StillDragon® Community Forum


Be part of our community & join our international next generation forum now!

In this Discussion

Strip for Bubblers?

edited October 2014 in Usage

So Ive got my new rig up and running and am trying to learn how to drive it. It is a 4" copper bubble plate with SD caps. Adjustable from 1-4 plates. Running atop a 15 gallon keg boiler.

Ive got two issues so far, both related. One of the ideas of the bubbler was to be able to turn out finished product in one pass. What i have found in doing it that way is 1) it comes out very high proof and 2) there isnt a lot of alcohol in a mash that I can fit into my boiler. Cuts, while well defined, come fast.

Now the solution for # 2 is easy and I would love to have myself a shiny new 200L SD boiler, but there are a number of reasons that isnt going to happen at the moment. Running a pot still, the way around this was multiple strip runs and a spirit run on low wines. If I do this on my bubbler, I start to worry about issue # 1, high proof.

I have been running a pretty standard UJSM recipe while figuring out how to drive this. Havent figured out exact alcohol content but its likely between 7-10%. Running three plates and its coming out at 92%, still around 90% when tails hits. I am worried that if I try to do a run on low wines, the proof is going to be through the roof and I will lose any flavor of the spirit.

I really can't complain, This last run I got just under 2L of finished product that tastes good, even at 90%. Its just a lot of time and effort for that little bit.

Anyone with experience doing stripping runs first? Is it worth it? Better? Worse? I have a column if i want to make neutral. I want this for flavor.

And an unrelated question, after the cut to hearts, can I turn off the dephlegmator untill it comes time to suppress tails or should it still be running through the hearts collection?



  • Hi Bob, Take a page from Punkin's play book and dilute back down with your beer then run.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Ok, I have done that to good results with the pot still, but that still gets me to a charge of 25-30% Ill still be able to retain enough flavor on the spirit run?

  • how many watts? if you are only like 1200-2400, you may have too much reflux happening? driving it harder will lower the proof... or maybe insulate it, there is an old thread with insulation. You should be able to get 160 with 4 plates with enough power..

  • Sorry, running propane for power. I dont seem to have a problem getting enough power. I havent been able to flood the plates yet. I can try cranking it up, is there the same issue with dragging tails through the hearts like there is with a pot still?

    Ive got the reflux condenser on barely a trickle through hearts and I would be happy to knock it back all the way off if it would help. Ive been a bit ginger with it for fear of running too hard so far.

  • High Ridge Spirits runs two plates.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • You won't know till you try it mate. I've never heard of anyone saying they have lost flavour through a plated still as funny as it sounds, they be pulling 94% and still full of flavour. Try a low wines run, or do what i do and add feints and some strip to your wash.

    I think you are worried about a theory that won't eventuate.

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

  • Thanks Punkin, you are right about trying it out to be the best way to find out. I was sure never able to strip the flavor of rum out on my column, even at 95% so I guess this is more of the same. Just cautious is all.

    And I am adding eventuate to my vocabulary :)


  • Pandiculate is the latest one in my vocab. I love it and it's surprising how often it's able to be slipped into a sentence. B-)

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

  • Having pandiculated before breakfast I may enjoy yet another pandiculation before lunch. You're right @punkin its a lovely word.

  • Crow bar more like.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Bob there seem to be two ways to run columns like this. They both work and it just seems to be an issue of personal choice. Very versatile equipment.

    You can start with full coolant flow on the dephlegmator and adjust your power input to the max to still achieve full reflux. Then control your product output and proof by adjusting the coolant flow - remaining at that pre-set power input level. Essentially operating the entire run in reflux mode and taking flavoured product at between 90 and 94 % consistently throughout the run.

    At that power and reflux level there just aren't enough plates to strip out all the flavour.

    Alternatively you can run it as a pot still. Reflux as before for heads compression and then reduce your coolant flow to just enough to maintain the plates. Some folks will switch the dephlegmator off completely. In this mode your product ABV will drop during the run, just like in a pot still. However, the start and end ABV will be higher than a basic pot still. And you will need to experiment for the correct power setting.

