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Alright Guys I'm looking for some answers and thought there's no better place than to post them on the ADI forum!

-I have been distilling for awhile and have made some good apple brandy using our 4 plate vendome column. I typically utilize 1-2 plates since I like a richer flavor and four plates is way to much, it seems to strip much of the flavors out of the finished product but thats just my opinion. I started to pay more attention to our cooling head water outlet temperature and I noticed it tends to be anywhere between 140 degrees f to 160 degrees f and I get good runs out of those temperatures. Also this is for brandy runs not for vodka distillations so I want maximum flavor using the column.

My questions are:

-What temperature do others run the dephlegmator water at (the out water not the in water)

-should I be paying this much attention to it at all and why or why not?

-What is the purposes of the dephlegmator? (i.e. to fill the plates, to knock as much water/oils back)

-what is the most important temperature reading when using a column (i.e. after the cooling head, the cooling head water temp, or anything else)

I'm sure I will get some great answers so thank you very much for posting below!


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  • 2 months later...

the water out temp is a function of GPM and water in for a fixed BTU/hr load.

If the water in is fixed, then as the GPM is throttled, the water out will go up or down in temp.

if you have a fixed flow rate, then the only way to change performance is to make the water colder (or warmer).

You can do a lot more tweaking with a closed loop, obviously, than you can city water to increase performance.

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We were taught to operate our defleg topped packed column stills by the retired head distiller of the largest Swiss cherry brandy distillery. Our stills came out of that facility. We were told that if you want to maximize the flavor and quality of your brandy you should not really use your deflegmator in a hearts run. You use it after the hearts when your ABV is down around 67ish. At that point pull your hearts run container, let water flow into the deflegs to pull out the remaining alcohol, so you can put those tails into your next run. After your 4-5th run reusing tails from previous runs, dump all the tails and start again.

If I run my stills at a water outlet temp of aprox 130 degrees at a reasonable flow rate I have a hard time keeping the ABV below 80. If I then flow over Into the deflegs (the warm water coming off the condenser) it pushes 90% on an initial run. While this is great if you are trying to run for example a near neutral base for a whiskey blend, it is too pure for a decent flavored brandy.

Hope that helps

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For brandies, I was taught some of the same things. Brandy is interesting, in that the heads and tail cuts are very sharp, easy to distinguish. For larger runs (brandy) I was taught to run my dephleg at full reflux as soon as I had my first whiff of fores from the parrot. Running like this concentrates the heads in the column. Then I bump up the dephleg bit by bit until my heads dribble out, and the heart run isn't really starting. At that point, I was shown to turn off dephleg, run with no plates (or just one) and adjust my heat/cooling to get my desired proof off the still (we liked right around 152). When the proof starts to drop fast (and it does!) shut up all the plates, and continue to the first whiff of tail...then run the dephleg around 195-198 (digital PID) until your tails are done. That was for stonefruit and softer apples. Grappa was a little different, as there are some unpleasant congeners that come off at certain points...if we get into a grappa discussion, I may reveal some of my findings on that...

The guy who taught me all of this makes well-known brandies, many of which have won awards.

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