Building my first copper still

Many like to post about a first successful ferment (or first all grain mash), or first still built/bought or first good run of the still. Tell us about all of these great times here.
Pics are VERY welcome, we drool over pretty copper 8)

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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:08 am

DBCFlash wrote:Toasting some white oak boards to place in my jars. 2 hours at 400 degrees is where I'm starting. Once they're out of the oven I'll give them a char and then into glass they go.

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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby Pikey » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:57 am

You're supposed to char them Outside :lol:
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Mon Mar 13, 2017 3:14 pm

I charred 'em outside, but toasting them in the oven was a little too stinky for her.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby der wo » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:58 am

toasting them in the oven was a little too stinky for her.
Then it was too much toast perhaps IMO.
2 hours at 400 degrees is where I'm starting.
Too long or too hot IMO. Acrid flavors.
I'll give them a char and then into glass they go.
Without extinguishing in water first? Burnt and smoke flavors.

Everything IMO. I don't want to claim, everything else except my methods is bad. Only for inspiration, when you have your next one and look for improvements, in which direction you could look.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby seamusm53 » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:43 am

DBCFlash wrote:So I'm moving my wifes laundry from the basement to our attached garage. Installing the plumbing, and the electric and she won't have to climb the stairs anymore. The REAL reason is once the damned washer and dryer are outta the way I can use the old hookups for stillin'. It's perfect. There's water, a drain, 240 volt outlet and the platform I built for the washer/dryer is a perfect height to keep my still on.
Anyway, I'm working on this project so the still has to wait a bit.


Hope she doesn't figure out she's doin laundry out in the cold while you are playing inside......

Good luck.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:40 am

der wo wrote:
toasting them in the oven was a little too stinky for her.
Then it was too much toast perhaps IMO.
2 hours at 400 degrees is where I'm starting.
Too long or too hot IMO. Acrid flavors.
I'll give them a char and then into glass they go.
Without extinguishing in water first? Burnt and smoke flavors.

Everything IMO. I don't want to claim, everything else except my methods is bad. Only for inspiration, when you have your next one and look for improvements, in which direction you could look.

Well there you go! Would I have been better off around 350 degrees? Maybe just an hour and a half? I don't remember now where I got the info I used to start there, but I'll try again if you think it was too hot and too long.
and I did quench them in water after the char. Just didn't mention it.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:42 am

seamusm53 wrote:
DBCFlash wrote:So I'm moving my wifes laundry from the basement to our attached garage. Installing the plumbing, and the electric and she won't have to climb the stairs anymore. The REAL reason is once the damned washer and dryer are outta the way I can use the old hookups for stillin'. It's perfect. There's water, a drain, 240 volt outlet and the platform I built for the washer/dryer is a perfect height to keep my still on.
Anyway, I'm working on this project so the still has to wait a bit.


Hope she doesn't figure out she's doin laundry out in the cold while you are playing inside......

Good luck.

Oh, no, the garage is fully insulated and heated. Right off the kitchen.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby Little Hank » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:43 am

I think I saved the chart on my computer. Someone put a chart on here for temps vs flavors.

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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:53 am

Little Hank wrote:I think I saved the chart on my computer. Someone put a chart on here for temps vs flavors.

LH

I need that chart! I did base my oak toasting temperatures and times off of something I read somewhere, but as we all know there is tons of questionable stilling information floating around the internet. I trust the forums here more than any other source as most of the time when bad information slips into these forums there are plenty who know better to set the record straight.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby Pikey » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:01 am

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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby der wo » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:18 am

DBCFlash wrote:
der wo wrote:
toasting them in the oven was a little too stinky for her.
Then it was too much toast perhaps IMO.
2 hours at 400 degrees is where I'm starting.
Too long or too hot IMO. Acrid flavors.
I'll give them a char and then into glass they go.
Without extinguishing in water first? Burnt and smoke flavors.

Everything IMO. I don't want to claim, everything else except my methods is bad. Only for inspiration, when you have your next one and look for improvements, in which direction you could look.

Well there you go! Would I have been better off around 350 degrees? Maybe just an hour and a half? I don't remember now where I got the info I used to start there, but I'll try again if you think it was too hot and too long.
and I did quench them in water after the char. Just didn't mention it.

I think most often recommended here is 1.5h 380F. I got good results with this duration and temperature too. It is a light toast, almost not visible and without smoking. But improves strongly the whiskey.
1h10min was equal or better. 2h was a fail. I currently experiment with very short but hot toasts (480F and 15-30min), too early for results.

Pikeys link is the best thread about sticks you can find here. You should read all the 16 pages.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:36 pm

So I threw out the rest of my over-toasted cubes and couldn't find another piece of clean oak in my wood stash. None. I guess I'll have to make a trip to the lumber yard.

I ordered up a couple of dozen PTFE lids for my Mason jars 'cause I'm not really happy using the lids they came with.

