Difficult to make a choice for your new Alembic? We have written this Special Buying Guide Alembic Stills to help you, with the TOP10 best sellers of the moment, tests, opinions... As in all our shopping guidesWe have done our utmost to help you choose the best Alembic!
Our selection of stills
Buying Guide Alembic Stills
A still is the tool used by a distiller to distil either plants or fermented fruits in order to obtain a "still". strong drinkYou have made a conscious decision to start distilling and thus create your own eau de vie... You will therefore need this material. However, depending on the beverage you want to make, different types of stills You should also know that there are stills designed to make essential oils, but we will focus mainly on those used to make alcohol. So how do you make the right choice? Don't worry, because we have put together this buying and comparison guide that will give you the means to choose the still that will help you create your own alcoholic beverage. Are you ready to learn more? Follow us!
Some details about a still
An alembic is a device generally made of copper, resembling a container with a rather unconventional shape. It has a round pot enhanced by a sort of capital that could be compared to a tulip. This part is intended for the condensation and rectification of the vapour. A cooling coil and a swan neck complete the whole. On some models, there is a wine heater placed between them. This part is intended to preheat the wort of the next distillation with the alcohol vapours. This allows to stall and, above all, tofuel economy employee.
This tool is useful in the distillation of plants and fruits that are used to make alcohol, such as plums or pears, for example. As a result of this characteristic, it can be used to obtain alcoholic beverages. particularly rich in aroma and flavourIt is in this context that even the largest distillers use the alembic to make their products. In concrete terms, with an alembic, it is possible to increase the proportion of alcohol in a drink in order to create a "Eau de vie".
Current regulations on the use of a still
Before embarking on the distillation and creation of your own eau de vie, it is important to know that there is a clear legislation In order to become a distiller, you will have to take into account the following points:
- You have to be the owner of the fruit trees or plantation that will provide you with fruit or plants, as it is strictly forbidden to buy or pick them on land that is not yours. You must have a land register that proves that you own an orchard, a garden or even a plantation in which your raw materials are found.
- If you wish to distill yourself, you must enter a arboreal associationAs long as you want to buy a still, you can override the fact that you have to ask the association to provide you with the material. But be aware that membership in an association is mandatory.
- In France, you are subject to a rule that obliges you to distil only strict schedules However, in some departments such as Moselle, Bas-Rhin or Haut-Rhin, you will be able to work all year round, and at anytime.
- One customs declaration is required before distilling. This must be done 10 days in advance if you are sending the document by post, and 3 days if you are going to do it yourself on site. You must, in all cases, mention the alcohol content that you want to produce, the location of your plantation and the location of your distillery, among others.
- And finally, you'll have to pay a tax in relation to your production, per litre of pure alcohol.
It is therefore obvious here that making your own eau de vie, at home, without going through all these procedures, is forbidden!
How to choose a still?
In order to choose the best still, the most judicious way is to first determine the amount of raw materials This will allow you to define the size and capacity of the equipment. Then, various other criteria are also to be taken into account. These include the different types of stills that exist. We will see them one by one, and give their specifics.
The classic alembic, known as the "Charentais still" or "pot still"...
With this type of still, the alcohol level obtained does not exceed 70 % In order to obtain a stronger alcohol, it is sometimes necessary to double or even triple distillation. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the alcohols produced by the Charentais stills It is in this type of still that whiskies, cognacs and calvados among others are distilled.
- The presence of a single, fairly short column
- An affordable price
- A good choice to start in the field
- For the distillation of rum, whiskey, fruit alcohol and aromatic spirits.
- Alcohol level produced of 70 %
The reflux column still.
The alcohol produced by the reflux still is not not rich In general, it is used to make vodkas or schnapps, i.e. alcoholic drinks with a not too strong taste.
Here are its characteristics:
- The column is higher and the upper half of the column is traversed by tubes for cooling.
- More expensive than a classic still.
- Can still be used as a pot still
- The adjustment is rather tedious to obtain a pure distillate.
- Mainly used for neutral alcohols
The Fractionating Still.
Fractionnating still is a derived still The alcohols recovered by this type of alembic are neutral in principle, therefore they have no aromas and flavours. It is also used for the distillation of vodkas and schnapps for example.
The characteristics of fractionnating still :
- Tall upper column having a coil for condensation and reflux
- Equipped with one or more valves for flow regulation
- Also more expensive than a traditional still.
