A must read category of topics to read by all members prior to posting questions already answered


Postby Heffers » Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:07 pm

ABV : Alcohol By Volume, generally used when bottling.

ACTIVATED CARBON: A micro porous substrate used to filter impurities out of alcohol. Commonly used where fermenting with turbo yeast, due to the high proportion of impurities generated.

ABW : Alcohol by Weight, provided when reading off a spirit hydrometer. To convert between ABV and ABW, use the following formulae (careful of brackets):

ADJUNCTS: Unmalted grains that are provided as additional starch sources when malting, but do not provide any amylase enzymes. Generally used to supplement malted barley or malted wheat, which provide the amylases.

AEROBIC/ANAEROBIC: With or without the presence of oxygen

AG: All Grain. A method of making a wash/ferment where the only fermentable sugar is provided by breaking down starch in grains (referred to as “Mashing”)

AGING: Aging is the processing of letting your spirit sit allowing it to mellow.

AIRING: Airing is allowing your distilled spirit to sit in open jars or jars covered lightly with filters allowing nasties to evaporate off. Airing is best done before making your final cuts and blending.

ALCOMETER: A type of hydrometer used to calculate the strength of ethanol in a spirit, also called Alcoholmeter or Spirit Hydrometer. See “Hydrometer” for more detail.

ALCOHOL: Generally used in distilling to refer to ethanol (also called ethyl alcohol). Technically alcohol is defined as a hydrocarbon chain with a hydroxyl group (includes methanol, butanol, propenol etc.).

ALEMBIC: Another name for a pot still, generally used when referring to brandy distillation

ALKALI: Solution with a high pH (>7), opposite to an acid

AMINO ACIDS: One of the nutrients required for yeast growth, amino acids are used to make up proteins.

AMYLASE: An enzyme added during a mash, which breaks down starch into fermentable sugars. Refers to both Alpha amylase (which, simply put, cuts large starch molecules into smaller molecules) and Beta Amylase (which cuts the smaller molecules into fermentable sugars).

AZEOTROPE: a mixture of two or more liquids in such a way that its components cannot be altered by distillation at a given pressure. At atmospheric pressure, ethanol and water form an azeotrope at 95.57%(by weight), higher percentages of ethanol can be obtained through vacuum distillation, adding a material separation agent or through molecular sieving.

BACKSET: Term used to refer to the liquid and solids remaining in the boiler after distillation is complete, when it is being reused in the next wash i.e. backset is stillage that is being reused. Backset is referred to as “Dunder” for rum washes.

BARREL: Oak cask with a capacity of 164litres (36 gallons)

BATCH STILL: A still which is designed to have all wash charged at the start of the run, and runs until the alcohol in the wash is depleted, after which the still needs to be, emptied of stillage, refilled with fresh wash and started again. Unlike a “Continuous”.

BETA GLUCAN: Carbohydrate found in the cell wall of grains, can present problems in mashing (makes the mash gummy) if not properly broken down

BETA GLUCANASE: Enzyme generated during grain germination that breaks down beta glucan.

BLENDED SCOTCH: Whisky made from a blend of malt whisky(s) and grain whisky(s)

BLENDING: The process of mixing together different sections of cuts to produce a taste to suit your own palate. Ie: adding portions of tails and/or heads to your hearts; more commonly done in whiskies and rums.

BOKA: Bokakob: A LM style reflux still using slanted plates.

BOTANICALS: Fruits and herbs used for flavouring gin, including juniper berries as a main component. These can be used either: by soaking the botanicals in neutral and redistilling, OR by placing the botanicals in the vapour stream of the still so that flavours are extracted.

BOURBON: Whiskey distilled in the U.S.A, made from at least 51% corn (maize), commonly also includes wheat, rye and/or malted barley.

BROWN SPIRITS: Distilled alcoholic beverages that have been matured with oak and have taken on its colour, typically used for whisky, brandy and rum.

BUBBLE CAPS: An upside down cap used in a column still to create a contact point between rising and descending vapours and liquids.

