In our previous 2 episodes covering distilling we looked at freeze distillation which relied on the massive disparity between the freezing point of water and the freezing point of alcohol. Today’s episode takes us to the next step in the evolution of distillation…. the pot still.
This relies on the disparity in boiling temperatures between water and alcohol. Water boils at around 100c depending on barometric pressure, whereas alcohol boils at 78.3c.
This means that if a fermented wash is heated to around 78c, the alcohol will vaporize while the water remains in liquid state. This alcohol vapor is cooled and collected.
I must stress that this video is not a recipe. It is merely a demonstration of how the process works. Fermentation recipes and actual distillations will start in the next few episodes of this course. Also, I must remind you that distilling is illegal in some countries, so please check with your local authorities before getting involved.
Back to pot stilling. Today we’re looking at the simplest form of pot still… the stock pot still.
To understand this, let’s first look at a real pot still. You have large pot. To cover the pot is an air-tight dome lid. From the center of the lid a large gauge pipe rises up, then turns downward.
This pipe joins with another pipe in the form of a spiral.
This cooling coil is encased in a circulating water cooler.
The fermented liquid or wash is placed in the pot. Heat is applied to the pot. When the temperature reaches 78.3c the alcohol starts vaporizing, and escapes through the tube.
On running through the coil it is cooled and it condenses to liquid alcohol which drips into a catchment.
The stock pot still does not require any fancy cooling coils, and can be achieved with simplest of kitchen basics.
You need a large stock pot. You will need a dome lid…. I use my wok lid, and some sort of stand inside the pot. For this I use an inverted colander. You cannot use a solid up-tuned bowl as gasses will be trapped inside the bowl.
Then you need something non-reactive to catch the distillate, either stainless steel or food grade plastic.
The fermented liquid is placed in the stock pot.
Heat is applied.
The inverted wok lid is filled with ice.
As the alcohol vaporizes at 78.3c it rises and immediately condenses on the chilled lid, runs down the curved surface of the lid and drips into the collection bowl.
Let’s have a look at this in real life. I am using a big digital pot, but you can use a regular stock pot over any heat source. It is however, preferable to have control over the heat, so I would suggest using an induction range.
Here is the wok lid, from which I have unscrewed the handle and left the bolt in place to close the hole.
For this demo, I am using el-cheapo rose wine. Commercial wines are fermented using yeasts that result in very low levels of methanol and volatiles. In our next episode on distilling we will make a high alcohol sugar wash which is ideal for this process.
Empty the wine into the pot. Place the inverted colander into the pot. On top of this is where you will catch the alcohol in another bowl.
Place the inverted lid on the pot and set your heat to around 80c.
Pour ice into the inverted lid.
Owing to heat below the ice you will need to drain the melt from the lid and top up the ice a few times during this process.
I started with 5 liters of wine with an ABV of 13%. This means that there is a total of 650ml of ethanol in the wine. If I collect 1300ml of distillate, I will have a subtly flavored distillation with an ABV of 50%.
Stay tuned for our next episode on distilling next week where we will make a fermented sugar wash from scratch and distill the wash to make Vodka.