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What is a good product?

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What is a good product?

Postby bigfoot » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:41 am

I'm not sure this is even possible but perhaps its just an idea maybe worth kicking around. It would take some time and commitment but might also move things forward.
One thing I struggled with when first getting into this hobby - was trying to understand exactly "what" I should be aiming for. I'm not a huge drinker by any stretch - but I do love trying to make quality drinks...more so for others and I love being able to enjoy a drink with friends, that we know was made locally.

In order to help guide me - I purchased a number of top line bourbons/whisky/vodkas and have these close and nearby to my hardware. Ill often taste these and try and compare my produce. But what do you do, when you do get better and nothing you are comparing (store bought) is quality anymore? Drinks that i used to buy, simply no longer taste the same...which then leads to another question - What IS an excellent product? What should a lightly flavoured neutral taste like? What should a triple distilled CFW on 3 months of oak taste like?

Originally, I thought maybe, we could ask an experienced member if they would care to rate some of our product, send them samples, but everything is so subjective and this would be a big ask...not really an option.

So, given that this place seems to be a little more relaxed than some other forums, I wonder if an annual get together(by state or similar), for sampling might be on the cards either at a venue or a property(or perhaps with prying eyes, this would be too risky?), who knows, every couple of years a central focal meeting place might be of consideration?, I know one place in outback nsw, that's on my bucket list... I know i would value the opinions of the much more experienced through tangible meetings and tangible tastings...
Any thoughts?
BF.
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby the Doctor » Fri Jun 12, 2015 1:56 pm

Bigfoot, when I started making spirits at about 24 years old, I was just like yourself. At first I compared my product to others made by enthusiasts like myself. But the big step for me was starting to make spirits in the traditional way, not using HBS cordials.... At that point I started to hold myself to a higher standard. I started to compare my spirits to the popular commercial spirits i was familiar with. By the age of 32 I had a whiskey which was accepted as a commercial whiskey by some of my whiskey drinking mates in blind tasting .... I now taste the very best there is to try and improve my products...Our Gin just won silver in San Francisco, which was an important step on the continuing path.

So what I recommend is that you gradually set your bar higher as you reach your distilling goals...so at first try and best your mates who distil, then try and best a low end commercial product...then once you have the craft of making that spirit in the bag...move on to trying to better the best there is in the catagory. It has been a lifelong journey for me, but a very rewarding one.
Cheers
Doc
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:42 pm

I'd second that lifelong but rewarding part, but it sounds like you're seeing (or tasting, rather) the faults in commercial spirits, and that's a pretty good indication that you've got pretty fair quality already. Have faith that you can match or better the great spirits of the world. After all,you don't have to make a profit. I don't know that I'm getting any better, but I seem to be getting luckier lately.

As for getting together with other stillers to taste, you already know we're a bashful group, but sooner or later you'll develop a mutual trust with another forum member, and then you can use PM to swap goodies by mail, or set up a meeting.

I've probably been more visible because of the book, but I've had the great luck to meet or swap with perhaps 15 other stillers, and the experiences have been great. Stick with it, build some confidences, and you'll find people to share tastes with.
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller http://www.kelleybarts.com/zymurgy-bob-books/making-fine-spirits/

You can make whisky in a reflux still, you can make vodka in a potstill,
and you can eat chicken noodle soup with a crescent wrench. But..
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby bigfoot » Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:48 pm

Thanks Doc - I still very much have my L plates on, and i started much, much later than 24 (unfortunately) - but I can definitely relate. I am reading a lot, must have watched every history lesson on whisky on youtube(inc your excellent efforts!) and im learning a lot from the forums. I too wish to move away from the cordials - when I use the mixers, I 'feel' that the product is no longer mine...if you can understand what I mean.
Congrats on your Gin - that too me, is simply amazing. I mean you are taking on such a huge, historical and widespread competition...its hard to fathom out of how man gin products...well done.
Thanks Bob, I'm hearing you, it's early on for me, but... Im an avid motorcyclist. accredited rider trainer. The thing I cherish about motorcycle riding is that you never, ever stop learning and I definitely feel this hobby starting to traverse a similar path( as Doc mentioned above, but def prudent at my level). Where can I order a copy of your book? I'm about to graduate to a new pot and a separate boka set up, so there is no doubt much to be absorbed from reading others opinions, trials and tribulations. I could almost envision a piss take book to come out one day about the learnings one has to endure on the path to success...I bet there are a lot of funny/horror stories out there.
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby JayD » Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:50 pm

With time you will form a camaraderie with other forums members, you have met me and I'm more than willing to meet and greet others in the spirit of brotherhood of distilling in Tasmania, Melbourne members will always be welcome to a get together however they have the tyranny of Bass Strait to contend with...with a will theres a way, all communication is done via the pm system for get togethers sample tasting nights, blind tastings with a little winners plaque with your forum nickname engraved on, on an annual basis...the plaque goes to the next winner for the period between tastes tests with smaller plaque for the winner of the testing to keep.

