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549Re: [new_distillers] New Distillers FAQ

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  • janpam ooms
    Mar 28, 2001
      Can anyone tell me where to buy nutrients and the proper yeasts for
      distilling in Australia. Thank you. Jan.

      >From: Tony & Elle Ackland <Tony.Ackland@...>
      >Reply-To: new_distillers@yahoogroups.com
      >To: 'New Distillers newsgroup' <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
      >CC: 'Distillers newsgroup' <Distillers@yahoogroups.com>
      >Subject: [new_distillers] New Distillers FAQ
      >Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2001 12:26:41 +1300
      >New Distillers FAQ
      >"NEW DISTILLERS" Frequently Asked Questions (Sept'00)
      >Posted near the 1st of each month, to the NEW_DISTILLERS newsgroup at
      >Please email any additions, corrections, clarifications required, etc
      >regarding the FAQ to Tony Ackland (ackland@...), however please
      >direct any general questions to the newsgroup itself.
      >1) Is distilling hard to do ?
      >2) Is it legal ?
      >3) Will it make me blind ?
      >4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
      >fractionating column ?
      >5) How do I get or make a still ?
      >6) How do I make a whisky / rum / vodka / gin ?
      >7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
      >8) Can I use fruit wine ?
      >9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
      >10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
      >11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
      >12) What web resources are there ?
      >13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
      >14) Can I run my car on it ?
      >15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
      >16) What is a "Thumper" ?
      >1) Is distilling hard to do ?
      >Nope - if you can follow instructions enough to bake scones, then you can
      >sucessfully distil. To distil well however, will require you to understand
      >what you're doing, so read around and get a bit of information under your
      >belt before you begin.
      >2) Is it legal ?
      >Probably not. It is only legal in New Zealand, and some European countries
      >turn a blind eye to it, but elsewhere it is illegal, with punishment
      >ranging from fines to imprisonment or floggings. This action against it is
      >usually the result of either religous beliefs (right or wrong), but more
      >generally due to the great revenue base it provides Governements through
      >excise taxes. So if you are going to distil, just be aware of the potential
      >legal ramifications.
      >3) Will it make me blind ?
      >Not if you're careful. This pervasive question is due to moonshine lore,
      >which abounds with myths of blindness, but few actual documented cases. The
      >concern is due to the presence of methanol (wood alcohol), an optic nerve
      >poison, which can be present in small amounts when fermenting grains or
      >fruits high in pectin. This methanol comes off first from the still, so it
      >is easily segregated and discarded. A simple rule of thumb for this is to
      >throw away the first 50 mL you collect (per 20 L mash used). Probably the
      >greatest risk to your health during distilling is the risk of fire -
      >collecting a flammable liquid near a heat source. So keep a fire
      >extinguisher nearby.
      >4) Whats the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and
      >fractionating column ?
      >A pot 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.
      >A reflux 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.
      >A fractionating column is a pure form of the reflux still. It will condense
      >all 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.
      >5) How do I get or make a still ?
      >If you're after a pot still, these are generally home made using what-ever
      >you have at hand - say copper tubing and old water heaters or pressure
      >cookers. Reflux stills can be made from plans on the net, or bought from
      >several manufacturers. For reflux stil plans see Stillmakers :
      >http://stillmaker.dreamhost.com/ (free!) or Gert Strands :
      >http://partyman.se/Engelsk/default.htm (US$5), or for a fractionating
      >column see Nixon & Stones : http://www.gin-vodka.com/ (US$8). See the list
      >of "web resources" below for links to sites selling ready-made stills.
      >Regarding the choice of heating for the still - if you have 240V available
      >it is usually easiest to control & safer (particularly with internal
      >elements). Gas can be used, but more care is needed to keep the collection
      >container further away and not letting it overfill.
      >6) How do I make a whisky / vodka / rum / gin ?
      >Whiskey : Heat 4 kg cracked or crushed malt with 18 L of water to 63-65C,
      >and hold there for 1-1.5 hours. Heat to 73-75C, then strain off and keep
      >liquid, using 250 mL of hot water to rinse the grains. Cool to below 30C
      >(should have an initial specific gravity of 1.050). Add hydrated yeast &
      >leave to ferment (maintain at 26C) until airlock stops bubbling and final
      >SG of around 1.010. Let settle for a day, then syphon carefully into a pot
      >still. Discard the first 50 mL's, collect the next 2-3L of distillate or
      >until you start noticing the tails coming through.
      >Vodka : dissolve 5 kg of sugar & 60g of nutrients in 20L of water, cool to
      >below 30C and add hydrated yeast. Leave to ferment at 25C until below an SG
      >of around 0.990, then settle for a day. Syphon into a reflux or
      >fractionating still, and collect as per usual.
      >Rum : as per vodka, but use some brown sugar or mollasses, to give an
