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Anyone Like Rum?

Hi,

My first post to say hello. I'm Tommy from SLOPEmeisteR Brewing Company in Scotland. I run a very small craft brewery with an online shop. I have now gotten fully licenced to distill from HMRC and keen to develop some rum products and then onto whisky. I only have a 25lt T500 boiler with alembic copper top and also a reflux column at the moment, but with StillDragon power controller it's actually OK for first still runs and helps learn some basics. I've been making 50lt batches of Pugi's (using dunder in ferment, collecting oils for spirit runs), stripping and spirit running on the alembic copper. Aging and spicing has made some very nice rum.

I'm keen to move to a short plated column and looking at the 4" Dash Pro. Would like to try a few things with this. Light rum with three plates and dephlegmator reflux with single pass and also try 1.5x distillation method I read on the forum, look for my sweet spot for light rum and would this be ready sellable or need aged first, only one way to find out. Dark rum with maybe one or two plates min reflux (or no reflux, don't know if that works with plates or do you need some down coming liquid to fill the plates) with single pass or even strip out plates and deph and just run in pot mode but strip and then spirit run, aged on oak. In time I would like to run similar experiments with whisky, totally against the grain in Scotland to make malt whisky in a column but I don't mind, I'm here to challenge the norm not follow it.

Looking to pair the column with the 100lt milk can boiler. I know this is not commercial scale but gets me started on my first column and will be the pilot plant for something much bigger in a new location. If I can get good product from this there is an element of just scaling up to larger column diameter and boiler capacity, I know it's not that simple but would be mad to go from a tinny pot still to a massive column in one step I think.

Anyway wanted to say big thank you to all the contributors on the forum, what a wealth of information and experience and I'm learning all the time.

One early question:

What sort of elements are you using and where do you source these as It appears StillDragon don't sell that bit, I'm thinking 2x 2500kW and using the power controller on one of them?

Cheers,
Tommy

Comments

  • Welcome Tommy,

    Nice intro.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited November 1

    Since we at StillDragon Europe do not offer heating elements, here is the info we usually provide:

    With our Element Guard Kit you can use any heating element with a 1" male pipe thread connector. The most popular option is the one from Camco with the ultra low watt density ripple type that can be found on Amazon.com (they ship to Europe and it's suitable for European power supply).

    We would recommend using the maximum wattage that your electrical circuitry supports (Camco elements are available up to 5500W). The element should be used with a controller like our DIY Controller Kit.

    Basic build instructions for the DIY Controller Kit can be found here.

    Any other information should be available or can be asked here on the forum.

    For example, see here for an instructional video on how to assemble the Element Guard Kit.

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • edited November 9

    Welcome.

    A 4" Dash can do a lot of work. That said as a commercial rum / whisky operation you're going to quickly be massively constrained by it. Get one- they are a top bit of kit & use it as your recipe development rig. Then get a 380L or bigger for production volumes.

    You can make dark spirits on a single pass with a plated column. Even with 4 plates you'll be surprised how much flavour comes through - especially with rum. The best advice I can give is to ferment out say 200L then do 4 test runs - you know you don't have to run with the boiler fully charged?

    Try something like the following:

    • 3 - 4 plates no reflux (best to have some to start to load the plates and compress heads). After the cut you can stop the flow to the dephleg then collect hearts once tails approach dial in some reflux to help with your tails cut - or just stop when you're happy.
    • 3 - 4 plates with reflux through the run.

    Repeat the above but reduce the plate count.

    Remember that a lot of heavy rum flavour comes over in the late tails, so if you shut down early you will miss em. Maybe not what you want for the dark / heavy rum.

    Bottom line is, you make your own decisions on how to make the product you want. Experimentation is key to not only understand how the equipment works, but also how to use it to give you what you want.

  • Thanks for the welcome notes, and directions on elements these are in the post now!

    I've bought the 4" Dash with 3 plates and 100L milk can boiler. Can't wait to receive the goods, hopefully next week or week after.

