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Enhanced Pot Stills

Is anyone here using an enhanced pot still?

By that I mean to exclude thumpers, thump towers and 1 or 2 plated columns.

Included are alembics (especially with water cooled lentils), pots with air cooled risers, spiral risers, and pots with minimal packing. Either with or without induced cooling. Even the really old Pistorius still -although some will argue that it is a "proper" reflux still.

These all fall into a pot still sub-set, that are intended to slightly change the performance of the still by modifying the naturally induced reflux.

Slightly odd but nothing new. Some of the big old pot stills used water cooled balls in the vapour path, and water filled troughs on the outside of the conical neck, for exactly the same purpose.


  • I use a very tall potstill quite often. It's the same height as my plated unit, but that is so it connects to the same wall mounted condensor. Probably a 800mm or so of column vertically and a metre of slight downhill horizontal.

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  • I have used the tall pot in the past for the same reason. I also tried an oversize spiral in 1" tube to introduce some extra surface area into the pot riser.

    Now though work is moving me about, so I need a more compact pot still. I would use a baby CD, but am concerned about breaking it in transit.

    I am considering adding 3" or so of SPP with a mini dephleg to a smallish pot still, as an alternative to a thumper.

  • Hi Myles, Looks like Citrus Distillers will soon be running a Figgins Reciprocator with a pot head mounted on the manifold.

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  • I run a hybrid, with one plate , a foot or two of scrubbies and a deflag. Works really nice , I can compress heads, get pretty much double distilled in hearts and delay heads to squeeze flavor. honestly the scrubbies probably don't do that much but they do make me feel better... Do it all in one run, no double distilling for me, but I am pot still pagan, the holy implement of pure pot still is not in my belief system. How did I get there?, my still is modular and I swapped parts till I got what I wanted and it worked well for me ( not everyone mind you). It is a short 3" column....

    So yeah in my view a long lyne arm is a column ...

  • For pot stilling I just go with the old swan style still head. Its made from 3" copper and can choof out some good likker. I have a plated column and I plan on trying that out one of these days for pot stilling. The plan is to start of with fall reflux get rid of the heads then once that's done shut off the reflux and let it run out in to a pot mode type of running till I hit tails. I believe all these pot stilling companies that say they have pot stilled there likker 6 times and so on are all fall of shit. I am starting to think its all a gimmick and it really dose not matter how you get your desired end product as long as you are happy with it as you are the one who will be drinking it first. Using a modular pot still from a hobby stand point is probably the most smartest thing you could do as long as your running some packing and or a couple of plates as it will save you a lot of time. I have made vodka with a pot still rum n whiskey to. They all turned out good just the time that it takes to get it done that shits you. That's my 5 cents worth.

  • When I want to lower the ABV or just strip, I run my 3" x 36" filled with SPP, remove the Reflux Condenser and cap the top. I can get 74%-82%, depending on power, with no reflux condenser...

    That's 2-2.5 plates. It's almost over kill for a stripper but it isn't slowing anything.

    I always get eaten up for only retort is, Vendome hasn't been packing the top hat on their pot stills for free and people pay for it.

    Myles says, "I am considering adding 3" or so of SPP with a mini dephleg to a smallish pot still, as an alternative to a thumper."

    I's a good alternative, easier to build and more efficient power usage. You may not need the dephleg.

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

  • From previous trials with 2" pot stills, once up to temperature the packing does sodd all without some sort of induced reflux.

    I have tried both using the packing for heads compression and then switching off the coolant, and using minimal coolant throughout the run.

    Both work - but they lack the versatility of a real thumper. However, the hybrid (whether plated, packed, or a combination) does have a valid function.

    Now I happen to have some spare SPP, and can put together a small jacketed dephleg (simmilar to a CM column but smaller). I don't think it will hit full reflux but that is not the intention. A reasonably compact, tuneable, pot still is what I have in mind.

  • edited August 2014

    OK I don't usually post images until after I have cleaned up. However this build is (for me) slightly unusual.

    This is a pot still, but I decided to put in a short packed section. I know the convention is to name a "plate and packed" as a hybrid - but a short packed section on a pot can ALSO be considered to be a hybrid.

    SD brass ferrules in 2" and I will probably add in a 2" SGK also.

