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nick jones

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  1. She tastes pretty damn good, but that's a fairly common thing. The unusual thing is that she tastes unique. Nick
  2. It's hard to go wrong with the Solera approach, assuming that you've got the product and the time to keep going at it. I know of a 10 liter barrel that has been neither empty nor full for many, many years. It has been topped up with: - smoked malt whiskey - malt whiskey - sugar shine - rye whiskey - bourbon whiskey and a host of other delectables. It may be a stretch, but this barrel might be called a "one barrel solera". It sounds like you have a specific idea that you're considering, yet you don't want to reveal it to the internet. I say go for it! Worst case scenario: you blend it into your solera batch that actually does end up tasting good. Nick
  3. WW, If you want to trigger valves to make cuts, I'd recommend that you take advantage of the direct (edit: inverse) correlation between vapor temperature and ABV. Thermometers are waaaaaaaaay less expensive than densitometers. Just install a thermometer right before your condenser, determine the temperatures that correlate to your desired ABVs, and automate away. You'll have enough money left over to buy a robot to automate the raising of your glass to your lips. Nick
  4. Beware everyone! I have contacted the authorities, and Mr. Dan P does not have a license to post his opinions in public. His outrageous ideas have not been approved by the State, and are therefore dangerous and to be avoided. Nick
  5. Everyone has their own palate, but I can definitively say that to my somewhat educated palate 4 of the top 5 craft beers are complete crap. I don't know what shakeout you're imagining to be happening in the craft brewing world, but the fact of the matter is that their numbers continue to explode (especially on the "nano" level). The sad fact of the matter is that "poor product" is well below #31 on the list of reasons that a microdistillery would fail. True, many microdistilleries are putting out product that doesn't suit my particular palate, but this doesn't seem to keep a large number of them from selling thousands of cases of the stuff. I couldn't disagree with fldme's assessment of the situation more, even though I believe that he and I are in complete agreement about how important quality is to ourselves personally, and our own philosophies. IMHO, the vast majority of the cash-wielding public care more about the 31+ issues mentioned above than they do about "poor product". If you haven't seen a "poor product" sell like hotcakes because it has awesome sales and marketing behind it, than you're not paying attention. If you haven't seen an absolutely stellar product go the way of the dodo because it lacked sales and marketing, then you're probably not buying product with packaging that looks like shit just because you want to see how it tastes. Nick
  6. If I remember correctly (it was a while ago I guess) I was running a 10 ton full-package chiller. The CLT was 2000 gallons. Not sure what you mean here. I did most of my sizing without the aid of an engineer or fancy schmancy concepts. I just sort of went with units sized like I thought they should be, based on experience. If you could be more specific, I'd be happy to attempt to answer, though. By the way, love the air-cooled heat exchanger rather than cooling tower idea. More distillers, especially those up north, should implement that. Nick
  7. The cooling is reduced because heat is removed from the hot condenser water on its way back to the cold liquor tank where the cooled condenser water is re-introduced into the distillation process. It's a little difficult to explain, but let's give a shot, shall we: (all temps in F) Start of first batch: -Hot liquor tank - empty -Cold liquor tank - full of 50 deg H2O -Pot Still - full of 35 deg wash End of first batch: -Hot liquor tank - 3/4 full of 170 deg H2O -Cold liquor tank - 1/2 full of 50 deg H2O -Pot Still - empty At this point, the hot liquor exchanges its heat with the wash as the pot still is being filled with the next batch, and gets recycled back into the cold liquor tank... Start of 2nd batch: -Hot liquor tank - empty -Cold liquor tank - full of 65 deg H2O -Pot Still - full of 150 deg wash As you can see, after the initial heat up, much of the heat and all of the water is saved. The savings on cooling can be looked at as the difference between cooling down your condenser water reservoir from 170 deg to 50 deg and cooling it down from 65 deg to 50 deg (well, I guess because of the buffer of water left over in the tank the first number would actually be more around 110 or something, but you get the idea). And there is a glycol chiller that chills the cold liquor tank, if that's not already apparent. With my chiller, I had no trouble knocking the temp down the remaining 15 degrees in the time it took to get the next distillation underway. Obviously, these specific numbers are dependent on the particular equipment that I was using (such as an oversized condenser that was extremely efficient), and the same process run on different equipment would inevitably be different, but this is just an example of one way that it was done. I bet the process could be made even more efficient with some tweaks... Hope that helps! Nick
  8. Fugenator, I implemented a system at a distillery in a similarly drought-prone area that collected the hot condenser water in a reservoir, then recycled it back into a cold water reservoir through a heat exchanger while the still was being filled with the next charge. This system greatly reduced heat up time, saved energy on heating, saved energy on cooling, and, most importantly, saved LOTS of water. It was rarely necessary to dump any water at all. In order to keep the water relatively fresh, I installed an ozonator on the cold water reservoir (like one you'd install in a residential pool). The hot condenser water reservoir was also extremely handy for cleaning tanks, sealing barrels, etc. If you'd like any more details, let me know. Nick
  9. I disagree with fldme on that, but keep in mind that we're just expressing our own personal perceptions of flavor. Everyone's advice is good: experiment and decide for yourself. Even though you don't own a still, you can still do this! Visit distilleries that do single-pass distillation through a column, continuous distillation through one of those fancy new "craft" sized continuous stills, double distillation through an alembic, etc. I'd also encourage you to note that in Scotland, "flavorful" spirits are produced via double-distillation in batch stills. Same goes for France. Both countries produce more "neutral" spirits via continuous distillation in a column as well. These Scottish and French distillers aren't idiots. They've had access to continuous stills for hundreds of years. Yet they recognize that batch distillation produces more flavorful spirit. Don't even get me started on the Japanese. And then there are the Germans... I guess the point is: everyone has their own philosophy, so don't be afraid to come up with your own too! Nick
  10. Joe, If, in fact, you assemble your equipment from 100% American made components, I suggest that you start being a little more clear about that in your marketing. If not, then you may not want to say things like "all of the money stays in the United States". Nick P.S. If you're taking suggestions for additional titles for yourself, I'd like to submit "messiah". It has a nice ring to it. Or, like our man JC, you could be just a bit more humble. Your call.
