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Boiler size, can I just add water? (total noob question)

I have a question about what size boiler I should buy, I will be using electric heat so the element will need to be submerged, I was going to buy a small boiler around 50-60L but I found a guy selling 2 decked out boilers that are 100L and 200L and have all the bells and whistles. The cost is about the same but I was wondering if it was possible to do smaller batches in such a boiler?

For instance if I have 10 or 20 liters of wine that didn't turn out like I wanted and I want to run it through the distiller can I just add water so that the heating element will remain submerged during the process?


  • That sounds fine

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  • Is there a point where It will negatively effect the product? like if its 10L of 10% wine and 20L of water to cover the element will I get crappy spirits?

  • If you use good water, it may actually help the quality.

    By increasing the quantity of water, the % of bad stuff the overall mix goes down. I do the same thing with my spirit runs: fill up with water to cover the elements and then add the low wines.

    If you're running as a pot still, your output proof will be lower since your starting charge is lower.

  • Cool, I am assuming that I would need to add a plate or two into the mix to keep the ABV up but it sounds like apart from energy needed to heat the extra volume there is no reason not to go with the bigger boiler?

  • If you do what you suggest, you will have a 3.3 % boiler charge instead of a 10 % one. It will boil first at 97.5oC instead of 93oC. Will this have an effect on the product? Maybe. My first guess would be better compressed heads and smeared tails but only trial can tell.

  • Have a look at the cognac blended boiler charge method. Once you have done a few runs if you make cuts on both the strip run and the spirit run you end up with 2 different sets of feints.

    The feints from the strip runs are only used on subsequent strip runs to make the boiler charges consistent. Typically used to fortify lower proof fermentations produced by different growth seasons.

    When it comes to the spirit runs, again the boiler charges are blended to maintain a consistent charge so the cuts can be made by volume. This method can be applied to any fermentation style. Rum, whisky, brandy. Lots of room for experimentation.

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