      >initial specific gravity (SG) of around 1.06 - 1.07. Run through either a
      >pot still, or a not-so-great reflux still.
      >Gin : make a very pure vodka, then add the following essence. Simmer 35g of
      >juniper berries in 350 mL of 50% vodka for ten minutes with the lid on, let
      >cool overnight, then filter through coffee filters. Use 5-10 mL of this
      >essence per bottle of vodka.
      >When doing any fermenting, take a lot of care to ensure that any items used
      >are clean/sterile (soaking them in a water + bleach (10 mL per litre) ), or
      >else the wash can start growing other things. Use a closed fermenter with
      >an airlock too, to let the CO2 out without letting wild yeasts, bugs etc
      >in. For more information about fermenting, see beer or wine homebrewing
      >7) Should I use sugar or grains ?
      >It depends on what sort of still you have, and what you are trying to make.
      >If you have a reflux or fractionating still, only use whatever is cheapest
      >(usually sugar), as the refluxing will strip out all the flavours anyhow.
      >If you have a pot still, and are after a bourban or whiskey, then you need
      >to go the grain route, or mollasses if after a rum. If you are trying to
      >make a neutral spirit for flavouring, go for sugar.
      >8) Can I use fruit wine ?
      >Sure, if you have it available. Again, using a pot still will result in a
      >brandy/grappa/schnapps, whereas a reflux still will just strip it down to
      >neutral spirit.
      >9) How do I get rid of that "off-taste" ?
      >That "rough moonshine edge" or "off-taste / wet cardboard smell" is due to
      >impurities such as the higher order alcohols, known as cogeners or fusel
      >oils. These will be present more when using a pot still, less if using a
      >reflux still, and just about absent if using a fractionating column. So one
      >way is to use a taller packed column and increase the amount of reflux
      >occuring. They can also indicate that you've tried to collect too much of
      >the alcohol, and have run into the "tails"; so finish collecting a little
      >bit earlier next time. Soaking tainted alcohol with activated carbon for a
      >week (or even months) will help remove some of this flavour - this is known
      >as "polishing" the spirit.
      >10) How do I measure the strength of it & dilute it ?
      >You need a hydrometer. This is a wee float, with a scale inside it. The
      >more alcohol that is present, the lighter the density of the liquid, so the
      >hydrometer sinks a bit lower. You then just read off the scale how much
      >alcohol is present. You need a seperate hydrometer for measuring the
      >density of the mash, as this is generally > 1.0, whereas the spirit is <
      >1.0, and they can't accurately do both ends of the scale.
      >11) How do I flavour/turn the vodka's into something else ?
      >There are now many commercial flavourings available, which turn vodka or
      >neutral alcohol into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of
      >liqueurs. See the commercial sites, like Des Zines
      >http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~topkiwi or Ray Toms http://moonshine.co.nz/
      >for details.Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak
      >fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.
      >12) What web resources are there ?
      >For more details, see :
      >Tony Ackland's http://www.geocities.com/kiwi_distiller
      >Aaron Smiths's http://www.go.to/distillation
      >Steve Spence's http://www.webconx.com/ethanol.htm
      >13) How do I contact the NEW DISTILLERS news group ?
      >Both the NEW DISTILLERS and the DISTILLERS news groups are available via
      >Egroups, at http://www.egroups.com . NEW DISTILLERS is, as the name
      >suggests, intended for those of you new to distilling and after simple,
      >straight-forward discussions, whereas the DISTILLERS group is a bit more
      >advanced, throwing in bits of design philosophy, theory, and alternative
      >ways of achieving the results. Both tend to overlap to some extent.
      >14) Can I run my car on it ?
      >You can run your car on alcohol over about 80% purity. See Steve Spences
      >site for more details. In addition, in the USA, you can get a "small fuel
      >producer" permit, which allows small scale distilling for "motor fuel"
      >purposes. A nice advantage is that they don't require denaturing for "fuel"
      >used on the premises. The regulations are posted at
      >15) How do I convert between gallons and litres and ....
      >To convert between SI & Imperial units, multiply the first unit by the
      >conversion factor to get the second. Divide back to do it in reverse .eg 1L
      >= 0.264 US gal, so 20 L = 20 x 0.264 = 5.28 US gal, and 20 US gal / 0.264 =
      >75.76 L
      >1 L = 0.264 US gal = 0.221 UK gal
      >1 L = 1.057 US qt = 0.880 UK qt
      >1 kg = 2.204 lbm = 32.15 oz (troy) = 35.27 oz (av)
      >deg F = ((9/5) x deg C )+ 32
      >1m = 1000 mm = 39.37 inch = 3.28 ft = 1.09 yd
      >16) What is a "Thumper" ?
      >A "thumper" is an extra chamber sometimes fitted to a pot still. It can be
      >as simple as a glass jar with two holes in the lid. The off-take from the
      >still is fed into it, with the pipe running almost all the way to the
      >bottom of the jar; the jar is half filled with liquid (water or mash or
      >tails) so that the vapour from the still will bubble up through it; then
      >the vapour coming off it is collected & cooled as per normal. It acts as a
      >second distilling chamber using just the heat from the vapour, and lifts
      >the purity from 50-60% to 70-80%, hence improving what might otherwise be a
      >very mediocre design.

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