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introduction and a few questions

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  • Henry Stamp
    Hi all, i m very new to distilling (about 1 month) and am really loving it so far... this list and homedistilling.org are really helpful. (i accidentally sent
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 2, 2005
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      Hi all, i'm very new to distilling (about 1 month) and am really loving
      it so far... this list and homedistilling.org are really helpful.

      (i accidentally sent this to the main distillers groups, sorry about that)

      a few friends and i did one test run with some cheap wine we bought and
      ran it though our small homemade pressure cooker pot still, shockingly
      the results were acutally drinkable!

      now i have a few questions:

      1) any general tips on how to operate a small pot still to make brandy?
      we made the pot still we have just to see if this was any fun, before we
      look into building a bigger one. its made from a small pressure cooker
      (~6 litre capacity i think). 2 weeks ago we did a run with 4 litres of
      cheap wine just to get used to it. our end result was shockingly good
      for how clueless we were, but definitely has some distinct off smells
      and tastes in it. we found it hard to get exact cutoffs for the
      heads/tails, mostly because we were taking temperatures in the top of
      the pot itself (above the wash), so by the time the vapour that we
      measured has gotten all the way down to the end the condensor and is
      dripping of into our collector the temperature in the pot has already
      risen... i imagine this is also pretty tightly tied to the small size of
      the wash we can use, if we had 20 litre's the time between the sections
      would be longer and easier to determine. i guess the quiestion is, is
      it realisitic to expect we will be able to get a decent product from a
      still like this, or should we just move straight onto planning a larger
      still (which is much more problematic for obvious legal and space reasons)

      2) should we be separating our sections of the distillate as it comes
      out based on temperature readings, exact timing ("every 5 minutes" ...
      our first run only took like 30 minutes), or by volume in the collector?

      3) is there any movement to legalise home distilling in the USA? im
      still kind of awe struck that we arnt allowed to distill the wine or
      beer we make at home here in the "land of the free" ... has anyone
      really tried in the past?

      4) How does one make whiskey/brandy with a reflux/fractionating still?
      i saw references that i was possible on homedistiller.org, but not
      exactly how this works. i imagine that going the pot still route if i
      dont intend to eve rmake neutral spirits makes the most sense, but im
      curious about the other options.

      5) anyone ever thought about forming a legally "registered" distilling
      collective in order to get around the laws in the USA? this thought
      occured to us as we were sipping on our first batch illicit hooch.
      maybe incorperate as a non profit to pay the taxes on the still. Is
      just any person allowed to operate a legally licensed still, or do the
      operators need some form of certification/license. An interesting idea
      at least.


      thanks for any advice you have!

      - "henry"
    • Harry
      ... loving ... Welcome to the groups Henry. I see you posted the same message on our advanced group Distillers . Most of the folks here belong to both
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 2, 2005
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        --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, Henry Stamp <henrystamp@g...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Hi all, i'm very new to distilling (about 1 month) and am really
        loving
        > it so far... this list and homedistilling.org are really helpful.



        Welcome to the groups Henry. I see you posted the same message on
        our advanced group "Distillers". Most of the folks here belong to
        both groups so it's probably better you stick with this one (at
        least until you get more confident). :-) You'll get answers
        shortly when the regulars drop in.


        Slainte!
        regards Harry (Moderator)
      • Harry
        Answers interspersed... ... loving ... brandy? ... O-W-L-Y. ... before we ... cooker ... concept . Most serious hobbyists build/buy a real still. 2 weeks ago
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 3, 2005
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          Answers interspersed...

          --- In new_distillers@yahoogroups.com, Henry Stamp <henrystamp@g...>
          wrote:
          >
          > Hi all, i'm very new to distilling (about 1 month) and am really
          loving
          > it so far... this list and homedistilling.org are really helpful.
          >
          > 1) any general tips on how to operate a small pot still to make
          brandy?


          >>>>>>>>>>>>>> If using wine as you say, distill once V-E-R-Y S-L-
          O-W-L-Y.