BUBBLER: Australian slang for a hobby scale plated column reflux still, a smaller, scaled down version of a traditional commercial style still. Also called a “Flute” (American term). There are 3 commonly used plate types:
 Perforated or sieve plates: vapour passes up through small holes
 Bubble cap plates: vapour passes up through holes that have caps above to direct vapour sideways; or
 Valve plates: vapour passes up through holes that have liftable caps that direct the vapour down and sideways

BUTT: Oak cask with a capacity of 500 litres

BWKO: Mac's Bourbon Whiskey Knock off. A simple sugarhead 'Bourbon' whiskey mash.

CAP: A foam that forms on the top of a fermenting wash. Also called a Krauesen.

CARBOHYDRATE: Hydrocarbon chains of varying lengths, includes simple fermentable sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose), simple unfermentable sugars (maltose), as well as longer chains such as starches.

CASK: General term used for oak container used to hold and provide flavour in brown spirits.

CHARGING To Add low wines to the boiler or to add dunder/backset etc to a thumper.

CHARRING: Burning the surface of oak (staves or inside of casks), by setting on fire, used to develop flavour to be imparted to spirit. See also “Toasting”

CC (CONDENSER CONTROLLED STILL) : A still consisting of a column with a lyne arm at or very near to the top that is sloped upwards at around 10 degrees. A condenser is housed inside the lyne arm and can be slid towards or away from the column. An offtake tube is place around half way along the lyne arm facing directly downwards. As the vapour makes it way up the column and along the lyne arm, the condenser "knocks down" the vapour turning it in to liquid. Depending on where the condenser is in the lyne arm, the liquid can either flow into the offtake tube or be returned to the column (commonly known as reflux). Heffers

CFW: Cornflakes Whiskey; a simple, cheap wash made from ingredients that can be found at your local supermarket.

CM: Cooling Management Reflux still.

CONDENSER: A device used on a still to cool hot vapours therefore condensing them into liquid.

CONGENERS: Chemicals contained in alcohol that give a distinctive taste and character to the spirit, sometimes good sometimes bad depending on quantity and type.

CONTINUOUS STILL: Still which is designed to have fresh feed constantly fed, and to have product constantly taken off. Unlike a “Batch Still”

CONVERSION: The enzymatic transformation of starches into various fermentable and unfermentable sugars that occurs during the mashing process. SBB

CUTS: The different collections of varying distillate (taken by the distiller) during a distilling run. The "cuts" have differing names depending on the time that they are taken during the run and the content of the "cut". The "cuts" names in the order that they are collected are: Foreshots, Heads, Hearts, and Tails. See these terms for details. More details are provided in this link provided by SBB:

DAP: Diammonium Phosphate. An ingredient used as a yeast nutrient (source of nitrogen and phosphorous.

DEXTROSE: A simple form of sugar, also called Glucose.

DIASTATIC POWER: Measurement of how active amylases are in a malted barley (used for whisky or beer), tells the brewer what proportion of adjuncts they can get away with while still converting sufficient starch.

DME: Dry Malt Extract.

DRY: A finished ferment with no fermentable sugars left in the wash.

DWWG: Death Wish Wheat Germ. A tried and proven wash commonly used for producing neutral also is used through a pot still to produce a light scotch flavoured spirit.

DEPHLEGMATOR: A device placed in the path of vapour inside a column to induce partial reflux, also called a Reflux Condenser. Common designs are either copper coils or or shotgun style. Heffers

DE-TUNING / DE-TUNED: The act / result of removing most or all of the packing from a reflux column. This is done in an effort to reduce the amount of reflux in a column to produce either a more flavourful spirit or to have the column behave more like a pot still. Heffers

DISTILLATION: A method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatilities of components in a boiling liquid mixture. Distillation is a unit operation, or a physical separation process, and not a chemical reaction.
Distillation of fermented solutions has been used since ancient times to produce distilled beverages with a higher alcohol content. kimbo

DOUBLE DISTILLING: A process of distilling alcohol twice. Can be done for a number of reason eg: to save time allowing for 1 spirit run, Also to increase the ABV of the distillate in a potstill.

