How do I separate the heads (foreshot), hearts (middle cut) and tails (feint)?

Are you thinking about making your own liqueur, whisky or other moonshine? You have come to the right place. You may have already read a thing or two about the heads, hearts, and tails. You can read about how to distinguish the three below..


When distilling, you should separate, or cut, the heads, hearts, and tails. The head of the distillate is the first portion of the run. You can recognise it by its smell. It has an unpleasant smell like nail polish or methylated spirits. You throw away the heads or you can keep it to use as a fire starter for your BBQ. This is approximately 2% of the first distillation (base spirit) from the initial mash. The distillate from the first distillation is also called base spirit or low wine. Another method to determine when to cut the heads is by determining the alcohol percentage. This percentage is very high at the start of the distillation process, 80% and higher.


When the alcohol percentage falls below about 80%, it is time to cut the heart. The heart is the largest portion of the run. It smells fragrant and tastes good. The heart is the liquid you want.


When the alcohol content has dropped to 50 percent, we proceed to the final cut, or tails. The smell of the tails is difficult to describe, terms such as “plump”, “greasy” and “brownish” are sometimes used. When you rub it between your fingers, it feels oily. The tails should also be discarded.

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