What is Cooling Management?

Within the context of distillation, Cooling Management refers to the method in which alcoholic vapor is extracted from the distillation apparatus and sent over to the product condenser to be collected as a product.

In or to provide some context, we should start by explaining the four types of distillation management systems: Power Management (PM), Liquid Management (LM), Vapor Management (VM), and of course Cooling Management (CM).

Power management (PM):

This is the most basic type of management system. Essentially, power management refers to heat input or BTU/h provided to the boil kettle as the only way to control the proof, collection speed, and flavor profile of the resulting distillate. In other words, more heat or less heat is the only control the distiller has over the system. 

The most obvious example of this type of management system is the humble pot still. Basically, an alcoholic vapor is formed during heat up, then the pressure in the system routes the vapor toward a heat exchanger that acts as a product condenser where the vapor is then condensed and collected as a distillate.

Liquid Management (LM): 

This refers to the way the alcoholic vapor in the system is routed upward via pressure in the column riser, then makes contact with a reflux condenser that is capable of recondensing 100% of the rising vapor back to the liquid phase. 

This is referred to as reflux or phlegm. The resulting reflux falls back down into the column riser to be re-vaporized while a smaller percentage of that falling liquid is collected in a small cup or slant plate within the column. This liquid is then slowly and continuously drained out of the cup (or slant plate) during the course of the distillation run. During this time depending on collection speed, liquid in the cup may overflow and fall back into the column riser to be redistilled as well. 

Reflux returned by the reflux condenser as well as overflow from the collection cup will work to ensure optimal purity while collecting distillate. Therefore, the collection speed from the collection cup will also influence the ABV of the distillate. 

To summarize, a percentage of liquid within the apparatus is isolated/collected within the apparatus and drained off as finished distillate. This is the essence of liquid management.


Vapor Management (VM): 

With VM systems, rather than collecting material out of the apparatus as a liquid-like the LM systems, the finished product is routed out of the column as vapor. Let me explain. Vapor rises toward the reflux condenser that can condense 100% of the vapor it comes in contact with as with the LM method. 

However, 100% of the resulting reflux is sent back down to the column riser to be redistilled to a further degree of purity. As the column becomes fully enriched with alcohol, a product valve installed at the head of the column is used to draw off a small percentage of vapor and direct that vapor toward a product condenser to be collected as a finished product. 

Drawing off the small amount of vapor ensures that most of the vapor in suspension will be recondensed and sent back to the apparatus for further distillation. Like the LM system, this reflux returning process allows the system to maintain a high level of purity.

Cooling Management (CM): 

Lastly, with the CM system, the column riser again sends vapor to a reflux condenser. However, this condenser uses the controlled flow of cooling media to determine how much of the vapor will be recondensed as reflux, and how much of that vapor is allowed to continue to be routed toward the product condenser. 

The flow rate combined with the temperature of the cooling media is managed with a valve. This method allows the operator to directly influence the ABV/proof of the finished distillate.

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