Gin Still Heads

David writes ..
A Gin head is a large separate compartment that sits above the boiler on a gin still in which the botanicals (juniper berries, coriander etc.) from which gin gets its unique flavour are placed and through which the the alcohol vapour must pass before it enters the column. As such gin stills are pot stills rather than reflux. They are still specifically designed for making gin although they are and can be used for making other similar drinks. As such they have mostly been made by one British company for the last two centuries although I dare say there are now other companies that make similar stills elsewhere. Steam or vapour distillation is better at extracting essential oils and other more soluble components as compared to steeping which tends to extract tannins, phenols and the more harsh bitter components.

UPS adds ..
A gin head still is a pot still that has a basket like arrangement just at the start of the "lyne arm" (the part of the condensor coil that is coming out of the top of the boiler, but has not yet entered the cooling tank yet). In the basket goes the botanicals that turn what is essentially a vodka into a gin. This is the method that Bombay uses among others, and is thought to give a more delicate style of gin. Nothing really fancy, just a basket sitting on top of the boiler before the condensor- if you lookat some commercial distilleries pics, you often see a swollen bulb at the top of the still where the condensor line runs out from - if a basket arrangement was put there it would be a gin head still - appearantly, many scotch distilleries use a gin head still - they just don't put any botanicals in it. This is a holdover from the days in England when gin was the most common (cheap) drink to be found- when gin's image crashed the scotch distilleries bought the surplus stills.

Ted also adds ..
A gin head is a pot or column that steam travles through enroute to the condenser. A thumper works rather well. Just pack it with the herbs and run clean drinkable 60% ethanol in your still for gin. Pack it with peppermint to make schnappes. Pack it with... well you get the picture. Put just water or varying amounts of ethanol in the still for making oils from mint or whatever has an oil contenet.


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