Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Sugar, and all about sugar washes. Where the primary ingredient is sugar, and other things are just used as nutrients.

Moderator: Site Moderator

Up in the Shed
Novice
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:24 am

Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Up in the Shed » Thu May 07, 2020 2:55 am

Hello Folks,

I’ve been experimenting with pot still Vodka/ neutral for the last couple months, and thought I would share.

I primarily distill Rum, and after 8 months of exclusive Rum development, I began with Vodka.

A pot still is far from ideal for making a vodka/ neutral, but it’s what I have.

As a long time craft Beer brewer, I have a 3 vessel, 20 gallon electric HERMS brewery , set up in a permanent location. It is PID controlled for mashing and has Power Regulation for boiling, and ideal for distilling.

I have a 2” column, with a 36” Liebig condenser that quickly attaches to my boil kettle, so the element, temp probe, and power control works as normal, and other then one of my lids having a TC fitting on it, no one would ever guess I distill with it.

It also allows very accurate flow rates and control. For example, on a stripping run I have it programmed to run full power to 180 degrees, the scale back to 30percent and when I get first drops close to 190 degrees It’s nice and slow.... The Temperature is boiler temp, so has no bearing on what’s coming out of the condensor.... but just let’s me know when I’m getting close, and I have a rough idea where I am in the run. If I want faster flow, increase a few percent on the power....

So I did 2 batches of Teddy’s fast ferment vodka, fast strip, then slow spirit run and made good cuts.... it was ok.... but didn’t taste neutral.... tasted like the wash.

So I combined both final cuts, diluted to 10 percent ran again, nice and slow.... pulled some foreshots, and the a jar of heads, then collected rest straight into a carboy at a nice slow drip down to 30 percent ABV.... diluted again to 10 percent, slow dropped off a jar of heads.... collected into a carboy down to 20 percent. On the fifth distillation, diluted to 15 percent, slow dripped off Heads in very small batches 100-200 mls, and after about 800 mls there was no trace of heads, slow dripped all the way through into 1/2 gallon jars....

All said and done I ended up with 2 gallons at 55 percent, diluted it to 47 percent( ran out distilled water).

It is literally odourless, and almost tasteless. You cannot tell it apart from a good comercial vodka.

This seems like a lot of work, but i work from home and I only need to keep a very loose eye on the still. In fact now I usually set up my cell phone and iPad on FaceTime and watch via video.... ( disclaimer-not recommending to leave still unattended)

Sorry for the long post, but I thought some may find it interesting. So if you want to have a go at a decent vodka, but don’t have a reflux yet.... give it a try. I had great results. Water is a great filter
Up in the Shed

---20 Gallon EHERMS, 2" Pot Stil---

BoomTown
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1327
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:41 am
Location: Virgina

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by BoomTown » Mon May 18, 2020 10:41 am

I’m going to try for a vodka to. Just finished a cleaning run on my new little Alquitarra Still, (Picture posted in another forum) which supposedly is good for making high grade ABV. I’m looking for a neutral spirit, sugar wash recipe. Just got a link to Birdwatcher’s, but never heard of the one you mention. Could you provide a link to it?

Regards
Boom
“…Let’s do this one more time....”

OtisT
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 2334
Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2015 11:59 am
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by OtisT » Mon May 18, 2020 11:23 am

Starting with a good clean ferment is key to producing a good clean neutral. There are other good recipes out there, and I prefer Shady’s Sugar Shine in the tried & true recipe development section. It’s all about having Happy Yeast. :-)

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

User avatar
Yummyrum
Global moderator
Posts: 3250
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 2:23 am
Location: Mid North Coast Aussie

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Yummyrum » Mon May 18, 2020 1:19 pm

Glad you liked your result . You seemed to cut out heads on each Run but made no mention of a tails cut . Personally , I would have had to do that as well since I can’t stand tails .

