Bothy Tales

Heads And Tails

Heads And Tails

No, not the game, but something we use that allows us to create a much in demand product, sanitiser.

Pre-Covid this was part of the distillation process that resulted in a waste product which was often used for cleaning the distillery as it can't be used for anything else, and at 80% alcohol indeed was poured away. Now mixed with hydrogen peroxide and glycerine to World Health Organisation standards, this waste product is now playing an essential part in our fight to stay protected against the Covid virus.

I'm often asked where the name heads and tails comes from. Well here goes…

There is actually Heads, Hearts and Tails, and these are terms used in distilling and are known as distiller “cuts”.

During distillation liquid is heated to a vapour and moves to a condenser where the vapour cools to go back to a liquid. The first compounds released in the still as it heats up the lower boiling point compounds are called “heads” and these include methanol and acetaldehyde. The overall smell of these is chemical and not pleasant! We aim to get rid of as much of these as possible so the distiller “cuts” these out.

The distiller then decides on the quality they want of the spirit and keeps these, called the “hearts”, and include the flavour and aroma that we want to keep in our spirit which is the middle of the distillation.

Then the end of the distillation means that the distiller makes another “cut” when the aromas and the flavours change and start to become bitter or more chemical. This is known as the “tails”. This is where the distillers taste is key to control the flavour.

The heads and tails are a waste part of the distillation process which can be repurposed and something we hadn’t used till now. We take this to 80% alcohol to create a sanitiser which is available in 150ml and 35cl bottles or alternatively we can fill your own containers if needed.