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Doubts

Hi,

First sorry for my bad English. I try to explain in a few words. Where I live, we distill cider,traditional way in copper stills, but these distillations are inefficient. I would like to start creating gin with StillDragon and use the same configuration with the cider. I have several questions that are very difficult to answer, because of the language, even reading manuals and forum.

  • The electric heating element, for a 75L and 150L Pot Belly Boiler, Power? Reference? Experiences? Does it depend on the number of bubbles that you use?
  • We use direct fire to heat our copper still. With a StillDragon boiler and using the electric heating element in contact with alcohol 50% or 60% is it dangerous? where is the limit of % in contact with this element?? no limits?
  • When it is best bain-marie use? Why?

thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks and sorry for my bad English again.

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Comments

  • edited January 2015

    Hello @XEIP,

    It all may seem confusing at first, but it gets easier once getting used to the way such a still is run. You may want to look up the interesting information online and use a translation service like the Google Translator if English is causing you troubles.

    Producing gin is quite easy nowadays even for small batch setups thanks to our 4" Aroma Basket Kit (GB4). It's most effective if used in a dedicated gin setup above a dephlegmator and in conjunction with maceration of the boiler filling.

    Concerning your questions:

    The electric heating element, for a 75L and 150L Pot Belly Boiler, Power? Reference? Experiences? Does it depend on the number of bubbles that you use?

    Our 75L and 150L boilers are equipped with three element ports. The max wattage for single phase current you can get here in Europe is usually 5500W, which would give you a maximum of 16500W if your electricity supply supports it. You can use pretty much any elements with a 1" MPT BSP connector, the best recommendation is the Camco Ripple Ultra Low Wattage type which can easily be found on Amazon. You want a high wattage for reducing the heat-up time, and then reduce significantly during the run by switching off elements and/or using our DIY Controller Kit. So without considering any other factors I'd recommend going for the max possible that your electricity supply supports, it's better to be over-powered then under.

    We use direct fire to heat our copper still. With a StillDragon boiler and using the electric heating element in contact with alcohol 50% or 60% is it dangerous? where is the limit of % in contact with this element?? no limits?

    With a bain-marie boiler (indirect heating) the boiler charge does not get in contact with the electrical elements. With direct immersion heating (our simple boiler types) it isn't a problem either because you would not run a boiler charge with 50% or 60% ABV, but either distill from a mash or wash usually below 12% or low wines diluted down to ~40% ABV if necessary. It really depends on what you want to do, for gin I'd use NGS (neutral grain spirit) at 40% ABV as source alcohol, but others do it differently. There are a lot of things up for the distiller to decide. You may want to think about visiting a distilling school or seminar, which can go from basic distilling knowledge up to pretty advanced techniques.

    When it is best bain-marie use? Why?

    Whenever you distill from a mash with solids in it, you most certainly want to use a bain-marie style boiler with agitator to prevent scorching the boiler charge. I would not consider direct immersion heating for anything other then when distilling from clear washes or low wines / NGS, and even then I'd always recommend to go for the agitator option. Here in Austria I have not seen a single distiller using anything other than a bain-marie with agitator.

    Whatever you do, it's always best to start small, so our 75L and 150L boilers with a 4" or 5" column are a really good size to start with, be it for getting to know the equipment and process, for small batch distilling or developing / refining recipes. Once you got the hang of it and want to increase production, it's easy to upgrade to 380L+ and a 6" or 8" column.

    Have a look around here, there is a lot of information that may be of interest for you. You can access this forum either using the mentioned Google online translation service, or even easier with the Google Chrome (or Chromium) web browser and use its built-in translation feature for getting it all in Spanish.

    Please don't hesitate to ask more questions either here or by e-mail, you will surely find your way into these things and I'm confident we can get you started with the proper equipment in no time. :)

    Greetings,
    Michael

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

  • @XEIP Welcome! There is a beginning for everyone, this forum might be the best you can get in information!

    What size is your current boiler?

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

  • my copper still is 100 liters, is about 75 years and I need to make 3 distillations a minimum in cider, we use a traditional method, so we see the difficult change for not knowing how we should work with StillDragon, we have many questions:-) thank you

  • 75 years is quite something, so you have a lot of distilling experience in your family? :)

    If so, the step to a new still will not be very complicated for you, in the moment we don't offer wood stove stills (it is something that is very popular in Europe, so someday we will have those, too) But I promise you with direct electrical heating, you will not miss your old still one day. It is so much cleaner and easier to handle.

    I can assure you, there are many professional distillers in our midst, who all do their job very successfully with SD equipment. So it must be working at some point ;)

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

  • edited January 2015

    The problem is that we use an approach based on custom and intuition but not in a knowledge-based method tecnicos. We have no control over the heating or cooling temperature, I understand all the benefits of SD, method so I do all these questions.