The Baker
Master Distiller
Posts: 3148
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 4:48 am
Location: Northern Victoria, Australia

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by The Baker » Tue May 19, 2020 4:52 am

Yeah I made some nice vodka in the pot still, a five spirit runs.
A bit of a pain to do but if it is nice!
Cut a little foreshots each time and ran it down to say 40%,then to 10% as feints.

Geoff
The Baker

User avatar
Saltbush Bill
Site Mod
Posts: 4129
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:13 am
Location: Northern NSW Australia

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Saltbush Bill » Tue May 19, 2020 5:07 am

OtisT wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 11:23 am
I prefer Shady’s Sugar Shine
Its a good recipe Otis, really clean, its moved into my favorites list ....its become my go to for a gin base.

User avatar
pope
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1335
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:56 pm
Location: Tinseltown

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by pope » Tue May 19, 2020 6:38 am

Yummyrum wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 1:19 pm
Personally , I would have had to do that as well since I can’t stand tails .
I don't think I've seen anyone be more vocal about their dislike of tails! Not that I like them, but I think you're definitively the most anti-tails forum member :lol:
"A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again." - Alexander Pope

User avatar
Expat
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1923
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:58 pm

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Expat » Tue May 19, 2020 7:47 am

If you must stick with the equipment you've got, I would suggest a tweak to your method.

The best neutral product out of a pot still is the middle point of the hearts, where the minimum heads and tails are present. Only doing two strip runs makes that a fairly small target: adding more runs will give you a wider heart to pull from.

I would suggest doing perhaps four batches, strip into two spirit runs. Combine the results water to 40% and do the final run making conservative cuts.

If you plan to build a proper neutral column in the future, save all the off cuts (excluding fores) to run later. Pot still is very lossey when trying to get a true neutral, you'll be surprised how much can be recovered.
_____________________
EXPAT

Current boiler and pot head viewtopic.php?f=50&t=71855
Cross flow condenser viewtopic.php?f=87&t=47632
Modular 3" Boka - pics tbd
___________________

User avatar
Yummyrum
Global moderator
Posts: 3250
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 2:23 am
Location: Mid North Coast Aussie

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Yummyrum » Tue May 19, 2020 1:14 pm

pope wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 6:38 am
Yummyrum wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 1:19 pm
Personally , I would have had to do that as well since I can’t stand tails .
I don't think I've seen anyone be more vocal about their dislike of tails! Not that I like them, but I think you're definitively the most anti-tails forum member :lol:
Perhaps I do overstate that Pope :oops:
Just have to bring balance is all . Folk seem constantly hung up with heads and foreshots as if they are the only bits one should be concerned about removing . But the arse end of the run is just as nasty as the start .

User avatar
Saltbush Bill
Site Mod
Posts: 4129
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:13 am
Location: Northern NSW Australia

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Saltbush Bill » Tue May 19, 2020 1:28 pm

In in your camp Yummy....I hate tails to.....can smell and taste them a mile away.

The Baker
Master Distiller
Posts: 3148
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2006 4:48 am
Location: Northern Victoria, Australia

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by The Baker » Tue May 19, 2020 4:33 pm

The Baker wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 4:52 am
Yeah I made some nice vodka in the pot still, a five spirit runs.
A bit of a pain to do but if it is nice!
Cut a little foreshots each time and ran it down to say 40%,then to 10% as feints.

Geoff
Forgot to say I discarded say half a litre of heads into the feints too.

Geoff
The Baker

Jstroke
Bootlegger
Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:51 am
Location: somewherenorthahere

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Jstroke » Tue May 19, 2020 6:40 pm

Yummyrum wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 1:14 pm
pope wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 6:38 am
Yummyrum wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 1:19 pm
Personally , I would have had to do that as well since I can’t stand tails .
I don't think I've seen anyone be more vocal about their dislike of tails! Not that I like them, but I think you're definitively the most anti-tails forum member :lol:
One of the most educational things I have ever done in regards to booze was to collect in 1/2 pint increments, wait 2 days, smell at full strength and taste at 30-35. I can taste the bite on heads but they dont smell yet to me very much. But tails, people talk about all the great flavor in tails, but I don't get it. To me, tails are just foul. I start getting a whiff of wet cardboard and its goodbye to the feint collector. Funny thing is I can taste them much more readily at 30-35 than at higher proof