          > we made the pot still we have just to see if this was any fun,
          before we
          > look into building a bigger one. its made from a small pressure
          cooker
          > (~6 litre capacity i think).


          >>>>>>>>>>>>> This kind of still is really just a 'proof of
          concept'. Most serious hobbyists build/buy a real still.



          2 weeks ago we did a run with 4 litres of
          > cheap wine just to get used to it. our end result was shockingly
          good
          > for how clueless we were, but definitely has some distinct off
          smells
          > and tastes in it. we found it hard to get exact cutoffs for the
          > heads/tails, mostly because we were taking temperatures in the top
          of
          > the pot itself (above the wash), so by the time the vapour that we
          > measured has gotten all the way down to the end the condensor and
          is
          > dripping of into our collector the temperature in the pot has
          already
          > risen... i imagine this is also pretty tightly tied to the small
          size of
          > the wash we can use, if we had 20 litre's the time between the
          sections
          > would be longer and easier to determine.


          >>>>>>>>>>>>>> See? You're learning already! You've answered your
          own question. :-)


          i guess the quiestion is, is
          > it realisitic to expect we will be able to get a decent product
          from a
          > still like this, or should we just move straight onto planning a
          larger
          > still (which is much more problematic for obvious legal and space
          reasons)



          >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Legal schmegal. Don't sell. Don't tell. Low
          profile works. Space? Refrigerators take up more room.



          >
          > 2) should we be separating our sections of the distillate as it
          comes
          > out based on temperature readings, exact timing ("every 5
          minutes" ...
          > our first run only took like 30 minutes), or by volume in the
          collector?


          >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 1 & 3 combination. Temp will tell you where to
          make cuts (in a bigger still). Collect in 300ml jars. Then you can
          separate the crap from the nectar.


          >
          > 3) is there any movement to legalise home distilling in the USA?


          >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Been on the legislative bills for several years.
          Too much hemmin'-n- hawin'.



          im
          > still kind of awe struck that we arnt allowed to distill the wine
          or
          > beer we make at home here in the "land of the free" ... has anyone
          > really tried in the past?



          >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Many have tried. Many have fried. Too much
          corporate lobbying & vote buying.


          >
          > 4) How does one make whiskey/brandy with a reflux/fractionating
          still?
          > i saw references that i was possible on homedistiller.org, but not
          > exactly how this works.


          >>>>>>>>>>>>> Trial & error + patience, patience, patience. Bit
          like horse breaking, really. :-) Read all the back posts. There's
          heaps on this.


          i imagine that going the pot still route if i
          > dont intend to eve rmake neutral spirits makes the most sense, but
          im
          > curious about the other options.


          >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> (He's hooked) :-))


          >
          > 5) anyone ever thought about forming a legally "registered"
          distilling
          > collective in order to get around the laws in the USA?


          >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> There's plenty of boutique distilleries in US.
          Google it.

          this thought
          > occured to us as we were sipping on our first batch illicit
          hooch.
          > maybe incorperate as a non profit to pay the taxes on the still.


          >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> That's novel. Wonder if the treasury would
          accept payment 'in kind' rather than cash? Prolly not. They'd get
          too pissed to add the figures. ;-)




          Is
          > just any person allowed to operate a legally licensed still, or do
          the
          > operators need some form of certification/license. An interesting
          idea
          > at least.


          >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Again, search the archived messages in the
          groups. Much good info on licensing. Some quite recent.
          >
          >
          > thanks for any advice you have!
          >
          > - "henry"

          Henry, I'm dumbfounded! I thought you would have been swamped with
          opinions by now. Then again, distillers are a wary bunch. Maybe
          you being a first-time poster and launching into legal issues
          spooked 'em. Or too many questions. Or both. Whatever, all I can
          suggest is you keep reading everything, take your time, and then
          have a go at a real still. You'll never look back.


          Slainte!
          regards Harry
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