Types of Stills
Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and fractionating column ?
still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that
come off the boiling mash. This will result in an alcohol at about
40-60% purity, with plenty of flavour in it. If this distillate were
put through the pot still again, it would increase in purity to around
70-85% purity, and lose a bit of its flavour.
|Examples of Pot Stills
still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by
having some packing in a column between the condensor & the pot, and
allowing some of the vapour to condense and trickle back down through
the packing. This "reflux" of liquid helps clean the rising vapour
and increase the % purity. The taller the packed column, and the
more reflux liquid, the purer the product will be. The advantage
of doing this is that it will result in a clean vodka, with little
flavour to it - ideal for mixing with flavours etc.
|Examples of Reflux Stills
column is a pure form of the reflux still.
It will condense all or most of the vapour at the top of the packing, and
return about 9/10 back down the column. The column will be quite
tall - say 600-1200mm (2-4 foot), and packed with a material high in
surface area, but which takes up little space (pot scrubbers are good
for this). It will result in an alcohol 95%+ pure (the theoretical
limit without using a vacuum is 95.6%), with no other tastes or
impurities in it. Note that both reflux and fractionating stills can still
be used to make whisky, rum etc, as they allow a very precise "cut" between the
heads, middle, and tail runs.
|Examples of Fractionating Columns