Still Sizing and Bainmarie Heating


I'm looking to start up a Distillery making Vodka and Gin from Cows Milk and would love some pointers on sizing and designing the still setup.

We are looking to have 1800L of 6% wash 4 days a week.

We have a 300kW wood chip boiler on site which has excess heat we would love to use to heat our still if possible in a bain-marie style pot. (The maximum Temp we can get out of this is 92°C)

I would be great to see what size , style etc people would recommend for doing this on a 5 day week.

Many thanks


  • hey robin not sure if it helps but we heat a baine marie with the hot water from our wood boiler . here is the down side . we can circulate water in the jacket at around 180 , this takes forever to get the product up to temp , at least 12 hours . so our solution is we strip into the spirit still , by time its full we have the hot water bring it up to around 160 . when its time to run it we close the valves from the hydronic system open valves to prv and drop the water level in the jacket to about a third . we then use 3 elements in the jacket to heat from 160 to what ever temp we want to run the still .

    it is slow but it does bring us up to 160 for free . the hydronic water circulates in the jacket to what ever we want because it on its own loop controlled by its pump .

    hope that makes sense .


  • Hi Tim, Yes that was the method I had thought of as well, but I was going to fill the pot through a heat exchanger to speed up the initial heat up time. Then as you do close off the loop to the woodchip boiler and run electric elements.

  • So as a general rule of thumb we would say that you'll need 70 watts per liter for a 1 hour heat up. So 35 watts per liter will get you to a 2 hour heat up while spending 63,000 watts. So you do have enough heating power to keep heat up times respectable.

    What heating medium are you using? Do you run with a PRV or are you attempting to run open to the atmosphere? At 15 psi you should be able to achieve 121 C

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • With a 12" / 18 plate column, if you keep 50% you'll get about 156/750 ml bottles (per run) and the run will take about 4 hrs,,,,not including heat up time.

    If you keep 60% you'll get about 187/750 ml bottles per run.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Okay so you dont think I will need a Heat exchanger to pre heat the wash?

    so is that 63kw/H for heat up? what would the maths be for time and kws for the actual distillation?

    We are just using hot water with very little pressure, I have been told the boiler can run up to abit more under pressure but I think it was only up to 106C

  • Well you'll need to run up to "low (15 psi) pressure to get the kettle to perform heat up in a timely manner. The thing is that at atmosphere, you will never get past 100 C and will likely be leaving alcohol in your kettle.

    Can you confirm if you have a low pressure kettle rating @ 15 psi?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I dont have any equipment apart from our boiler just now, I was hoping to have a full SD setup when the time comes!

  • Got any pics you can post? Any markings on the kettle.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • By Kettle do you mean our Woodchip Boiler?

  • Kettle meaning the vessel used to hold and boill your beer, must, or low wines.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • We do not yet have a kettle yet. We would be looking at getting a bain marie style kettle heated on a closed loop from a heat exchanger with a air gap in the kettle to allow for expansion when we close off the heat exchanger and use electric elements to get up to our final temp.

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