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A cut above

It seems the vast majority of the members here are competent distillers.
I've seen almost no newbie posts like... How much yeast should I add to 15 pounds of sugar?...

We also have a high ratio of commercial distillers represented here. ^:)^

If we get a newbie here, let's not all pounce on him at once with information overload ;)


  • Yes, that's true. We have such a high level of sophistication here, that potential newbies may be put off assuming that this place is for pros only.

    Any ideas for making it easier for absolute beginners are welcome.

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  • @Law_Of_Ohms said: How did I get in then?

    You paid $20. (Please note that it an annual fee). :))

  • :\">

    I feel like I'm the biggest newb in the lot. And I'm ok with that. You guys make me feel very welcome.

    Although, I do have some experience under my belt so I s'pose I'm not a "How much yeast per pound sugar" level newb.

    One question though. Do all newbs have to take a shot from the dunder pit, or was moonshine just messin' with me? Cause that tasted pretty bad.

  • Ha ha Loo almost all your posts make me laugh I don't know how you do it

    Ive been reading for four years and distilling for three and still consider myself a beginner

    Tasting the stuff you make is the hard part

    We could start a beginner thread between all our knowledge

    I think a making cuts and general safety thread is a good idea

    Straight of the bat removing the fores is a biggy and and it's not something we read much

    I can't remember the last time I read a thread/post that says

    Discard fores !

    I just throw them out as I don't want them misplaced But there are plenty of uses

    A thread on lessons in general fermentation are a major bonus

    Apart from this forum I spend most of my time learning how to make beer and the fermentation process of beer is very important

    And fermentation on the distilling seems a bit laxed

    I wish I could be of more use to the community although I try

    Great ideas/ minds

    We can work it out together

    Perhaps a permanent thread for idiot questions and answers

    Like what temp does alcohol start vaporizing ?

    Cooling water temps

    Basic tools and equipment

    Do,s and donts

  • =)) =)) You crack me up.

  • A question that I've been asked recently is this how many bubble plates do I need to make good neutral spirit I answered if you started with a pot still and you made your cuts potentially you would have a reasonable product by adding more bubble plates then its like redistilling for each bubble plate I then went on to say that I have read somewhere that a notable brand of whiskey claims 50 times distillation so based on this a 10 bubble plate still processed 5 times will give the so called 50 times have I got it wrong ?

  • The boiler counts as a distillation, as in a pot still. The dephlegmator also counts as a plate.
    So with one physical bubble plate and a reflux condenser (dephlem) you get a theoretical 3 distillations. Each additional plate counts as a distillation.

    With our modern equipment, not just SD products but any good bubble column, you can run at an optimum of even that with increased power and increased reflux - inducing more theoretical plates from the number of physical plates. This is evidenced by the "experts" that said, only a couple of years ago, that a 4" bubble plate column, starting with a 12% boiler charge could not possibly achieve greater than 92% ABV. Most of us here have long since dispelled that notion as 94 and 95+% is common for us now.

    With a good, clean, low-flavor ferment, 6 to 10 plates and a boiler charge of 35% or so, the hearts cut can be considered neutral enough for most folks. Re-distilling the hearts to get the heart of hearts would be neutral enough for discerning vodka drinkers. Carbon polishing would further soften and smooth the spirit and remove any residual flavor or odors and be worthy of any vodka snob.

  • Add a packed section into the mix and you are really cooking. I have heard the talk of 15 plates often enough too.

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

  • 211211
    edited October 2013

    My neighbor and mentor in distilling, was saying last night over a jar or two, he has noticed how friendly the posts are here, he is not a member here but reads extensively all over the net. He has sadly for him given up posting to the online distilling forums that he was a member of. He gave me very honest advice on stills when I was getting started, and laid out ALL the options for me and my money, advice he is no longer able to give beginners when they rock up to a forum with the classic newbie question of " what still should I buy?" His advice to me was.....

    buy a modular 2" pot with the biggest product condenser you can afford

    followed by a frank discussion of all my options.... Which lead me to buying my SD pot shot, that is just plain awesome...

