If you’ve been a fan of Copperworks American Single Malt Whiskey for some time, you may have noticed the term “Queen’s Run” used to describe a handful of our releases. This is a term we’ve borrowed from the rum industry to describe a distillation run entirely from the heads and tails of prior distillations.
Now you may be asking, “what are heads and tails?” Welcome to the world of distilling, where we’ve got a special term for almost everything! Each distillation run is composed of four parts: foreshots, heads, hearts, and tails.
1. Foreshots: The very first vapors to boil off during distillation. We always remove and discard the foreshots as they contain undesirable and potentially dangerous chemicals like acetone.
2. Heads: Heads are made of compounds released in the still as it heats up, including methanol, acetaldehyde, and esters. These compounds often have solvent-like aromas and are dangerous to consume in high concentrations (don’t worry, we won’t let that happen). During this part of the run, the distiller will make a “cut” and transfer the heads into a designated container for safekeeping.
3. Hearts: The good stuff! Hearts will ultimately become the finished product, as this distillate contains the ethanol we want along with desirable flavors and aromas. The distiller will make another “cut” to transfer the hearts into a separate container, then the hearts will be proofed down and entered into casks to become whiskey.
4. Tails: The distillate at the end of the run. Eventually, the hearts will begin to show undesirable flavors and aromas, plus lower amounts of alcohol. At this point, the distiller will make a final “cut” to transfer the remainder of the run into the same container as the heads.
To recap, we collect and hold back the heads and tails of each distillation run, while the hearts move on to become whiskey. Even our regular whiskey distillation process involves redistilling the heads and tails (thanks to the significant amount of ethyl alcohol they contain). However, it’s not every day – or distillation – that we have enough heads and tails for a full re-distillation. That makes Queen’s Runs all the more special!