I just read all 16 pages. That was a really interesting thread. Lots of idea development and practical experiments. I'll be toasting my cubes at 380 degrees for 1.5 hours and lightly charring them for my next attempt.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby Brutal » Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:46 am

This thread has been really enjoyable to read. DBCflash you do good work and I'm sure you will make good whiskey. Not very many threads where the original poster doesn't get cross with someone anymore. Thanks for sharing, and happy stillin'.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:36 pm

What's to get cross about? I make mistakes and helpful people point them out. I gave up on that ego bullshit years ago.
And the first batch of whiskey I've made is just crap! No control over my element meant a great deal of smearing, but be damned if I'm not going to drink this stuff!
Drinking bad shine is a great way to inspire me to make better stuff.
I just malted a handful of spelt as an experiment, and it worked perfectly. I'm building up my nerve to try an all grain. Not this week, but soon...
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:36 pm

Just ran my second generation of UJSSSM. Better results. That parrot was smearing my heads on the prior run so I didn't use it til I was through the nasty heads. Three more quarts on the shelf. I reckon I'll be able to make a spirit run after about three or four more generations. I hope my controllers in by then.
I only had the tiniest leak on my pot seal. might be able to take care of it with more careful alignment and adjusting the latches.
Just waiting for my backset to cool down a bit more then it's back in the fermenter. I added about a half a cup of new corn and went ahead and threw that handful of malted spelt in there. Will it make a difference? I haven't a clue...
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby Shine0n » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:09 pm

I just finished reading your thread, you've been a busy man! Love the still too, looks great!
Did you ever try the copper sheet cut and wrapped in Teflon for any better seal? If I missed that part I apologize.

Don't be afraid to venture into all grains, I was and I just found out today what I've been missing. Shineoncrazydiamond has a great one called honey bear bourbon and it's very simple and as I just found out today it's delicious too :thumbup:

Stick with what you're doing for now but don't be like me and waste years not knowing. I ran 12 gallons and got almost a gallon of 135 proof. I did have the mash with grains in the thumper so it's more like 1.5 run.

The malted spelt may add a little flavor to it, I'm sure of it.

Once you learn to drive your rig and get a few washes under your belt you'll be good to go. Seems like you've done your part of reading and it shows :thumbup:

You'll be makin top shelf whiskey, rum, brandy in no time!

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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby Truckinbutch » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:18 pm

Shine0n wrote:I just finished reading your thread, you've been a busy man! Love the still too, looks great!
Did you ever try the copper sheet cut and wrapped in Teflon for any better seal? If I missed that part I apologize.

Don't be afraid to venture into all grains, I was and I just found out today what I've been missing. Shineoncrazydiamond has a great one called honey bear bourbon and it's very simple and as I just found out today it's delicious too :thumbup:

Stick with what you're doing for now but don't be like me and waste years not knowing. I ran 12 gallons and got almost a gallon of 135 proof. I did have the mash with grains in the thumper so it's more like 1.5 run.

The malted spelt may add a little flavor to it, I'm sure of it.

Once you learn to drive your rig and get a few washes under your belt you'll be good to go. Seems like you've done your part of reading and it shows :thumbup:

You'll be makin top shelf whiskey, rum, brandy in no time!

Shine0n

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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby Shine0n » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:04 am

TB, yeah I had both feet planted firmly for resistance. Lol

I'm using cornmeal and the no cook method to do my thing. Just making sure my temps are right before adding the malts. Sooo simple it is!

DBCFlash is on the right path and seems to have a very firm grasp on things and when makes the plunge into AG I'm quite sure he will succeed. As many do, he will also have his questions but as he's shown... he'll do his homework.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:40 pm

Shine0n wrote:TB, yeah I had both feet planted firmly for resistance. Lol

I'm using cornmeal and the no cook method to do my thing. Just making sure my temps are right before adding the malts. Sooo simple it is!

DBCFlash is on the right path and seems to have a very firm grasp on things and when makes the plunge into AG I'm quite sure he will succeed. As many do, he will also have his questions but as he's shown... he'll do his homework.

Oh, I never did homework in High School, why would I start now? Maybe I'll just go rogue and start inventing recipes and then begging for help when they fail for stupid, obvious reasons...
I do tend to avoid the math sections because they make my eyes cross. Figuring out the potentials of different grains and balancing enzymes and such is just not fun for me. My mash will likely have no repeatability if I like one, just because I imagine i'll be doing the "close enough" and " might as well throw that in" method.
I'm no scientist and I tend to forget to take pictures or to write stuff down. That being said, I have a good memory and I do learn from my mistakes so I've got that going for me.
Thanks for the votes of confidence guys! I'll make us all proud if I don't embarrass us all first...
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:33 pm

I ordered up all the ingredients for my first All Grain, Honey Bear Bourbon. The recipe looks really straightforward and I simply love bourbon so I really do hope I can make this work.

On the equipment front, I found another supplier for a controller and I think it'll be here tomorrow or the next day. I left the Chinese order to arrive whenever it finally does so I'll have a spare in case I manage to blow another one up.

