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8" Dash for making Vodka and Gin

I'm interested in the 8" dash for distilling vodka and gin. I want a turn key system, how many plates would be ideal? And do you carry a gin basket for this model?

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Comments

  • That's a big unit and you will need a lot of plates for top neutral. Are you going pro or why the need for 8" as smaller taller seems better unless you want heaps of product. You need good neutral then knock the still down to a pot still mode for the gin run. For a 8" you will also need a big boiler plus lots of plates and also a huge botanicals basket which all equates to a big fat wallet.

  • Small artisanal Commercial operation. Looking to have capacity for 400 liters of product a month.

  • edited November 2016

    Just work backwards.

    Assume a bare bones 1 man operation.

    Vodka & Gin - 400 liters @ 40%

    4,000 liters of wash at 7%, with a 60% product yield - yields 168 liters pure alcohol, proofed down to 40% yields about 420 liters - so less waste, etc, about 400 liters of total product (gin or vodka).

    So you need to be able to:

    Mash 4000 liters a month

    Ferment 4000 liters a month

    Strip 4000 liters a month

    Spirit run 1000 liters a month

    Additional Gin runs on top of the spirit runs.

    So lets say you are sizing everything for a 380 liter batch size (or slightly less) - You would need to mill and mash 11x a month (and ferment), strip 11x monthly, spirit run 3x monthly, and say 1x gin run monthly. That's 26 days of work a month on 380l sizing, to produce your 400 liters.

    You could probably get by mashing in your 380l bain marie still - but would probably need two fermenters to be able to run that many ferments a month - plus it provides you with a little bit more capacity.

    I don't think you could realistically do this with smaller equipment, but the 8" column is a nice pair with the 380l tank anyway. Or, to give you additional capacity for expansion (and to sell), maybe push to 500 liters (and be able to take a day off).

    I'll let someone else chime in on the plates, but even with stripping you are talking about well north of a dozen.

  • edited November 2016

    Or a simple 120 liter still, 4 plates, gin basket, and a tote of GNS.

    Less than a half dozen runs a month. Spend the other 20 days a month selling.

  • edited November 2016

    There are a couple interpretations of what constitutes a clean vodka. For example the folks doing honey absolutely do not want to scrub all of their fermented base notes out of their finished product. So they seem to settle in at 10 plates (+ or -). Others have concluded that 10 is not really enough for the kind of clean they are shooting for.

    Clean Vodka for the vodka snobs seems to mean more than 16 plates.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • @grim said: Or a simple 120 liter still, 4 plates, gin basket, and a tote of GNS.

    Less than a half dozen runs a month. Spend the other 20 days a month selling.

    Yeah can save a bunch of man hours that could other wise be used for selling,,,,or eating dinner.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • And about $50,000 cheaper.

  • edited November 2016

    We can do the column in Double Dragon style to get you all your plates in one configuration, we can also do a large gin basket. The Be All system shown here will operate as a pot still for stripping or you can strip through 8 plates.
    Then do a spirit run through 8 plates as well, giving you 16 plus the 2 pot still head which would make 18. You can also order it with 2 columns on the boiler, an extra column standing before the gin basket, or any other configuration you like.
    Then recharge the boiler with your clean neutral and you can run through the gin basket from the pot head (or through 8 plates again) for your gin run.

    image

    500lstocksystem3.jpg
    800 x 600 - 93K

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

  • edited November 2016

    @grim, I'll be setting this up in Asia. All I have available similar to GNS is a 45% rice base alcohol which is have to clean up to guns level. My goal is to start out 100 liters per month for trial and error, I have a ready market and hope to get up to 200 liters per month by one year. Imp basic research says I could get up to 4oo per month but that'd take 1.5-2 years. I was hoping to budget for just under 20k turnkey delivered, and step up a level once I broke the 200 liter per month amount. All your advice is very appreciated.