    I think a potshot users manual like the dash users manual would be a great asset to this forum and would of helped me have more confidence in my first few runs as a total beginer.

  • edited October 2013

    buy a modular 2" pot with the biggest product condenser you can afford

    That is very sound advice. There's not much that can't be made with a pot.

    We would be very happy to have a pot users manual, are you volounteering to write it? :)>-

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

  • @punkin +1 not much that can not be done with a pot, mine is 3" and It is indeed a great platform to get the basics before moving on to a plated column just like I am. :-)

  • edited October 2013

    buy a modular 2" pot with the biggest product condenser you can afford

    Yep thats what I did. made some good booze with it too! (220L rum)

  • Yup, my buds looked at me funny when I made a 36" long leibig condenser..

  • Speaking of a cut above, chek out @DistilliTraK , yet anothe member with a potload of goon info...Gotta love this place, certainly a cut above!!!

  • @captainshooch said: Speaking of a cut above, chek out DistilliTraK , yet anothe member with a potload of goon info...Gotta love this place, certainly a cut above!!!

    very good info! And to all I like the cut above mantra! :)>-

    It is what you make it!

  • I consider myself a real newbie in the big world of distilling. I bought a still from ebay .au for roughly $250 that was hand made all copper small jacket (that I now know is CM coolant management) has the water tubes going in the column from one side to the other, was packed with marbles, had a 27lt birko boiler and the bloke chucked in a couple of plastic buckets told me to keep the temp at 78 degree's and see ya later ! Forums read, a Tomato based sugar wash started and really dudes are you for real... am I gunna drink this pink shit sitting in a plastic barrell?.

    Distilling started and first batch was ok...what the bloody hell are cuts ?...chucked the first and last jar out kept the rest. Made up a "batch of whiskey with essence", made some other essence stuff and yep gotta be 50% or more because we love our grog.... Bloody hell...welcome to a nightmare of drinking and shitfull headaches. Reckon after a few tries might read a little more, and slowly it all comes together to the point that commercial spirits taste bad and my stuff is great,(YEH) and tiny little headaches unless really just drinking more than a bottle at a time! That CM still works just perfect when you gain a little knowledge and understand the process involved. Its 95-96% spot on, but a little slow. In my close circle of friends I'm now the "grog" expert....or is it the free grog? Sure beats the old Italian in-laws grappa, some is ok others are actually really bad.

    Next step after 2years, email Punkin and start sorting out a unit, 4" hybrid will suit I reckon. Exceptional service and we even had a mix up with the order that was fixed asap so a few more additional orders later and I have a 4 plate dash/hybrid. Best thing is knowing I'm buying a bit of quality stuff, and modular it can be done over a period of time. I did consider a pot still first but managed to keep a bit of pocket money for a full setup.

    Posted on here with a few questions and the response was great, no knocking or put downs, no stupid stuff, all friendly. I have replied in part with photos of my setup, answered others questions, even recorded a video running a neutral just so it may help someone else out a bit.

    I'm now started something called grain sugar wash, with corn/barley/wheat in 2 x 60lt lots that I've been told needs 5 generations at least, that's about 150lt of stripped stuff to then run properly in the dash, cuts/oak/age and hopefully enjoy a proper home made drink.

    BIGGEST lesson so far, patience, knowledge, experiment, and if in doubt ask.

    FYI I'm 50 and don't assume I'll have this down perfect before I'm in the ground, but I do want to pass what I know before that happens, I'd say the SD stuff will still be going as good as it is now.



  • Thanks @fadge, excellent real life experience write-up.
    I started with an eBay still, 2" calamity that was tooted up way more than it deserved and costs way too much for what it was worth. That was years ago but it got me into making my own stills and spirits. Never looked back and can honestly say it was the best money I ever spent.
    The eBay still sucked but as a complete noob I had no idea where to jump in.