My Birdwatchers probably has another week to go, and my third generation UJSSSM might be ready tomorrow.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:06 pm

Birdwatchers is ready and my controller arrived today, along with my teflon mason jar lids and five new 5 gallon buckets. I purchased enough Chore Boy copper scrubbers to stuff my column so everything is ready for my first reflux/neutral run. I checked all my wiring and everything looks good. I plan to dump the feints and tails of my last two UJSSSM runs into the Birdwatchers to recover the booze that didn't turn out so good.
I will try to do a nice slow run and make careful cuts, and if I can set up a balanced reflux I'll try to hold that for a few minutes. This is where we find out if my CM still actually works like I was hoping it would.
You fellers might get a chance to say "I told you so" very shortly.
Oh, and I have another set of white oak cubes in the oven right now. 380 degrees for 1.5 hours, then into the freezer, then out back for a good medium char. I'll get this stuff right eventually...
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby Shine0n » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:16 pm

I get American white oak cubes med toasted from my not so local brew shop. It's enough to oak 5 gallons if I actually had that much.
They are 1/2"×1/2" for the most part, anyway I line them side by side about 4" LG and that's been a good dose for a quart @ 125 proof.

I do the nuke cycle to 150f and close the jar, 3 days in a row and in 2 weeks it's pretty damn good.
I've done sf, rum, and plum brandy and each are great by a month and even better at 6 months.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:49 am

Just sitting here watching my Birdwatchers run. Controllers working perfectly. I stuffed my column with copper and I'm running my reflux coil. I'm not sure if it's contributing anything, but I'm producing 75% ABV so something must be right.
There's a pinhole leak in the water side of my Liebig so I'll be fixing that later on.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:56 am

Jeeze! Two full gallons after I tossed 250 ml fores and half a quart tails. This is off a 6 gallon Birdwatchers with about three quarts of not so great UJSSM leftovers. All of it tastes nice and clean, and once I proof it down to around 80 proof I should have just over two gallons. First thing to try is apple pie shine.
I just wonder if I should keep it at 80 proof or bring it on down to 50. I really don't care much for neutral liquors so this is really just for my friends who do. Distilled water is on my shopping list.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:34 pm

sipping some of my lightly aged UJSSSM and I'm very happy with it. The oak cubes I toasted at 380 degrees and lightly charred are already adding a little oakiness and vanilla sweetness as well as a little carmel color. Given some time I imagine this will become something very good. My son was shocked at the quality and flavor as he expected something less. I understand the sugar bite that comes with a sugar head now. I'm encouraged by the number of times I've read that age will mellow that away to some degree.
My fourth generation of UJSSSM is bubbling away right now, and I'm building up my nerve to do my first all grain with the Honey Bear Bourbon recipe.
I'm looking at using a 10 gallon water cooler to build a mash tun for the switch to all grain. More stuff to build and modify.
I'm wondering if cutting narrow slits in a stainless plate would do better for a false bottom than simply drilling tiny holes. I imagine fine grains of corn might be able to plug a 1/8 inch hole, but perhaps they couldn't plug a half inch long slit the same way. Any opinions on this possible modification?
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:24 pm

Built a mash tun just for the Honey Bear Bourbon.
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby Truckinbutch » Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:21 pm

DBCFlash wrote:Built a mash tun just for the Honey Bear Bourbon.
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Well , that shit is just unproven ! You should just ship it to me to check it out and then I will send it back to you if I deem it safe .
Just kidding . That looks good and you have come a long way in a short time . :thumbup:
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:59 am

Well, it's about to be proven. T'morrow morning my grains are getting cooked and turned into something great! Honey Bear Bourbon!
I do still need to install a hole in the lid for my airlock and a good means to stir things.
I've been wrapping my ferment buckets and carboys with heating blankets to keep them at a nice consistent temperature, but I really doubt that will help with this insulated cooler. I really do want to ferment this "on the grain," but I'm not sure the temperatures will stay up where I want them. I reckon we're about to find out though...
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby Truckinbutch » Mon Mar 27, 2017 4:30 pm

DBCFlash wrote:Well, it's about to be proven. T'morrow morning my grains are getting cooked and turned into something great! Honey Bear Bourbon!
I do still need to install a hole in the lid for my airlock and a good means to stir things.
I've been wrapping my ferment buckets and carboys with heating blankets to keep them at a nice consistent temperature, but I really doubt that will help with this insulated cooler. I really do want to ferment this "on the grain," but I'm not sure the temperatures will stay up where I want them. I reckon we're about to find out though...
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Re: Building my first copper still

Postby DBCFlash » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:15 am

Honey Bear is in the mash tun, waiting for the temperature to hit 150. Only glitch so far was discovering my red wheat wasn't actually milled. I figured I'd just throw it in the food processor and grind it down, but I then discovered I have the parts to four different food processors and none of them are complete. I turned the kitchen upside down looking for the odd bits and pieces to put one together, but it just wasn't happening. The wife finally suggested using a hand held immersion blender with the wheat in a beer pitcher. I tried grinding just a little in the bottom of the pitcher and red wheat flew into every corner of the kitchen. Then I tried it with the pitcher near full and it worked like a charm!
Time to stir the mash!
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