One of the most popular questions we get here is whether or not it's necessary to install a thumper keg on our stills to have success in distilling. Before we answer that, it might be helpful to explain just what this contraption is.
Basically, a thumper keg is a container that is installed in the distillation apparatus between the still pot and the condenser. It was traditionally used in hillbilly stills to increase the alcohol content of the distillate because, traditional stills only output product with about a 50-60 percent alcohol content. The thumper keg collects this output, which condenses out as a substance known as "low wine." Then, as more hot vapor flows through this low wine in the thumper, it gets heated to the boiling point of alcohol and the vapor that then flows into the condensing unit has a higher alcohol content – typically around 85 percent.
So, in effect, the thumper acts like a second distillation process to increase the strength of the distillate. It also catches unwanted sediment that might otherwise flow through to your end product.
The problem with thumper kegs, which are now usually used for high-production runs, is that they can strip flavor from your whiskey.
When you look at our copper stills, you'll notice that they have a unique onion-head. This particular design was adapted because it eliminates the need for a thumper keg by only allowing pure vapor and no sediment to flow through to the condenser. Plus, our stills will output whiskey with an alcohol content of approximately 70 percent, which should be more than satisfactory for most home distillers.
Do you see where this is going? In short, the answer to whether our stills need a thumper keg is: NO. Which means the distillation process with our stills is simpler and your success is more likely guaranteed. You're welcome!
Cheers to all of us dedicated home distillers.
P.S. So what about those slobber boxes? They were similar to thumper kegs in that they were installed in traditional stills, but the vapor they collected never bubbled up through the low wine, so their purpose was really to just collect sediment. Again, they’re not needed with our stills thanks to the eye-catching and functional onion-head design.
Posted by Jason Stone on