Distilling equipment such as traditional pot stills and continuous column stills are becoming increasingly popular as the spirits industry continues to grow. However, when it comes to choosing a distillation still for your distillery, which one should you choose?
Spirit distillation is not an easy process, but once you have decided on the type of distillation still you want to use, it becomes a bit less complicated. When choosing between a traditional pot still and a continuous column still, there are several questions you need to ask yourself.
What type of spirit are you producing?
What ABV (alcohol by volume) are you aiming for?
Are you producing on a batch-by-batch basis or on a larger scale?
Do you want to be considered a “craft” distillery?
Once you have answered these questions, you will be able to determine whether a traditional pot still or a continuous column still is the right choice for you. It is important to note that there is no “best” still, as it depends on your goals, procedures, and specific business model.
Some distillers hold the belief that the type of distillation still used makes all the difference in the final product. However, we also know that aging, base materials, and many other factors contribute to the overall quality. Nevertheless, there are significant differences between pot stills and column stills when it comes to the distillation process.
Distillation, at its simplest form, involves applying heat to a liquid, vaporizing the alcohol, and then cooling the gas to condense it back into a liquid. The choice between a pot still and a column still determines the mechanism by which this process is completed.
ACE Copper Continuous Column Still
Pot stills are often romanticized, and rightfully so! These copper-crafted kettles date back to the 15th century and are commonly used for batch spirits. Pot stills are favored for producing more flavorful spirits such as cognac, whiskey, rum, and scotch. The ABV of pot still spirits is lower than that of column stills due to the presence of flavorful organic compounds. Pot stills are also used in smaller quantities worldwide and are exclusively used for batch distilling.
Continuous column stills, on the other hand, are more commonly used and are more efficient than pot stills. Spirits distilled in column stills have a higher ABV, making them cheaper to produce but with fewer nuances in terms of flavor and texture. Vodka, white rum, and gin are examples of spirits made using continuous column stills. Unlike pot stills, column stills can be operated continuously rather than in batches.
Both pot stills and column stills have been used for distillation for hundreds of years, and both can produce unique, delicious alcoholic spirits. Of course, every distiller has their own preference for which still they use. Therefore, it is best to consult a manufacturer who specializes in both pot stills and column stills to make an informed decision without industry bias.
If you are considering starting a distillery or expanding an existing one, it is important to understand the benefits of both pot stills and continuous column stills. It is advisable to seek guidance from experts in distilling equipment. With their expertise in handcrafted distilling equipment and systems, ACE is unparalleled in guiding distillers towards the best equipment to suit their needs and preferences.