How To Build Your First Still

When you first dip your toe into the craft spirits industry, there are few things you need to know about before diving in headfirst. It requires not only the understanding of distilling but also the knowledge of its mechanisms. Here is a figure that indicates how distilling works on the lab tabletop scale:

Distiallation Process

This is a very basic set up but it has all of the essential components that you need in a distillation system. You can also read one of our articles right here on how a distillation column works to have a better idea of the distillation process from start to finish.

With the assumption that your distillation team has the basics down for distilling the next step is acquiring the right distillation equipment. To create a still, you need 4 essential components:  a kettle, a heat source, a condenser, and a collecting vessel. That is it! That is all you need to build the simplest distillation system. Let us break it down for you to see what each item is and how methodically it functions. 

Equipment For Your Distialltion Still

  1. First, a kettle functions the same as the distilling flask in the picture above. Once fermented, the kettle will hold the ingredients you want to distill, also called “mash”. Depending upon what you want to make there are different kinds of mash, such as grains, fruits, sugar, etc., and it would give a different result too if you adjusted ingredients or the ratio of the ingredients. 
  2. Next, you’ll need a heat source to boil the contents of your kettle.  Depending on the location and size of your kettle, heat sources can be electric (a heating element), steam, water/oil in a bain-marie, or fire. In a smaller kettle such as the milk can, a 5500-watt heating element will be sufficient, whereas the illustration above uses a bunsen burner.
  3. Once the kettle is boiling you’ll need a way to turn the vapor back into a liquid. A condenser is a heat exchanger to knock down the vapor from a gaseous substance into a liquid state through cooling. A good-quality cooling system will create more surface area for more knock-down power. StillDragon offers various size condensers to create the perfect amount of knockdown for the distillation system.
  4. At the end of your system, you will need a collection vessel, the “Receiving Flask” in the diagram above, it’s basically any alcohol-safe container to collect your distillate as the condenser knocks it down. It could be a stainless can or a glass jar or even an empty liquor bottle.

Your First Still

Distillation Configuration Parts Key

We put all of the distillation equipment together and we are going to have something like this set up in the figure below. See how simple this setup can be to produce your distilled whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, etc? If your team has the knowledge of the distillation process, this setup can be made and get your team producing hard alcohol in the near future.

Building your first still doesn’t have to be complicated, especially if you have the right tools for the right job. At StillDragon be more than happy to guide you through designing your system and helping you get started so give us a call at 561-845-8009 or contact our team for more details. Be sure to browse our FAQs for more details as well. 

We at StillDragon are here to help! Happy distilling, guys and gals!