Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Why a Pot Still and Why Add Thumpers, Perforated Plates or Bubble Plates?

Classic Pot Still

     What is the difference in stills and what is happening within them that makes one more efficient or better than the other?  Standard pot stills will give you the most flavor, if your only pass the wash through them once.  If you refine the output from the first pass you will get a product with more alcohol by volume (abv) but less flavor.  If you do it again, the same happens each time you refine the output.

Add-on Column
     If you add a column, with perforated plates or bubble plates to the top abv.  Because you are making fewer passes you will tend to loose less of the inherent flavor of the rum because you ware making fewer runs.   How does this happen?  The plates are like adding another distilling run to your run.  The plates are heated by the rising vapor from the pot, when it gets hot enough to boil the refluxing liquid falling from the plate above, the vapor rises to the next plate accomplishing the same effect.  This continues until all of the plates get hot enough for the vapor to make the top of the column and into the condenser.  Each of the plates effectively re-distills the rum producing a higher abv, and losing some of the flavor each step of the way.
of the your still, you will end up with a pot still that is more efficient.  In general you will have to make fewer passes through the still to get the higher

Thumper Working
     The thump keg or thumper is easier to understand how it works, because is is visually another still.  The hot vapor is bubbled through a liquid in the thumper and first condenses the vapor until it reaches a boiling temperature and the liquid turns to vapor again.  This is clearly another distillation.  The vapor coming off of the second boil will emit more ethanol than water giving you a higher abv,  A second or even third thumper can be added to raise the abv even further.  The thumper can be made to clean the output bu putting water in each of the thumpers , or add flavor by adding tails and heads from previous runs.  This is the way that they get the unique flavors from the Caribbean rums.  What you put in the thumper, gives you the flavor of your rum.

Bubbler Working
     Bubble plates used instead of perforated plates are a more efficient plate that works more like a thumper.  The vapors coming through the plate and being turned back on the plate heat the  plate and the reflux from the plate above, but the vapor bubbling through the cap heats the liquid directly like a thump keg does.  The process continues up the column until it can escape to the condenser. Each plate like the perforated plate are another distillation, but the bubble plate will tend to retain more flavor than a perforated plate,  The only thing you can do is change the flavor by changing the liquid.  It happens automatically.

    I hope this helps you understand a little better what all of the add-ons do for the basic pot still.