Perhaps I do overstate that Pope :oops:
Just have to bring balance is all . Folk seem constantly hung up with heads and foreshots as if they are the only bits one should be concerned about removing . But the arse end of the run is just as nasty as the start .
Beware of the old man in a young man’s game

User avatar
pope
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1335
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:56 pm
Location: Tinseltown

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by pope » Tue May 19, 2020 9:58 pm

Yummyrum wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 1:14 pm
Perhaps I do overstate that Pope :oops:
Just have to bring balance is all . Folk seem constantly hung up with heads and foreshots as if they are the only bits one should be concerned about removing . But the arse end of the run is just as nasty as the start .
Haha Maybe it’s a healthy amount of stating the facts, that people need to be wary of tails. Not trying to critique I just had to point out that it’s not the first time I’ve seen you throw down against tails.
"A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again." - Alexander Pope

BoomTown
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1327
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:41 am
Location: Virgina

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by BoomTown » Mon May 25, 2020 6:27 am

I’ve been tasked to install some coat hangers in a closet, end result: I’ll be allowed to go to Home Depot for some drywall fasteners! Wife has ‘restricted’ my visits to that store except to refill the propane tanks for several months...says I buy too much ‘stuff’!

So, there is where I can get the plant food needed in the Birdwatchers recipe. How do I know which plant food mix to buy? Plan to go today...
“…Let’s do this one more time....”

OlFrimjob
Novice
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:24 pm

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by OlFrimjob » Wed Aug 05, 2020 8:35 am

Very interesting. Vodka distillation on a pot still has always seemed intriguing. Have you messed around with adding any salt or sodium carbonate after any of the stripping steps? On the fractionating column it definitely helped with separation of the hearts from heads and tails from stripped spirit made using sugar washes. Yield went up too, presumably due to hydrolyzing the ethyl acetate.

User avatar
Dewstiller
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 205
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2020 10:23 am
Location: Farm on a Hill

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Dewstiller » Wed Aug 05, 2020 1:47 pm

Is not Tito’s “Dog People” Vodka something like 5x distilled through a pot still? It’s on the expensive side in my area...

mannye
Bootlegger
Posts: 111
Joined: Fri May 10, 2013 4:19 am

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by mannye » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:10 pm

What about adding a "milk filter" step at some point? I saw that Russian guy use the milk filter method and did a little research, apparently, adding some citric acid and then a glass of milk then siphoning off the clear liquid through a particulate filter yields a very smooth product.
I haven't tried it yet, but I'm about to put 12 pounds of sugar to ferment and I think I'm going to give the milk thing a shot.

dukethebeagle120
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 590
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:08 am
Location: french canada with good vermont neighbors

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by dukethebeagle120 » Wed Aug 05, 2020 4:46 pm

I like wineo simple sugar wash
its better to think like a fool but keep your mouth shut,then to open ur mouth and have it confirmed

Up in the Shed
Novice
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:24 am

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Up in the Shed » Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:41 am

Hey Guys,

Since I started this thread back in May, just this week I again attempted the 5 time pot still distillation.... with similar if not better results.

Once again, I started with TFFV, approximately 180l of wash at that went from 1.060 to .994 in 4.5 days... cold crashed and stripped in 3 batches on day 7. tossed 500ml on each strip run as foreshots.

When I did my first spirit run, I didn't collect in jars for the entire run. Dumped 1.5-2.5l of heads in the feints jar, then turned up and ran quick, and stopped collecting at 40% ABV... so no tails cut

diluted to 20%, ran again, discarded 1litre of so of heads, collected down to 35ish percent, and stopped collecting, no tails cut

4th run, diluted to 20%, ran very slow and discarded a bit more heads till could detect none... ran quick and stopped collecting at 30% ABV

When I was said and done, I ended up with a typical heart cut...about 55-60% of original alcohol volume.... with no sign of heads or tails...