  • You could also add 1 or 2 extra shifts too. Get your investment working 24/7 :)

  • edited November 2016

    @punkin, I'd like to be at that configuration around year two. Seems it's above my budget now. I think we talked awhile back, I'd be looking to have a freight forwarder you recommended help out. My immediate licensing here will allow me to clean up a 45% rice alcohol, then distill to gin. I was looking at the 8 inch dash as I thought it in my budget for turning out 200l per month first 2 years, then upgrade. Your advice is very appreciated

  • edited November 2016

    @Smaug, I'd rather be doing as you say...so I'm all ears to advice.

  • edited November 2016

    @Brentsky, I am at the point of starting up, my boilers are in fabrication right now but I think you will be surprised how much everything, apart from the stills and boiler costs. If your just making Gin its going to be cheaper. I would start with an equipment list of everything your going to need. I am halfway through buying all the stuff on my list and I am about 13k into it. But I bought a Vodka Column and a carter head and a few other things.

  • To me - not being a pro - a good multi plate column will clean up your 45 % rice brew to near 100%. Get enough of that stored up then nock the still down to pot mode or just take out the plates then add a basket for botanicals. Spend the money now on the spirit still the size you might end up and a basket. High initial investment on the spirit still but the rest is relatively low. Use your available rice spirit for a while and look at it then.

    My favourite gin in south Australia is made from grape spirit bought in and I bet it saves him heaps.

    The beauty of modular is you can expand to you final plan as you go if you think it out.

  • I'm sure the hearts cut on that rice spirit is wide enough to float a supermax cargo ship through ... sideways.

    You'd probably need to treat that 45% as only being slightly better than stripped spirit. While it reduces the bulk volumes you are dealing with, to make a good neutral you probably still need the kind of plate counts that are being discussed here.

  • My suggestion would be to still do the double dragon style in say a 380l with twin 8" columns, loose the copper, loose the agitator. Shipping direct to you from China we may be able to get nearer your budget, i'd have to work it out.

    Then have a 120-200l boiler with a GB4 on it for your gin production to be charged with neutral, for the sake of 3k and not having to pull the column down why wouldn't you?

    We can do some sums when you get close to purchasing.

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

  • Punkin, I like that configuration you mentioned. If you could price with copper and without, If it's attainable I might be able to source more funds.

  • No worries at all mate, just send me an email so i can keep track.

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

  • edited December 2016

    Food for thought how to do it for cheap. I wouldn't start up with an 8" the costs will put you behind the curve when you need cash flow the most. Plenty of guys started with a 4" till they figured it out better.

    • source ProCap plates and basic parts and super reflux condenser from @punkin
    • start with a 5-6" column or even a 4" to save on CAPEX and still be able to produce 400-600L of 95% per month (I'm doing 400L working 4 days a week when it all comes together with my 4" reckon I could get to 600L tho)
    • buy 4-5 windowed plate lifts then just use 100mm pipe extensions for the rest of your plates. you don't need to see every plate and it's a TON cheaper o buy a 4" extension than a window. Stick with the ProCaps though, as the flow rates are significantly faster and allow more production
    • I'm running 11 plates and I can get a passable mid-top shelf vodka if I am very careful with the recipe and distill 2-3 times. I reckon that @grim is right when he says 16 plates is minimum for vodka.
    • you can cheat and depend heavily on carbon filtering but that has some issues as well (pre-cleaning and finding quality carbon)
    • try used 200L plastic palm oil barrels as fermenters. I sealed the bungs and cut a hole in the bottom, made a (mostly) sealable lid with ply and silicon caulking, then cleaned it well and added a valve at the base for drainage and made a stand for it. cost me about $200 each to put into service. 6-12 will keep you busy distilling for two shifts if you want
    • if you had a 4" and ran 1.5 shifts and distilled off 3 fermenters a day yielding 60L per day working only 4 days distilling, you could produce about 2000L of salable product a month. with a 4" column. Drop it to two distillations a day but work 5 days you get ~1700ea 1L bottles

    you are totally doable for $20k. plan on 1/3 that in set-up costs like pumps and valves and meters and water testers and aerators and, and, and.

