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Discussion about Boiler Charge ABV and reuse of Boiler Water

edited February 2018 in Usage

Hello All,

I am new here and I have gained a lot of valuable information reading on this forum. Thank you!

I am now in the process of setting up a small commercial distillery and have purchased an electrical heated bain-marie still that is soon to be delivered. I will be making Gin and other flavored liquors from very high grade 96% ABV neutral that I purchase from a large industrial factory. I will be using a Gin Basket standing besides the boiler for vapor infusion.

I have 2 questions I hope you can help me to discuss and clarify:

  1. I have been reading a lot about the safety issue that sets the max recommended boiler charge to 40% ABV but I have also read that some commercial distillers like Hendriks use 60% ABV boiler charge. What are your recommendations for boiler charge ABV in a double wall bain-marie boiler?

  2. Regarding the water in the boiler after a run - can this be reused or must this, together with the last part of the spirit, be thrown out?

Please ask questions if something are unclear in my description :-)

Best regards,


  • edited February 2018

    How would you be reusing your backset from # 2?

  • edited February 2018

    Hi Robert,

    I was thinking of changing the botanicals in the Gin basket and adding more neutral to the boiler and doing a second run.


  • edited February 2018

    If your gin basket drains to the kettle, you probably don't want to do this. You may find a higher concentration of bitter and other off-flavors in the second run.

    When we run gin from neutral, the remaining liquid in the kettle is fairly indistinguishable from water. It contains a small amount of alcohol, and I often considered using that for the next run, to minimize losses.

    We dilute our still charge with RO/DI water, so I don't need to be concerned with mineral build up. If you aren't using demineralized water, you'll eventually build up a somewhat high concentration of minerals in the still.

    I suspect you could probably do this for a few runs, before you started to build up some tails components in the still.

    We run a fairly low boiler charge though, 18% alcohol, so really, what we're starting with isn't far off from water anyway. We do this because we want to collect a distillate very close to our bottling proof. We do not want to have to add any water, if possible, to the distillate.

  • edited February 2018

    Hi @grim,

    Thank you very much for your input.

    My Gin basket do not drain to the kettle just a valve out to a bucket for disposal. So I wont risk off-flavors from there.

    I use water filtered by a brita purity c500 filter to dilute the charge - this take some of the minerals but not all.

    I think it will be possible to reuse the charge water maybe 3-5 times by just adding more neutral before flushing it out . This will reduce loss of neutral.


  • @trkprivate said: This will reduce loss of neutral

    Don`t really understand that. There is not much alcohol left in the boiler at the end of the run. If you are processing huge volumes it might be an issue.

  • @grim (assuming you use the same charge technique across the board) have you found any noticeable differences between higher and lower-proof gin runs (of the same bill obviously)? I pull lower for whiskey and especially brandy, never tried it with gin though, always gone through column to basket and out using my own mostly-neutral

    I can't really see how there would be in the end result, but sometimes gin happens haha.

  • I use the 18% rule, 18% abv in the boiler and run it through the gin basket. The gin comes out spot on 40% and based upon volumes there is maybe 5 % losses. Mainly due to taking cuts on your gin run. But i didnt figure that out. That was from some Odin video. Either way you lose a little bit of alcohol but not that much. I hzvd been doing 50l charges that consume 9 litres of 96% neutral, which costs my $1.3 per litre. So i probably lose 65cents in lost alcohol. Its not enough for me to lose sleep about.

  • My gin boiler has much more capacity compared to the single gin basket, so running dilute and proofing less seems to have a simpler workflow. Net net, it probably wastes more power than running a more concentrated still charge and proofing (why spend the energy distilling).

    Really wish the crew here would make a slightly larger GB!

  • Crew Here = StillDragon?

    Tell us what you want.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited February 2018

    Bigger than this?


    450 x 800 - 72K

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Why does your Julio look so stoned?

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

  • edited February 2018

    Maybe because he is Jamaican? Yah mon.....

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • What's the rough botanical capacity?

  • The 8" version is roughly 160 x 355mm internally.

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

  • The basket on the 12" gin column is 10" W x 15" H

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I suggest someone do the math for liters of volume inside the 2 baskets... or you could just see how much water they hold and measure it!

  • The 8" basket holds 7 litres and the 12" one holds 19 litres according to my water test, although i ran out of chewing gum near the end.

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

  • edited February 2018

    So it sounds about 10x increase from the Small GB to the 8".

    Average bottles per basket load on the small GB top out around, what, 25-30 750ml bottles (that seems to be my top end)? So talking about 250-300 bottles on the 8" GB, give or take?

    For a low-proof charge run (18% in, no dilution out) on 250-300 bottles, we're talking about 400-500 liters still charge for this sized basket. If you increased that to about 30% you'd be in the 250-300 liter boiler range, and at 40% pulls you back to about 190-225.

    Realistically, you are talking the 8" GB pairs with the 380l still boiler, for about 250-300 bottles per run assuming dilution post distillation? Or if you want to pull off at close to bottle proof, roughly 125-150 bottles per run, with a short-loaded basket.

  • I get 48 bottles out our of our GB... I was thinking the 8" for the 380 and 12" for the 1000l also...

  • @grim Are you running the 18% through a plated column? If so, how many plates? Also, running off the still at close to bottling strength, outside of not having to dilute, do you find you're getting a small flavor change or is it more substantial?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited March 2018

    @grim. This is what I did, I got my tank guy to just get a 4" section about 200mm long and weld on a 2" ferrule for the gas outlet. Now the whole thing holds two Gin baskets and I can fill up my 150l boiler with a charge of 120l and get about 60litres of product out of it. I havent run it yet as I am still trying to get rid of the Gin I have. But this does have my two gin Baskets in it, I havent moved the condensor location yet. The other option which I tried was to get a second gin basket and stack that on top. The extension piece might be an alternative product for SD to carry.


    450 x 800 - 76K
  • Yeah that's a good idea.

  • I used the SD 4" filter disc below a 500mm section and put the GB on top... to prevent drip down, I warm it up, shut off power, fill it, then blast the power back on. I think height causes channeling, sometimes I have a bit of dry material inside int he center, the 2 basket idea would stop that, and maybe insulation would be a good idea for GB also, as wall reflux could be aiding the channeling.

    I will be ordering a 8" GB as soon as I can...

  • I was going to use a filter disc but I got the basket and wrapped teflon tape around it until it had a vapour seal inside the basket and works very nicely. I will do that with the second basket so the vapor has to go through both baskets.

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