DOWNCOMER: A tube used to transport liquid down from one plate to the plate below in a bubble column. Requires a “liquid lock” at the bottom to prevent vapour passing upward.

DUNDER: The stillage from a rum distillation, commonly poured back into a new wash to add flavour characteristics. Can also be stored and allowed to support the growth of a mixture of bacteria, providing a richer flavour to the rum.

ENTRAINMENT: The undesirable upward transportation of liquid droplets by vapour in a plated reflux column. This is caused where vapour travells too quickly up the column.

ENZYMES: A biological catalyst that allows a chemical reaction to take place. For example: Amylases are an example of enzymes, which convert starches to fermentable sugars in grain washes.

EPSOM SALT: Also known as Magnesium, a yeast nutrient for cell mass growth.

ESTERS: A chemical compound produced by the yeast that produces fruity flavours and aromas.

ETHANOL: The technical name for drinking alcohol, also called ethyl alcohol.

FG Final Gravity is the specific gravity of a wash after fermentation is complete.

FORESHOTS: A small amount of low boiling distillate, which is the first to be collected during a run. Foreshots contain high levels of acetone, methanol, and aldehyde volatiles. Catch and discard. SBB

FEINTS: A collection of the disused portion of cuts. Usually heads and tails that can be recycled back into subsequent runs.

FERMENTATION: The conversion of sugar to alcohol by yeast.

FG =finished gravity - the specific gravity of the wash measured after fermentation has completed
A wash will start out with a higher gravity than that of water due to the sugar present, which is denser than water. The final gravity reading will be lower than the starting gravity reading, and may be even lower than that of water, because the yeast will have converted the sugars into ethanol, which is less dense than water. The alcohol content of the wash can be calculated if you know both the starting and finishing gravity readings. QLD.Andy, busman

FLOCCULATION: The formation of clumps or masses. Usually referring to yeast in later stages of fermentation. SBB

FLUTE: See “Bubbler”

FRACTIONAL STILL: A vertical column still using plates, caps and/or packing which separates distillate into different volatilities. Term is generally used where there is more than one outlet from the still (e.g. taking out the product at the top plate and fusel oils at a lower plate).

FSD: The Five star Distilling Company. Supplier of fine distilling equipment and associated products from the hobby level to commercial operations.

FSW: Fine Scotch whisky recipe that can be found in the Tried and Proven section

FUSEL OIL: A mixture of nasty smelling alcohols commonly found in tails portion of spirits. These alcohols have a higher molecular weight than ethanol (including amyl alcohol, butanol, propenol etc.). In small proportions are responsible for the flavour of wash-flavoured spirits.

GERMINATION: Allowing a grain to develop in order to produce required enzymes for mashing.

GLUCOSE: A simple fermentable sugar.

GNS: Grain Neutral Spirit, a neutral spirit made from a grain based wash.

GRAIN BILL: The list of grains and their amounts used for a particular recipe. SBB

GRAVITY: See “Specific Gravity”

GREEN MALT: Wet, germinated grain, will next be dried in a kiln to produce malt

GRIST: Germinated, kilned and crushed malt grains, will next be mashed to make a wort.

HEADS: Spirits from the beginning of the run that contain a high percentage of low boiling alcohols such as methanol, acetone and aldehydes. SBB

HEARTS: The section of a distillation run which is taken as the product, contains mostly ethanol, with a small amount of congeners.

HETP: Height Equivalent of a Theoretical Plate. A term used for a packed column, meaning that the height of packing that is equivalent (in separation efficiency) to 1 plate section in a plated column.

