Jump to content

Packed column for vodka AND whiskey?


Recommended Posts

After a lot of reading, and only very little experience, it would be interesting to know distillers opinions on plated column vs packed column for distilling different spirits.

For example,

I just spent some time in a craft distillery where they successfully only use a packed column with dephlegmator and direct electric heat to produce neutral spirits and also whiskey. By controlling temperatures of cooling water and adjusting the amount of reflux for the product they intend to make, it seems they accomplish their goals just fine. 

Odin from iStill also seems to have come to the conclusion after years of development, and is his preference, to use a packed column to produce all kinds of spirits. He has other traditional column options for people who enjoy or are more comfortable with the traditional process.

Of course plated columns with sight glasses look beautiful, but on a budget, is a packed column more practical?

What is your experience?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tightly packed columns typically offer a large amount of reflux, this is great for vodkas, because it strips away the flavor of the wash and elevates the proof quickly.

A packed column has an equivalent amount "theoretical plates" or plates that would be needed in a standard column setup to achieve the same amount of rectification.  Usually distillers can get by with a much shorter packed column to reach azeotrope vs using a plated column.


In terms of using it for other spirits, this isn't always ideal because of the loss of flavor profile from the wash. Gins that use Vapor infusion work well with the high proof vapor interaction, but this type of setup typically removes too much from other spirts like rum and whiskey or Gins with botanicals in the boiler.

Whiskey, specifically bourbon, has  rules governing its production as well so it cannot be distilled higher than 160 proof. Once again not ideal when you are talking a packed column that might produce a near azeotropic product.

  • Thumbs up 1
Link to comment
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...