Making better spirits will come with time and practice and with a little guidance you might be surprised on the quality you might produce, Hobby distilling is a real passion of mine and I feel we can all learn from each other, matter of fact I learn something every time I talk to another amateur or professional everybody has a little bit of information in their knowledge not even they realise. Tasmanian Amateur Spirits Society (TASS) is a name I put forward to the Tasmanian members that might want to meet and greet at chosen secret locations around Tasmania. I for one look forward to meeting others with the same passion as me and mine. :handgestures-thumbupright:
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby the Doctor » Fri Jun 12, 2015 5:55 pm

Bigfoot flick me a PM and I will give you my phone number to arrange a product taste and critique. I might even send you down some samples if ya plays ya cards right.
I think you are displaying the wisdom that leads to great distilling, as Bob said you will make products better than the commercial products one day.
Cheers
Doc
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby bigfoot » Fri Jun 12, 2015 6:06 pm

JayD wrote:Tasmanian Amateur Spirits Society (TASS) is a name I put forward to the Tasmanian members that might want to meet and greet at chosen secret locations around Tasmania. I for one look forward to meeting others with the same passion as me and mine. :handgestures-thumbupright:


Yes JayD - absoooooolutely!!!!! :handgestures-thumbupright: :handgestures-thumbupright: :handgestures-thumbupright:

Thanks Doc - will do. Hmmm...cards...tastings....secret locations, think I'm going to like this place. 8-)

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Re: What is a good product?

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Sat Jun 13, 2015 12:55 am

bigfoot wrote:Where can I order a copy of your book?

The link in my signature takes you to the book's page in my web site. An yes, we ship anywhere.
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller http://www.kelleybarts.com/zymurgy-bob-books/making-fine-spirits/

You can make whisky in a reflux still, you can make vodka in a potstill,
and you can eat chicken noodle soup with a crescent wrench. But..
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby bigfoot » Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:32 am

Thanks Bob - geez I'm a tool.i saw that link after I posted and thought...i wonder. In my defence I'm generally on this tiny little iPhone and after a couple of juniper berry infused neutrals, it's even harder to see :oops: book ordered.
Cheers BF
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby bigfoot » Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:46 am

That is probably the most expensive book I've ever purchased - with exchange rate, int credit fees, post from us, it ended up being well more than double the cover price...hope it's a good read ;-)
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Sun Jun 14, 2015 3:27 am

Bigfoot, I'm truly sorry that you had all those additional expenses purchasing the book, and I hope it helps you with your stilling. The book, as I hope you understood from the linked page, pertains mostly to potstilling, from beginner level to advanced aging techniques.
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller http://www.kelleybarts.com/zymurgy-bob-books/making-fine-spirits/

You can make whisky in a reflux still, you can make vodka in a potstill,
and you can eat chicken noodle soup with a crescent wrench. But..
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby bigfoot » Sun Jun 14, 2015 3:37 am

ZB, no need to apologise, it's my choice. It's part of the cost of living in the part of the world that I enjoy. If I learn one tip from the book that improves my product, meaning I won't waste a year of trials of washes/runs/ageing/new recipe , then it will have paid for itself many times over.
I've never forgotten a line in a movie that I once enjoyed, "some people believe that we don't choose books, but it's the books that choose us", by way of the paths they take to come into our lives.
Looking forward to receiving and digesting the script.
BF
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby Tassie Tiger » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:06 am

Hi all, after reading this post I did the same as you Bigfoot & ordered Zymurgy Bobs book.
Same here JayD count me in for any secret mens business plans in future.
Most guys I know that stil are Refluxers that claim to know all there is about potting but don't own one & seeing mine running is the closest they have ever come to one apart from the one on display at Lark Distillery.
So it would be good to catch up with like minded guys for a chat & If I must maybe do some tasting too !
Have to hit the road for some pick ups & delivery's before it rains this morning so I'll sign off for now.
CHEERS TT
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby coffe addict » Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:42 am

Tastings is great idea though I dare say it's a much better deal for the beginners lol

It's good to see some dedicated pot stillers. I'm quite fond of the romantic idea of a potstill. So far have been making do with a modular boka. While cutting my teeth and absorbing everything all the experienced are sharing. Which is great of you all.
already my palate and head is much happier.

I'm going to be upgrading my still in the coming months with the aim of cutting run times down and being able to carry over maximum amount of flavour. Ardeg laphroig are an idea of styles of scotch and for rum Ron zacappa 23. I still have so much room for improvement :laughing-rolling:
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby bigfoot » Fri Aug 14, 2015 9:53 am

I've seen a few posts lately referring to crap run times with a boka and it is confusing me.
I have a hand built 2 inch unit from JayD and this thing is kicking arse compared to what I have been using previously.
I can pull a pretty easy 1.75-2.0 litres per hour at a temp corrected 94% or better. Most if my runs are over in 3 hours - mind you I heat up with 4800 watts and then run with 2400 at present - my controller is now wired awaiting electrical testing, but still - hearing about 10+ hours for a run just makes me wonder wtf am I doing wrong lol.
Ps TT - watch this space. A little work going on behind the scenes re a possible catch up.
CheersBf.
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Re: What is a good product?

Postby coffe addict » Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:47 am

Hey bf I usually get about a litre or a touch over with my boss but I only have 2000w to throw at it. So with 40L @ 40% a 1.5hr warm up it does make for a long day. So in my limited experience you seem pretty spot on. To hit azeo you might have to slow to 1.5L which is what I was told my rig would do with 2400w of heat.

Guess I've got that bug that's going around, you know the bigger faster better one lol
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