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Modifications to Commercial stills (and other subjects)

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  • David White
    Gidday group, let me introduce myself. My name is David White and I have been distilling for about 3 years. I caught the distilling bug after visiting my uncle
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2002
      Gidday group, let me introduce myself.
      My name is David White and I have been distilling for about 3 years. I caught the distilling bug after visiting my uncle who had made his own still and once I tasted his home made stuff I just knew I had to get myself a still. Most of what I know now is from experimentation and advice from fellow home distillers (and after seeing Tonys excellent web site a couple of years ago I realise I didnt know much back then).
      I personally would love to see some ideas of modifying comercial stills. I have been using a still spirits brand reflux still for about 3 years now and to be honest I am no that impressed with it, especially when compared to friends and relatives home made efforts. I believe (please feel free to correct me if I am wrong, it wouldnt be the first time) the major shortcoming with the still spirits reflux head is the height (or lack of height) of the tower. Would I get any better results increasing the height? Does anyone have any ideas on what the optimum height would be? I am increasingly finding it hard to find the time to experiment, with 3 kids and now another one due in April the time factor is going to be worse, so I cant really take the time to make a new still head from scratch, but should be able to find time in a modifying what I have, so any advice, lets hear it!
      On another subject, what is the groups opinion on the still spirits brand "high activity carbon" (the stuff that they reckon only needs 24 hours to filter out the bad stuff) I have been using this for three years and have had some reasonable success. Six months ago I put some spirit on a long term carbon called "Maxi-Pore" and the spirit is the best I have made in smoothness, but obviously you cant always wait that long! I am a big believer in long term soaking of the filtered spirit in oak, and I prefer french oak chips to american. This weekend I hope to find the time to try out some of the recomendations on toasting oak chips on Tony's excellent site.
      I would also like to hear any recipes for a Queensland style rum (bundy, not beenleigh) and any advice on essence brands will also be greatly apreciated. I usually use still spirits "top shelf classic QLD gold rum" essence or gold medal "QLD dark rum" essence or gold leaf "QLD rum" essence and soak the raw spirit in a mixture of french and US oak for about a month at a ratio of one teaspoon of each per litre before mixing with essence and bottling. The oak gives and excellent colour and taste and also give the rum the "silky legs" that stick to the side of glass when mixed with coke. But even after 3 years I still (pardon the pun) havent quite got the recipe right.
      Dave White
      Subject:  RE: [new_distillers] Modifications to Commercial stills


      G'day Tony,I am in 2 minds about this proposal.
      > On one hand I
      think why the hell should we give the commercial builders
      of our hard work and planning in one easy package,then on the other hand
      > think that most of them are so darn thick that they won't
      know a good
      > modification if it jumped up and bit them on the bum.I
      believe that if
      > commercial still builders wanted to use a
      design that a member has
      > produced,at least that member should be
      recognised in all advertising.

      Its pretty apparent that most of the manufacturers do not know what's going
      on in this group, or the web sites, despite being told about them
      repeatedly. The obvious example of this earlier last year was when a
      particular reflux still was "improved" to be fatter, but not taller, and
      yet somehow (?) it didn't really improve its yield (surprise surprise). If
      they had added another 300-500mm to their existing design (for very little
      cost), it would have been a huge change, but no, that wasn't done. Speak
      to them about any of the new books out - by Ian or Mike, and you just draw
      a blank look. Mention about using a reflux still to make flavoured
      spirits, and you are met with disbelief.

      So - as for "handing it to them on a plate", even by putting the details
      here or on site, I don't think that the designs sold will change much.

      Rather, I'd like to be able to help those individuals who have bought one,
      and would like to do heaps better with it. I know that theres many people
      disenfranchised with what they've bought, and rightly so. No point
      dragging down the reputation of this hobby or its product, if theres an
      easy fix that can be taken.

      I'm quite embarrassed at times at the poor quality designs being sold.
      I've taken my own steps regarding this, and am presently working on
      addressing this. More details to follow once its a certainty.

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