Choosing the Right Bubble Cap for Distilling

One consistency among distillers is that everyone has their own idea of the right way to distill, down to the equipment. You’ll hear people tell you all copper, some say less copper, some use plates in their column and other’s prefer pot stilling. We’ve written about the pluses and minuses of copper, now let’s talk about the bubble plate column theory.

Bubble Plates and Bubble Caps for Distilling

Bubble plates are used to create more reflux in the column, ultimately to create multiple distillation cycles during one run. In review, a distillation column is phase change occurring over and over until it reaches the final the final condenser. The Bubble Cap is the main factor of creating the phase change. As your vapor rises out of the kettle and into your column, it is going to flow through the path of least resistance. The Bubble Cap is designed in 2 parts, the underside, which is basically a tube with windows at the top, and the mushroom top – designed with many arches around the edge. The vapor flows up the tube and through the windows where it is pushed back down towards the plate and typically out of the arches. As you continue through the run, a waterbed will develop on each plate, this is caused by the vapor being knocked down as it hits cooler temperatures of the plate or the column itself. As vapor passes through the bubble cap, it is pushed back towards the plate, where the vapor will condense, heating the water bed and creating a vapor of higher proof distillate. This happens on each plate you have, so if you are working on a vodka and you have 22 plates – that’s 22 times distilled. StillDragon also offers the ProCap which is a bubble cap and downcomer integrated, which allows for a speedier run.

Let’s not forget the benefits of the copper being so predominant in the vapor path. Each plate and Bubble Cap works to extract the crap out of the liquid. The more plates you have the vapor going through, the cleaner and purer your distillate is going to be.

Of course, not every distillery only wants to do vodka or gin which require the flavorless, higher purity distillate created from having all the plates. Enter the pot still. Whiskeys and rums need a less pure, more flavorful spirit to create the final recipe so they would be better off with a pot still or use of a whiskey hat versus the plates. The pot still and whiskey hat create some reflux as the vapor hits the sides that are exposed to the lower external temperatures. The vapor can also go straight through to the lyne arm and into the product condenser.

The downside is the expense of having two different stills. You’ll need twice the money, twice the plumbing, twice the heating elements, heck you’ll need almost 2 of everything. Don’t forget to take into consideration the space requirements for both stills. Using all of these factors, StillDragon developed the DoubleDragon. It incorporates both the pot still and the bubble cap still design onto one kettle. The kettle allows you to create multiple product types without much added labor, time, or expense.

Check back next month for a deep dive into the benefits of the StillDragon® DoubleDragon.

> For more commercial distilling needs, browse StillDragon equipment.