HBS: Home Brew Shop

HERMS Heat Exchanged Recirculating Mash System

HOGSHEAD: Oak cask with a capacity of 246 litres (54 gallons)


HYDROMETER: An instrument used to determine the density (and therefore specific gravity) of a liquid. Used for 2 purposes in distillation:
1. By measuring the density (gravity) of a wash before and after fermentation, the amount of alcohol in the fermented wash can be determined. Wash hydrometers typically show specific gravity readings between 0.980 and 1.150.
2. By measuring the density (gravity) of a water/alcohol solution, the % alcohol can be determined. Spirit hydrometers (also called alcometer or alcoholmeter) typically show % alcohol between 0% and 100%. If the spirit hydrometer was labelled with gravity, 100% alcohol would read 0.789, and 0% ethanol would read 1.000.

INOCULATION: See “Pitching”

INVERTED SUGAR: Inverted or invert sugar is a mixture of glucose and fructose; it is obtained by splitting sucrose into these two components. We do this by mixing our sugar with citric acid (either bought as such, or from lemons). Boiling the mixture will speed up the process. Inverted sugar is easier for yeast to convert to alcohol.

IODOPHOR: A disinfectant/sanitiser containing iodine.

KILNING: Drying of germinated grain, will next be kilned

LEES: 2 definitions:
- Deposits of live and dead yeast or residual yeast and other particles that precipitate, or are carried by the action of "fining", to the bottom of a fermentation vessel. wynnum1
- The liquid remaining in the boiler after a spirit distillation (2nd run) is complete. Typically contains water, a small amount of ethanol (~0.1%). Similar to stillage, only from the spirit run rather than the wash run.

LEGIONELLA: Harmful bacteria that can grow in warm cooling water if maintained between 20-45°C and released in an aerosol spray.

LIEBIG: A type of product condenser consisting of an offtake tube from the column which is surrounded along part of its length with a cooling water jacket. Heffers

LM - LIQUID MANAGEMENT STILL: A still where all of the vapour in the column is refluxed and directed to a catchment area. By way of a needle valve, the user can adjust the amount of liquid that is collected through the offtake tube. Liquid that is not collected will overflow from the catchment area back into the column. A Slant Plate Bokakob still is a good example of a LM still. Heffers

LME: Liquid malt extract.

LOUCHE: Oils and impurity's suspended in the spirit making it go cloudy.

LOW WINES: The spirits collected from the first distillation. The low wines are then distilled again to do the spirit run. SBB

LYNE ARM: Used on a pot still it is the arm running from the still head to the condenser.

MAGNESIUM : Mg Magnesium salts are frequently included in various foods, fertilizers (magnesium is a component of chlorophyll), its also a yeast nutrient. Also known as Epsom Salts.

MALTING: The process used to prepare grains (commonly barley and wheat) into a form where fermentable sugars can be produced (by mashing). Malting grain breaks down the protein-starch matrix in grain, allowing the starch to be accessed by enzymes to convert it to fermentable sugars. Malting also produces the enzymes needed for this conversion. Malting involves 3 main steps: Germination, Kilning and Gristing.

MALT WHISKY Whisky made entirely from malted grains (generally barley wheat or rye) with no adjuncts or sugar added. Single malt whisky has only one type of grain and comes from a single distillery.

MASHING: The process of mixing gristed malt with water and raising the temperature in order to reach a temperature where several enzymes can operate to convert the starch in the grain to fermentable sugars. See “Malting” and “Amylase” for further detail.

MASH TUN: A pot used to preserve the heat when mashing grains. Commonly a double walled pot with a false bottom or an insulated container with a manifold at the base.

MATURATION: Storage of spirit (often, but not necessarily in the presence of oak) to allow desirable flavours to develop and unwanted components to be removed, involves complex reactions with oxygen and the oak.

METHANOL: Toxic alcohol also produced during fermentation, present in the highest concentration in the foreshots section of the run. Contrary to popular belief, poor distillation practice will not increase the methanol content of your spirit (unless you just drink foreshots), if you were to make no cuts and consume all condensed spirit (not recommended), you would be consuming the same proportion of methanol as is in a beer or wine. The reputation for methanol poisoning coming from bad spirits is due to deliberate addition of methanol in order to make spirits taste stronger (so they can be watered down). Also called “wood alcohol”.