    I am using 2 stainless scrubbers, 1 at each end of a 3" x 180 mm chamber packed with SPP. I am also putting in a sight glass. I need to add in some sort of device to centre the reflux condensate - so I can monitor the flow rate, and also I will be observing any "fogging" of the sight glass.

    The rest of the pot still will be fairly basic. A 2" riser into a small jacketed condenser (3" over 2") just to provide a minimal amount of reflux. It will then drop to 1.4" and feed into my concentric dual core shotgun condenser. I want this to be fairly compact and will mate it onto a 30 litre keg boiler.

    If I can fix the visual indication of reflux rate, I will not bother to add in a thermometer. By convention the sight glass is totally unnecessary on a pot still - but it has been widely reported to be quite useful - both as an aid to puke detection and also as a diagnostic tool for onset of tails.

    I suspect the typical use will be to use the packing and induced reflux to tighten the cuts. With this short section of SPP there is also the option of a (single run) low power run for rum and grappa. However I normally do double runs for everything. I can see a solar powered strip still being an option. A proper one, not a plastic monstrosity. Considering my location date grappa is an option. Anyone tried it?

    SPP is capable of being run using only natural induced reflux, but I intend to add in a small reflux condenser for increased versatility. Ambient temperatures are fairly warm. It will only be a small one though - I doubt it could achieve full reflux

    This is a compromise still. Small enough to transport, Fairly ( I hope - unbreakable) and using power management, able to provide a limited range of flavoured and lightly flavoured products. It will never be fast - but I only intend to give it 3kW max.


    new pot still.jpg
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  • Beauty...

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

  • I remember being quite surprised the first time we ran a tall pot still column, 2" by 5' high, in something like 40 degree F ambient temperatures. Had some copper mesh in the column, but only for copper contact, not to act as packing. The wash couldn't have been more than 8%, and we were taking off at 75%. We were almost seeing a full additional plate just from the passive reflux. I'm sure if we had a sight glass, we'd have seen quite a bit of reflux washing down the walls. Certainly wasn't enough packing to keep much in suspension for long.

    What's the cutoff point? How much packing just puts it into more of a passive-reflux column definition?

    I'm with the camp here, there is no right or wrong, there is no better or worse, it's what works for you.

  • Tell you though, every time I've run a grappa through a pot still I've wished I could strip just a bit more of that harsh fruit flavor, but running through a strip and a spirit, too much of it was lost.

  • For most of my fruit runs with the bigger still I do the 1.5 run method. I strip 1/2 the wash, use those low wines to fortify the other half of the wash and then do a spirit run.

    It seems to work ok for me. I generally double run the rum though.

    With this pot still I will be able to run from 6" of stainless scrubbers through to 6" of SPP - with variable induced reflux. Should be able to find a combination that works. I may not need the reflux condenser but it is quite small and just provides another option.

    The RC is on so I should be able to clean everything up today.

  • Just a taster for you. Pot with simple dephlegmator chamber. 2" into 3" into 1.4" final. eventually it will be mated to a dual core product condenser.

    I cut threads into the dephlegmator shell and screwed in compression fittings for the coolant connectors. These were soldered in place before the 2" inner core was fitted..


    It is reasonably compact and is basically a 2" into 1.4" pot still - with a few extras added on. I need to order a 2" SGK and clean it up. I already have the condenser and the keg boiler. However the boiler needs a bit of modification so it will probably get completed during the Xmas break.!!!

    Myles Pot 1.png
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  • @Myles, incredible what you can do with copper, that's gonna be a piece of art once ready! :-bd

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  • edited September 2014

    Not a good picture (from the phone) but this is just to give it some scale. Mounted on a 30 litre keg (thumper), it will get a similar sized boiler of its own.

    I think I will add a shotgun condenser instead of the previously intended liebig. Probably a 2" jacket, just to balance it out aesthetically.


    Myles Pot 2.jpg
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  • Very nice looking :-)

  • I am just about to catch a plane so this build is on hold. Yesterday I put together a shell for a condenser. 2" shell 500 mm long, end plates prepared to take 7 x 12 mm tubes. Coolant connectors screwed in and fitted.

    500 mm x 7 tubes is probably overkill, but it is an easy build and reasonably compact. It should look OK mated to this pot still. I don't think I will even bother with a parrot on this small unit. Just collect in small samples and blend by smell and taste.

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