    For our intention to make gin, we have possibility to get alcohol 95% of a company, our intention is to dilute 40-50% for maceration of botanicals and distill this alcohol 40-50%. My main concern is whether I have a problem with direct heating of this 40-50%. It is safer bain-marie?

    for a 140 liter distillation 40-50% alcohol and a power of 5000W for example, how long is expected to last ?? ((estimated)) with SD.

    O give me an example of configuration and approximate time please. thanks for your patience.

  • XEIP

    What country are you in or did i miss that in your post somewhere? Spain?

  • General consensus is to water down to 40% to reduce any risk of accidents at the beginning of the boil when there is still oxygen present in the system. Direct heating has risks but is generally considered safe.

    This is precautionary. If you want to target a certain output percent abv for your final spirit while running in pot mode, say for Gin, this is done by lowering the abv of the boiler charge. If the output % doesn't matter to you then you could just use 40% as an input.

    You could also think about vapour infusion of the herbs in our gin basket.

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

  • For pot stilling a previously rectified spirit, I would likely dilute to 20% to reduce the amount of dilution needed for bottling. This should also help retain (or conserve) your botanical goodness.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited February 2015

    Hi @XEIP,

    Below is a link to an article that convinced me why the still charge should be diluted. From memory it's largely about reducing your energy cost.

    Here is an extract:

    Use only enough energy (heat) to break the weaker water/ethanol bonds; leave the other stronger bonds relatively intact. The fewer water/ethanol bonds there are to break, the less energy will be consumed.

    Diluting The Still Charge By Harry Jackson

  • edited February 2015

    Thank you @punkin, I see that you believe to be right 40% correct input. and have no problems with direct heating. What percentage output is expected? We were thinking a configuration with boiler, several bubbles, dephlegmator, gin basket and condenser for gin and only remove the basket or even with it when distill cider. you see that right?

    This is the approximate method we use to distill cider:

    image

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    500 x 654 - 28K
  • edited February 2015

    @luckyliqueur, thank you so much for the link! I don`t find interesting literature in Spanish about distillation process.

  • Depends on your source spirit. I notice your picture shows heads and tails present. Above 30% ABV these are soluble in ethanol. In the pot still they are difficult to separate. This is one of the main reasons pot stillers drop the boiler charge below 30% on both the wash and spirit runs.

  • The output will depend on the number of plates and the initial charge. As Myles says, separation is easier the more you water down, but yield per run is lower. It's all a balancing act where you set a model and size the equipment to reach that model.

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

  • it seems very difficult to choose a suitable conficuracion for our two intentions :((

  • I'm not quite clear on your intentions. At first you are distilling cider but I think you are planning to buy GNS (95+% grain neutral spirit) and using that to make gin?

    If that is correct, then you really don't need much equipment. If you can somehow add a SD GB4 gin basket to one of your existing stills then you should be good to go.
    If not, then let us know how many liters per day you want to produce as that will dictate your boiler size and the product condenser that you need.

    For example, if your goal is to produce 100 liters of finished 40% ABV gin per day then you'd want a boiler charge of about about 120L of 40% (the neutral that you buy will probably still have some heads and tails that you'll want to cut out). If the boiler charge is to be 30% then you'd need the boiler to be a bit bigger.
    This assumes that you will charge the boiler, bring it to a boil and run it one time each day.
    With a clean neutral boiler charge you do not need a packed or bubble plate column. Just a simple 90 degree bend to get the GB4 away from the boiler will do.

    Your condenser can easily be the "worm in bucket" type as in your illustration above or you can buy a SD product shotgun condenser. The size of the condenser is dependent on several factors... the input water temperature and how much boiler power you are using being the most important. If in doubt, get the next bigger size because too small of a product condenser will cost you more money in water used over time than the price that you paid for the condenser.

    Just to be clear, it is best to use good, clean tasting neutral spirit in the boiler if making gin. It is not a great idea to put "distiller's beer" or wash in the boiler and try to make the heads, hearts and tails cuts while trying to make gin. You Want to remove that variable from your gin production.

    Now, if you are trying to rectify your cider into clean neutral spirit that is another matter, and another still setup, entirely.
    For that you will want to produce a clean vodka (neutral spirit) and there are plenty of threads here that explore that in much detail. Basically, you either make multiple distillations on the same wash with a few plates or you use A LOT of plates. 22 or more plates (actual bubble plates or theoretical packed column plates) is not uncommon.

    Everyone here is happy to help you in any possible way and if language is a barrier I'm sure @SDeurope will help you to translate any question that you have into questions that get great answers from the amazing members here, many who make their living by selling the fine alcohol that they produce.

