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Questions about bubble plates and dephlegmator for making Whiskey

Hi All,

When making a whiskey with bubble plates does this do away with a stripping run, so just a single run with wash?

Also would I need to use a dephlegmator?

Many thanks,

Rosie

Comments

  • Plates allow you to run whiskey in a single pass with good product yield. You can still strip before the spirit run, however many find that the product proof is too high on the spirit run if using 3 or more plates.

    Yes you typically need a dephlag/reflux condenser with plates. Some columns can run plates with just passive reflux, but the efficiency is very low. You don’t need to run the reflux through the whole run.

  • edited November 2020

    Hi @grim, thanks for the detailed answer, so I would run the deflag at the start of the run?

  • edited November 2020

    There’s two ways on how you can run the reflux:

    1. Plumb product and reflux condenser in series (fresh water in product condenser then to reflux).
    2. Plumb reflux in parallel with separate valve.

    I’m normally running mine in series. Full power until boiling, then cut to 50% with lots of water flowing and then reducing water flow until I get desired output speed (usually ends up a trickle).

    Depending on the amount of the wash, I’ll do a strip if less than 5% ABV. Otherwise, straight to cuts.

    Cheers & welcome

  • @Rosie yes. I run the reflux and product condensers on seperate valves so I can control them separately. With dark spirits I use a lot of reflux to make good heads cuts, then greatly reduce the flow to the reflux condenser when into hearts to speed up the run. Sometimes I increase the reflux again towards the end to make a tighter tails cut.

  • Thanks everyone, you have answered my questions and now I feel confident to do it all in one run straight from the wash which will be about 8% abv

  • edited December 2020

    How many plates do you have @Rosie?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • can you de-tune a 4""inch X 4 plate modular still, and not run the defleg and just use the condenser as a pot still mode ??

    Thanks in advance

  • So long as the plates are removed

  • @Boozehagg said: can you de-tune a 4""inch X 4 plate modular still, and not run the defleg and just use the condenser as a pot still mode ??

    Thanks in advance

    What I’m doing is that I’m replacing my 4” section (incl RC) with 2” spool of the same length. Just lowering the 4x2 down to the kettle and everything down the road is the same.

    Another thing you can do is empty the RC and run with the plates in. You’ll get some reflux at the beginning of the run but once everything is up to temp, it behaves pretty close to a pot still

  • Also, just for some context (or added confusion), for a time there not that long before Dave Pickerell passed away, he heavily promoted 8 plated whiskey stills. Also, Jonny Ver Planck over at Shady Distillery runs one of his rum skews through 12"/15 plates at over 100L per hour collecting at 160.

    I would say, because your still allows you to do so, run as many ways ways as possible and let your sensory awareness team help you choose the profiles you want to keep. Or at least eliminate the profiles that are not getting the job done.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I ran my first dozen or so runs over a 4 plate column and now I am simple potstiller. Whatever floats your boat really.

  • @Smaug said: Also, just for some context (or added confusion), for a time there not that long before Dave Pickerell passed away, he heavily promoted 8 plated whiskey stills.

    That's interesting, you have any more details?

  • I think the number of plates is mostly irrelevant, it’s the reflux ratio that’s important. It’s just that having a high number of plates usually means high reflux but that doesn’t have to be the case. Run 15 plates hard with no reflux and <160 won’t be much of a problem. All the plates will pretty much just be one long tube.

  • Not in agreement that the number of plates are irrelevant because you are still having passive reflux, additionally you have the added depth on each plate through which tales is being held back. To have to drive the above system, requires extra heat input.

    Simply put, not an optimal controlled still and will not give the best taste product.

  • edited January 6

    What I find challenging though, is passive reflux on stripped wash (higher kettle abv) makes a big difference.

    On our 4 plate, passive reflux only, if I load a stripped wash at about 30%, I can not get the aggregate product proof under 160. No way, no how.

    I use this to my advantage with my rum, but really, it wants to run somewhere around 170-175ish completely passive loaded with strip.

    I think I could easily get away with 5-6 plates if the goal was really clean whiskey from wash for short-term aging. But like @jbierling says, it's all about the reflux. I'd need to turn the dephleg nearly off after heads to get there.

  • @grim said: That's interesting, you have any more details?

    We had dinner one evening with one of Dave's clients. We were at one one the distilling conferences. They were pretty green on the distilling side though they had plenty of experience on the farming side. So they took Dave's recommendation literal.

    He evidently sold them (through Vendome) the idea of an 8 plate column for their whiskey production. They explained that he was at the time recommending that plate count to several client's.

    I can only assume he would be running hard and fast with little to no reflux after his heads cut?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited January 7

    I had popped into Hillrock a few times when they were just getting started hoping to run into Dave, but alas, never saw him.

    I'm not sure if that was his last big project or not, but probably close to it. That place was was somewhere between a church and a hospital, and I'm still not sure they ever ran that still by looking at it. But they had a single still 4 plater.

    I prefer the single-pass style, so I get it. Flavor profile is very different on single pass, bolder, like single pot still. Generally you are paying the price for that, and that's yield. But run the column right, stack hard, and you can claw back a huge part of that lost yield without an impact to quality, and you don't lose that flavor. Never really had an opportunity to run a large 8 plater with grain-in. Did it with my small rig, but I don't think the dynamics are anywhere near the same.

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