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Re: Theoretical plates in a whisk(e)y still?

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  • abbababbaccc
    Aha, the great Harry has given incomplete answer so here s my change to nitpick :) Some Irish whiskeys are also made in potstills, both double and triple
    Message 1 of 14 , Jan 4, 2009
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      Aha, the great Harry has given incomplete answer so here's my change
      to nitpick :) Some Irish whiskeys are also made in potstills, both
      double and triple distilled.

      Cheers, Riku

      --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Harry" <gnikomson2000@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      >
      > There are no 'theoretical plates' in a plate column. They are
      actual
      > physical plates or trays. Whiskey columns are too big to use
      packing
      > instead of plates.
      >
      > Are you referring to whiskey plate columns or whiskey pot stills?
      To
      > my knowledge there's only one (1) whiskey produced commercially
      that is
      > pot distilled and that's Woodford Reserve Bourbon.
      >
      > All the rest use plate column designs. As such, the reflux ratio
      must
      > be a certain minimum to maintain steady balanced column action.
      This
      > minimum is somewhere in the region of 2:1 or 3:1 reflux:product
      ratio.
      > Less is bad, more is bad.
      >
      > If a particular plate runs low on liquid due to too little reflux
      > return, the column is in danger of "dumping". This will require a
      > restart and once again bringing the column to equilibrium.
      >
      > If there's too much reflux liquid returned, then pressure buildup,
      > surging and temperature fluctuation between plates drastically
      reduces
      > efficiency, and the product quality is poor.
      >
      > IOW, for plate columns it's all a balancing act.
      >
      > Hope that is useful.
      >
      >
      > Slainte!
      > regards Harry
      >
    • zapatavive@suddenlink.net
      Now that was exactly what I wanted to read! Thank you once again kind sir!
      Message 2 of 14 , Jan 5, 2009
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        Now that was exactly what I wanted to read! Thank you once again kind sir!

        ---- Harry <gnikomson2000@...> wrote:

        >
        > Heh, ya dinna hae ta tell me twice! :)
        >
        > First let me say this...the Scotch pot stills of today are a far cry
        > technically from their ancestors, even though they appear similar to the
        > eye. Modern innovations like gas-fired steam heating (replacing
        > 'direct' firing) and electronic monitoring, plus 'shell & tube'
        > condensers replacing the old 'worm' condensers, and GC analysis makes
        > for a far more precise product than ever before.
        >
        > Couple this with the modern taste for 'blended' malts like Ballantyne's
        > (requires 42 different single malts) and you have a myriad of variables
        > to get your head around.
        >
        > But that doesn't answer your question. So I'll give you an extract from
        > a recent collaborative paper between Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay
        > in Scotland, and University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-2200, USA.
        >
        >
        > <extract>
        >
        >
        > Still Construction and Shape:
      • waljaco
        Most scottish whisky stills are ex-gin stills from England. Most whisky is blended whisky i.e. pot still (malt whisky) and Coffey (column) still (grain whisky)
        Message 3 of 14 , Jan 5, 2009
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          Most scottish whisky stills are ex-gin stills from England. Most whisky is
          blended whisky i.e. pot still (malt whisky) and Coffey (column) still (grain
          whisky) products. Most grain whisky goes to english gin manufacturers. Use
          abv output as your guide for a pot still.
          wal
          --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Zapata Vive" <zapatavive@...> wrote:
          >
          > Actually I'm wondering about whiskey and whisky stills, not pot stills. Yes, a
          pot still = 1 plate, pretty much by definition. But a huge copper pot, only half
          full, with an exaggerated tapering top, no insulation, and a lyne arm that
          sometimes slopes up, does not make a simple pot still. Maybe the "theoretical
          plates" are less than 2, but surely more than 1. If not, why don't they just use
          flat topped perfectly insulated boilers with just enough headspace to keep the
          foam under control?
          >
          > You're a pro though, so I won't pull any quotes that discuss the reflux that
          occurs in whiskey stills, as I'm sure you've read more than I have on the
          subject. But none of the literature that I've read gives any indication for how
          much reflux occurs in commercial whiskey stills, just that some does, and the
          amount varies from still to still and distillery to distillery.
          >
          > So, any ideas how much reflux is going on in those big whiskey stills?
          >
          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: Harry
          > To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
          > Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 3:17 AM
          > Subject: [Distillers] Re: Theoretical plates in a whisk(e)y still?
          >
          >
          > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Zapata Vive" <zapatavive@> wrote:
          > >
          > > Anybody have any idea how how many theoretical plates there are in
          > whisky or whiskey stills? There is some reflux going on in those
          > beautiful pots and lynes, but just how much? Any good guesses out
          > there?
          > >
          >
          > Column stills = however many physical plates are put in them (more than
          > 10)
          >
          > Brandy stills (eau-de-vie) = 3 to 5 physical plates
          >
          > But you were referring to pot stills, yes?
          >
          > Pot still = 1 plate
          >
          > Pot still + 1 thumper = 2 plates
          >
          > Pot still + 2 thumpers = 3 plates
          >
          > Getting the pattern?
          >
          > Whiskies are usually charged to the spirit still (2nd still) at 27-30%
          > a/v. Then given a single distillation, which yields potable spirit at
          > around 70+% a/v.
          >
          > Use Tony's site to get a handle on this.
          > Try the first calculator at 30% and 1 plate.
          > http://homedistiller.org/refluxdesign.htm
          >
          > Slainte!
          > regards Harry
          >
        • Harry
          ... Are you talking pot stills or columns, Wal? 50% of all Scottish pot stills are built by Forsyth s of Rothe. Pot stills require the boiler to be replaced
          Message 4 of 14 , Jan 5, 2009
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            --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "waljaco" <waljaco@...> wrote:
            >
            > Most scottish whisky stills are ex-gin stills from England.