  • I was talking to an international award winning Australian gin distiller a little while back and he said that while the GNS he buys is miles ahead of what he used to buy years ago and pretty bloody good considering he pays as much for his bottled water, he still has to do a run through his 6 plate column and make some cuts to clean it up to vodka or gin standard.

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

  • LLoyd and Punkin thanks for spending your time trying to resolve my doubts. I explain my intentions: we have to make several runs as shown in the picture for our spirit of cider. we thought that several SD bubbles get the same result with a single run. Apart from our cider: with the possibility of getting this spirit 95% in a company near us, we thought, would not be difficult with the same configuration and SD Basket to produce Gin, and when using the cider, cleanning run, and just remove the basket or with the basket without Botanical. We have no experience with Gin and much less with SD products, we have no direct heating element, we use natural flame, all is different for us. Lloyd: For example, if your goal is to produce 100 liters of finished 40% ABV gin per day then you'd want a boiler charge of about about 120L of 40% (the neutral that you buy will probably still have some heads and tails that you'll want to cut out). We thought that 150 boiler with direct heating element is ok for us. Lloyd:With a clean neutral boiler charge you do not need a packed or bubble plate column. It is not required but the final product would be better? you say that (the neutral that you buy will probably still have some heads and tails that you'll want to cut out)

    we are not afraid of cider because surely SD works far better than our old still but for the Gin appears doubts (ignorance) . we would like to use the same settings for both products (separately of course). if you want I'll explain settings that I imagine and you chasten me if you see problems with it.

    some good book about the practice distillation of gin?

    Thanks again. ^:)^

  • @XEIP, with clear washes / cider / NGS you are good to go with our 150L Pot Belly Boiler with Agitator, and it's totally up to you if you want to mount a simple pot still configuration or a plated reflux column, which you can combine with the Aroma Basket Kit or use as a dedicated gin still, whatever works best for your endeavor. With our modular equipment you are not limited to a single setup, you can reconfigure as you desire.

    Have you already taken a look at the The StillDragon Gin Basket Operation Manual?

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

  • Hi again. I was translating and reading The StillDragon Gin Basket Operation Manual and the author explains the method for all in one that ----- Run the still with no reflux.------- WHY??? And: Despite what you may read about crushing botanicals it is NOT recommended as it forms over-extraction. It is only needed if you’re using fresh ingredients that haven’t been processed eg actual liquorice plant. What is crushing botanicals?? Thanks for everything. ^:)^

  • Hi xeip, there used to be a process that involved passing the botanicals through a roller mill. This used to crush the botanical rupturing some of the cell walls to encourage the release of flavour and juice. to be honest it was a bit heavy handed.

    The basis of the GB is a concept that you use a more gentle process to evapourate volatile components out of the botanicals, so physical crushing should not be required.

  • edited February 2015

    The spirit you run through the gin basket will benefit from having been put through a stripping run and a spirit run prior to the gin infusion run. This way the feints have previously been removed. None of the precious botanical volatile compounds are wasted on heads or tails.

    Running the gin run on pre-stripped GNS means you will probably want to dilute your boiler charge down to about 20% ABV so that the distillate from your infusion run comes out at cask strength. No reflux required. Reflux inside the gin head is undesirable because it ends up as liquid sitting in the bottom of the gin head.

    At least that is my understanding of how it works. I just received my SD Carter head in the mail yesterday. I am about to put these theories to the test, but I get them on good authority (thank you @Crozdog and @Smaug).

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • if your nuetral is not already 100% consumer ready, don't bother trying to make gin with it... you can ruin the entire batch trying to save a step... a good test is to take a snifter and put a 1:3 ratio of your 95% neutral to very pure water in it and smell/taste... this lower ABV is where I find tails really can be perceptible...

  • Hi again, I wake up this thread because more than a year ago we tried to make profesionally that we was doing by an artisan way. Finally it looks like we can try it........(I should not say it very high......) PLEASE I want to know that you think about it on our chosen configuration. We have 13.8 Kw, and we decided to use a 200L boiler without agitator, 5" Dash pro SGK x 6 plates, and GBK to our two ways.

    Way 1 : How I said at the begin of this thread, to distill hard cider. producing cider spirit that is that we are doing now with an old copper still. This spirit is very appreciated where I live. (((If any of you want some info about hard cider I want to help , it's a world that I love and with a great tradition here)))

    Way 2: Produce gin using NGS that we buy. With this we will have to learn a lot but I wonder if you think good starting point this our SD configuration.

