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Copper worm in condenser bad?

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i thought I heard that a copper worm (as opposed to stainless steel) in the condenser was a bad idea. Is this right? Does it leach copper into the finished product?

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I would love to hear opinion on this, especially from anyone running a copper condenser. I see old timey design stills running copper condensers but not so much in the modern column designs. I've read (somewhere?) some literature implying you want the copper to end where the vapor ends, but also read the opposite.? Curious if it REALLY matters? Scrounge

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Here is an interesting article on this topic. They found that a copper worm in the condenser has a greater affect on flavor during the stripping run, than during the spirit run.

The Impact of Copper in Different Parts of Malt Whisky Pot Stills on New Make Spirit Composition and Aroma

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you definitely need to be more anal about cleaning, and there is always a chance of copper salts in your final product.

however most people do not have any adverse reaction to minute amounts of copper in alcohol, there are some that have a sensitivity to it though.

stainless condensers are just easier to clean.

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According to the following quote, from the Whiskey Science article linked above, copper condensers deposit copper salts in the distillate, which catalyze the formation of carcinogenic Ethyl carbamate during aging.

"Ethyl carbamate (EC, urethane) was a hot topic in the 1980s, as it was found to be carcinogenic and to increase during maturation phase of spirits. At the time various whiskies, especially grain or bourbon whiskies from stainless steel column stills were producing spirits with way too much EC and the concentrations seemed only to increase during maturation. It was found that copper in the ascending phase on still decreased EC dramatically and copper was (re)introduced into column stills. Adversely copper salts in the new make catalyze the EC formation during the maturation, so most grain distillers use only stainless steel in the condensers to diminish the amount of copper residues in the new make. (emphasis added)"

Here is another post on the subject as well:

http://adiforums.com/index.php?showtopic=3766

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NorthernPacific- That must be the article I was thinking about, THANKS!

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Unless I'm mistaken both articles discuss the effects of copper condensers. The Whiskey Science article discusses the effects of copper condensers at the end of paragraph 7, while The Impact of Copper discusses the effects of copper vs stainless condensers throughout. Sorry for any confusion. Here are the links again for perusal.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1002/j.2050-0416.2011.tb00450.x/asset/j.2050-0416.2011.tb00450.x.pdf?v=1&t=i1zi53yl&s=ace8ba985ea1a3bb8f2200da66a5a5394cff3752

http://whiskyscience.blogspot.com/2014/10/copper.html

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I think you are mistaken, its the pot still and swan neck or column still and column that are copper, then when they changed to stainless as copper prices went up and their concern for longer term use becamer more dollar oriented they found they had stainless steel column stills leading to ethyl carbomate because of a lack of reaction with the copper in vapor phase. The condenser is good to be stainless as it can have residual copper taste in the spirit.

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I like copper in the vapor phase and the condensor. EC was mainly caused by the common practice of adding 13-13-13 to the fermenters as a yeast nutrient. Plain and simple. Whiskey distillers then were not chemistry majors like most today. All they knew was to increase the proof off the still and it would lower ec levels. A lot of producers started doubling then and those using thumpers added doublers. It really effected the flavor of bourbon as we know it now. It used to be a heavier, richer product.

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Great info gents! I just reread both articles, and they both discuss the effects of copper in the condenser. I'm not endorsing their findings, but it's a good starting point for exploration of the original question, which was:

i thought I heard that a copper worm (as opposed to stainless steel) in the condenser was a bad idea. Is this right? Does it leach copper into the finished product?

I'm still working through the articles again for a third time. I'm especially curious to know what you guys think about the study using Forsyths stills. They basically built identical stainless and copper wash and spirit stills side by side. Then, they changed out the components one-by-one to study the effects of copper vs. stainless at each stage in distillation. There is a ton of info in there, and it's definitely worth exploring.

Cheers

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