Is Distilling Legal?
This depends on where you live and what you are distilling. Water and essential oils can be distilled with any of the equipment that we sell. If you plan to distill alcohol, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with and abide by your local laws regarding the distillation of alcohol. In many places it is still illegal to distill alcohol without a permit. If this the case where you live, we encourage you to obtain the necessary permits before distilling alcohol.
Please know that it is your responsibility to use your still legally, not ours.
Do we sell commercial scale equipment?
Yes we do. We have sold equipment into many craft distilleries across Canada and the USA. We provide a full range of stills, mash tuns, hot liquor tanks, brew kettles, conical fermenters, and bright tanks in any size up to a 10,000 litre working capacity. Large equipment is built to order and lead time is generally 12-16 weeks. We require a 50% down payment on the equipment to begin production and the remaining 50% when it’s ready to ship to your facility. All of our equipment is highly customizable. Please call us at 416 371 9239 today for a free consultation and quote.
What's the difference between a pot still, reflux still, and flute column?
A pot still simply collects and condenses the alcohol vapours that come off the boiling mash. This will result in 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. Pot stills only have one product condenser, and are ideal for making flavourful spirits like whiskey, brandy, and rum.
A reflux still does these multiple distillations in one single go, by having some packing in a column and allowing the vapour to condense and trickle back down through the packing with the help of an extra condenser at the top of the column called a reflux condenser. This “reflux” of liquid helps clean the rising vapor and increase the ABV% purity. The taller the packed column, and the higher the reflux ratio, the purer the product will be. Reflux ratio is controlled by the amount of water passing through the reflux condenser relative to the temperature heating the boiler. When operated correctly, our reflux stills can distill ethanol up to 95% purity. The advantage of refluxing is that it can result in a clean vodka, with little flavour to it – ideal for mixing with flavours etc. Our reflux columns can also be fitted with one of our gin baskets for making gin. Copper packing for our reflux columns is purchased separately and does not come with the purchase of the column itself. Our reflux stills can be run just like a pot still, simply by removing the some or all of the packing from the column and turning off water flow to the reflux condenser.
A plated flute column works similarly to a reflux still in that it has a reflux condenser (or “deplegmator”) at the top of the column, however instead of using packing, our flutes use a series of copper bubble plates inside of the column to increase purity. The vapour in the column re-condenses and percolates each time it passes through one of these plates, resulting in the loss of some water and increasing of the purity of the spirit. The more plates in the column, the higher the ABV% and the more flavour removed. Flute columns are very common in the craft distilling industry and are commonly used commercially to make all kinds of spirits such as vodka, whiskey, gin, rum, and brandy. Our flutes can be easily fitted with one of our gin baskets for the production of gin.
How much product will I get from a single run?
This greatly depends on the ABV% (alcohol by volume percentage) of the mash. Depending on how much sugar is added, which type of yeast is used, and if yeast nutrients are used, most mashes ferment to an ABV of 7 – 20%. A 20% mash would yield twice as much product as a 10% mash.
For simplicity sake, lets take a 100 litre still for example. If it was filled with a mash fermented to 10% ABV, one would theoretically collect 10 litres of 100% alcohol. Now remember that only about 75% of that will remain after removing foreshots, heads, and tails. This would leave 7.5 litres of 100% alcohol. Now, if this was cut with water down to 50%, there would now be 15 litres of product at 50% ABV.
If you started out with a mash fermented to 20% ABV instead of 10% ABV, you would end up with 30 litres of product at 50% ABV.
Now that you understand how much a 100 litre still will yield, you can estimate how much is possible with different still sizes and figure out which size is best for your needs.
For more information on foreshots, heads, and tails, visit www.homedistiller.org
Will I go blind?
Going blind from drinking moonshine is a long standing myth that began in the prohibition era. Illicit bootleggers were sometimes known to mix highly toxic industrial grade methanol with their spirits in order to maximize profits. Consuming these high concentrations of methanol was known to cause death and blindness in some cases. In smaller concentrations, methanol is known to cause headaches and hangovers.
While it is true that the fermentation process can be known to produce trace amounts of methanol, not nearly enough is produced to make a person go blind when distilling relatively small batches. As a rule of thumb, we recommend that you always discard the first 50ml of distillate for every every 20 litres of mash that you run. This will ensure that you have removed any methanol that may be present.
If you have a 30 litre still, discard the first 75ml of distillate
If you have a 50 litre still, discard the first 125ml of distillate
If you have a 100 litre still, discard the first 250ml of distillate
And so on.
Which is better, copper or stainless steel?
It’s a well known fact that copper is beneficial to the distilling process because it removes sulphides and unwanted flavours from the final product. This effect however is usually only observed on a large scale of production and is generally not noticeable with smaller batches. In the event that a mash contains a lot of sulphur, it’s a good idea to have some copper in the vapour path. We sell copper mesh packing and suggest packing a roll inside of your stainless steel column to take care of any sulphides that may be present. Stainless steel is beneficial because it stays shiny, is extremely durable, easy to clean, and costs less than copper.
Can I customize my still?
Of course! With our triclamp system, all of our equipment is highly modular. Items like sight glasses, window sections, bubble plates, and gin baskets can be easily configured in countless ways with any of our stills to create something entirely unique if you like!
Do we finance equipment?
Where can I learn more about the distillation process?
Visit www.homedistiller.org for detailed information on all aspects of distilling. Truly a great resource of information.