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How many Plates for Vodka?

Hey guys,

I will spare the long details, but i finally got the trademark issues out of the way and can legally sell a vodka. Deceptively misdescriptive products have a way with putting a hold on things. Currently I have a 500 liter boiler with an 8" column and 4 plates. Without flexing the dephlag too much, flooding plates and turning down power, how many plates would you suggest for a clean vodka? I'm thinking 10 to 16 and i will have to figure out a way to set up the columns along the side. Let me know what you guys think. Thanks!




  • I hear 22 plates but the boiler and the pot also count as a plate.

  • Grim is running 11, maybe he can chime in. Are you having a reflux/flooding issue on the 11 and pulling 95.6? I know the procap could help. Lloyd is 22 coming from clients? I've seen many 4 with dephlag column with a 16 with dephlag column hybrid setups, could be a possibility and be with those 22 plate setups you speak of, probabaly not to terrible to set up. Just looking for ideas...

  • Remember i strip my wash too, I can't realistically push a higher percentage into the product still than 30%. Another question, maybe do offest columns, with a 4 plate 12", next to a 12/16 plate 8"? Or utilize what i have and do a 4 plate 8" next to a 12/16 plate 6" or 5"? Could 22kw handle a 12"/8" hybrid? The cheapest route would be to set up the still for what i need and when i need it, but a hybrid would be quite a bit easier. Never thought that the majority of my time in this distillery would be spent cleaning, CIP's in every plate would be nice...

  • From my understanding, taking a wash/mash through ~10 plates and saving the hearts to run through again - diluted of course - and taking the very clean hearts from the second run will give you a true vodka. It does not have to taken from wash to vodka in just one step.
    Also, not sure how you'd use all the feints that will accumulate.

    But you are right, @Grim or @RedDoorDistillery would be the better source for first hand running data.

    @grip's 12" has recently shipped and in a month or two he'll be giving us run data but he is only setting up to make whiskey (4 plates).

  • edited September 2014

    Careful @grip and @grim are different folks!

  • How about three 8" CD's of 4 plates each that form a triangle/circle around the central CD column, and each has a downcomer that drains back below liquid level in the boiler. 16 plates with low height

    Out of the central CD's dephlegmator is a 8x2 reducer and long u-bend that goes down and then a 90 into the bottom of the first outer CD. that maybe has a special oval side port on the tower end, the tower end is blanked off with a 3/4" drain and p-trap that returns to boiler... the top of the CD has a bell reducer and u-bend.

    The third CD could also be replaced with a condenser for 12 total plates

    obviously the support structure would have to be stout...

    thinking the the dephleg after the first 4 plates is enough for compressing heads and one would not be needed after the last plate.

  • @grim said: Careful grip and grim are different folks!

    Oops, slip of a keystroke, correction...

    @grim's 12" has recently shipped and in a month or two he'll be giving us run data but he is only setting up to make whiskey (4 plates).

  • I'm more than happy to take delivery of a 12" column!

  • I have an 8" 8 plate column and it takes at least 3 or 4 passes to get a clean vodka. I wish I had more ceiling height. :)

  • It "saddens me" to read a plate column would need 3 or 4 passes to get a clean vodka. I currently do a stripping run on TPW to collect enough at 50% before putting it (diluted) through my 3” VM.

    Looking to the future, I was hoping a single run (of stripped TPW) on a 5” Dash 2 with six plates would save me the kind of time taken by a 3” VM to get a good amount of hearts.

    From real world experience, can anyone tell me the amount of hearts I could expect from (say) 100 litres of stripped 40% charge and how long it’d take?

    Also, how tall is a 5” Dash 2 with six plates?


  • edited January 2015

    @luckyliqueur said: how tall is a 5” Dash 2 with six plates?

    With a start collar?

    Each tee is 6" tall. The dephlem is 8" tall. The 4 x 2 bowl reducer is 3.5" tall. The 180 bend is 5" tall.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I have 4-plate 8" CD on a 380 and made good vodka (the wife approved) from 5% or so malt barley wash in two passes. but it was a little stressful..

    I pulled average 160proof on first pass for 10 runs, and then 190 on 2nd pass of 80 gal diluted to 100proof and ran 130F exit temp on RC (used 50:1 cooling water to distillate, yeah, 1500 gal or so for 30 gal). This came off at 4-5l/hr, 60L was two full 8 hour days or it running at 11kw..

    *note - I did give it a final polish before bottling, using the icemaker water filter that I grabbed off the shop shelf for dilution water, this was done after a taste test in side by side snifters showed significant improvement and still a hint of malt character.

    Lets just say that I am ordering 4 more plates as soon as I sell my first batch of 250 bottles tomorrow ;-)

  • edited December 2014

    Making a true neutral is a bunch of work. Thats why so many go to the GNS........unless you have a 23 foot column.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Thanks for the height info Smaug.

    I've got 2.5 meters (8ft 2in) of free space above my boiler and could get another 60cm (2ft) if needed . . . . though I don't think I could ever afford 16 tee sections.

    Thank you for the stats CD; it does give me something to work with.

    I have a 1000 litre water tank for recycling the coolant. For my future plans; I may have to factor in another tank and a super Dephlegmator.

    Regards to you all and Happy New Year.

  • @luckyliqueur said: . . . . though I don't think I could ever afford 16 tee sections.

    think about this... a 16 plate baby dragon can put out 2l/hr - 5000l/yr enough for you whole neighborhood and then some...

    If you need more than that, you can afford it ;-)

  • Sorry I haven't hit the forum much. About 2 months ago I got my 380L w/16 4" plates. I go straight from wash to final in 1 run. Pretty clean! It's better than our Vodka that took third place on our 3" Boka.

  • What's your output rate with 16 plates?

  • 1.2-1.5 gallons per hour. Now I'm wishing I went 6" or 8". Also I packed the top tee with copper for sulphides. It worked

  • Is that a single stack column @nightside ? Could you post a picture?

    Can i just say that a very respectable vodka for home consumption is a whole different animal than for commercial consumption in a competitive market?

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

  • edited January 2015

    Yes, single stack. We are blessed with tall ceiling height.


    600 x 800 - 60K
  • @nightside Glad to hear you are having such good results. I also have a 16 plate 4" and I just absolutely love it. Please keep us updated with your progress. =D>

  • Captain how do you clean yours? That much citric gets expensive, I've been mixing about a pound per gallon.

  • I use a lemon juice and water solution, but I store it and use it several times before replacing it. I do not run the 16 that often but I do rinse it in place if I plan on using it in consecutive days.

  • Do you let the water sit on the plates in between?

  • Yes but I flush with some neutral before a run to flush the water out of the plates.

  • Sounds like a good plan. Just wasn't sure the effect on the copper letting it sit

  • Water seems to be OK for weeks and weeks but letting tails sit on the plates will turn them black.
    I've been flushing from the top down with just water before and after the run with good luck so far.

  • just bought the 4x2x2 torpedo reducer for 'flush in place' at the top of my column, and a regular 2x2x2 tee to put on the drain so I can put an element in the drain line to use in conjunction with a pump, so that I just need a couple gallons to flush the column with temp controlled PBW or caustic at 140f, then warmed citric, then hot water, and also pipe to a sprayball in the chamber via one of the 380L top ports.

  • edited January 2015

    You might save some time and use a standard pbw/caustic protocol for the boiler spray ball, and just run rinse water than citric through the column after the boiler has been cleaned. Should allow you to get a little more life out of your citric, since the boiler will be squeaky clean first. You probably don't need to caustic/pbw the column every time unless you are doing some kind of maceration or going deep in tails.

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