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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Column dynamics

Ive finaly reached a point where i am making a handful of products, all made very differently, on different stills, from different fermentables, and at different proofs. I am very happy with the flavor of each. Now Im ready to focus more on improving efficiency in my ferments snd while distilling. Unfortunately i dont understand the inner workings of a column still as well as i would like.

For example, Im running low wines for a whiskey through two plates, and taking spirit off at 170P. If i added a plate but kept my take off proof at 170 by running it faster, would the spirit taste basically the same? Would this save time? If so would it be better to run the still faster by increasing heat to the pot, or reducing reflux with a hotter deph?

So far ive tried to "listen to the still" and find the sweet spot of where it wants to run with a certain amount of plates, but im sure if i understood things better, i could make the still "work for me" instead.

Are there any books or resources that would help a layman understand the inner thermal dynamics of a column still better? I know theory only goes so far, and sometimes you just need to jump in and try things, but i rather work smarter if possible.

Thanks. Sorry if i ask too many questions on here, but i dont have a whole lot of other distillers in my area to run ideas by.


I tried that, more plates, less reflux.  I found that it removed more flavor and didn’t change output very much if at all.  I did come to the conclusion that I preferred it when I matched the desired output abv with a column setup that easily produced it instead of detuning or running slow to increase efficiency. 

For flavorful barrel aged product, 2 plates and a low abv, whites run with a higher abv and more plates for a cleaner spirit. 


Thanks @bluefish_dist for the feedback. Glad others are thinking along the same lines. Guess i'll keep it at two plates. It comes off with a good balance of flavorful and clean.

Reply:14 hours ago, adamOVD said:

Thanks for the recommendations @foreshot I read Whiskey-tec-prod a few years ago but it's probably time for a revisit now that I will understand a lot more of it.