  11. It's been so long since I looked into this that I had to look it up on a couple of my favorite books: Whisky Technology, Production, and Marketing by Inge Russel and The Science and Technology of Whiskies by Piggott, Sharp, and Duncan. I highly recommend these books to anyone interested in learning about whiskey. Although they're expensive, I'd guess that they're significantly less expensive than a warehouse full of gross whiskey. Like you, I haven't had much personal experience with DMTS problems. Most modern malts have low levels of s-methylmethionine (the chemical precursor of DMS and DMTS), so that's a good thing. However, if someone were to make an all malt whiskey out of a six row barley, or some other cultivar with high SMM levels, they might have more problems than we've had. Also, I've used stills built from copious amounts of copper. This apparently helps with the DMTS issues as well. Additionally, aging periods in excess of one year will decrease DMS, DMDS, and DMTS levels, with DMTS being the most persistent and flavoractive of the three. Piggott et. al. show a table indicating that in scotch malt whiskey hogsheads, DMTS has a half-life in the neighborhood of 1-4 years, depending on the treatment of the barrel. The scraped and charred barrels reduced DMTS much faster than untreated barrels. I'd need a lot more data to confirm my suspicion, but I personally suspect that a traditional double distillation of a malt whiskey will reduce DMTS levels significantly more than a single distillation. Since heat makes SMM decay into DMS, I've noticed that the very start of my stripping runs volatilize very little perceivable DMS (DMDS, DMTS, whatever. The stinky stuff). However, as the distillation progresses and the SMM present in the wort has more time to break down into DMS, I begin to perceive more DMS making its way through the still. Eventually, the levels seem to die down (just as a brewer will exhaust the SMM present in his wort by volatilizing it with a prolonged, vigorous boil) and disappear. It is my belief that this primary distillation volatilizes and releases much DMS that would otherwise be captured in a single-pass malt distillation. Just some thoughts... Nick
  12. I think that I see what you're getting at, (although I believe that you meant to say that 75 gallons would take LESS time than the full 150). It is perhaps a bit nit-picky, but I'm all about nit-picky, so no worries. It is true that all other things being equal, a greater number of proof-gallons (if you'll permit me to nit-pick a little too) of wash in a given still (or two otherwise identical stills with different net volumes) will take a greater amount of time to distill than a lesser number of proof-gallons. Absolutely right. I guess that for me this would be the difference between saying "the volume of a still" and "the volume of mash". When I speak of a larger volume still, I'm assuming an appropriately scaled up still. Perhaps this is where I get confused with what other people are talking about: when they say "larger still" they assume that only the net volume increases. My guess: a deficiency of whiskey drinking (single, double, continuous, whatever) is causing the communication problem . Nick
  13. Almost. An addition of heat to your still will get you one of two results: a change in temperature or a change in phase (phase change meaning change from liquid to vapor.) Adding heat is necessary to bring the temperature up to boiling, but once the boiling point is reached, additional heat is required to vaporize your mash (more than the amount of heat needed "to maintain said constant temperature.") This amount of heat was, once upon a time, called the latent heat of vaporization (they've got some fancy new term for it these days). Interestingly, the reverse of this process is the basis for evaporative coolers and mechanical refrigeration (a vaporizing liquid sucks heat out of a surrounding medium). Therefore, once the boiling point is reached, the quantity of vapor produced is proportional to the quantity of heat exchanged with the boiling mash (more heat = more vapor). That being said, because it takes substantially more heat exchanging potential to heat up a given volume of mash in a reasonable amount of time than it does to change the phase of this mash to a vapor, it would need to be a very poorly designed still (i.e. a heat-up period measured in hours rather than minutes) where the limiting factor of the distillation was the amount of heat required to vaporize the mash. Also, due to the inverse proportion between the ABV and the latent heat of vaporization, this limiting factor is only reached toward the end of a distillation anyway. Other limiting factors that you may also want to consider besides ABV, heat up time, and condenser size are foaming, surface area to volume ratio of the pot, restriction of vapor flow prior to condenser, and reflux ratio. Nick
  14. Hedge, Am I correct to understand your meaning of "all other things being equal" to be that, for example, in scaling up from an air-cooled, sterno can heated, 0.2 liter desktop still to a 250 hectoliter still, one would use the same heat source and condenser? If that is your meaning, than I guess you could look at volume as having a bearing on distillation time. However, this hypothetical situation is a bit nonsensical, and not the common misconception to which I was referring. Any still, from 0.2 liters to 250 hectoliters, has the potential to finish a batch just as quickly as any other still, given appropriate design considerations. A surprising number of people seem to think that this is not the case, and I am attempting (somewhat unsuccessfully, apparently) to dispel that misconception. Nick
  15. Carl makes hybrid stills, and they do not design them to make product in a single pass. They will train you in double distillation, and demonstrate why it is superior to single pass. Some of their competitors tout single pass as a perk of hybrid stills, but the fact is that single pass takes more time and energy than double distillation, and therefore makes little to no sense (unless you are one of those people who, for some reason, thinks that there is some difference in the flavor). Nick
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