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Having Troubles With Our Vodka



  • I have read many wonderful tips to try here. We are going to try a few different things and see what happens. I will report back.

  • edited November 2015

    @Smaug said: I am personally a firm believer that a slightly elevated liquid level on the plate makes for a smoother finish product as well as assist in abv.

    I only have anecdotal experience.

    @Smaug how does that sit with a packed section? There are no plates for liquid to elevate and they make very clean, smooth and pure spirit.

    According to the HETP calculator, a 400mm packed section should be equivalent to 4.2 plates and give 90%. What would be the difference in the distillate between running through 4 plates or running through just a 400mm packed section? Would it still carry flavour over or because it's a packed section would it just produce 90% neutral?

  • edited November 2015

    Hi Mickiboi,

    My frame of reference is really limited on packing material used.

    I have tasted spirits rendered with a packed column and have used a small measure of packing in conjunction with plates.

    My comment was really intended for plate assembies. That is really where my safe zone is.

    I would say that flavor congeners are more likely to get trapped (or entrained ) on any given plate. And as such forthcoming vapor that is rising through the system will be carrying congeners as well as being reintroduced to entrained congeners as the run progresses. So as the distillation cycles progress, the alcohol is being reintroduced to congeners rather than being completely stripped and rising to the next level for the next round of phase change.

    In essence, the plated column is not as efficient at rendering clean alcohol as a properly packed column. And that is a classic example of why distillers should exploit the inefficiencies of the system in order to make a complex flavored spirit.

    I don't know first hand, but I feel like a 90% rum will have a heavier quality out of a plated column.

    I can tell you for certain that a 94-95% rum rendered from a 10% rum beer and a plated column absolutely is not neutral.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • @Smaug said: I don't know first hand, but I feel like a 90% rum will have a heavier quality out of a plated column.

    I can tell you for certain that a 94-95% rum rendered from a 10% rum beer and a plated column absolutely is not neutral.

    To this, I can attest. I get PLENTY of carryover of flavors at 90% from rum and pretty much have gotten anything worth keeping by 88% . The occasional exception is when I find a golden jar somewhere buried in the tails but it takes soooooo long to collect the tails that I am considering just pulling the plug when they arrive.

    My last run of neutral showed 95% on the alcoholmeter but it wasn't at 20C so I really am not sure what it was. By the second spirit run (third counting the stripping) I had some neutral that was almost void of smell and taste. It was void of those to me but I am assuming that someone with a better nose than me could pick up a scent. I am using Wineos recipe so I don't want any residual flavor like I would if using grain.

  • will try to run tomorrow, got the 96 copper risers made, cleaned, and tapped in with a spacer that is 8mm thick..


    450 x 800 - 60K
  • Looks good, post the play by play for us.

  • Wow Mike, that's a lot of risers. Do you have to put teflon tape around them to keep them from slipping down?

  • no need, they are an interference fit, I had to tap them in with the hammer, the steel blank, and the nylon 8mm spacer.. they are not coming out or going further in unless forced... removing will likely destroy them unless I make a special puller..

  • Each time I take my plates out to clean them, I have to readjust the risers. Might look into your version but at $2 for the SS ones I can't complain. They get the job done.

  • just make them a little 'non round' if they are too loose.. they may seep a little by, but not enough to matter..

  • A wind or two of PTFE plumbers' tape will hold them in place.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • I've been using the teflon tape and it does OK.

  • The copper ones were a tight fit to begin with, no teflon tape needed on 99% of them, the odd one that was loose got a 'underdog bite'

  • I'm gonna "pinch" them next time they are out. Thanks for the tip.

  • sorry for cross-post, but here they are working, I tweaked the RC and got 190.4 (+-.2) at about 10L/hr

  • edited November 2015

    @toledowhiskeyman said: We are limited on height. That's why we are trying the packing and lava rock. I guess we could start looking at going sideways.

    Just a late throwaway comment on this:
    I rarely try vodka runs but when I last did one I packed lava rock on top of each bubble plate - filled the wholed column- keeping the downcomers free by a rolled section of s/s mesh - same mesh protected the sight glasses
    Maybe worth trying if you're pressed for height- it carried heat up the column and the deph was struggling but it worked

  • I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • Any thoughts around a 20 foot 8" packed column?

    We have some large tubing sections available to us.

    Not entirely sure what the best packing options would be with that size, we're talking nearly a full cubic meter of packing.

  • Scoria would be the cheapest for sure.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • I remember the fellers at Grand Teton commenting on much work it was to clean their packing though I don't remember what they used.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited November 2015

    Wondering if something simple like old school saddles or pall rings. Take a trade off in HETP because I do have some height.

    I see a bunch of guys using Dixon style mesh rings too.

  • So if I add scrubbies to each of my four plates, do I have 8 plates? Or does the effect of separating the scrubbies with plates cancel out the effect of a continuous length of scrubbie?

  • In my case, the plates functioned as per normal - and the packing reduces splashing/entrainment so I'd guess you could assume 4 plates plus the total length of the 4 packed sections...which if packed efficiently could even be more than 8 plates if the HETP was less than the physical plate spacings

  • It's a good question I was hoping to test, but haven't had the time.

  • I've got a whole island made of scoria all around me, free for the taking. I cannot imagine packing my still with that shit. It is of unknown chemical composition. This I do know for certain - volcanoes puke up some pretty nasty shit.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

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