    Exactly as you say @crozdog this will be my wee pilot plant for recipe development. Already had my head around the idea of the commercial jump to minimum 380L with some type of Double Dragon arrangement for maximum flexibility. I know I can reduce boiler charge so long as elements remain well covered at end of run, although I think I'm right in saying this makes the run time shorter therefore the cuts are sort of squashed up a bit, the bigger the charge the more stretched out the cuts "spectrum" is for better cuts and less smearing. Maybe mixing up a few concepts there.

    I'm actually brewing up 200L of rum wash today, I like to give a week to ferment and two weeks to rest and settle, the longer the better I find. I left a batch for 2 months, was crystal clear going into the strip run, but I think a little yeast haze is actually good, some amino acids and what not from the ruptured yeast cells during boil seems to enhance the rum flavour. I know this is used in scotch whisky production for same reason. I'll go a clean run and then go for 50L batches and play tunes on the flute!

    Off the pot still I run to about 55/50% ABV on the hearts and then down to 40% ABV for tails, then down to 20% for the r'oils as I call them and these are now building distinct flavour from over 8 spirit run recycles. I'm a bit vague about % ABV cuts off a plated column as I've never done, but the first few runs to jars and good nosing sessions after airing will soon decide where the cuts are, I'll decide!

    All I can say is I'm supper excited to get started and will be posting some results as I get up and running.

    Watch this space!

  • go by smell & taste for your cuts

  • @crozdog said: go by smell & taste for your cuts

    For me this part was and is extremely interesting and subjective DEPENDING on what spirit you are distilling and I will try explain the comment.

    Last month I travelled to the Netherlands and did the master distillers course. Part of it included for gin creation which we distilled and blended the cuts. We collected the cuts into numerous beakers for both heads and tails so as to readily identify the cut points for the future.

    The heads cut I got spot on with required flavour and sweetness, but not the tails cut. The tails cut from my beakers, I identified too early. Heads and tails cuts amount to 50% and 30% respectively of all flavour profile tastes. YES my tails position cut was acceptable when identifying it by itself BUT not when you consider it with respect to the entire distilled and blended product. In other words, venturing further into tails lent itself more into better character of the final mixed product.

    My sixpence comment.

  • Determining cuts does vary by product & recipe. if you have a recipe and process dialed in, it's simple enough to cut after X litres (subject to smell & taste).

    During development and initial runs, using multiple smaller collection vessels lets you to fine tune the cut point by allowing you to add in or hold back jars you think will add positive or negative character. After repeating the same recipe / process you will see a consistent pattern evolve thereby allowing you to simplify your running of that recipe.

  • The tricky bit is there's some real late tails in whiskey and rum that are superb when added back in, but there's some tails before that you don't want. Depends how much trouble you want to go to. If i was making allgrain for sipping i'd bother, but UJSM for the drink polluters i didn't bother as they wouldn't notice it through the cola.

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

  • edited November 16

    From "Moonshining in the Mountains", 1967 - Williams

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  • That's the stuff, it's late tails. Bit of a revelation when i found it, took a couple years for my taste buds to catch on to all the flavours and no-one talked about it back then.

    I suspect the home distillers either didn't know for the most part and the few that did thought it wasn't worth mentioning as everyone knew.

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

  • @punkin said: That's the stuff, it's late tails. Bit of a revelation when i found it, took a couple years for my taste buds to catch on to all the flavours and no-one talked about it back then.

    I suspect the home distillers either didn't know for the most part and the few that did thought it wasn't worth mentioning as everyone knew.

    Seems like most home distillers get too caught up in the dead center hearts cut and takes em a while to venture into the deep end of the pool.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited November 16

    This was probably done out of necessity at first - since there wasn’t much access to clean water for proofing in the woods. At some point, the distillate does become predominantly water.

    I’ve never actually tried it, maybe I’ll do it on the next couple of runs, flag the barrels and see what happens.

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