            Are you talking pot stills or columns, Wal?

            50% of all Scottish pot stills are built by Forsyth's of Rothe. Pot
            stills require the boiler to be replaced each 25 years, the upper
            parts each 10-15 years.
            http://www.thewhiskystore.de/experts/copper.htm

            For a good description of the birth in 1955 (and subsequent demise in
            the 1980's) of the experimental Lomond still of Hiram Walker, see
            here...
            http://tinyurl.com/7m48ta


            "There are two main types of Scotch whisky, which in turn can be
            combined to give further types. Malt whisky can contain no grain
            other than malted barley, and is almost always distilled in batches
            in traditional distilleries in pot stills. Grain whisky can be made
            from unmalted barley or other malted or unmalted grains like wheat
            and maize. It is usually distilled in industrial-scale continuous
            column stills called Coffey Stills. There are currently around 100
            active malt whisky distilleries in Scotland, with several more being
            planned or built. This compares with just seven grain distilleries in
            Scotland, though each of these has an output far larger than most
            malt distilleries."
            [Source:
            http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usscotfax/ent/whisky.html%5d

            Slainte!
            regards Harry
          • waljaco
            When gin drinking was suppressed in England the frugal Scots bought up the pot stills - some have/had a limited reflux in the manner of a Moor s Head still.
            Message 5 of 14 , Jan 7, 2009
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              When gin drinking was suppressed in England the frugal Scots bought
              up the pot stills - some have/had a limited reflux in the manner of a
              Moor's Head still.
              The frugal Scots also use second-hand barrels to store their product!
              wal
              --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Harry" <gnikomson2000@...> wrote:
              >
              > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "waljaco" <waljaco@> wrote:
              > >
              > > Most scottish whisky stills are ex-gin stills from England.
              >
              >
              > Are you talking pot stills or columns, Wal?
              >
              > 50% of all Scottish pot stills are built by Forsyth's of Rothe. Pot
              > stills require the boiler to be replaced each 25 years, the upper
              > parts each 10-15 years.
              > http://www.thewhiskystore.de/experts/copper.htm
              >
              > For a good description of the birth in 1955 (and subsequent demise in
              > the 1980's) of the experimental Lomond still of Hiram Walker, see
              > here...
              > http://tinyurl.com/7m48ta
              >
              >
              > "There are two main types of Scotch whisky, which in turn can be
              > combined to give further types. Malt whisky can contain no grain
              > other than malted barley, and is almost always distilled in batches
              > in traditional distilleries in pot stills. Grain whisky can be made
              > from unmalted barley or other malted or unmalted grains like wheat
              > and maize. It is usually distilled in industrial-scale continuous
              > column stills called Coffey Stills. There are currently around 100
              > active malt whisky distilleries in Scotland, with several more being
              > planned or built. This compares with just seven grain distilleries in
              > Scotland, though each of these has an output far larger than most
              > malt distilleries."
              > [Source:
              > http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usscotfax/ent/whisky.html%5d
              >
              > Slainte!
              > regards Harry
              >
            • justin webster
              hello people, didn t get any bites on the newdistillers list so I m hoping one of you chaps will have some ideas on this: I recently inherited a hand
              Message 6 of 14 , Jan 8, 2009
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                hello people,
                didn't get any bites on the newdistillers list so I'm hoping one of
                you chaps will have some ideas on this:

                I recently inherited a hand refractometer which I excitedly put to use
                on several brews.
                I was hoping that a combination of SG and Brix would give me a better
                estimation of alcohol content in the beer.
                what I have noticed is that my calculations of sugar/alcohol content
                using the refractometer readings are quite different from those using
                specific gravity.
                of course I expected there to be a difference but not to such an extent.

                here are some numbers from a recent rum batch:
                calc Brix by volume 25
                actual Brix start 23
                actual Brix end 7
                SG start 1.090
                SG end .994
                potential ABV (vol) 14.7
                potential ABV (Brix) 13.53
                actual ABV (SG) 12.384
                actual ABV (Brix) 9.411

                now I am aware that I have not been fermenting out all sugars
                (slightly lazy with temperature and Ph management) but I think the SG
                numbers seem about right.
                it sure seems like I can never get a brix reading under 7 or 8. this
                was true with palm sugar washes as well as my recent rum batches.
                I'm wondering if all the other by-products of fermentation (yeast in
                particular) would bias the brix reading to a greater extent than the SG.

                both hydrometer and refractometer seem to be calibrated correctly and
                I'm pretty sure my math is solid.

                so can a refractometer be trusted?

                justin
              • harisaki2004
                Justin, I have tried using a refractometer for wine, but is inaccurate because you are dealing with sugar and alcohol based liquid. Stick with hydrometers this
                Message 7 of 14 , Jan 8, 2009
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                  Justin,

                  I have tried using a refractometer for wine, but is inaccurate because
                  you are dealing with sugar and alcohol based liquid. Stick with
                  hydrometers this is what the industry uses.

                  Refractometers are OK for mono liquids not binary liquids.

                  regards

                  Hari.


                  --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, justin webster <mail@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > hello people,
                  > didn't get any bites on the newdistillers list so I'm hoping one of
                  > you chaps will have some ideas on this:
                  >
                  > I recently inherited a hand refractometer which I excitedly put to use
                  > on several brews.
                  > I was hoping that a combination of SG and Brix would give me a better
                  > estimation of alcohol content in the beer.
                  > what I have noticed is that my calculations of sugar/alcohol content
                  > using the refractometer readings are quite different from those using
                  > specific gravity.
                  > of course I expected there to be a difference but not to such an extent.
                  >
                  > here are some numbers from a recent rum batch:
                  > calc Brix by volume 25
                  > actual Brix start 23
                  > actual Brix end 7
                  > SG start 1.090
                  > SG end .994
                  > potential ABV (vol) 14.7
                  > potential ABV (Brix) 13.53
                  > actual ABV (SG) 12.384
                  > actual ABV (Brix) 9.411
                  >
                  > now I am aware that I have not been fermenting out all sugars
                  > (slightly lazy with temperature and Ph management) but I think the SG
                  > numbers seem about right.
                  > it sure seems like I can never get a brix reading under 7 or 8. this
                  > was true with palm sugar washes as well as my recent rum batches.
                  > I'm wondering if all the other by-products of fermentation (yeast in
                  > particular) would bias the brix reading to a greater extent than the SG.
                  >
                  > both hydrometer and refractometer seem to be calibrated correctly and
                  > I'm pretty sure my math is solid.
                  >
                  > so can a refractometer be trusted?
                  >
                  > justin
                  >
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