MOLASSES By-product of sugar refining process, which is used to make rum. Different types of molasses are available, see the following thread for further detail

MUST: A fermentable wash made by using fruit.

NATURAL FERMENTATION: Fermentation where wild yeast on the raw ingredients is used, generally used for a unique flavour in fruit or rum washes.

NEUTRAL: An odourless tasteless spirit.

NMS: New Make Spirit, the spirit that is collected directly from the still ready to be consumed, flavoured or matured (after appropriate airing).

OAKING: A process of soaking alcohol on oak timber to produce desirable flavours using barrels sticks chips etc.

OG: Original Gravity

PACKING: The media that is used inside the column of a reflux still. Packing is used to increase the surface area on which vapour can condense which in turn aids the event of reflux. Heffers

PARROT :Also called a 'Parrot's Beak', is a device that collects distillate directly from your offtake tube into a small tower in which you can float an alcometer. As the distillate overflows from the tower it is channelled into the collection vessel. This device allows you to monitor the purity of the distillate as it comes out of the still. Heffers

PARTIAL GRAIN MASH: A technique involving using grains and sugar to produce a fermentable wash.

PEAT: Very old decomposed vegetative material that, given time and the right conditions, would turn into coal. Previously used as a heat source for kilning malt for whisky, peat imparts a smoky flavour to the malt. Not generally used for kilning any more (as it is thought to impart carcinogenic compounds), but still used to provide phenolic compounds to the malt which give a smoky flavour.

pH: is the measure of the acidity (pH<7) or alkalinity (pH>7) of a wash.

PID: A electronic component that receives a signal from an input and makes adjustments in relation to what the set point is. Example; A temp PID used to control an element, to maintain a certain pre-set temperature.

PIF: Pay it forward.

PITCHING: Adding the yeast to a wash. Also called “Inoculation”

PLATES: Horizontal trays that are placed in a column to enrich the reflux.

POT STILL: A simple style still commonly used for making of heavily flavoured alcohol such as whiskey and rum.

PRODUCT CONDENSER: A generic name for a device used to condense (through the exchange of heat) vapour to liquid for collection. The two most common types used are the liebig and shotgun condenser. Heffers

PROOF: The measure of the strength of the alcohol. One US (degree) proof equals one-half of one percent of alcohol. For example, 100 proof equals 50% alcohol by volume. The UK definition of proof differs slightly. SBB

PUKING When the wash foams up out of the boiler due to excessive heat and/or protein in the wash. This is more Prevalent in Molasses washes ( Brown foam/ distillate )

RACKING To remove the wash off the yeast bed ( Most commonly used in Beer brewing )


RC or REFLUX CONDENSER: The condenser on a reflux still or bubbler that introduces reflux. Generally a shotgun style condenser on a bubbler, and a coil on a VM or LM still. A CM still may use an external jacket on the column.

REFLUX: The condensation of vapour into liquid inside a column; the liquid of which is returned down the column to be "reboiled" into vapour once again. As the liquid travels down the column it exchanges heat with the up travelling vapour "boiling out" more volatile vapour, resulting in increasing ethanol purity as the vapour rises in the column. The purest vapour passes to the product condenser for collection as spirit. Heffers

RIMS Recirculating Infusion Mash System

RUM: is the base for the Royal Navy's grog. "The word "grog" is derived from the nickname of Admiral Edward Vernon, the English naval officer after whom George Washington's estate was named. The Admiral was known as "Old Grog" because he wore a shabby coat made out of grogram, a coarse fabric woven from silk and wool. He insisted that his men take a daily dose of rum and water as a precaution against scurvy. The diluted tipple eventually became known as "grog." SBB

OG: Original Gravity is the specific gravity of the wash (or wort, if you're making beer) before fermentation has started. By comparing original and final gravity of the wash, the alcohol can be estimated, provided that the wash isn’t too viscous (such as rum and fruit based washes). Also called starting gravity.

