Jump to content
ADI Forums

Recommended Posts

My family is getting into the spirits industry and i have been tasked specifically with vodka production. Im new to the spirits industry but i do have a degree in chemistry which i assume could benefit me in this industry and im sure will help me to understand some of the lingo that is used by you fellow alcohol connoisseurs. Now lets get to why I've started this thread. I've been doing research and what i have found is that the type of still needed and the type of starch source used is very important. Can anyone tell me the best type of still to be used to produce premium grade vodka and if its a column still, how many plates does it need to have? Grey Goose advertise that they distill there spirit 5 times; do they have a big column still with enough plates to only have to run it once to achieve the 5 distillations? Grey Goose uses winter wheat for there source of starch, is that the best to use? I know you can use potatoes, grapes and all sorts of other things. i was just wondering what the best to use is. If you have to actually re run each run then do you cut the heads and tails before pouring back into the still? last thing i couldn't understand was how a continuous running fermenter works? Again, Grey goose can have a batch ready every 30 ours with their fermenter system.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"n distillations" - this is a largely meaningless marketing term that follows no consistent/standard definition.  It can refer to the number of passes through a still, the total number of plates (or theoretical plates), the number of total columns in the still, or some other pseudoscience numerology nonsense.  I'm surprised lawyers haven't sued based on this yet.

In terms of calibration, Smirnoff will nearly always outrank Grey Goose in a blind taste test, you may want to consider this.  I'm only mentioning this because you did.

Your choice of still will be based on what you are going for in a vodka - do you want to carry through flavor or not?  Single pass?  Multiple pass?

You can make great vodka from a variety of different fermentation stocks, but you will need to consider your location and logistics.  Do you really want to be importing soft Italian wheat across the ocean, in small quantity?  Unpressed French grapes?  You might find that it is so uneconomical, it doesn't matter how good it is, because you can't afford to sell a bottle.  Where are you, what is available locally?  I mean, you would have a very easy time selling a super premium vodka that is proofed down with the tears of virgins, but alas, there aren't many left here in the states these days.

Likewise, your choice of fermentation stock will have a massive impact on your equipment investments, using a fruit base will have a very, very different set of requirements than a grain base, so what else would you be producing?

There is plenty of information of continuous fermentation - just use your google fu - however, why do you think you need to do this?

Cue equipment suppliers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

I mean, you would have a very easy time selling a super premium vodka that is proofed down with the tears of virgins, but alas, there aren't many left here in the states these days.

I think I need to go to the doctor after laughing so hard at that.  I can see the tagline now: "Virgin's Tear: The rarest of vodkas!"

To respond to op: I make an obscene amount of vodka for our equipment.  I hate it. Vodka takes forever compared to pot-still/low proof column runs.  On a craft scale, finding the proper equipment is important, but no matter what you're looking at 10-20 hour days to produce a feasible amount of product to a quality standard that will make you happy.  That's after days of stripping runs to feed low wines to the spirit runs.  If I could do it all over again, I would not make neutral.  I finally have staff trained and capable enough to make it so I don't have to man 100% of the long days each week we run neutral, but even then I'm constantly worried about burnout and scheduling.  

With that said, being on the other side of the startup phase, our vodka has performed well on the market, it's one of our leading products and rounds out our portfolio of brands quite well.  Now with that said, vodka is a crowded market with very little chance to differentiate.  It requires the largest marketing budget of any spirit to muscle out a niche for your brand, and even then you're fighting the steepest uphill battle in the industry.  

Finally, to recommend equipment: we have an Artisan Still Design hybrid batch still that has a 4 plate and 16 plate column (16 being the bare minimum I would suggest to achieve 190 proof at a take off rate that wont make you slit your wrists).  It's a work horse, middle of the market pricing and ASD supports their product quite well.  

"Times distilled" is marketing fluff and doesn't mean anything to me.  In theory, every 4 plates you distill through equates to a single distillation, with thumping adding somewhere between 1/4 to 1/2 of the effect of a single distillation.  Every time you vaporize at the kettle you can consider that a distillation as well (stripping run and spirit run prior to the plates).  But once again, every piece of equipment is different and has it's own quality of product.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On Tuesday, June 07, 2016 at 1:01 PM, rtshfd said:

Finally, to recommend equipment: we have an Artisan Still Design hybrid batch still that has a 4 plate and 16 plate column (16 being the bare minimum I would suggest to achieve 190 proof at a take off rate that wont make you slit your wrists).  It's a work horse, middle of the market pricing and ASD supports their product quite well.  

 

I have a similar system, produced by DYE. As an operator I've been asked to make 94% abv spirit from our 8% corn mash in one run. I feel I would have a better chance finding a unicorn living in my crawl space. While I can achieve an incredibly clean 80% abv run, this is not live up to the aspirations of management. How is your Artisan Still setup performing? Is it a unicorn? Am I totally wrong thinking stripping runs are necessary even with this configuration?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

littleb

We build a really nice vodka still at and ours cost less than 50% of the price of an Artisan Still Design Vodka Still.  Our quality is as good or better.  We have the better price because we have very low overhead.   We have lots of distilleries running our vodka stills and I am glad to give you their contact info so that you can call them.  We also have distilleries  that act as show rooms for us  and you can go there and see them run and check out every detail and ask all of the questions that you like  Our Ultra Pro Vodka Stills have 20 plates total and they will run 95% no problem.  Here is my contact info paul@distillery-equipment.com 417-778-6100 http://distillery-equipment.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ThatDrunkenBird,

How many plates does your DYE still have?  Our 4 plate column will do 80% from 8% mash no problem.  Our 16 plate column will do 95% by itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Southernhighlander said:

ThatDrunkenBird,

How many plates does your DYE still have?  Our 4 plate column will do 80% from 8% mash no problem.  Our 16 plate column will do 95% by itself.

We have a 4 plate whiskey column and a 16 plate vodka column. I can achieve 95% no problem, what we want to know is "why is the still not producing 95% through the entirety of the hearts cut?" I learned on a pot still, I may just be set in my ways but, it is my understanding that to make consistent high test through a run even my system needs to start with some low wines to be efficient. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ThatDrunkenBird.

Email me privately paul@distillery-equipment.com  It may be something that we can fix for you.    If the problem is what I think it is, it may only take a couple of hours to fix it.  We run our own delivery trucks and we deliver and set up our stills all over the U.S., so I may be able to have one of my guys stop in and fix your issue on his way back from somewhere and there is no charge if it does not work.  Both of my delivery guys are great welder fabricators and they carry everything on the trucks that they would need.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×