    Product final proof shouldn't really be an issue. Many folks report full flavoured product at upto 94%. (A lot of commercial whisky is produced on a column with this method)

    Traditional pot stills will run a low wines charge of 28% for product at 70% - mostly to ensure consistent cut volumes at a consistent power input between runs. They also use the 28% charge to hydro-separate the boiler charge to aid cuts.

    On the smaller boiler you should be able to run a sub-30% boiler charge (to increase your hearts volume) and get any flavour profile you like dependent on how you carry out the run.

  • Well put @Myles.
    And I'd add that you can expect the first example (constantly refluxed) to maintain its high ABV while the production rate slowly drops off and either stops or the ABV very suddenly drops - depending on a few variables. The alco will visibly move up in the parrot over just one minute while you are watching or production will simply stop.
    In the second example, running more like a pot still, the production stays steady but the ABV slowly drops, as you said.

    I much prefer running a plated column like the first example but that's just me and my tastes. I feel this method does not suppress the tails enough.

    After a few runs and you get it dialed in, it is a joy to operate.

    Darn shame that a post like the previous one by @Myles can't be ticked and added to "The gems that every beginner needs to know". NOT saying you are a beginner @Bobtuse, I've read many of your fine posts over the years.
    Just saying that useful posts that could help beginners to understand the craft is so often scattered across forums that its daunting work for them to find.

  • I have lost track of many posts by a lot of knowledge folks on various forums that I wish I could have kept for my own refference library. If there is a way to archive them it would be good to know about.

  • I have copied and pasted many good notes to a pdf for my personal library.

  • Myles, That explanation is the dogs bollocks. Thank you! I've experienced a bit of what you talked about with the power management just in my playing around so far. Mostly though Ive gone the reflux route. The thing I like about that method is once you hit tails, you are done, they run out so fast I am waiting for the alcoholometer to jump out the parrot!

    Ill strip this next wash and use it half half with the next wash and see where that gets me. Just didnt seem right to spend more time bringing up to temp and equalizing than taking product.

    Lloyd, I feel like a bit of a beginner all over again with this new rig, but its coming together quickly. You are right about having a helpful tips category. I looked around on several of the forums for answers to this stuff and didnt find much. Tons on how to build the things, but running, not so much.

    Cheers! BoB

  • @Bobtuse said: ... Just didnt seem right to spend more time bringing up to temp and equalizing than taking product...

    I feel the same @Bobtuse. During column equalization I usually try to maintain a collection speed of about a drop every second or two to remove the fores. I don't have a big boiler, its only about 60L and seldom gets more than a 30 or 40L charge so I figure half a minute per liter of boiler charge for equalization is enough. After then its time to take the heads out, slowly.

    I figure its all about suppression. Collect the fores and suppress everything else. Then collect the heads while trying to suppress the hearts. Finally, suppress the tails while taking the hearts. At each step you can increase the collection rate by allowing the dephlegmator to become hotter. That may be confusing but it really is the way it works. On my rig - and every setup will vary - when the dephlem temp probe is at 40C I can expect to collect the fores very, very slowly and then stop. When at 45C the heads come over much quicker, peter out and stop. Then set to 60C and the hearts flow like crazy until exhausted and production slows and then stops. I don't collect tails so its then time to shut down.

    Was thinking over coffee this morning that if the hearts production simply stops while maintaining the same high ABV then the power input is at or below optimum for the system. If the power input is just a bit too much then the alco pops up in the parrot at the end of the hearts and tails are being collected. Just a theory, it could be the coffee talking. It could also be the dephlem is just a tad too hot.

  • I had this down to a science on my mostly automated, 4", 4-plate Dash1... and I agree with everything..

    That being said, operating my fully manually controlled, 8" 4-plate CD is like trying to train a cat after having successfully trained a dog ;-)

Sign In or Register to comment.