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Vodka/Neutral Still

Evening Chaps,

I assume I am posting this in the correct place, if not my apologies!

I have been distilling for some time now, using the still spirits T500 fractioning column and (despite what others have said) have had some great results, however, I find that I am constantly running this to produce the quantities required (friends/personal consumption, experimenting etc.) so i am wishing to go to the next level and really ramp up my setup and learn more about the art of distillation - a work colleague informed me about SD so here I am.

Can you please advise on the best product you have available for making neutral products and gins etc. I was looking at the 8" dash 2, 6 plate (with possibly more plates). I want a high capacity still to further service my needs as my skill level.

Apologies if this is a stupid question, I am still learning to do some degree and have never had any experience with stills of this nature.

Many thanks for any assistance.


  • Welcome to the forum... BTW where are you located? There are numerous pro's here that may set you on the correct path... to neutradom... AKA Vodka Heaven ... have fun and happy stillin, FS

  • edited September 2014

    Is the T500 a fractioning column? I didn't think it was even boka level of sophistication. 8" is gonna need some serious power, 3 phase? 350litre bolier? Your friends will need to be able to drink.

  • Welcome @CRMI0408, you have reached just the right place. And don't worry, there will never be any stupid questions, only stupid answers. Feel right at home here in out midst, I'm sure you will get the info you are looking for.

    Your Place to be >>> <<< Home of the StillDragon® Community Forum

  • Hi FullySilenced, I am in the Europe region.... thanks for the welcome.

    Rossco, apparently so! Again, please excuse my lack of knowledge if this is incorrect as my experience starts and ends with the T500 and according to Still Spirits it is a fractioning column (STILL SPIRITS INFO Designed and assembled in New Zealand, the world's most advanced fractionating column for home use). In fairness, with the aid of carbon filtering, I have done soon pretty good neutral runs and the best ABV is 92%.. it was an extremely slow run.

  • @CRMI0408 said: I am in the Europe region.... thanks for the welcome.

    Then @SDeurope is your man, or maybe @Sunshine your woman. That dynamic European duo should be busy right now with a large sea freight inbound. Last I heard the European SD online store should be close to the finish line as well. A click on the logo link at the top will tell when the time has come.

    Your Place to be >>> <<< Home of the StillDragon® Community Forum

  • welcome @CRMI0408 ! With an 8" rig you are well on the pro side :)>- Have fun here (and invite some friends, too) ;)

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

  • With the Procaps, the 8" column is firmly in commercial territory, at a fraction of the price of the big rigs.

  • edited September 2014

    To run an 8" rig you would have to have a LOT of very thirsty friends. You could keep a university drunk with one of those.

    For home use i would think that either a 4" or if you want to reduce still time and up production rate, then a 5" rig on a 120-200l boiler would be your best bet. That is still going to produce a serious amount of alcohol.

    To make your vodka a stripped wash run through 6 plates with a packed section on top will get you better than you were getting before.

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

  • Thanks everyone! Will do @Sunshine.

    Hi @punkin, thanks for the information! I will be definitely making a purchase as soon as the European shop is up and running and I have finished reading the manual. I want something that will allow for my future plans (assuming I can learn enough and increase my skill).

    Thanks again guys and lady, very friendly bunh

  • Sorry CRMI0408 didn't mean to be terse.

    To run an 8" rig you would have to have a LOT of very thirsty friends. You could keep a university drunk with one of those.

    You crack me up Punkin. :))

  • Strike a compromise, go with a 4" with double the plates!

  • edited September 2014

    Look at @Sadi's 4" rig here
    One like this is versatile and may make your dreams come true...

  • edited September 2014

    @CRMI0408 Welcome, you should enjoy your time on here, and no one will put you down or say anything is a stupid question.
    Well not so far anyway!

    I'd work backwards to sort out still size and boiler size.

    Q. How much power is at your site for usage, say in volts/amps ? or Gas ?

    Q. How much time, hours max, do you wish to spend on each run ?
    I'd almost exclude counting the stripping cause that's quicker anyway

    Q. Roughly how much neutral, @ 96% with SD gear!, is enough for you and all your friends ?
    per month makes sense to me.

    Q. Are you thinking about doing other spirits apart from neutral and gin ?

    Q. What size ferments are you doing ?

    I reckon if you pop a few answers online, then the recommendations will get real close.
    The new 2.5" baby will blow the socks off your current unit at an expected fair price point.
    But if a 4" suits then fantastic as you wont really break the bank, 5" new gear means a few bucks more- but appears way faster per run times.

