Tails is the name given to the third fraction of the distillate running off the still, and are usually discarded.

Many refer to tails as being synonymous with ‘Feints’, and while we agree that in principle there is little to separate the two terms we deliberately use both in different ways. Feints is a term almost always used by Whisky or Rum makers, while Gin producers use the term Tails. 

In the context of Whisky - Feints is the name given to the third fraction of the distillate received from the second distillation in the pot still process. Feints contain many compounds with high boiling points of over 115°C, and these often have undesirable flavours such as Acetic Acid, which has a distinct pungent vinegar aroma. This is not the case for Gin. It’s is simply undesired to the distiller in their recipe due to either flavour or ABV, but not necessarily unpleasant. 

For gin makers ‘tails’ are seldom recycled into subsequent batches, while in Whisky, Rum and Brandy ‘feints’ are often returned the Spirit Still when it is recharged with the next batch of Low Wines. 

It may be splitting hairs, but we differentiate the two to help those trying to understand the process of each category, which is why you will find both being used on this site depending on the spirit.