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Equipment Setups - stripper and spirit stills


Lassiter Distilling Co

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I've been to several distilleries where they have a setup that appears to include a pot still and a column still. Most of these places are making whiskey and neutral spirits.

Am I just interpreting a component of the pot still as a column? I've been under the impression that columns pull out all of the flavor but increase efficiency.

Thanks for any clarification you can provide.

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I think that's an oversimplification of the process. Seldom is anything so simple, especially where preference and subjectivity come into play.

I would argue that if getting distillate at any proof out of the business end is the point, a pot still is going to be more efficient than a column still. It takes a considerable amount of energy to vaporize, condense, and revaporize the distillate associated with reflux necessary for a fractionating column (plated or packed) to work effectively.

So why bother if it's less energy efficient? Because the payback for the additional energy involved in running a column is the ability to produce tighter separation of fractions, so the separation efficiency (if there is such a thing) increases. Once you start to increase the number of plates, the ability to separate increases even more so.

Now, if getting distillate out of the business end at a high proof is the goal, things change, since making N passes through a pot still are going to consume more time and energy than fewer passes (or just one) through a column.

Pulling "out all of the flavor" is much harder than you think, there are plenty of plated and packed columns in operation that are producing products chock full of flavor.

By the way, I hate the word "flavor" since most implicitly associate it with good flavors. Bad flavors are flavors just the same. A still doesn't know the difference between a good flavor and a bad flavor.

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  • 3 months later...

James,

When you say "Pulling "out all of the flavor" is much harder than you think, there are plenty of plated and packed columns in operation that are producing products chock full of flavor." I have a concern.

If you use a good beer wash will a reflux or fractioning column strip out a lot of the flavors you want for your whiskey? I thought a pot still is best for preserving the flavors you want for whiskey.

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