SHOTGUN: A type of condensing unit consisting of a number of smaller tubes (for vapour) running through a larger tube which is sealed at each end acts as a cooling water jacket. Shotguns can be used for dephlegmators or as a product condenser. Their benefits include massive condensing capacity for a short length. Their disadvantages are they are more dificult to make than a coil or liebig. Heffers

SPARGE: The process where water is run through grain to remove the fermentable liquid after starch conversion has been completed.

SPECIFIC GRAVITY: A measure of density (how heavy a set volume of liquid is), which is defined as the liquid’s density divided by a reference liquid (generally water). Hydrometers measure specific gravity, and use it to determine either sugar content (for a wort or wash) or alcohol content (for a spirit). Not to be confused with “Specific Weight”, this is the inverse of density (1/density).

SPIRIT RUN: The final run used to produce the end drinking product. Usually done slowly to produce the best possible quality spirit.

SSR: Solid State Relay, A solid-state relay is an electronic switching device that switches on or off when a small external voltage is applied across its control terminals. It serves the same function as an electromechanical relay, but has no moving parts.

STILLAGE: The liquid and solids remaining in the boiler after the distillation is complete. Typically contains water, a small amount of ethanol (~0.1%) as well as dead yeast, fusel oils and possibly solids remaining from the wash (fruit pieces, grains etc.).

STRIPPING RUN: A method of distilling as much alcohol from a given wash, in as quick a time as possible. This is usually achieved via the use of a pot still but can be done with a de-tuned reflux still. Reasons for stripping include collecting enough low wines to distill a second time for improved purity or collecting spirits that retain lots of flavour from the wash. Heffers

SUGAR HEAD: A wash made from crystallised sugar.

TAILS: Distillate from late in the distilling process containing a high percentage of fusel oil and little alcohol. SBB

THUMPER: A chamber or vessel in line of the column, which holds a level of distilate at a higher percentage than the wash.

TPW: Tomato Paste Wash. Also known as Birdwatchers as named after a forum user who put forward the idea of using tomato paste as a basic nutrient for yeast in simple a wash recipe designed to produce a good neutral spirit when run through a reflux still. grumpthehermit

TOASTING: Partially burning oak (staves or inside of casks), by raising their temperature without setting fire, used to develop flavour to be imparted to spirit. See also “Charring”.

UJSM: Uncle Jesse's Sour Mash. A corn based sour mash whiskey wash, so named because It was posted by user Uncle Jesse on HD

VM (Vapour Management Still): A reflux column still consisting of a tall packed column, a T-piece that the product output comes off, and a coil or shotgun condenser at the top. The output branch has a valve (usually a gate valve or a ball valve) in it followed by another condenser (either a liebig or another shotgun). A VM differs from an LM or CM column by splitting the vapour between the two condensers and using the valve setting to control the reflux ratio, rather than the takeoff amount (LM) or the flow/temperature of the coolant (CM). Busman

VOLATILITY A measure of how easily a liquid is converted to a vapour. For example, ethanol is more volatile than water, so will evaporate more easily (at lower temperatures).

WASH: Fermented alcoholic liquid (generally between 8-14%abv) ready for distillation. Also called beer or wine depending on the ingredients.

WHITE DOG: An unoaked brown spirit therefore being clear in colour, typically taken straight from a spirit run and watered down to 40% ABV.

WORT: Liquid containing fermentable sugars ready for fermentation. Generally only used where the liquid has been produced by mashing starch containing raw ingredients such as grains.

YEAST: An organism used to convert sugars to carbon dioxide and alcohol in a wash.
Last edited by rumdidlydum on Tue Sep 13, 2016 8:51 pm, edited 8 times in total.
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:52 pm
Location: Brisbane
equipment: 2.5" Pot Still for Stripping
2.5" Condensor Controlled - Neutral Producer
2.2kW 50L Keg


Postby MacStill » Mon Feb 11, 2013 2:00 pm

Big thanks to Lowndsey for his update to the GOT on 10/2/13 :handgestures-thumbupleft:

If you would like to make an addition to the Glossary of Terms please add it to this thread :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:40 pm
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