- Can be used as reflux still or pot still
- Easier to adjust than a reflux stil
- Suitable for the production of neutral alcohols
In addition to these criteria, it should be noted that the quality of manufacture The origin of the material has an important influence on prices. The origin of the material also plays a crucial role in this criterion, since stills from Portugal and New Zealand are the best on the marketIt should be noted that the latter country is still one of the few countries that still allows a unrestricted use of these instruments.
How to use a still?
Now that you know the criteria to take into account when choosing the right still, we will show you how to use it. We will focus on the distillation procedure Note also that it is necessary to go through the fermentation stage before distilling anything, and finish with the finishing phase.
Distill with a pot still
With a classic pot still or alembic still, it is possible to make a single, double or even triple distillation.
- Single distillation or single pass distillation
- Double distillation or two passes
- Triple distillation or three passes
This is about heat all components of the ferment recovered, at their boiling temperatures. In this context, you should know that a wort does not only contain alcohol. It also contains other substances such as water, ethanol, methanol, acids or mineral salts for example. It is important to know that ethanol is the alcohol that you can drink, unlike methanol which is dangerous if ingestedThe purpose of distillation is to collect the drinkable alcohol.
With a pot still, the temperature does not count on 78 °C (knowing that ethanol evaporates at this temperature), it rises to 90 °C. When the right temperature is reached, a steam is extracted, which will give a pure alcohol.
The second pass allows to obtain a better quality alcohol while benefiting from more quantity.
If you do a triple distillation, you get a much purer alcohol. For information, some whisky is distilled three times.
Distill with a still reflux
Here, the first phase consists of heat the wort quickly With a medium to high fire. When approaching 60 °C it is important to reduce the intensity of the fire. When the temperature reaches about 65 °C, it must be stabilized. To do this, you will have to play with the settings of the heat source or with the cooling of the distillation column.
Ideally, there should be a capacity to sufficient cooling with the dedicated tubes that run through the column of your alembic still. This will allow you to avoid playing with the flow rate of the burner (heating power) and the water flow valve (cooling). It is therefore necessary to find the best flow rate of cooling water to ensure that the column temperature is well balanced. This results in a good temperature and a stable alcohol levelIt's true that it all looks complicated when you read it, but you should know that it's quite simple when the temperature is balanced.
Thus, alcohol is collected from 78°C and should have a level of 80 to 90 % with this type of still. An ironing is generally not necessary because of the degree of alcohol obtained.
Distilling with a fractionating still or fractionnating still
As with the distillation with the two previous stills, the first step is heating the wort. This should be done quickly (but not too much) with a medium or high heat. As the temperature rises, the needle valve of the apparatus will open to the maximum. This process consists in headhunting (the bad alcohols) so that they do not return to the column. Note that these evaporate at a temperature below 76 °C on 50 ml per 10 l of wort. When you are sure that there is no more methanol (bad alcohol), you must close the valve. Then the condensed ethanol vapours will fill the inner container, which will overflow and drop the distillate into the column. Here the temperature will stabilise at about 78 °C.
After some time, gradually open the valve to collect the good distillateHere you will need to find the ideal flow rate to combine fast distillation speed and high alcohol content. Some models can provide excellent yield at up to 1000 ml of alcohol from 94 to 95 % volume. Please note that depending on the quality of the wort, this process can take several hours.
It is important to know that the alcohol that comes out of the still may not be good, or it may not taste as good as it should. It is therefore essential to go through the finishing phaseDepending on the type of alcoholic beverage to be created, the latter may involve several steps. The most common ones include :
- Filtration or purification
If you are a beginner, you won't be able to carry out the same technical procedures done in the big distilleries. The main difficulty is related to the ageing of your drink :
- Finding good casks (of oak if you want to make Whisky) is no small task.
- Also, if you opt for one or large barrels, you have to produce a lot to fill them. You also need to be patient and be careful not to consume what you produce! Be aware that this is one of the main difficulties for a beginner distiller.
Moreover, the alcohol content of a brandy resulting from distillation is generally very high (60 to 90 %). For health, taste and aroma reasons, it is practically impossible to drink the product. Thus, for example, for lower the alcohol levelDepending on the quantity produced, it should be cut with a few litres of water to achieve an alcohol content of around 45-47 °C.
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Last update: 2020-05-25 02:35:56