    Consensus seems to be if you need over 6" then you are supplying more than just a few friends and family, heading towards semi pro stuff after that.

    In a few of the discussions on equipment run times and output are mentioned to assist with the choices you may consider.

    Plus all modular, piss easy to update or change gear around.

    Tends to turn us all into stainless addicts.



  • Fadge is spot on. There seems to be a dividing line at about 6kW in europe. That is about the max you can get on domestic wiring. Above that and you really need to put in a dedicated circuit.

    Now a 5" with procaps could eat a fair bit more than 6 kW, so either run a 5" with just 3 procaps per plate, 5" with standard caps, or use a 4" rig.

    For pure neutral use (it is not much use for anything else IMO) a 3" column with 1 meter of SPP is an alternative. Definitely not as versatile as plates though, if you want flavoured product.

  • So many options, its so hard to choose.
    If you want to use your T500 boiler then the Baby Dragon is something you could consider as I was clocking over 2 liters per hour of high proof and that equates into over a gallon of finished booze per hour. If you want a vodka-like product then just make another run with the hearts collected from the first run.
    If you want to get a bigger and more powerful boiler then your options are truly too many to list.

  • I fi had my druthers and knowing then what I know now, I would get a 5" with the new pro-caps and 6 plates to start.

    Further I'd use those blue and red plastic hoses SD is selling and use that valve and thermometer system.

    then I'd want a 100L boiler (hold 4 20L buckets with room for foam) and I'd want to push 2 4500W elements and I'd use two of the SD controller kits to do it.

    with that rig (considering I have some commercial intent and applications for the still) it'd allow me to do decent sized test runs yet still give me some small scale production capability and the ability to produce a reasonable amount of fuel or plain old ethanol for other useful purposes

    the size of the rig would still be reasonable and light enough to move around by myself without hurting myself or breaking something.

  • @fadge thanks for that!

    Power isn't an issue, I have a dedicated supply to my brew house/man cave!

    I want to reduce the time taken to do a spirit run, with the current set up it takes c.5 hours for a minimal amount of alcohol (when you consider the time it's minimal) so i end up doing multiple runs as I ferment 100l at a time. I have the equipment and space to ferment a 1000l at a time - I do a lot of wine, cider and beer brewing. Though spirits is fast becoming a passion.

    I intend, depending on what I can learn with the SD stills, on ramping up the amount because if things go well then I intend on exploring commercial opportunities plus I make Bio Fuel.

    Ultimately I need something big enough to enable me to obtain the license and do reasonable size, high quality runs without going to large I'll not need it. I like the idea of the Dash 2 as I would like to experiment beyond Vodka and Neutral to other spirits (I am particular fond of corn whiskey but currently don't have the ability to try so have to purchase this).

    I have the funds to purchase a very reasonable rig but at the same time I don't want to be wasting my money hence trying to learn as much as I can before making the purchase.

    Thanks again guys.

  • Ok how about this approach then, as power is not a limiting factor. If you work backwards and make cuts on a strip run, then you can expect a yield of about 30% low wines by volume.

    So your 1000 litre ferment will give you about 300 litres of low wines. You could load that into a 375 to 400 litre boiler for a spirit run. Would that size be inconvenient? Personally I couldn't justify that unless I were to go commercial.

    More realistic for me would be a boiler charge of 100 litres of low wines in a 150 litre boiler. Going by the 1/5th whisky cut this would give a yield of about 20 litres of prime hooch of each spirit run.

    Can you find a way to dispose of more product than that? Also do you wish to run just once or twice a year, or more frequently.

  • yup, 2.5" procap or 4" standard is what I would say.... throw a post up with a poll...

  • Our boilers are rated at working capacity, not maximum capacity. So you can put 200l in a 200l boiler. Still sounds to me like a 5" dash 2 on a 200l boiler would suit down to the ground. Run times would be incredibly quick and the unit would still be at home as a research or small batch still in all but the largest micro distillery.

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

  • @punkin thanks for the help! I shall go with that as soon as the site is ready

  • edited September 2014

    You are very welcome. I believe if you email SD Europe you can purchase now.


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

  • Well, did you pull the trigger @CRMI0408 ?
    What configuration did you settle on?

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