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Distilling Wine from the Barrel... Best setup and methods?

edited December 2013 in General

Hi All, I have been distilling for a while now but have not needed to ferment anything for quite a while as luckily I have access to quite a bit of wine that is of no use. I am just going for neutral.

So far the process has been pretty simple, quick strip runs, then dilute to 40% and do a good run.

I am now in the process of probably upgrading and am back and forth between 4 bubble plates and a packed section \ just 6 bubble plates, now I know that more is better so in a perfect world 6 plates and a packed section would be great but at this point roof height may be a factor.

Anyone starting with real wine???

Also, is it worth adding anything to the diluted strip before the good run such as bicarb soda?

Any info is much appreciated.

Best Answers

  • edited December 2013 Answer ✓

    Hello @Stano and welcome. I started a small thread on Using Shiraz Grape Concentrate here with wanting to distill a portion to make some Port.

    I don't think it's really necessary to adjust your PH if your gear is stainless steel - Copper, then yes, adjust to 7 (Note: I have minimal experience on PH buffering).

    How much height do you have from the top of your boiler to your roof? We should be able to help with the number of plated sections and length of packed TC (Tri-Clamp) pipe. What will you be packing the TC pipe with? Some members use everything from Stainless wool, Woven Copper mesh, Scoria etc.

    My thoughts are go with an SD 4 plater with an extra 500mm TC PIPE (packed section above), then the Dephlegm. I haven't tried this as yet with my setup as I need some more SS wool, but I think @crozdog has run a similar setup.

    You can then use the 500mm TC pipe as a separate stripping column. I run one or two SG tees underneath the TC pipe with no plates, and one above. This way, I can keep an eye out for puking, reflux fogging.

    I hope this helps a little ;)

  • edited December 2013 Answer ✓

    I use 6 plates and 500mm packed medium wool, scoria mix. It even bludgens the heads jar into submission.


  • @Stano, I also have easy access to cheap wine (rice wine 11 to 12% ABV) and what I call low wines (local booze between 46 and 62% ABV) and it all needs rectified into drinking goodness. Fortunately this is quite easy with one pass through a Dash (4 plates) or even better with a Dash2 (6 plates). Simple cuts give great results especially if the product is aged on charred oak for a few months.

    Rice wine makes absolutely wonderful booze but for me its just too hard to make and way too cheap to buy. So I cannot resist a good deal on 50L of 12% rice wine at about 50 cents (USD) per liter. That cooks down into a still charge that gives at least 12 liters of 45% ABV of finished goodness for a feedstock cost of about $25 USD or so. YMMV, especially if you live outside of China.

    Most of the liquor that's made here is made from sorghum and that's tasty too if run through a Dash to make the simple cuts that the distilleries here fail to make. Especially tasty if the product is left to age on oak for a few months.

    For me, sodium bicarbonate is unnecessary. I have found through many runs that there are very little heads but most of what I cut out is tails.

    Having found, at long last, a vendor that sells pure corn whiskey that has great cuts for only (about) $6 USD per liter (translated into US dollars) for 56% has been just wonderful. Three to four months on oak without running through the still has made me a bit lazy because it is just that good. I have an open invitation to visit the distillery and when we have a few days open to travel I really do want to go and check it out.

    Hopes this helps.

  • Welcome Stano. If you are who i think you are, you've forgotten to mention that you use the resulting product mostly for adding flavourings to from my understanding. Also that it's red wine, not white you are starting with.

    It might have a bearing on the answers you get from other users is all. Best of luck with your quest, we have plenty of people here who use both setups and you should have a fair few opinions within a couple of days. B-)

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

  • Thanks Lloyd, it does. I wish we had those outlets available to us here. Punkin is correct, I am using Red wine that was originally going to be for drinking but the winery went bust and it has now sat there in the barrels for 10 years untreated... I have to admit I loved the "and it all needs rectified into drinking goodness" comment, had a good laugh at that :)

    And thanks Punkin, yes, I am who you think I am I'm Batman ;)

  • edited December 2013


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

  • Cozdog and @rossco bothr un 6 plates with packed section and may have run less as well, waiting for them to chip in. Philter had a good suggestion via email to me this morning Batman, run six plates to rectify well at strip and then run 4 plates with the packed section for the second run after dilution. Best of both worlds then.

