Jump to content

pot still whiskey vs column stilled whiskey


vern

Recommended Posts

By column, I'm not referring to continuous column, but a hybrid still that could be run as a pot for a strip and/or spirit run, or in plate mode to do a single run that is both strip and spirit.

I hope that was clear.¬†ūüėĀ

Do you see any difference in taste or quality or anything whatsoever between whiskey run through a double distillation on a pot still or a single distillation in hybrid mode?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matt Strickland covers the differences briefly in his ADI video "Understanding Your Still", https://distilling.com/video/understanding-your-still/, definitely recommend it. Some notes I took from that section: 

DOUBLE DISTILLATION vs SINGLE PASS WITH A HYBRID COLUMN:

Will not produce the same whiskey/spirit.

By in large not many differences. HOWEVER, there where some differences between many of the congeners that affect flavor of spirit, such as fatty acid esters, 

Hope that helps.

 

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have yet to play with the column of our hybrid still with a whiskey base.  I did use it once to strip some stale beer that a brewery gave us on its way to making it into a neutral for liqueurs.  I was shocked at how neutral it was just going through a 4-plate column.  We then put it into a smaller column still for further recitification. I wouldn't want my whiskey going through the hybrid column.  It would, in my opinion, be an extremely "light" whiskey.   I love what comes off of the pot still during the spirit run.  

Very curious who does it, as I'd love to learn more about it, producing something totally different.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So many variables.

Are you running the reflux condenser on the hybrid column during stripping and final distillation, or not?  I've seen some stills that don't allow control of the reflux condenser, this is going to produce a different spirit compared to a still where you have more control over reflux.

If you are running the reflux condenser, what reflux ratio are you running, and is it only on the final distillation, or during the stripping as well?  You can run a 4 plate at such high reflux levels that you "approach" neutral.  Again, very different from running minimal or no reflux.

How deep into tails are you running during the stripping run on the hybrid?  You need to go deep on a hybrid, with no reflux, to get close to a pot still on the strip.

I don't think this is as simple as an: A vs. B comparison.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In our opinion, there will absolutely be a difference in taste, but you can produce very high quality whiskey using either method. It's simply a matter of preference, and as @Silk City Distillers stated, those are just 2 of many variables. 

One of our contract distillation clients had the exact same question, so we decided we'd distill it 3 different ways to find their preference. We cooked and fermented 1 batch of their mash bill (2500 gallons).

We then distilled:

  • 500 gallons of the beer on our copper pot still using our 4-plate column & dephlegmator
  • 1000 gallons of beer through a stripping run using the pot only, and then distilled those low wines in a finishing run using the pot only. To note, this was "true" pot distillation as our 4-plate column is offset on a side stand, so the¬†vapor path is totally unobstructed to the condenser.
  • 1000 gallons of beer on our 14" copper continuous column & doubler.

Their preference ended up being the distillate off of our continuous column - followed by the distillate from the pot still only stripping & finishing runs. But again, it's totally a matter of opinion. For our own brands, we've won many awards from whiskey distilled on our 4-plate column ... but again, totally a matter of opinion.

It was a really fun experiment for us to run, and we'd love to do it again with your mash bill if you want.

  • Thumbs up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Old Glory Distilling Co. said:

Their preference ended up being the distillate off of our continuous column

Suspect there are a lot of people here that are going to read that with a lot of frustration and disbelief.  I get that everyone wants it "distilled down to" simplistic good/bad, black/white, binary decisions, but it ain't ever that way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Old Glory Distilling Co., curious the type of whiskey in the experiment. What we are focusing on is single malt with clear beer off grain. 

Our hybrid is like yours -- totally off to the side, so it's either a "pot only" or a pot with 4 plates.  We roll (most of) our heads & tails into the spirit run. 

When we use the column, the dephleg is cooled by the water off of the final product condenser.

@Silk City Distillers the objective (for me) to use the column would be a single pass distillation from beer to whiskey in one go (vs. the double pot distillation we have been doing for some time now).  That would collapse the time from ferment to barrel  Obviously this would be a considerable change in the whiskey.  

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, jocko said:

@Old Glory Distilling Co., curious the type of whiskey in the experiment. What we are focusing on is single malt with clear beer off grain. 

It was a wheated bourbon mash bill distilled on the grain in all three scenarios.

We've recently begun laying down barrels of single malt distilled on the grain through our continuous column & doubler. We're really happy with the distillate coming off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's a podcast that doesn't seem to release new episodes anymore called Single Malt Matters. They did a great episode, I believe with Matt Hofmann, where they talk mostly about how the grain is milled and if it is lautered or not, which seems to be the other decision new distillers agonizing over when shopping for a equipment and planning their SOPs. If I recall correctly though, they also discuss how that will determine the oil quantities in your mash, and how that might change what still layout will work best for you.

I've played around a fair bit with on/off fermentations, and different still configurations, with the limited equipment available to me, and I still have no firm conclusions yet. I've put aside bottles of products distilled, fermented, and aged different ways to taste side by side, and eventually, maybe... I'll have a large enough sample pool to determine what is "best".

It's easy to get sucked into the minutiae in every step of what we do in this industry, even enjoyable sometimes. However, the biggest lesson I think I've come away with, Is that it comes down to, "Does it taste good?" and, as the small operations we mostly are here, working with what you have.

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
√ó
√ó
  • Create New...