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Distilling Alcohol

 Golden Rules:

Never allow the still to boil dry - the high temperature will buckle and deform the still and the joins/seams may separate
Only ever fill the still to 80% of its capacity, so for example a 10L still holds 8L of fluid
When distilling alcohol be aware that you are producing a highly flammable liquid. Keep well ventilated and take care
Alembic stills yield between 20% and 25% of what you start with, so 10L of wash/wine/mash will return 2-2.5L of spirit 
Generally, the still will multiply whatever alcohol that you start with by approx. 3.5, so for example, if your wine is at 13% then your finished spirit will be 45% ish.
Only gently simmer your wine/wash/mash during distillation. However, when making Essential Oils and Hydrosols, the water in the pot should be at a rolling boil 
More about alcohol

 Typical Distillation Yields & Times:

A 1.5L Alembic will produce approx 250ml of spirit in around half an hour

A 3L Alembic will produce approx 500ml of spirit in around 45 mins

A 5L Alembic will produce approx 750ml of spirit in around an hour

A 10L Alembic will produce approx 1.5L of spirit in around an hour an a half

A 20L Alembic will produce approx 3L of spirit in around 2 hours

 Preparing Alcohol from Wine to use as a Base for Herbal or Fruit Liqueurs or Eau de Vie

Method:  Simple distillation process
Equipment: 0-100 deg c thermometer
Small hydrometer 30-100%
Glass measuring flask or beaker

Suitable Stills
All types of Alembics Stills are suitable for the distillation of alcohol.

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Fill the bowl of the still to no more than 80% of its capacity.
E.g a 10 L pot should have no more than 8 L of wine for distillation.
All the styles of stills are suitable for distilling alcohol.
Alquitars are a favoured choice

See Alquitar
 IMG 0206 2  Arrange water cooling for condenser. Its vital to have cool running water flowing around the coils in the condenser bucket at all times.
When the hot vapours flow down the tube they are cooled in the coil and condense into the liquid spirit.

Rapidly heat the wine to a good simmer—not boil (75—80 deg c)
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Approx the first 2% of the distillation is known as the “heads”. These should be discarded as they contain acetone and other harmful alcohols. For 1.5 L of wine in the pot discard the first 30ml. (The heads taste and smell unpleasant).

Keep the heat at a good simmer and collect the "hearts"-approx the next 20% of volume of wine in the pot - eg.1.5 L wine in the pot will produce approx 300ml of Hearts. This is the useful alcohol and although colourless will have a subtle wine flavour, in Europe its known as Eau de Vie (water of life). Do not let the pot boil or you will have all the various alcohols delivered together in one go.


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The “Tails” are the last stage of distillation and need to be taken out as well. At the end of the “hearts and the beginning of the “tails” expect a hydrometer reading of 30% alcohol. You will also note a change in taste (dishwater) and the solution may appear slightly milky.

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 Discard the tails .Distillation over. Heat off and when the still is cool enough to handle discard hot winewater residue. Clean the still in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly.



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