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High West Silver OMG Pure Rye


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A new one from High West, I got to taste this unaged rye at a trade show recently and found it pretty spectacular. The OMG stands for "Old MononGahela" as in the Pennsylvania river that runs through the original American whiskey country. A bit silly name, but it's a fun story. The whiskey itself is 100% rye - 20% of it malted. And this supposedly contains all the head and tail, no cut, in honor of the good old ways (1800s).What I really liked in this was a very present yeastiness on the nose especially, almost like a champagne yeast. David said they use three types of yeast, and had played around with the right balance of them. It may be unusual, but I think it plays really well with the rye spice. Very interesting stuff, eager to buy a bottle and spend more time with it once it comes out, which is rare for an unaged whiskey for me.

(a few more notes on other things I tasted at the show at http://www.thirstysouth.com/2011/09/13/omg-rye/)

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Sounds interesting, I have had the Rendezvous and the Double Rye and loved both. Will definitely be looking forward to giving this one a try, thanks for the info.

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Ain't no way he left in all the heads and tails. I have seen it and it looks clear to me. I have never seen a historical basis for distillers not making cuts. Maybe I am wrong?

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Yeah, I thought the heads and tails contain the stuff that will hurt/kill you. One reason it's risky to try 'shine made by someone who doesn't know darn well what they're doing.

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I do not know what all are in heads or tails. I owuld think the heads at least would give a nasty headache and the tails would for sure give you a bad case of the runs.

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The heads and tails contain Acetone, Methenol and Ethyl Acetate. No I didn't pull that off the top of my head (other than than the Methenol) I looked it up.

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I am sure they know better than to leave that in. Heads smell just like finger nail polish remover. Which you could acutally use them for.

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Not enough bad stuff in the heads (mostly) or tails to do you any real harm if left in - you'd have to drink a few dozen bottles to get truly "poisoned" (beyond the already mentioned headaches & runs) - but they taste like $*#*!@ and nobody in their right mind would want them.

I believe many simply dump the heads, and re-distill the tails. As for heads, a few microdistillers I've spoken too use it for cleaning around the shop!

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Tom, something I always wondered: when distillers re-run the heads and tails, how does a clean distillate emerge from them if they are "undesirable" to begin with? I understand that counter-intuitively, it does; but why? Is it because they contain some good distillate that will vaporize at its normal temperature?

Gary

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As the Koval distiller says in the linked article related to heads and tails:

http://www.koval-distillery.com/newsletter/past-newsletters/143-september-newsletter

"We have a different approach to distilling grain and making whiskey. While a lot of people consider the end part of the distillate - also known as tails - as a flavor enhancer, we see them for what they are - unwanted fusel oils that alter the naturally unique flavors of your spirits. For example, rye has a nice peppery aroma to it while millet has some hints of candied fruit. If your separations of heads (acetaldehyde), hearts (drinkable ethanol), and tails (fusel oils) are not exact, it's hard to get these flavors across.

This is something that is very important for our entire aging and whiskey philosophy. We distill a clean product that is drinkable once it comes of the still. (Why we released the white whiskeys). We see the aging process as something that adds different layers of flavor to our whiskeys. If you put a good product into the barrel, you will get a good product out - no matter when you take it out."

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  • 2 weeks later...

no problem with redistillation of heads and tails. That's essentially what a distillation tower does. the big boys often use a taller steel tower with "plates" which effectively causes many mini-distillations to occur as the vapor rises. It's the same technology used in oil refineries.

a simple copper pot distillation is sloppy and ya don't get a refined "snapshot" of alcohol coming through. The heads and tails both contain alcohol. Redistill and recover more alcohol, yet seperate lower volatiles (heads) and fusels/etc (tails).

however, does one really want tasteless alcohol? May as well drink 190 or vodka. Bourbon is known for having more "crud" in the distillate, that's what makes it interesting.

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I picked up an info sheet at Whisky Fest last night. There were two guys pouring, and I got the salesman:rolleyes: . He described the OMG as being distilled like a vodka, with heads and tails removed.

The High West Rocky Mt. 21-year was excellent, with a lot of great rye character. I also tried the Double Rye, which is a blend of 2-year and 18-year recipes. It was very spicy and not at all fruity (sweet). I really liked it.

Marna

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It seems to be an issue of concentration per drink.

When you ferment a beer, all the components that the yeasts create are all still in the beer when you drink it. Of course however, the concentrations are low. Ethanol concentration is low, methanol concentrations are low, etc... I've never heard of any beer makers try and filter out the lighter alcohols. (That would be interesting to try though)

This would suggest that while you probably wouldn't want to have too many light alcohols (like methanol) in your final distilled product, as long as they were mixed well after everything was distilled, you should be mostly ok. Will it taste good? Well, that is of course a big question. Years of distilling practice has suggested that you would probably be best off doing at least some heads and tails cut.

My guess as to where the "hurt/kill you" side of things came from is when people would drink the heads right off the still, which of course has a very high concentration of light alcohols. Or if the producer would bottle right off the still and not mix it all together.

If the "Old MononGahela" rye really did keep the heads and tails, I give props to David Perkins for at least trying it. It may suck, but it does make me want to try it.

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