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We make our gin using grain spirit in single batches on the fly, connecting the gin basket (modified 50L home brew conical fermenter) in the vapour line directly off the column on the 3rd distillation. We take the pipe down alongside the column and then connect to a T at the bottom of the gin basket. One end of the T goes up to the basket and the other is a condense line back to the pot. The commercial product has been much cleaner than the trial batches we made using a 4" Dash & until last week I put this down to the 8" Crystal Dragon being more efficient. Up to now all of our gin runs have only been half full pots but last week I did a full pot of one of our gins that has hop flowers in the botanical mix. As a result the gin basket was close to full - its about 14" diameter and the botanicals were about 14-16" deep, hops at the bottom, because they can waterlog and channel the vapour, and the rest mixed on top. The ABV held up very high falling to @ 90% after about 15 hours. Around this time, most of the lighter flavours had disappeared from the product coming off the still, there was a slight smoky taste and what I though at the time was a hint of tails (but on re-tasting a sample later it was probably well stewed juniper). I'd collected a pretty good amount of gin so I decided to cut to tails. I put the column into full reflux, opened the gin basket and removed the botanicals and then started collecting again. Within minutes the ABV off the parrot had fallen to 50% and with half an hour it milky white and down below 20. When I drained the pot the ABV reading was 0, it was very milky yellow and had a strong smell of hops and cinnamon, indicating there was a lot of reflux condense from the basket in it. Its seems that the packed gin basket was working as a very efficient second column!
I'm thinking that the in the future when I'm making neutral spirit it might try packing the gin basket and keep it the vapour line to improve efficiency. I'd just got to work out what will be the best packing material. It needs to be something that isn't too heavy and can go in a bag that 'we can remove easily when we make gin.