    Fast forward a few years, I move to China and think up "fully modular" on a train from my home in Yangzhou to Shenzhen (22 hour train trip) because I want a great still. To tell the truth, the quest is always ongoing. I now have literally tons of great stills sold and used worldwide but how can I possibly be satisfied?
    There is always something new to explore even I have a couple of years on you, boy :))
    Pushed past 50 and closing in closer to 60 but the quest for perfection is stronger today than ever. Got nothing but past experience and a desire to help make fully modular (Dash) the standard. God knows the other still makers have latched onto the idea and for that I have mixed feelings... glad they see the logic but sad they copy the concept and claim they are the creator.

    It's all good though because I get to stay busy churning out goods and ideas and that keeps me younger than you, haha.

    I own StillDragon and I can have any still I want. I run a keg boiler and a Dash2.

  • Speaking of "cuts above" - Jes imagine....hearts'o sweet feed, ran in potstill mode, as slow as possible and as cool as possible - 4th generation run, GoodLord in Heaven... After a month on woods, every bit as smooth to me as Bushmills.

    I've cut me teef on a BH PSIIC o'er the past two years. Read so much stuff and books that first year, I hardly ever got any thing done. Seemed like I was always having to gear up with some new item or heat source, or meter, etc. Gawd, I remember those first few runs where I chased that flow (Hotplate I had was absoultely impossible for the task), and then afterwards had to learn just how granular a blichman burner is over electric. I also didn't try 10+ gal batches any more just because my boiler is 15g. Once I caught the groove of it with smaller attempts, I really enjoyed following the process and seeing how consistient I can be. And, I found the benefit of using "less than spectacular outcome batches" as fuel additives for the machines in the rural space I occupy.

    I'm about as anal as I can get on tossing ever'thing except hearts back in to low wines jug for the next run. And I run with my coolant a bit colder than most like (I think), but dang* the product is nice. Other sites call it **slow and low in reference to the flow rate/heat transfer.

    And, I'm a hillbilly to boot, y'all... If you were to look in the right place there'd be a banjo by me...


    Hobby Distillers Association Member - Join us today!

    The only sillae question is the one you don't ask folks...

  • @ DistilliTraK There ain't no hills in n east texas if yout talking texarakana area anyways.... Hillbilly? :))

  • Nah Sah. I am about an hour west of Texarkana... Years ago, before I had me any good sense, I was from the Mtn's of Virginia...the Hillbilly came from tha'r..

    Hobby Distillers Association Member - Join us today!

    The only sillae question is the one you don't ask folks...

  • Paris/MT Pleasant huh... nice area...

  • Well this thread was going away but, really, there is so much going on in the SD world that I feel I need to bump this thread and keep it going. Lets face it, automation, 5" CD, Gin basket, thermowells...SD auto DIY controllers in the works...what can I say, but Thanks!!!!! Now I am prolly the only fool that pushes the envelope and go beyond where @Lloyd would like me to but, it is all good and not one day goes by where I do not learn something from this place... and I am just loving it. :) and I ain't sitting on a toilet naked!!! =))

  • I do, but not now and I talk through my mouth.

    DAD... not yours.. ah, hell... I don't know...

  • It would be impossible for me to tally up the hours I have spent reading your post @dad, @punkin, @Smaug (LWTS) and many others Thank you...I just feel this is my home and glad to see you all here..I have a lot to learn yet!!!

  • edited March 2014

    Here here el capitain. I gotta say I love this forum. Reasons being is there is a really good mix of heads and everyone keeps their egos in check:) The info is first class. There are quite a few forums I just cannot bare to visit anymore. Basically because the BS egos and the my vagina is bigger than your vagina type scenarios that happen in every post.

    And..most will probably not like this but I am oposed to simple questions being asked over and over and I like that I dont have to sift through countless posts of people asking the same thing over and over. But that is just me. Im a cranky middle aged fart haha

    You guys make me want to be a better distiller. <3

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