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Birster

Choosing the right number of plates

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Hi,

 

Can you please let me know what are the crieterias involved when determining the number of plates to have in a column still? I know that if you want to do vodka or neutral you need 20+ plates, but this is not our case. So, let's say between 4, 6 or 8 plates, why would we choose one over the other? What are the pros and cons of the 3 configurations? This would be mainly for whiskey from mixed grain bill (corn, wheat, rye, barley, etc..)

 

Thank you in advance,

 

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3 hours ago, Birster said:

Hi,

 

Can you please let me know what are the crieterias involved when determining the number of plates to have in a column still? I know that if you want to do vodka or neutral you need 20+ plates, but this is not our case. So, let's say between 4, 6 or 8 plates, why would we choose one over the other? What are the pros and cons of the 3 configurations? This would be mainly for whiskey from mixed grain bill (corn, wheat, rye, barley, etc..)

 

Thank you in advance,

 

More plates, better separation in the cut, higher proof. For whiskey, depending on still design, too many plates might push you over the 160 proof limit with a reasonable cut. To some degree, more flavor in the distillate with less plates (but that is a complicated effect). For our still, even 4 plates is too much to keep below the 160 limit, so you can also consider 3 plates or 2 plates, or NO plates. Also depends on the starting proof of your wash or distiller's beer. BTW, a vodka still can work with less than 20 plates, but again, depends on still design and what you are charging the pot with.

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Thanks Blustar,

 

It confuses me even more as to why 6 and 8 plates still designs exist to start with. What type of alchool would bnefit a still with 6 or 8 plates? If producing whiskey is maxed out at 4 plates like you described.

Sorry if it seems like a dumb question...

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1 hour ago, Birster said:

Thanks Blustar,

 

It confuses me even more as to why 6 and 8 plates still designs exist to start with. What type of alchool would bnefit a still with 6 or 8 plates? If producing whiskey is maxed out at 4 plates like you described.

Sorry if it seems like a dumb question...

Six or eight plates would be good for higher proof rums, light whiskey and light brandies among other things.  You can do  stripping runs and spirit runs for whiskey in the same or 2 different pot stills with no plates.  You can run whiskey in one run with one plate.  You could do whiskey in one run with 4 plates running low reflux.    You can engage and disengage different plates in our columns for different results.  A very few go so far as to have draw offs at different plates.  You can distill under vacuum to reduce negative chemicals and to distill at high proofs with fewer or no plates.   There are an almost unlimited number of ways to skin this cat.

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The variables are infinite.

Build with the number of plates it takes to get to your highest abv desired. Then you can run less reflux, or more heat, (purposely inefficient) to get back down to the lowest abv you might desire.

We bought from Paul, above. Five plates on an 8" diameter column. That's just what I decided was my sweet spot.

With more or less reflux/heat we can get 70% to 90% abv. Not very important for collecting hearts in whiskey. But with fewer plates you will have trouble controlling abv in heads and tails for separation.

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Depends on how you run your still.  I ran my whites with 3 plates and they came off around 165 proof.   Barrel aged with 2 plates the came off 135-140 proof.   I tended to run a higher reflux rate as I ran a vm style head vs a cm head as most others run.   With the higher reflux rates it was critical to match the number of plates to the proof you wanted.  Too many plates and you could not keep the proof low enough to meet requirements.  

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