High Ester Still Build

I want to build something crazy. I want to take all of the ideas we have on here, along with the history of still making, to make a modern still designed to create a high ester spirit. Not just rye or rum, but any flavorful spirit. I'm not sure grain in or not. Size - probably 1000 ltrs or so. I am open to any ideas. I'll present my idea but am willing to go where the discussion takes us.

So my idea v1: A thumper, equal in volume to the still but 10 feet tall. This will generate the same pressure as the 3 chamber still. For the thumper I want to have the vapor tube come down near the bottom and then have a perforated metal "hat" at the bottom. It would reduce the bubble size and allow for more contact with the spirit. It also would hopefully allow the bubbles to collapse completely. The pressure would allow the still to achieve higher temps and go way deeper into the tails.

@Smaug and I spoke a little about it today. It's kinda hard to visualize the bubble hat, but he, being awesome as he is, did a small drawing of it in a slightly different setup. Mr. @Smaug if you could upload that please???

«1

Comments

  • Did you want the bubble cap design by itself? Or the bubble cap with the little hobby rig?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • The bubble cap itself. just to show it off.

  • edited August 18

    Here ya go.
    The perf / holes are 5 mm btw.

    image

    SMY Bubble Cap.jpg
    423 x 800 - 18K

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Got some more to post but have been jammed up the past few days.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Thank you sir. I've been trying to think how to set it up as a side column. To match it with a 1000 liter still it would need to be 1.1m radius by 3 meters tall to hit 1140 liters giving it a little room for expansion and headspace. At that height it would require 4.25psi to push vapor through. That's around the 3 column still pressure.

  • edited August 17

    Esterification still?

    You need to maximize alcohol and acid concentrations with as little water as possible. This means an atypical still type.

    Ideally, it would mean slowly injecting the acid component into the top of the column during reflux. You might be able to do something here with late tails injection. Even better would be a kid of “Cousins-process” product injected into the top of the column.

    Alternatively, you could fashion a reactive distillation column by using an esterification resin like Dow Amberlyst.

    For a thumper style design, would likely involve treatment of the thumper contents to promote esterification, for example addition of sulfuric acid as catalyst.

  • Scanning through the literature for any references to increased pressure beverage distillation. Surprisingly thin. Plenty of content on reduced pressure.

  • The process for the thumper would be the same as a 3 column still, the thumper would get the mash and the boiler would get the stillage. I'm not sure why there are 3 columns, it appears that the second one is an unneeded intermediary.

    Also thinking about it you would only need part of the stillage for the boiler. You're not going to need much to heat up the thumper. I'm assuming we could calculate the amount of steam needed to run the boiler to completion. There's no need to heat up the full charge if you only need 20-30 gallons (maybe?) You also might be able to generate more heat that way and get even deeper into the tails.

  • edited August 20

    One of the things I have been marinating on is the difference in aromatic qualities of spirits made with the continuous design compared to batch.

    A few months ago over on HD, Manu de Hanoi commented that a measure of plates (theoretical in his case) above the take off port seemed to contribute to more fruit / bubble gum notes in his finished (rum) spirit. Some of you may know of Manu? He has been around a good long while and very clever. He has been building hobby sized continuous systems for a good long while. Long before much of the community even understood how the continuous concept even worked. He definitely has a qualified opinion. His comments above have stuck with me since I myself have been pretty gob smacked over the aromatic qualities coming off of Stumpy's original prototype.

    Factor that in with a traditional armagnac still operation and it has all of my wheels turning all the time now.

    I need to pic up some armagnac to try and get my head around a few things.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I'm pickin up what you are layin down. Plates above the take off plate is a really interesting idea..

  • Trying to find the words to characterize why the spirit is more aromatic?

    Food analogies seem to help me get my head around things. (Hot or cold) Smoking meat comes to mind. Then extraction,,,or was that infusion....marination.....basting maybe? Like how one might baste a steak with butter while cooking in a cast iron skillet kind of flavor infusion? Dunno?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited August 23

    I keep putting off an experiment I want to run with longer term aging of rum with differing % of heads fractions per barrel. Have a lab run an HPLC/ester analysis on the sample at some regular interval (initial, and every 6m after).

    • 1 barrel - No heads cut.
    • 1 barrel - Mid heads cut (at the early/late heads point, taking late heads only).
    • 1 barrel - Normal heads cut.

    Would need to do this as 1 distillation, then add back the proportional share of heads per barrel, normalize at the same proof. Thinking of doing this in a smaller barrel, something like a 15 gallon.

    I have my own hypothesis of how this would play out. But, I think it would provide a lot of practical insight into the impact of heads cut on short and long term aging (to literally "see" the impact to the profiles over time).

  • Yeah that's why I want a bottle of armagnac that has been made with a traditional process. Very curious about the impact of heads.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited August 21

    Yep, bingo. It’s way less clear cut now that I have a decade under my belt.

    Especially the feints paradox - Why does recycling 100% of heads not result in ever increasing heads cuts? From a chemistry or physics perspective, it’s absurd, it can’t happen.

  • Without knowing any better, I liken it to a transformation or a break down. Similar to how propanol can be converted to propanoic acid.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Thinking food again,,its like a Sunday gravy in an Italian kitchen. The more it cooks the better it gets.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited August 23

    My white rum taken off at 95+% was called H&T rum.

    Heads and tails, but in reality it wasn't tails it was late heads. I dfidn't do it for other spirits, but white rum seems to benefit from the inclusion of late heads and i believe that the middle barrel will be the one you favour @grim.

