There is an old saying, “Everything starts with beer, and everything starts to be clear”. Winemakers are a group of creative people who usually see wineries begin to adopt standard configurations and modify them to suit their operational needs or required spirit flavors. Yes, there are all kinds of equipment there. Having said that, some winery configurations have withstood the test of time and constitute most of the configurations used to produce world-class spirits today.
This distilled water distills beer, wine or a slightly stronger fermented grain bourbon. The alcohol concentration (ABV) of these fermentation washes is usually between 7-11%. All the configuration, as well as the technique of the still, knowing when to cut the head, heart and tail, determine the taste of the spirit. The heart is separated and used in the final product. Usually, the core parts of several distillations are mixed together to create a “new spirit”. This is this mixture in barrels. The head and tail are safely discarded and recycled to the next distillation or used for non-consumable products.
Configuration and components: All the distillation systems below have a heat source to heat the washing liquid to exhaust all alcohols in the form of steam. They all use condensers to condense alcohol vapor into liquid.
Pot distiller in a winery
Pot stills: Pot stills are the oldest configuration type. Pot still is a batch process that is often used to make whole malt Scotch whisky, mezcal, brandy, dark rum, and Irish whiskey. For example, the kit used to make Scotch whiskey includes a mashing barrel with a false bottom, backwashing (fermentation tank), a distiller for rough preliminary separation of alcohol, called low alcohol wine, and a distiller used to increase alcohol is made into spirits. The distiller uses Spirit Safe to separate the alcohol components separated during the distillation process: head, heart, and tail. This configuration also has a condenser to bring the alcohol from the gas phase to the liquid phase. Usually, traditional Scotch whiskey uses “filter washing”, where wort vats are used to filter out the wort from the wort, just like in the beer industry. The lotion is fermented in approximately 72 hours and then distilled. Compared with the column distiller, the classic Pot Wash distiller and Spirit distiller are slower and have lower separation efficiency; however, they do provide more complex congeners (flavor components) for the final spirit. After the initial washing and distillation, the final spirits are generally around 25% ABV. The spirit distiller is used to further separate the required flavor and aroma compounds, and to make the alcohol concentration of the final spirit reach about 75%. The low efficiency of the system is mainly due to the increased residence time in the distillation chamber associated with the two distillations, increased energy use, and imperfect separation of homologues, which reduces the total output. The stills on these systems trade flavor for efficiency all day long.
Copper pot stills
Continuous distiller: As the name suggests, these distillers are designed for continuous feed cleaning and produce high-alcohol spirits at the end of the two tower sections, purifying the spirits in a cycle that uses fresh steam to power the process. The working principle of the continuous column is to perform the washing distillation and alcohol distillation that we have seen in the Pot. The continuous column is divided into two parts: the stripper (or analyzer) is used to separate crude alcohol from the feed wash, and the rectification part is used to finely separate ethanol and other homologs. Each part is composed of a series of plates, as shown in the figure below. When the vapor moves up into the tower, each plate acts as its own small distillation unit, continuously increasing the alcohol content. The distiller can control the characteristics of the product by adjusting which plate the alcohol is drawn from before entering the condenser. These are high-volume, high-alcohol content devices, mainly used to produce neutral spirits for products such as vodka and gin. Compared to the classic Pot still, these columns require less downtime for cleaning. They are the real main force in the grain-neutral spirits industry.
Copper column distiller/continuous distiller
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