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Potstill with packing AND induced reflux - single run?

Potstill with packing AND induced reflux - single run?

Postby rumbo » Mon May 11, 2015 2:37 pm

Hi everyone,
Following on from the recent thread on packed postills....

I have a 2" pot still with a fairly long column (about 3 feet). I have the column packed with 100% copper scrubbers almost to the top. I have 3 turns of 1/4 copper pipe wrapped around the outside at the height of the top scrubber. I can adjust the water flow through the 1/4" pipe with a pond pump and voltage regulator. The still is modular so it is only 2 mins work to remove the scrubbers and use as a regular pot still.

P1030600vsmall.jpg


I have been primarily using my pot still for rum. The reasons that I made these I haven't used it yet but the idea was to also use it for sugar washes to get a bit more purity.

Reflux is sometimes described as creating many micro distillations were the vapour is condensed and then vapourised again.

So my question is, should I be able to use it for single (slow) runs to create rum without having to strip it first. To me, depending on how the still is run, it should be capable of getting a relatively pure product with flavour without the need to strip first, which would save a lot of time and i'm wondering if anyone is doing this and acheiving a high quality product. I have heard of people doing light flavoured rums by taking it off at about around 94% and claim to still get a fair amount of flavour across - but even they describe doing this with low wines and I wonder why go to the effort of stripping?

I'm not impatient, just with a newborn I have trouble getting large amounts of time in the garage to run the still. Anything that makes it more time efficient without having a negative impact of the final product would be great.
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Re: Potstill with packing AND induced reflux - single run?

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Mon May 11, 2015 3:53 pm

I'm guessing others might tell you otherwise, but I can always get clean, smooth product with no stripping run and making cuts on that first spirit run, and that gives me great flavor, too. On the downside, all that feints that didn't make the cuts is now useless to you (if you're only doing first-run spirit runs). Now I strip with a small foreshots discard, and add all those low wines to the next stillful of wash. Repeat as necessary, and then make the last run a spirit run.

You'll get great flavor, lot of product to make pretty sensitive cuts, and the feints from that spirit run can be used to start the whole process all over again.
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller http://www.kelleybarts.com/zymurgy-bob-books/making-fine-spirits/

You can make whisky in a reflux still, you can make vodka in a potstill,
and you can eat chicken noodle soup with a crescent wrench. But..
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Re: Potstill with packing AND induced reflux - single run?

Postby rumbo » Wed May 13, 2015 3:27 pm

Thanks for the reply. It is reassuring that this can be done. I will give it a go.

One thing that I don't understand though :-? :-? :
On the downside, all that feints that didn't make the cuts is now useless to you (if you're only doing first-run spirit runs).


What do you mean that the feints are now useless to you? Do you mean that because they are separated through a first spirit run that they wouldn't have the flavour that they would have had if stripped (pushing the still hard)?

I was thinking that I could increase the speed after I was into the tails and run it down to 20% or whatever and then use this with whatever other tails I don't blend and add back to next stripping run just like I would do if I had stripped first.

This is quite new to me so maybe I am missing something..
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Re: Potstill with packing AND induced reflux - single run?

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Thu May 14, 2015 12:48 am

Sorry I wasn't really clear on that. What I meant was, if every still run you do is a spirit run with a still full of fresh wash (as in with no feints added back), then those feints will just accumulate. On the other hand, if every stripping run is done with the low wines from the previous stripping run added to the wash (and, yes, stripping down to 20% or less output ABV, and foreshots removed), your final spirit run will contain almost all of the ethanol and flavors from from all the stripping runs, and the additional flavor of whatever amount of fresh wash it takes to fill the still for that last spirit run.

That way you will not have an increasing amount of feints, only those feints from the very last spirit run, which you will add back the the first stripping run of the next series.

Does that make sense?
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller http://www.kelleybarts.com/zymurgy-bob-books/making-fine-spirits/

You can make whisky in a reflux still, you can make vodka in a potstill,
and you can eat chicken noodle soup with a crescent wrench. But..
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Re: Potstill with packing AND induced reflux - single run?

Postby rumbo » Thu May 14, 2015 3:01 pm

I kinda understand, but if I add the feints from my first single spirit run in with the wash for my next one, won't I still be getting an accumulation of the flavours/rum oils over time in the same sort of way?

I would imagine it might take a few batches before the flavour comes through though. It is hard to get your head around.

It's like people using fresh wash or dunder added to their low wines during a spirit run, to me it is really heading back more towards a single run and wonder if the time and effort of all of that stripping is worthwhile. For me it is all theoretical though in that I am yet to make a really good quality rum. The proof is in the pudding I guess.
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Re: Potstill with packing AND induced reflux - single run?

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Fri May 15, 2015 2:36 am

rumbo wrote:I kinda understand, but if I add the feints from my first single spirit run in with the wash for my next one, won't I still be getting an accumulation of the flavours/rum oils over time in the same sort of way?

Yes, it will be similar to what I'm doing, although I'm not sure exactly what the flavor differences will be.
rumbo wrote:I would imagine it might take a few batches before the flavour comes through though. It is hard to get your head around.
It's like people using fresh wash or dunder added to their low wines during a spirit run, to me it is really heading back more towards a single run and wonder if the time and effort of all of that stripping is worthwhile. For me it is all theoretical though in that I am yet to make a really good quality rum. The proof is in the pudding I guess.

Here's my reasoning for doing it my way. By the time I get to run #4 in a series, the spirit run after 3 stripping runs, I have almost all the ethanol and flavorings from 4 runs in the boiler, and an ethanol concentration around close to the "ideal" (for flavor) 27%, and in addition I have a lot of fresh wash for those flavors that seem to come best from fresh wash. It makes for a super stripping run, long and sensitive to separation in smaller vessels, and teh flavor has been so far the best I've ever done.

I accept the possibility that your way might actually be better, but I don't know that for sure. What I do know is that I'm very happy now.
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller http://www.kelleybarts.com/zymurgy-bob-books/making-fine-spirits/

You can make whisky in a reflux still, you can make vodka in a potstill,
and you can eat chicken noodle soup with a crescent wrench. But..
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Re: Potstill with packing AND induced reflux - single run?

Postby rumbo » Fri May 15, 2015 5:09 pm

Thanks for the detailed explanation. I'll try both ways and compare.

Cheers.
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Re: Potstill with packing AND induced reflux - single run?

Postby rumbo » Sun May 17, 2015 9:59 pm

Well it seems that my still is only capable of getting such a high ABV on low wines. I never thought about this before. Yesterday I ran some Birdwatcher's low wines and with packed column and external reflux coil running I was getting 92%. Today I did the saem with a fresh molasses wash that was 9% ABV and even running as slow as possible I was only pulling it off at 77%.
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