I recently attended a rum making class with the intention of taking what I had learned and applying it to my own process... unfortunately (or fortunately 😂) we were plied with so much rum that I can’t remember the measures.

I’m hoping someone can help fill in the gaps! The intention is to start with a base rum and create a spiced rum at the end.

We were using the alembic distillers and started with a 700ml base rum. We added our ingredients/flavours to the pot, along with the base rum.

As we heated it up, the process began and we started to fill up a small beaker with the head, I think this was 50ml, does that sound about right?

Once we poured off the head, we started filling another beaker with the heart (the part that we’re keeping). Again, not sure how much this should be? Once it hit that point we kept it and set it aside. The tail then continued into another beaker.

So the head and tail were discarded, the heart was then mixed with water to create a 700ml bottle.

I’d love it if anyone could help with how the measurements of the head and heart.

  • 1
    I'm curious, why are they distilling rum to make rum? Why not just spice rum and then filter/remove the spices after?
    – brewchez
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 11:28
  • 1
    @brewchez I'm not quite sure tbh, maybe the spices don't infuse as well when just mixing it in and filtering perhaps?
    – Rob
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 13:36

2 Answers 2


Different recipes / still charges will lead to different cuts, and so relying on fixed measurements is only useful for controlled, established recipes. Instead, you should learn to assess the spirit coming off the still using aroma and taste to determine which parts are desirable to keep. Use aroma first and if it smells bad, no need to taste.

One of the best ways of learning this is to collect your run in a series of small containers and then compare them once the run is done. This gives you plenty of time to assess each fraction and even test blends before committing to a final blend.


You may not be able to legally distill at home. Check local regulations before starting home distillation. Also, always do it in a well ventilated area as you can build up alcohol vapour and this can lead to an explosion (one of the main reason this is well regulated).

The amount of heads and tails discarded depends on a number of factors.

If you are using a shop bought spirit as your base spirit you should not need to discard anything, the distiller who produced the base spirit for retail will have done this for you. you also don't need to distill or reflux this, you can warm it with sugar/spice/herbs in a pan with a lid, keep it below 60C (140F) then let it cool, filter and bottle. No distillation needed.

If you are purchasing wholesale base spirit that has ony been distilled once, or twice with some roughness left, then you need to do some basic maths; I will have to pull down some reference books for exact details.

The strength of the base spirit and your target distillate strength will dictate at what temperatures you start and finish collecting your heart cut. If your base is a know quantity, as it will have been on your course, then they will have been abale to simplify the process to discard X ml, collect Y ml, the discard the rest. But to work this out for a different base spirit depends what you want in the finished product.

Hope that helps. Will try update with some proper figures when I pull out the distilling books.

  • 1
    Thanks for the comments. It's interesting that you're the second person to question why would it need to be distilled in the first place. Would distilling the ingredients compared to filtering have a big affect on the flavour? I'd be looking for between 37.5% and 40% abv ideally.
    – Rob
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 9:19
  • It may affect the flavour as some of the lighter and heavier aromatic and flavour compounds may end up in the heads and tails, that are then discarded. Also, if the base spirit has only been distilled once and still has a largerer than desirable long chain alcohol percentage, then tailing that can remove a lot of burning flavours, and give a cleaner smoother drink. I would suggest starting with a rum you like and think would go well with your choosen spice mix and just try it in a pan but don't let it get muchover 60C(140F) as then you will start driving off the alcohol.
    – Mr_road
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 9:33
  • Wholesale (potable) base spirit is generally just as pure as the retail stuff (since its generally the same stuff, sans flavourings in the case of gins). Additionally cuts may still be needed due to different compounds coming off the flavourings at different temperatures in the redistillation.
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 16, 2021 at 2:57

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