    my .02

  • edited December 2016

    @brentsky, Your going to need:

    • Your still and boiler.
    • Water pump piping and valving for cooling.
    • Water tank for the pumping water cooling system. Think 5 to 8 times volume of the still depending on your climate where you live.
    • Fermenters matched to the size of your boiler, lots of small distilleries use 200l HDPE food grade barrrels.
    • Mash tun matched to size of fermenter. You can use the Food grade barrels for this as well.
    • Gin basket if you want to make gin.
    • Wash transfer pump, high volume.
    • High ABV tranfer pump, which is different from the wash pump.
    • Testing meters.
    • Storage containers for High ABV.
    • A bottle filling machine. look at enolmaster if your starting up.
    • Labelling machine or make one yourself.
    • Label printer if you want to print your own labels, these are very expensive.
    • Carbon filter for filtering your vodka.
    • Heat controllers for your heating element.
    • Storage racks for bottles and equipment.
    • Oak Barrels if you want to make whiskey.
    • A grain grinder if you want to make whiskey.
    • Stainless steel bench for bottling and labeling.

    Its a long list and everything costs money. @Fiji_Spirits is right on with his comments. Go for a smaller boiler and column and work it. I am going a bit overboard on boilers and stills but its still about 40% of the cost. And if you go on a much larger size for boiler figure changing out the electrical connection to industrial size. I am going to have to put in a 100amp board where I am going as I will have three stills set up.

  • I have a 5" column and they always seem to get lost in the discussion. They aren't offered here in the States for that very reason but can be had over your way. I did a stripping run yesterday and had a take off rate of 16L per hour. That was going as fast as my condensers could keep up but not bad. I run ProCaps when doing my spirit runs and still get a good solid 8L per hour take off rate. I could probably do better but prefer to be a little conservative.

    The 6" is also worth thinking about. The great thing is that you have a million different choices since you only buy what you need from SD, and can add on later if you need to. Really came in handy for me when I upsized my boiler I just added another long 2" shotgun condenser to the end of my first one.

    Easy peasy.

    Keep us posted on your progress.

  • edited December 2016

    From a theoretical perspective, a 5" wouldn't necessarily offer a material improvement over a 4". I mean, if you had nothing at all, and had a small boiler (keg) - a 5" might give you a little bit more headroom, because a keg would have an issue keeping a bunch of 6" plates loaded.

    4" circle is 12.6 sq/in

    5" circle is 19.6 sq/in

    6" circle is 28.3 sq/in

    8" circle is 50.3 sq/in

    12" circle is 113.1 sq/in

    You can see, that 5" is the odd man out, as every other 2" increase roughly doubles the surface area (for the smaller columns) and effectively provides a doubling of speed. A 1" move provides less than half what a 2" increase would provide (45% faster).

    Not to mention that from a compatibility perspective, there really ain't such a thing as 5" triclamp.

    I'm not knocking it, on the small side, the pairing is more important than when you go bigger, maybe it makes perfect sense.

  • @Brentsky if you're trying to be budget conscientious, keep also in mind the ancillary cost you'll be facing. Compared to that, a smaller or larger column is being dwarfed by the costs you'll be already facing to just get off the ground. Thinking rent, insurance, legal/permitting fess etc. that's all going to be sunk cost. At least whatever you're buying in equipment you can re-sell

  • Why not just pack a column if neutral is the end game? We've been playing around with the idea of a 20 foot packed column for a while now.

  • @grim said: From a theoretical perspective, a 5" wouldn't necessarily offer a material improvement over a 4". I mean, if you had nothing at all, and had a small boiler (keg) - a 5" might give you a little bit more headroom, because a keg would have an issue keeping a bunch of 6" plates loaded.

