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How to choose shelf distiller or potstill destylator?

Views: 7     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2021-12-15      Origin: Site

Distillation is a process in which a mixture of two (or more) components is heated to a temperature between their respective boiling points to separate it into its original state.

For example, at atmospheric pressure, the boiling point of water is 212ºF, and the boiling point of ethanol is approximately 176ºF. If the mixture of water and ethanol is heated to about 195ºF, the ethanol will boil and turn into steam, then collect and condense. The water will separate and remain as a liquid.

Spirits must be distilled (to separate the alcohol and water in the fermentation broth) to obtain alcohol with the desired flavor and aroma. This is done by a device called a still. There are two types of distiller:

Pot Distillers/Potstill Destylators

Pot distiller is also called potstill destylator. It is usually made of copper. Copper is traditionally used because it is a good conductor of heat and can extract sulfur from the distillate. The classic pot still has different components; the bottom is called the kettle, where the fermentation broth is heated. The fermentation broth is evaporated, and the steam passes through the swan-shaped neck to reach the worm, which is a spiral copper tube connected to the condenser, where the steam is condensed into liquid.

Generally, aged spirits (such as whiskey, tequila, and rum) and craft spirits are made in a tank still. The tank distiller also helps to add the congeners needed to the spirits to create aromas and flavors in the spirits.



Modern pot stills are the descendants of early distillation devices.

Historic Whiskey Pot Distiller at Jameson Middleton Distillery in Cork, Ireland

The largest pot still used is in Old Middleton Winery, County Cork, Ireland. It was built in 1825, has a capacity of 143,740 liters (31,618 British gallons), and is no longer in use. As of 2014, the largest tank distiller in use is located at the neighbouring New Middleton Distillery in County Cork, Ireland, with a capacity of 75,000 liters (16,000 British gallons).


Components of a traditional pot still:

  • Pot-where the washing is heated

  • Swan neck-where steam rises and flows back

  • Lyne Arm – transfer steam to the condenser

  • Condenser-cools steam to produce distillate



Stainless steel/red copper pot body

Copper swan neck

All parts in direct contact with the wine are made of copper

Column Distiller/Shelf Distillers

Column distillers are called shelf distillers or continuous distillers. It is relatively modern, and its design is to extract pure alcohol directly from fermentation. It is used in industrial and large-scale commercial alcohol production.

The column distiller is made of stainless steel or copper and includes a high column structure connected to the top of the boiling kettle to obtain purer steam. Use perforated plates to divide it into multiple chambers. The distiller is constantly heating at the bottom, so when the fermentation broth is poured from the colder top and encounters steam, it evaporates and sends the alcohol back to the top. When the alcohol-carrying vapor passes through the perforated plate, it will condense the heavier particles. Only the alcohol-carrying vapor continues to the top and passes through the pipe connected to the condenser, where the vapor is condensed into the desired liquid.

When the liquid flows down the column, because there are multiple trays, the steam will come into contact with it many times-this is a key process in the distillation column. The contact between the liquid phase and the gas phase is because when a molecule of a high boiling point substance is converted from the gas phase to the liquid phase by energy release, another molecule of a low boiling point substance uses free energy to convert from the liquid phase to the gas phase.

The column distiller is used to extract white or neutral spirits, such as vodka, gin and white rum.


The main components of column distiller

The distillation column consists of several components, each of which is used to transfer heat or enhance material transfer.

A typical distillation contains several main components:

Vertical housing for separation of liquid components

Tower internal components, such as trays/plates and/or packing used to enhance component separation

The reboiler provides the necessary vaporization for the distillation process

Condenser, used to cool and condense the steam leaving the top of the tower

A reflux tank to contain the condensed vapor from the top of the tower so that the liquid (reflux) can be recycled back to the tower



Stainless steel/red copper pot body

Copper swan neck

Copper distillation column

All parts in direct contact with the wine are made of copper

Pot distiller and column distiller: what is the difference in material

There are two main types of materials used to make pot distiller and column distiller, copper and stainless steel. The vast majority of distillers today are made from one of these two materials-so in fact, it boils down to a matter of preference. Having said that, it should be noted that although most pot stills are made entirely of copper, in some cases, column stills can be part of stainless steel, and the upper part of the still is copper, which is used The important feature of copper to help remove the spirit of sulfur.

Although distillers made of stainless steel are indeed durable, easy to clean, and cheaper than copper distillers, they are not the best heat conductors and will not remove sulfide from the washing liquid. Sulfur is naturally produced during the fermentation process and often leads to a sour spirit, which is why it is best to remove it.

This is where copper comes in. For many reasons, this material is more popular than stainless steel, so it is not surprising that copper has been the main choice mainly for making stills for centuries. A major factor is that it improves the flavor of alcohol by removing sulfur during the distillation process, and it preserves your wine by helping to break down the compounds that are essential for the production of higher quality, tastier spirits. Copper is also a good heat conductor, combined with all its other useful properties, making it superior to stainless steel.


I still can't say which distiller is better. The specific choice of pot distiller or column distiller depends on your needs.Of course, if you can’t make a decision, you can consult us and we will try our best to give you a choice based on your needs.

The special attention we give in the final quality inspection of each work is also a guarantee of unparalleled reliability and robustness. If you have any needs or questions, please contact us.

Contact Kate and my email: kate@degonget.com

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