For the fifth run, took 16.5l and ran as Odins easy gin, and had a great success. What I liked was it was fast, easy, and went from bags or sugar to put away in bottles in 9 days.... and cost $40. I could have probably made tighter cuts for a bit more yeild, but I hate heads and tails, and its too cheap to bother

Thanks
Up in the Shed

---20 Gallon EHERMS, 2" Pot Stil---

User avatar
NineInchNails
Trainee
Posts: 879
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 7:12 am

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by NineInchNails » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:47 am

I tried basically a beefed up version of Wino's Plain Ol Sugar Wash recipe for vodka. I use sugar, but I make simple syrup and it ferments dry in 3 days in comparison to table sugar which takes 7 days. I use simple syrup, DAP, epsom salt, citric acid, boiled yeast (nutrient) and a little calcium carbonate (ph buffer). The first time I did it I also included crushed Vitamin B tablets as recommended, but I'll NEVER use them again. The flavor carried over even when stripped, reflux distilled and reflux distilled again! Vitamin B is not necessary if you use other neutral nutrients and most other nutrients are not so damn stinky or transfer flavor.
Last edited by NineInchNails on Sun Aug 16, 2020 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
LWTCS
Site Mod
Posts: 11314
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: North Palm Beach

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by LWTCS » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:41 am

If your spent kettle charge is cloudy, needs to be run again.

The sugarhead has lost its appeal for me. I much prefer the softer quality that an AG provides. Though imo 100% corn has an up front hot quality too.
Trample the injured and hurdle the dead.

User avatar
NineInchNails
Trainee
Posts: 879
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 7:12 am

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by NineInchNails » Sun Aug 16, 2020 4:53 pm

LWTCS wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:41 am
If your spent kettle charge is cloudy, needs to be run again.

The sugarhead has lost its appeal for me. I much prefer the softer quality that an AG provides. Though imo 100% corn has an up front hot quality too.
Not sure what you mean. Can you please clarify? My sugar wash is cloudy to begin with and it is usually cloudy when I dump it. Not sure why "spent kettle charges" would need to be ran again. I have a suspicion you meant if your saved material is cloudy it needs to be run again. That would mean late tails were mixed with your product right? No, I wouldn't mix late tails with my saved product. Well unless for some reason it tasted good. Can't imagine it ever would, but who knows.

User avatar
bluefish_dist
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1104
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:13 am
Location: Cos

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by bluefish_dist » Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:09 pm

I have done the baking soda treatment on low wines. If they are nasty they will react, if not they nothing happens.
Formerly
Dsp-CO-20051

User avatar
LWTCS
Site Mod
Posts: 11314
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: North Palm Beach

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by LWTCS » Mon Aug 17, 2020 4:27 am

NineInchNails wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 4:53 pm
LWTCS wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:41 am
If your spent kettle charge is cloudy, needs to be run again.

The sugarhead has lost its appeal for me. I much prefer the softer quality that an AG provides. Though imo 100% corn has an up front hot quality too.
Not sure what you mean. Can you please clarify? My sugar wash is cloudy to begin with and it is usually cloudy when I dump it. Not sure why "spent kettle charges" would need to be ran again. I have a suspicion you meant if your saved material is cloudy it needs to be run again. That would mean late tails were mixed with your product right? No, I wouldn't mix late tails with my saved product. Well unless for some reason it tasted good. Can't imagine it ever would, but who knows.
No. If we're taking about clean vodka from multiple runs, what I mean is if your spent kettle charge is cloudy then there's no way to fully determine (notwithstanding somebody's potentially flawed taste buds) if you've pulled out as many "undesirable" constituents without some sophisticated analysis.
The crystal clear spent kettle charge insures that the subsequent run is as clean as the pot still is capable of allowing for.
In other words if the spent kettle charge is as clear as the resulting distillate then you got all the "dirt" that can be gotten.

