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Output of an 8" vodka column


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Just out of curiosity, for those of you who started with an 8" column, at what volume of production did you outgrow it and need to upgrade?

I've been offered the opportunity to pick up a used 150 gal boiler with an 8" pot/4 plate whisky/12 plate vodka combo but am wondering at where the advantages of a smaller initial investment ends and upgrading to a 12" becomes a necessity.

Our goal is to have a very clean vodka so will be doing a strip run / spirit run for our vodka. I have done a ton of theoretical calculations but would like some real world experience on where production demand exceeds the true capabilities of an 8" setup.

Volumes are projected as follows

Year 1 625 cases

Year 2 750 cases

Year 3 900 cases

Year 4 1050 cases

Year 5 1350 cases

Any information on your experiences would be greatly appreciated.


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also you would need to know lots of things like heat input and dia of the pot, charge cap of pot,design of trays, what type of trays, how is reflux set up, dephlegmator, and what you are trying to distill. everything your saying is so open ended.

like asking how many mpg can a car get... be super specific so we can help

just trying to help.


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All I have for details right now is it is a steam jacketed boiler 150 gal, with 12" pot off the boiler, a separate whisky column 4 bubble cap plates next to it, separate vodka column 12 bubble cap plates next to it, rc dephlegmator on top of whisky and vodka, pc.

volumes above are based on 60% vodka 40% whisky production

first 2 years will be part time 24 hours a week

full time from then on but do not want to be running the still 8 hours a day 7 days a week to keep up

I'm trying to get an idea if it is a mistake to go 8" and should we just go straight to a 12"

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based on a reasonable conversion in your mash, 8 hour day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, you'll hit your production goals for year one and fall well short come year 2. unless you are using GNS.

now consider I don't know what exactly this equipment is, I'm making an educated guess. there are a miriad of reasons it may over or under perform.

there are a host of very good reasons we pair 12" columns with our 150 gallon stills.

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I dont get the math on the low number of cases. If you have a 150 gallon single pot with a short column and a 1/2 vodka column that you needed to run twice a day to make 95+ ABV, wouldn't a rough estimate be:

150 x .09 (rough beer average) = 13.5 gal potential alcohol less 25% heads/tails avg = 10.1 gal theoretical 100% x 2.5 ( 80 proof rough dilution ) = 25.25 gallons x 5 (750 ltr btls) = 126 btls / 12 (per case) = 10.5 cases per day x 250 days = 2650 cases ?

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Unless we have drastically underestimated the effective output of an 8" column, my math is as follows which led me to my question. We had it figured that we were going to be in trouble around the end of year 4 if all of our production was vodka. In actuality late year 5 as not all of our product will be vodka.

140 gal charge x.08 (average beer) = 11.2 gal potential x 90% recovery = 10.08 less 35% cuts = 6.52 gal * 2.5 = 16.38 gal = 62litres = 5.1 cases per day.

I was just trying to get an idea, based on real life experience and not math, when did you really start to have a need to upgrade and did you wish you would have just got bigger equipment right from the start.

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