Does distilling mead produce methanol/how much comes off in the first run? So much conflicting info!

18l (ish) of mead started through a pot still & thumper keg until 1.8l (ish) distillate collected, then stopped the still.

Distillate collected in 5 batches: 250ml then 400ml X 4

Plans for making a blend with some of the remains in the still, and some of the collected batches.

Batches all look/smell/taste similar, safe to assume discarding the 250ml leaves the remaining 1.6l distillate usable?

  • 1
    If you have more details could you please provide them eg - what was the abv of the mead you were distilling? What temperatures did you collect the different distilates at? Usually in distillation you would discard the heads, and tail and keep the heart.
    – Mr_road
    Nov 7, 2020 at 20:21
  • Started collecting after about 90°C, and I guess because the thumper takes time to get up to heat too? Cause nothing came out til then.
    – Mat
    Nov 10, 2020 at 7:13
  • The temperature became tricky/irrelevant to monitor as I couldn't get accurate read out of the thumper temperature, and the pot still needed keeping at about 110°C to drive anything near a steady trickle coming out.
    – Mat
    Nov 10, 2020 at 7:16
  • Abv I wouldn't know, it was a home fermented mead from garden bees' honey..... aimed to keep just the hearts, but couldn't determine what temperature different fractions came off at. So thinking now is safety first, and to blend the last few parts only - unless that's a bad idea health-wise?
    – Mat
    Nov 10, 2020 at 7:20
  • Just to remind everyone that there is a non-trivial health risk distilling without knowing how. You don't really want to be guessing "is this safe". Be cautious :)
    – Mr. Boy
    Mar 7, 2022 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


Most (all?) fermentations have trace amounts of methanol, with the tendency of fruit-based fermentations to have more.

However the amount is so low, it is insignificant - unless your concentrate it. One method of concentration is via heat distillation.

Note: It's not that you're making more methanol by distillation, the process just concentrates the existing alcohols by removing water from the final product. Imagine boiling the water off salt water. A teaspoon of salt in a bucket of water is still potable. But concentrate that salt by boiling away the water, and eventually it becomes nasty.

This PDF manual for a commercially available "Pot" still, on page 8 suggests that the first 200ml for "foreshots" should be discarded. Based on the boiler equipment pictured in the manual, this amount seems to be based on a 25 litre batch size of a ~20% AbV wash. However, I was unable to find a listed official batch size.


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