    4" circle is 12.6 sq/in

    5" circle is 19.6 sq/in

    6" circle is 28.3 sq/in

    8" circle is 50.3 sq/in

    12" circle is 113.1 sq/in

    You can see, that 5" is the odd man out, as every other 2" increase roughly doubles the surface area (for the smaller columns) and effectively provides a doubling of speed. A 1" move provides less than half what a 2" increase would provide (45% faster).

    Not to mention that from a compatibility perspective, there really ain't such a thing as 5" triclamp.

    I'm not knocking it, on the small side, the pairing is more important than when you go bigger, maybe it makes perfect sense.

    I got most of my stuff from Smaug when he was phasing out the 5". Had to go to SD Europe to get the tri-clamps. I was trying to point out that the jump from 4" to 6" pricewise might be too much and there is another option in between that some might not know about. I would consider a 6" to be almost the minimum needed for a commercial setup of any kind. Even with a 5" I still have to work to get a decent amount to fill a small barrel.

    I have a rum spirit run going on right now and I'm taking 7.8L an hour of 90%.

  • edited December 2016

    5" is offered here as a base commercial setup. The reason StillDragon Australia stocks 5" rather than 6" is the same reason US stocks 6" rather than 5", theory aside the production rates are close and 5" offers a marked increase in production/decrease in time over the 4" plus it comes standard with Procaps.
    The fact is we don't have the resources to stock everything, so decisions have to be made and in Aus the 5" meets the top of the Artisan hobby market and the bottom of the commercial setups very well.

    A 5" 120-200 litre unit is in high demand here for people with enough money to recognise the value offered by the mid size system but not enough Fly-in fly-out to sit in front of the still 4 times a month.

    There certainly is 5" Triclamps, many more than unicorns.

    Which condensor were you knocking down 16l/hr with FC? Seems funny as the 2" usually runs out of puff around 10l/hr and the 3" can do much more than that.

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

  • I can vouch for @punkins comment re the 3" condenser. I have one and my water is by no means cool and i sometimes wonder why i am putting any water thru it @ 10 l / hour. I run at around 1.5 l / minute water and that flow is because i seems like i should be - not because i have to. No idea what it would start to struggle at and would love to know if someone has an idea. As a aside run my new config 5" 12 plater with all elements on ( 8400 w on 50 l keg ).. During equilibrium on start up i had a good flow ( 8 l / min ) to Reflux condenser and the top plate filled right up and was bubbling like made. The second top also to some extent. I just assumed it was too much power for still size and the big boy RC was knocking it all down nicely so it just had to fall back on top plate. I dont think it was totally flooded but it sure was filling up. Took off the 3600w element ( leaving 4800W ) and it was completely predictable or maybe a little tame and i should have only taken out a 2400W one. I guess thats why you have SCR's to control the boil to exactly where you want it but switching worked to some extent.

  • @punkin said: Which condensor were you knocking down 16l/hr with FC? Seems funny as the 2" usually runs out of puff around 10l/hr and the 3" can do much more than that.

    I have 2 of the long 2" shotgun condensers. I found very quickly on my first run with the larger boiler and 3 elements that just one wasn't going to cut it.

    Cool as shit too because when I built my larger boiler my height increased 24". Took me all of about an hour to install the new condenser, irrigation and such. I still only run my elements at 60% on the stripping and roughly 40% during the spirit run. Nice to have the extra juice for heatup which is about an 1 1/4 hours for stripping and 1 hour for spirit.

    16L per hour is very easy and the strip isn't scalding hot either. I do slow it down a smidge at the end to be able to tell when I get to 20%.

    @GD50, I am now controlling all 3 of my 5,500w elements with just one knob on an Auber controller. So nice to have precise control. It is kind of a pain at first to set it up but once done it really makes control much easier.

  • edited December 2016

    Aaaah, that makes sense. Although i have got 20l/hr from 2 x 2" in series before, the product was hot.
    There is a big jump in efficiency with the 3" over 2 x 2" even.

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

  • Hey Punkin, Thanks for selling me the 3" condenser with my pot still mate. In about 6 weeks I get to run it. Your a winner.

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