Think paint brush cleaning. The brush looks clean, but then you swirl it in bucket #1 solution and the solution clouds up because there is more paint deeper in the bristles. Lots more paint closer to the kwik of the brush. You know, the hard part to clean.
Then your swirl in a clean solution #2 to confirm that the brush is clean. But just a bit more paint residue clouds your solution. So then move to clean solution #3 and swirl to fully confirm all of the paint has been cleaned from the bristles. If bucket #3 does not cloud then you can confirm that your $40 brush is clean and the bristles won't harden and render the brush useless once it dries.

The brush represents your ethanol molecules.
The buckets of solution represent the next distillation.
The cloudy solution represents the constituents that were previously bonded to your ethanol molecules.
Trample the injured and hurdle the dead.

User avatar
LWTCS
Site Mod
Posts: 11314
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: North Palm Beach

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by LWTCS » Mon Aug 17, 2020 5:34 am

Ah NiN,
Not re-run the spent charge again. Run the resulting distillate again.
Trample the injured and hurdle the dead.

Up in the Shed
Novice
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:24 am

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Up in the Shed » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:00 am

With this 5x distillation, ultimately, water is the best filter. By the time I get to the 4th and 5th distillation, the boiler charge that is left is basically clear and odourless.

The first few runs, when you dump out the almost boiling spent kettle charge, it stinks, and burns your nose a lot. By the 5th run... looks and smells like hot water, and in turn the distillate is much more neutral and clean tasting.
Up in the Shed

---20 Gallon EHERMS, 2" Pot Stil---

User avatar
LWTCS
Site Mod
Posts: 11314
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: North Palm Beach

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by LWTCS » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:10 am

Up in the Shed wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:00 am
With this 5x distillation, ultimately, water is the best filter. By the time I get to the 4th and 5th distillation, the boiler charge that is left is basically clear and odourless.

The first few runs, when you dump out the almost boiling spent kettle charge, it stinks, and burns your nose a lot. By the 5th run... looks and smells like hot water, and in turn the distillate is much more neutral and clean tasting.
100%
Trample the injured and hurdle the dead.

User avatar
Saltbush Bill
Site Mod
Posts: 4129
Joined: Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:13 am
Location: Northern NSW Australia

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Saltbush Bill » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:29 am

Up in the Shed wrote:
Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:00 am
ultimately, water is the best filter.
You got that right :thumbup:

Up in the Shed
Novice
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2020 6:24 am

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by Up in the Shed » Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:15 am

I do have a question for those who run a reflux column. Id like to know the time difference required, compared to a 2" reflux still... I understand its varies a great deal depending on design.

Assume the 1st distillation is completed in the stripping runs.

Lets assume we start with 60l of low wines at 35-40%ABV. It takes me about 4 hours to run that through my 20gallon, 5500 watt 2" Pot still from a cold start. The 2nd and 3rd time it takes 3 hours each, since I preheat it in my HLT to 160... Then just pump to the Boiler and IM back at first drips in about 30 mins between runs. 12 Hours for 3 passes, which would complete the 4th distillation cycle.

Then for the 5th Distillation, run again... Diluted with clean water for Vodka, or with botanicals as Gin.... 3 hours from cold.

So my question, If I built a 2" reflux.... CCVM or Boka.... how long would it take to run a similar size batch for neutral? 60l of 35-40% low wines?
Up in the Shed

---20 Gallon EHERMS, 2" Pot Stil---

StillerBoy
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 2251
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:27 pm
Location: Ontario

Re: Pot Still Vodka- 5x distillation, positive experience

Post by StillerBoy » Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:56 am

First there are not many here that have a 20 gal boiler, it wil hard to compare time wise..

My spirit runs for a neutral are of 28L of 38% abv, 32 gal boiler with 5500w, using a 36" x 2" lava packed column concentric design, take me 5 - 5.5 hrs from fire up to shut down, the extra time is at the end of the run, which I sometime compress the tails and sometime not, which produces base on the cut I do, 6L of 95.5%, 1L of heads, and 2.5L of tails.. yeah I do leave some behind but of low quality (tails section)..

Mars
" I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent. Curiosity, Obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas "

– Albert Einstein

Post Reply