Re: quality from an alembic
Like everything else it depends a lot on what you're trying to achieve. Interestingly, it's not the quality of the spirit that goes up with the technology, but the ease and speed of operation. If you're looking at vendome, that sounds like you're aiming at production, and that usually gets you into plated stills, which can get extremely pricey, but there are some recent great lower-cost alternatives. If you're seriously looking for absolutely best quality spirits, I think the potstill is your best choice, but it's more labor intensive.
Robert's plan about (generally) mixing copper and stainless is a really good one, because stainless is cheaper and more durable, but everyone except the Russians and Ukrainians agree that you need copper in your vapor path to remove sulfides from your distillate (my biggest still is a copper/stainless mix).
Whatever you do looking in the area of more elaborate stills, you owe yourself a look at
http://www.stilldragon.com/ The owner of the company is one of us, a hobby distiller who ended up in China, where he started distilling again and worked with local industry to make his still parts. They got so good at it, that with a Canadian Manufacturing Engineer, Florida and Australia sales people (all hobby distillers) they produce an incredible line of very modular stainless stills, boilers, condensers, and other stuff that the hobby distillers seem to love (I don't have any of that gear because my old potstill does what I need).
I talk to StillDragon users every day, and they're all happy. If you want to talk to some of them, http://forum.moderndistiller.com/ucp.php is full of them.
Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller Making Fine Spirits
--- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, chris jude <vegbenz300@...> wrote:
> I've been trying to do some research into still design and construction.
> After looking at many micro distillery sites, I see many beautiful, and
> very expensive copper artisan stills.
> When it comes to a potstill for brandy, whiskey, rum, how much quality is
> owed to the copper alembic still, versus mash quality and skill? My
> partner wants to design and build a still using stainless. I'm trying to
> find if we should be talking to Vendome or another still design company
> instead, but would need a strong argument for the cost difference.