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Identifying the Best Whiskey Still

If you are looking to make some proper moonshine, then you need to make sure you get the best whiskey still possible. This device is very important in the distillation process, hence choosing the right type and the right material is of high importance.

Generally, there are two primary types of whiskey stills used today: pot and reflux. The first one is used for distillation at smaller quantities, while the second one is used for large-scale distillation. By reading this only you realize that when producing moonshine, in the comfort of your home, the pot still is the one you need to look for.

History of Types of Stills

The process of distilling whiskey is already tradition and in order to do it properly you need to stay faithful to various old recipes. This is good for you, if you want to produce distill whiskey at home, because it means that modern stills are still pretty much the same with what they used to be, employing the same techniques and offering the same quality product in the end.

They are mainly four types of stills you need to know about: blackpot submarine, reflux, steam and turnip.

1) The blackpot submarine still was mostly used to produce moonshine up until the first quarter of the 20th century. The pot was made of lumber panels and metal pieces, of either steel or copper. The advantage of the blackpot submarine was that the moonshiner ran the produced liquid through the still only once. However, the resulting beverage was not of a very good quality.

2) The reflux still is, probably, the best known type of still which is also widely used nowadays. Used for large-scale purification, its mechanism reduces the need for multiple distillations, thus making it more efficient as it produces whiskey faster and better.

3) A steam still was used occasionally and such still was never as famous as the other types of stills. The advantage of such a still was that the water put in the boiler was placed directly under heat, eliminating the need to stir the mash (as it happened with other versions).

4) The turnip still is one of the oldest types of stills and it produced better alcohol than the blackpot submarine. When using this still the distillation process could last from a couple of days to some good weeks. One disadvantage of it was the need to distill one more time, at least, the resulting liquid, thus taking even more time to produce quality whiskey.

What about the Material of the Still?

There are basically two types of materials used to make a whiskey still: copper and steel. Also, if you want to buy a whiskey still with a cadmium or lead-containing solder, then stop immediately, as these two will poison your body; a silver solder is a lot safer. And do not even think about plastic or synthetic boilers; avoid having such materials as part of your boiler.

Stainless steel is really solid and last more years than copper. However, it is a slow conductor of heat and does not influence the dissolution of substances such as esters and sulfuric compounds, which are important if you want your spirit to be of high quality.

Copper, on the other hand, is a lot safer. Dissolution is done at low rate, thus avoiding your exposure to it. Next, copper also preserves better the flavor of your drink, helps in breaking down compounds important to producing high quality alcohol and impedes the production of damaging substances (like ethylcarbamat). And, more than that, copper can improve the quality of your drink when the mash is not organically impeccable.

Add to copper’s qualities the fact that it is a great heat conductor, and you can surely see that even if there are two materials which are viewed as good for whiskey still production, only one is the real thing: copper.

Hence, when you look to buy the best whiskey still, remember to look for a pot still which is made of copper. You can find plenty on our website, so start browsing right away.

Posted by Jason Stone on


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