    Larry, you're drunk.

    image

    Go to bed, cat - You are drunk.jpg
    417 x 346 - 34K

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

  • Not drunk. But was. Not drunk, but will be.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • To me heads are concentrated flavors. It's good and bad flavors though as its a mix of chemicals. And even the good isn't good if it's too concentrated. I like to keep a lot of heads. I'll cut once I get to a point where I can tolerate the flavor. I know it will bring flavor and will get reduced down.

    Tails for me are the building blocks of flavor. They need time to develop. They become things that would be in the heads, but mostly just the good stuff. It's why for anything that will get aged I think you need it. Way too many people just tails too early and while their spirits are good it's more about the barrel than the distillate. I'm not sure of the point of craft if you're only really concerned with barrel flavors. Buy some GNS and barrel that if that's what you're looking for.

    That's why I want to build this still. I want to be able to extract more of the tails components. It's a matter of figuring out how to do that effectively and efficiently.

    The three chamber still in effect uses the stillage to direct steam heat the new wash. That is more efficient to me than just boiling the hell out of a newer wash. I just can't see the point of the middle chamber. I get the point of the bottom chamber and what it adds. And by eliminating the middle chamber and going from the bottom chamber to the top chamber it seem more direct at getting the deep tails components into the new make. You need that pressure to raise the temp beyond the normal boiling point.

    But then the question is if you increase the pressure then you raise the boiling point of water, but does that not also effect the boiling point of everything else in the mix also? Or does it not do it equally? Or are you pulling more of those materials since there is nothing else left of the lower boiling point materials left in the mix?

    What if you did a vacuum after the thumper? How would that effect it? Or move the stillage to a vacuum still and use the output of that to go be recycled into the wash?

    Some crazy ideas there...

  • @Smaug said: Not drunk. But was. Not drunk, but will be.

    Intermittent Sobriety? Bookend Intoxication?

  • @SingleMaltYinzer said: Intermittent Sobriety? Bookend Intoxication?

    Genius.

    Put that on a tee shirt and put it in your forthcoming gift shop.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited August 22

    As for your vaccum question,,I feel like that would have been done already if it were a superior method for flavored spirits beyond gin.

    But remember you've brought that up before so I know you are especially curious about that.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited August 23

    I thought this was interesting..

    Armagnac heads and tails @ Vine, wine and more

    Couple interesting bits - I didn't realize that armagnacs destined for short aging went through a second traditional batch distillation, where a heads cut was made.

  • edited August 22

    Keep in mind, vacuum distillation isn't used to alter the relative volatilities in most cases (or break azeotropes), it's to reduce thermal decomposition. In the 3 chamber, or your design, you are pushing for greater levels of thermal decomposition.

  • And I've got to hold tight on the fact that steam injection (via stillage or otherwise), has the ability to carry through more flavor components into the distillate. I think this is the real secret of the 3 chamber, not the pressures.

  • edited August 23

    @grim said: I thought this was interesting..

    Armagnac heads and tails @ Vine, wine and more

    Couple interesting bits - I didn't realize that armagnacs destined for short aging went through a second traditional batch distillation, where a heads cut was made.

    I didn't get that at all. Did I misread?

    With cognac, during the 2nd distillation, a cut is made for the heads which are then not included in the final spirit, but recycled and re-distilled with the next batch of wine. In Armagnac, the heads form part of the final spirit. This, therefore, represents one of the key stylistic differences between the two spirits.

    In any case, a shortish fractionation column set up to pull product at several plate levels and also vent heads (or not) should do a nice job of allowing for a full spectrum of finished product that is capable of checking all of the cognac and armagnac boxes.

    I feel like not incorporating the continuous / semi-continuous feed will compromise the armagnac specific profile however.

    By the way, evidently 15 plates is the limit for armagnac production. Not sure how or where the wine injection location factors into that since the desired collection abv seems to be fairly specific. Perhaps the issue of plates has something to do with turndown ratio for a specific plate design and therefore dwell time might need assistance? If the injection point is high up on the column then the added allowance for plate count has more to do with ensuring that not alcohol is being wasted.

    StillDragon beer enters at the top tee and comes over as 50% (plus or minus). 9 plates and .05% down the drain. Strip column head temp of 97 c and doubler head temp of 97 c along with pulling from the second plate should put the distiller within that requisite armagnac abv range.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Down near the bottom:

    95% of armagnac is single (alambic armagnacais) distilled and 5% double (pot) distilled. Double distillation stills are used when a producer wants to commercialize a young armagnac with lighter spirit, as 3 star (VS) or VSOP.

  • @grim said: Keep in mind, vacuum distillation isn't used to alter the relative volatilities in most cases (or break azeotropes), it's to reduce thermal decomposition. In the 3 chamber, or your design, you are pushing for greater levels of thermal decomposition.

    Thermal decomposition... Not sure I've really seen this spoken about before - or at least I haven't realized it. I need to read more on it.

  • edited August 23

    @SingleMaltYinzer said: Thermal decomposition... Not sure I've really seen this spoken about before - or at least I haven't realized it. I need to read more on it.

    Yeah that's my new term. That's what is happening to the lions share of baddies that pass through the continuous system,,,,,,imo.

    Thanks again @grim.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited August 23

    It's hardly new....

    image

    paper-fire-burning.jpg
    390 x 261 - 17K

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

Sign In or Register to comment.