Jump to content

Recommended Posts

OK, I'm a pot still guy so this question is for all of you with experience dealing with columns and plates.

We're going to start running vodka as an adjunct to our normal rice whiskey production. The plan is to set aside 50 gallons of our second distillation run distillate and run it for a third time in a 4-inch column. My question is as the distillate will be proof down to 60° or so, how many plates should I anticipate needing to produce 192° vodka.

We have twelve plates but I thinking we will only need about half of them. Is that correct?

Thank you in advance for the feedback.

Kris

Link to post
Share on other sites

The general consensus seems to be you'll need 18-20 theoretical plates to achieve 190+. We have 18 theoretical (two side by side eight plate columns both topped with dephlegmators) and I can achieve 190+ but not for the whole run. I think you'll have trouble achieving 190+ with your setup without making up for your lack of plates with some packing.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/15/2021 at 9:05 AM, kleclerc77 said:

We have 18 theoretical (two side by side eight plate columns both topped with dephlegmators)

Out of curriosity, when running that set up, do you start by equalizing the first column, before sending vapor to the second column, and then also equalizing it at well, or do you do it another way?

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/16/2021 at 6:32 PM, adamOVD said:

Out of curriosity, when running that set up, do you start by equalizing the first column, before sending vapor to the second column, and then also equalizing it at well, or do you do it another way?

Yes. I have the deph pretty much wide open on the first column, and when every plate is bubbling away happily I'll start to slowly dial back the deph until vapor can get by into the next column. I then do the same thing with the second column into the condenser. I think our biggest issue with maintaining 190 proof/equilibrium between columns is inconsistent steam pressure. It doesn't make too much of a difference with everything else, it's just touchy here and there, but with a process as finnicky as vodka distillation, the inconsistencies in steam pressure make it tough. Luckily, I mostly make a lot of double pot distilled whiskey! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

20 hours ago, kleclerc77 said:

the inconsistencies in steam pressure make it tough

I've got electric elements directly submerged in low wines in my nuetral still. Not an ideal set up from a safety standpoint, but it sure is stable. Once it is set, it pretty much runs itself.

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, adamOVD said:

 

I've got electric elements directly submerged in low wines in my nuetral still. Not an ideal set up from a safety standpoint, but it sure is stable. Once it is set, it pretty much runs itself.

Like most things here, there's a safe and an unsafe way to run anything. I'm sure you're doing it safely. Back to OP @Golden Beaver Distillery's question - how many plates are you running on your setup to achieve 190+?

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

3 minutes ago, kleclerc77 said:

Like most things here, there's a safe and an unsafe way to run anything. I'm sure you're doing it safely. Back to OP @Golden Beaver Distillery's question - how many plates are you running on your setup to achieve 190+?

On 3/15/2021 at 8:15 AM, Golden Beaver Distillery said:

 

We have twelve plates but I thinking we will only need about half of them.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a mixed column of packing and plates so it is it's own animal. This thread goes into more detail of whats needed though.

 

  • Thumbs up 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

We run 20 plates (4 + 16) setup. The 16 plate section has packing material on the trays to improve efficiency.

It gets the job done and we can finish a hearts cut above 191, but it's a painfully slow process.

We had a myriad of challenges to get the system to work correctly, but here's what I would say were critical:

1.) Stream temperature control valve or a way to specifically control kettle temp, manual valves did not work for us.

2.) Entry proof needs to be low to avoid alcohol smearing and get clean separation (we charge at 20%).

3.) Dephlegmator control system (we use a danfoss valve, but something that regulates temp of the cooling water).

4.) A correctly functioning condensate return line (if using a split column). We ended up designing a double S curve line to make sure that drainage worked, but that kettle vapor didn't bypass the first tower and blow up through the line into the tower, which completely imbalances the temperature of the tower.

The biggest lesson once we got the system working was that 190+ proof does not mean the alcohol will be flavorless or "neutral". We ended up doing a stripping run, two 180 proof reflux runs, and then one vodka distillation to get something that we can live with for classic vodka, but we are actively re-engineering the process as we speak because of residual vanilla character from the corn ferment is still too strong, and that's after four distillations and seven carbon passes. It still blows my mind to this day. And the fermentations were well managed, plenty of nutrient support, temp control, etc.

Good luck!

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
×
×
  • Create New...