Pot still

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Pot stills at the Lagavulin Distillery

A pot still is a type of still used in distilling spirits such as whisky or brandy. Heat is applied directly to the pot containing the wash (for whisky) or wine (for brandy). This is called a batch distillation (as opposed to a continuous distillation).

At standard atmospheric pressure, alcohol boils at 78 °C (172 °F), while water boils at 100 °C (212 °F). During distillation, the vapour contains more alcohol than the liquid. When the vapours are condensed, the resulting liquid contains a higher concentration of alcohol. In the pot still, the alcohol and water vapour combine with esters and flow from the still through the condensing coil. There they condense into the first distillation liquid, the so-called "low wines". The low wines have a strength of about 25-35% alcohol by volume, and flow into a second still. It is then distilled a second time to produce the colourless spirit, collected at about 70% alcohol by volume. Colour is added through maturation in an oak aging barrel, and develops over time.

The modern pot still is a descendant of the alembic, an earlier distillation device.

Historical whiskey pot still at the Midleton distillery complex of Jameson in Cork

The largest pot still in the world was in the Midleton Distillery constructed in 1825, County Cork Ireland.[1][2] It had a capacity of 31,618 imperial gallons (143.74 m3) and is no longer in use.


Pot Still Diagram

Components of a traditional pot still:[3]

  • Boiling Chamber - Where the mash is heated
  • Intermediate section - the amount of reflux is controlled here[4]
  • Lyne Arm - Transfers the steam to the condenser
  • Condenser - Cools the steam


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cooley, Arnold James (1880). Cooley's cyclopædia of Practical Receipts and Collateral Information in the Arts, Manufactures, Professions, and Trades. J. & A. Churchill. p. 1767. Here, I believe, is the largest still in the world—certainly the largest in Ireland. 
  2. ^ Dublin, Cork, and south of Ireland: a literary, commercial, and social review. Stratten & Stratten. 1892. p. 157. 
  3. ^ King, Jeff (2012). The Home Distiller's Workbook: Your Guide to Making Moonshine, Whisky, Vodka, Rum and So Much More!. FOI Publishing. p. 90. 
  4. ^ The Scottish Pot Stills at Whisky.com