretty good cake of absinthe herbs that had dropped to the bottom of the tank, as the particles that were soluble in 80% abv are now insoluble in 65% abv alcohol. I then rack the clear liquid in to a barrel using a pump and rough filter.

 

The absinthe is now in the barrel at 65% alcohol, and is allowed to sit for a month (now two months). As the barrel is gas permeable, some of the alcohol evaporates, and when I am ready to bottle, the Absinthe is usually at around 63% alcohol. So now I need to do the reverse of what precipitated all the solids in the first place......I add a very small amount of clear absinthe off of the still to bump the proof up to 65% abv, and then run it through one final filtration into the bottling tank.

 

I figured that if the absinthe become unstable when water is added and the proof drops, perhaps it would become more stable if you instead increase the proof. It appears that I was correct, at least so far as my absinthe in concerned.

 

....I couldn't find this practice in any of my readings, but perhaps this is a common practice, and I'm just too stupid to know that. But I figured just in case it wasn't, some of the other distillers might like to know about this method.

 

Cheers.

 

post-669-1256225498_thumb.jpg

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Thanks Todd. It makes sense that if the polysaccharides that form the clumps of sediment are alcohol soluble, that would do the trick. It may also partly explain why I seldom see sea monkeys, since I never dip below 68%.

 

FWIW, I've intentionally created flocculate in test batches and I've found that temperature and herb-load of the secondary infusion play a role as well. Melissa seems to be the primary culprit, at least in my case. Maybe more starches in it?

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Ok, so at the start of the year I tried a new technique (new to me, at least), and I thought I'd share it with the other distillers here at WC.

WC? Water Closet? ;)

 

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Heh. Whoops.

 

I think that it's the lemon balm, too, Gwydion. All I use is lemon balm, pontica, veronica (few grams), and hyssop. Who knows for sure. It was fun trying to figure out how to reduce the monkeys. I get no more than a few dusty particles, if that, now that I changed what I'm doing. But best of all, it seems to have really stabilize the color....which is great for me, because of the clear bottle.

 

Cheers!

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When I place my freshly made absinthe in the barrel it's been diluted to around 148 proof. So far, any sea monkeys seem to drop out fairly quickly, even after a week (though two seems better). I haven't noticed any real color degradation in the barrels. When I empty the barrel for bottling, the last liter or so in the barrel usually is pretty murky, so that's not used for bottling product and is returned to the production account for redistillation. Then I reduce to bottling proof and filter during bottling.

 

The big problem is liquor store lighting. Those dark but not smoky NYC bars seem fine for preserving color.

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