Pot Still or Reflux Still for Whiskey

Whiskey is an alcoholic beverage that we can obtain from the fermentation of several grains. The brewers mainly use four types of grains in whisky. They are wheat, malted barley, corn, and rye. The grains have to involve a series of the process while preparing whisky.

The grains are mixed in different proportions and heated at 45 degrees Celsius, which we usually call mashing. In mashing, a sweet liquid is obtained, which is fermented by yeast. Then comes the process of distillation.

It is an essential process in which you need an apparatus to heat the fermented liquid and extract the alcohol. We call this apparatus still. So, we have two types of still. One is pot still, and the other is reflux sill.No the question arises: better pot still or reflux still for whiskey.

Pot Still

A pot still looks like a pot. It is a large spherical chamber made up of copper. We need to connect this chamber with the condenser, which is a heat exchanger. Cooling water arrangement is made on the condenser to extract the heat.

At first, the fermented liquid is heated in the pot by use of an external source. As the alcohol has a low boiling point, it starts to form a vapor. These vapors go into the condenser, which is a heat exchanger. It exchanges the heat of the vapor with the cooling liquid. As a result, the vapor cools down and collects in the receiver.

In earlier days, people used to heat the pot by the direct heat source. But no day’s modern techniques are used to heat the pot still. Generally, brewer manufacturing companies use temperature-controlled steam to heat the pot.

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Reflux Still

A reflux still arrangement is slightly different from a pot still. Here you will notice the distillation column. It will have several plate-like arrangements. The lowest plate will be at a higher temperature, and the top plate will be cooler compared to other plates.

Pot Still or Reflux Still for Making Whiskey

A boiler or round bottom flask is there here; you need to heat the fermented liquid. When the liquid is heated, it converts into vapor. The distillation column fits at the top of the round bottom flask. Most vapors move to the top of the distillation column. Some of the light vapors condense into liquid in the distillation column, Whereas the most volatile vapors can reach the top of the tray and escape into the condenser. In a condenser, the condensation of vapors takes place, and they change into a liquid state.

We call the process of vapor going up and liquid climbing down reflux, which helps purify the alcohol.

We can enhance the process of whisky preparation by adding more plates. Here we are getting pure alcohol which is free from water or any other components.

Comparison of Pot Still and Reflux Still

#1. Purity

In reflux still, we can get 95 percent ethanol, whereas in a pot still, we get 60 to 70 percent ethanol.

#2. Components

The reflux still is made up of either copper or stainless steel. Both the components have different advantages. Stainless steel reflux stills shine brightly and don’t rust easily. They are durable.

Whereas copper reflux still does good work by absorbing sulfur components from the mixture. If the parts of sulfur remain in the alcohol, it will give a bitter taste with a rotten egg smell.

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The pot still is usually made up of copper.

#3. Process

Pot still is typically a batch process, whereas reflux still does multiple distillations at one time.

#4. Cleaning

A pot still requires to be cleaned after each batch, whereas the reflux still doesn’t require regular cleaning.

#5. Quality

A pot still produces alcohol which may have water or ketones and aldehydes. Reflux still can make higher quality alcohol which is flavorless and odorless.

Difference of Pot Still or Reflux Still for Whiskey

#6. Flavor

A pot still retains the flavor of alcohol, whereas, in reflux, we still get flavorless alcohol.

#7. Condenser

We have only one condenser in the pot still, whereas, in a reflux condenser, we have an additional condenser called a reflux condenser. It is a jacketed tube, also called a distillation column. In this column, the heavier water vapors drop down, whereas lighter alcohol vapors escape into the distillation column to move into the final condenser.

#8. Spirited Choices

In a pot still, whisky usually has a good flavor. So, we still use pot stills for making spirits like single malt scotch, mezcal. The column still helps produce neutral spirits like bourbon, vodka, white rum, and various others.

#9. Design

The pot’s design still looks like a large spherical chamber from which a pipe emerges fed into the condenser, whereas the column still is quite taller compared to the pot. The column still may be several floors high.

Wrap Up

Whisky is a beverage that is quite popular in the United States. Even it has many health benefits. So, the majority of people prefer to drink this beverage.

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Distillation is an essential process in the preparation of whisky. Usually, a distillation of whisky takes place in a pot still or reflux still. Both the stills are two sides of a coin which means both stills have some advantages and disadvantages. Both the stills are two sides of a coin. So, it’s difficult to answer a question pot still or reflux still for whiskey.

Again sometimes, the kind of whisky which the brewer company wants to make depends on the still. Some whisky needs to have good flavor. So, at that time, they are bound to do the distillation process in a pot still.

But, most whisky manufacturing companies prefer to use reflux still as it provides whisky having higher alcohol content. Reflux still is also a continuous process.