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Distillation of Neutral Spirit for Gin

Hi Guys,

I'm currently operating a 250Litre pot still with 5'' SGK Pro column with 3 bubble plates. My initial product was a poitín, which is now on the market and is being very well received. The next brand is going to be a gin. I want to create a neutral spirit base for the gin - we're aware that neutral spirit is cheaper and easier to buy but we don't always go the easy route. Creating our own base spirit will enable us to have a truly handcrafted product. I know I need a gin basket to vapour infuse the botanicals.

How many plates would I need to get a neutral spirit - it doesn't need to be as neutral as a vodka. Can we count the gin run as further refinement of the spirit if the gin basket is after the plates phase?


  • The below is based on my personal experience with a 380L that went from 4 to 6 to 8 to 24 plates

    1. 8 will make a base for gin, maybe even 6... but it will not be neutral, 10 can do neutral with a lot of reflux, but 16 is the minimum I would recommend for 'neutral' at any sort of acceptable speed when you have to pay for power and cooling
    2. you are asking for trouble if you try to rectify with a gin basket on top in the same run... your entire base needs to be 100% acceptable to the palate, both at 40%abv and when diluted to 10% or so with a mixer...
    3. if you want to fill your 250L with base at 40% to make a 40-50% product through a gin basket, that gin basket will need to be about 20L in volume... 250L * 30g/L = 7500grams(400grams takes up about a liter of volume) I use a smaller 60L boiler and a 4L chamber and it is packed full...
  • Hi Pogriallais,

    it is good to hear that you are successful with your spirits. If you want to make an upgrade to 10 plates, it should not be a problem at all - but please don't wait too long, we will most likely discontinue the 5" columns and our stock is already low.

    I also agree, that Gin runs and neutral runs should not be done at once. I really think, the time you might safe is not worth the trouble. Just my 2 cents ;)

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • Thank you for the advice guys. I might opt for a 6'' column- this will shorten the distillation time? I'm doing this commercially so power and cooling matters. Is the 16 plates the minimum option? Is a packed column an option?

  • jump to 6 not really worth it.. IMHO, a 20% increase in height is worth more than a 20% increase in are until you get to 16-20 plates...

    you will not go wrong with 10-16 plates of 5" example - buy another set of ends and put 6 plates in it and have 9 total, but you can still use 3 or 6 without much hassle...

    every plate you add is less you have to run through the reflux condenser...

    packed is heavy, expensive, and consumable

  • A lot of members here run six plates with 500mm of packing, maybe not as much in a commercial environment, but for hobby based guys it is really common. Packed with stainless scrubbers you won't have to worry about them being replaced too soon. It's a cheap mod and for the sake of a couple hundred dollars well worth it to see what you think for your self.

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

  • @CothermanDistilling Your reply on 14/9 is an excellent answer and puts exactly the dilemma with gin and vapor infusion. Most helpful. As well as todays. Can see you have been through it before.


  • I made my base by running through 5 plates and a packed section.
    Run and collect hearts.
    Re-run the hearts and collect the heart of the hearts.
    For the most part I was very happy with the resulting product, on occasion I would re-run the hearts a third time depending on the source.

  • For a pro distiller like @pogriallais runs and re-runs might be the second best solution.

    Time is money in the business - right?

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • edited September 2016

    Out of curiosity, what are you proofing your poitin to? We'll also be marketing a poitin, and the sample we've been tasting is at 104 proof. It's good, and is receiving good reviews, but I know much of the old-time stuff was proofed a bit higher.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • edited September 2016

    I've struggled to get to azeotrope for a while. started with 4 plates, then to 7 now with 11 we are finally getting azeotrope but with the 4" and 9000W (operation wattage.150K heatup) we are still just now seeing around 4-5l/hour on first distillation from a wash. If I collect at a strip of about 85-90% my flow goes up to 10L+/hour. I'll comment that moving from 93%-96% has changed the character of the spirit noticeably enough that I'd recommend a column capable of producing azeotrope at your desired production rate.

    Cotherman notes 16 plates minimum. Sounds about right to me too. I have no idea how the character changes from 11 plates to 24. maybe it just makes cuts cleaner and more defined. that could pay for itself in a short time.

    from what I can tell, you will need a super dephleg and very very good PC, and i'd plan on more than 10 plates. 10 is MINIMUM and your production will be low.

    That said, the neutrality of your wash could allow you to use less plates, but it'd be really critical.

    I agree with punkin on getting a couple 500mm sections of pipe and trying scrubbers to see what you get. thats a cheap way to get answers.

    Also, if you wanna save some money, dont use the sight glass sections for every plate. use a 100mm pipe extension instead and put the glass only in critical monitoring areas (bottom,top, middle). Oh, and procaps are going to increase your production over bubble caps if you have the heat available.


    • 10 plates is too slow at azeotrope
    • lots of RC and PC cooling
    • wash neutrality is critical
    • try packed columns and pipe extensions to save money and experiment
  • edited September 2016

    Pro caps make a huge difference in take off rate by all acounts.

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

  • Thank you all for the advice. I think I'm going to invest in a new still - new pot and 16 plate column. I'll make the neutral grain spirit on the vodka still and redistill with the pot still and aroma basket.

    I'm proofing my poitín to 44%ABV or 88 proof.

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