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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Distilling to 190

Hello,

When I got into the distilling business I was told a column with a minimum number (21) plates is necessary to practically achieve 190, so a 21 plate column is what I have. I know a lot of small distilleries making vodka distill without a column, with a pot and 4 plates or with a column having less than 21 plates. I assumed these distilleries are yielding 190 (painfully slow and not efficiently) or processing NGS. Recently, a couple of prospective distillers asked me to try and achieve 190 with my pot and 4 plates. A domestic manufacturer has assured them they will reach 190 with 4 plates. After a couple of tries with a +60% ABV charge in my Carl Still, four plates and a lot of cooling 187 is as high as it gets. The results I get contradict an established still manufacture unless I am distilling improperly. Therefore I ask, have you yielded 190 with only 4 plates? If so, how do you do it?

Thank you,

Paul


Reply:

Hello,

When I got into the distilling business I was told a column with a minimum number (21) plates is necessary to practically achieve 190, so a 21 plate column is what I have. I know a lot of small distilleries making vodka distill without a column, with a pot and 4 plates or with a column having less than 21 plates. I assumed these distilleries are yielding 190 (painfully slow and not efficiently) or processing NGS. Recently, a couple of prospective distillers asked me to try and achieve 190 with my pot and 4 plates. A domestic manufacturer has assured them they will reach 190 with 4 plates. After a couple of tries with a +60% ABV charge in my Carl Still, four plates and a lot of cooling 187 is as high as it gets. The results I get contradict an established still manufacture unless I am distilling improperly. Therefore I ask, have you yielded 190 with only 4 plates? If so, how do you do it?

Thank you,

Paul


Reply:

We strip through 4 plates then distill twice more through 19 plates to get to proof. So, it really goes through a total of 42 plates. I think we could do it on one pass through the 19 plates, but I've been doing it this way and I'm happy with the results. I'm a bit nervous to change.


Reply:

Same at our distillery. Stripping with less -- otherwise the stripping runs would take forever -- then finish with 2 distillations on 20 something.


Reply:

I do a stripping run with a simple pot still to get the low wines to about 38% and then put it in a 100 gallon still that I had Jesse at Trident Welding make for me. It has a 1.6 meter column with stainless packing (the industrial stuff, not scrubbers) and a dephlegmator on top. The run takes about 8 hours plus 90 min for heat up and I get 190.5 proof for the hearts. It only takes 10 minutes to change out the column if i just want to use it as a pot still. The still looks great and costs about 1/6th of the price of the 20+ plate monsters from Germany. I only mention this because I think its a shame that as artisans we're so ready to buy a manufactured solution (in Euros no less!) when there are plenty of artisan fabricators in the U.S. that can deliver to us a fantastic, cost effective solution (if you know what you want). Just one man's opinion.


Reply:

Any chance you could post or e-mail me photos of your still and columns?