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

  • edited December 2013

    Great @stano has done an order with @punkin.

    And we have an idea, as we only live 2 doors from eachother!

    Bring your newly ordered gear down the road and see if we can supercharge OUR setup, 9 plates, 2 deflags, 2 packed sections, 2 shotguns, 2 elements and it maybe it will need to be run outside the shed. Now that will mean another video.

    Welcome to the club

    Fadge :))

  • Hahaha, nice shirt, they for sale??? :)

    I have about 2.1mtr clearance between the top of the boiler and the roof. My intention is to use mainly stainless steel wool in the packed section, probably with a bit of copper mesh or wool as well at the top of it.

    I have just ordered a 4 plate + packed section Aussie TakeAway still from @punkin which I'm sure he will send out to me ASAP ;) Can't wait to get it up and running...

    Hahah @fadge , that is bound to happen at some point turning a quiet weekend ito a more than productive one.

  • edited December 2013

    @punkin said: Cozdog and rossco bothr un 6 plates with packed section and may have run less as well, waiting for them to chip in.

    @punkin If you send me 2 more T's & plates I'll have a 6 plater ;-)

    I "only" run a 4 plate with a 500mm SS packed TC extension - it makes great neutral after diluting the low wines made from wash stripped using 4 plates. I reckon the same process using aged wine would also work.

    One thing to consider is the oak flavour is likely to carry over. You might want to carbon filter to remove it if it comes through.

  • I've heard @punkin and at least one other say the oak doesn't carry over but I have no first hand experience of it so hoping he'll affirm that.
    If a tiny hint did carry over it might be a good thing?

    A nice vodka can be made with a Dash 1 but you need to run through twice making good cuts both times. XXX or 3 times through the still with a Dash1 will make a neutral but it's not cost effective considering the time, labor or energy. Adding 2 or more plates to the column adds the cost effectiveness if going for vodka or even more plates for neutral.

    The hybrid columns - packed sections over plates - are an alternative but you'd need to play with it a bit and if you do please report back your results. (I'd bet most everyone here has a few gallons of feints that would be best if processed into neutral).
    I dumped more than 10 gallons of junk alcohol today that has been building up over the last year or so. I wanted to clean out the jugs and free up space for more distilling :)

  • edited December 2013

    Well @Lloyd, the last final run I did I actually put through @fadge's still (was 4 bubble plates and a 500mm packed section) as mine had sprung a leak at a rather inconvenient time. I recently had a friend do a blind test on a Honey Bourbon that had been made from it and he consistently would pick the one made from the what I would call "bordering on tails" with a bit more smell and taste as the better which I found interesting. As you say, it may be a good thing depending on what is being made from it.

    Anyhow, Once I have the new system up and running I will have a play with a few different configurations and post some results of what I feel is best ( @fadge has a couple of additional bit I'm sure I can borrow). I would like to avoid carbon filtering if I can as it is just another step...and if it can be avoided with good results, why not eh.

  • I could not get the oak out of some oak aged bourbon i redistilled. Stano has already tried the wine through a dash with packed section, hence his interest.

    Sounds like a good experiment to run as it's ordered Stano and then borrow a couple of extra plates off fadge and run as a stright six plater.

    Then you can tell us the difference. B-)

    I'll ship the unit as soon as you stop changing it ^#(^ :))

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

  • Oh you could not get the oak taste out by redistilling. I remembered wrong, sorry for the confusing misinformation.

  • Yes the only things i've ever had carry over very strongly from a VM (besides a subtle rum) were barrel oak ageing, all the good bits were lost but the raw chewing on a stick flavour was all pervasive, and scortching.

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

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