    Our intenction may seem rare but we want use de same SD configuration for both works. What do you think about using the GBK after the 5 " column for the gin ? I have seen configurations that produce the source alcohol for your gin (or other vapor infused spirits) in the same step as the aroma infusion but THIS IS NOT OUR INTENTION. We want use neutral in the boiler and we believe that the cuts will be finer using the column than without it. What do you think?

    Thanks

  • edited November 2015

    @XIEP,

    I'd like to know more about your hard cider production. Can you create a new thread to describe your process rather than cluttering up this one?

    if you use 6 plates on your cider, you may find that you strip out most of the flavour. You are probably better to run with 2-3 plates to produce cask strength flavoursome product on 1 pass. Modular allows you to do this quite easily. How many runs through the old copper still did you do before?

    In relation to using GNS to make gin on your column, I have the following comments:

    1. I agree with what @kapea & @CothermanDistilling say immediately above your last post & as @punkin stated earlier, to make gin, you need to fill the boiler with high quality spirit. GNS that you buy will most likely require a run through your 6 plates to clean it up ie remove heads / tails. it is up to you if you decide to carbon filter it after that & before doing a gin run.
    2. running the gin basket after the column is fine, but as previously pointed out do not try to do a spirit run and a gin run at the same time. do a spirit run to clean up the gns then do a gin run using the clean spirit - if you do that you do not need to do cuts on your gin run and will not waste botanicals.
    3. I don't think that the same configuration is the best way to operate - you are making different products which require different processes / treatments. The configuration needs to match what you are trying to produce. use the modular nature of SD to reconfigure or buy another setup if you want to run both at the same time.
  • edited November 2015

    thanks Crozdog! it seems perfect to create a new thread for cider! in the region where I live almost 50 million liters of cider are produced by year (excluding craft productions ) ...there are 1 million people....... :D

    We don´t know how neutral will be our wash with 5 plates, but it isn´t a big problem, less flow in the dephlag and fewer plates would be the solution! it's not something that worries us, practice with SD will tell us how to do it.

    The gin is our nightmare! you say : "do a spirit run to clean up the gns then do a gin run using the clean spirit-if you do that you do not need to do cuts on your gin run and will not waste botanicals."

    I understand it, but if all my botanicals go in GBK... I think, in only one run, I can clean up the GNS and when my hearts are coming put GBK to work until tails appear, is not enough when you are using a fairly neutral spirit ?

    I understand do a spirit run to clean up if there are remains of odors or flavors in the neutral (but it isn´t really a neutral if there are this remains) I don´t understand why everyone recommend us this extra-run, can you develop this idea? I'm thinking about energy saving.

  • edited November 2015

    Gin producers i have spoken too who use purchased GNS have told me that although the quality o it has improved vastly in the last twenty years they still like to do one run to make their own cuts and clean it yup as Crozdog has said.

    You may find you are happy with the compromise between energy costs and quality.

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

  • @punkin said: Gin producers i have spoken too who use purchased GNS have told me that although the quality o it has imp[roved vastly in the last twenty years they still like to do one run to make their own cuts and clean it yup as Crozdog has said.

    You may find you are happy with the compromise between energy costs and quality.

    +1

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • You can make gin from any clear spirit you would be proud to serve all on it's own... even if it came off the still at 130 proof...

  • edited November 2015

    hi

    What we are saying is that commercially available GNS is not that clean.

    Don't forget that after doing a spirit run to clean the gns you would air the resulting "neutral" for a day or 2 to allow other volatiles to evaporate. I would not want to do that with the hearts cut on a gin made as you suggest as you'd loose some of your botanical volatiles. Remember gin needs to rest after production not air.

    If you make a gin using untreated gns as you suggest, how would you know when tails come through?

    My recommendation is for you to do some experimentation such as:

    1. taste your gns like cotherman suggests - you will know pretty quickly if you need further processing!
    2. make a gin using untreated gns as you suggest. However how would you know when tails come through?
    3. do a spirit cleaning run to get a nice clean base spirit then make a gin using the same botanical ratios used in 2
    4. Repeat 3 but carbon filter it before making your gin
    5. take some gns carbon filter it then taste it like cotherman suggests before making a gin using the same botanical ratios used in 2

    Once you have these 4 gins, get a few people around and do a blind tasting getting them to provide detailed feedback on each. I'm sure that there will be big differences that are commented on.

    If your approach works - that's great, however I believe you will get a better product and be able to reproduce the production of a quality product if you do as we have suggested and clean up the gns first. Depending on the quality of your GNS simply carbon filtering may be sufficient, however it may not.

    yes it will take more energy - but are you looking to produce a high quality product that you can charge a premium for? if so, I think that you need to use the cleanest base you can and the higher price you'd obtain would more than make up for the extra energy, however conducting the above experiment will allow you to work it out for yourself.

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