Copper is the traditional material of choice used by moonshiners for generations.  Now you can buy a genuine hand crafted, New Zealand made still to perfect your home brew product.

WHY USE COPPER

Copper is the traditional material of choice used by moonshiners for generations.  Now you can buy a genuine hand crafted, New Zealand made still to perfect your home brew product.

Stills are traditionally made of copper for numerous practical purposes:

  • Copper absorbs sulphur containing compounds and yeast cells which are produced
  • During fermentation and the presence of which is undesirable in the distilled spirits of essential oil. Sulphur compounds and yeast cells smell.
  • Copper reduces bacterial contamination.
  • Copper has excellent heat transfer properties helpful for both heating and cooling of vapours.
  • Copper prevents the production of ethylcarbamat which is a toxic substance formed from cyanides (cyanides are found in the stones of fruits)
  • Copper also improves the quality of the final product. If the quality of the mash is not microbiologically perfect, copper will improve the aroma of the final product

Important – please read prior to using your still

  • Always use your still in a well ventilated area. Alcohol vapours are highly flammable and should always be kept clear of any ignition source.
  • The alcohol produced by the reflux still is above 90%. At this strength it is dangerous to consume.  It must always be diluted to 40% or less.

What is needed if I am new to distilling?

If you are new to distilling, the still is complete, but you will also need a fermenter, spirit filter unit, spirit & wash hydrometers (available from your local home brew shop). Other useful equipment is a 1 litre calibrated jug, a container (large jug or similar) for collecting the alcohol, and of course bottles to mix and store it in. Complete instructions are supplied for running the still, but I would suggest you speak to your local home brew shop about preparing the wash.

Can I get a copy of the instructions?

PDF files of the instructions can be downloaded.  Go to the products page and click on the still you are interested in.  The combo still requires both the pot still and reflux instructions.

Pot still vs reflux still

The reflux produces a very smooth and top quality spirit which is virtually neutral in flavour, therefore it takes added flavours very well.  The alcohol can be used to making spirits for sipping as well as mixed drinks.  The pot still produces a spirit which is not as smooth, but retains some of the flavour from the wash, ie using grain based washes for bourbon or whisky, or molasses for rum.  It can also be used for essential oil extraction.

Pot still numbers

Subject to your wash being fermented out to 990, you would normally expect an average strength of approx 60%. Re the volume, there are too many variables to give an exact number, ie: type of yeast, amount of sugar used, etc, but from a 25 litre wash using commercial home brew yeast and 6 kg sugar, you would reasonably expect approx 4-4 1/2 litres.

Reflux still numbers

Subject to your wash being fermented out to 990, you would normally expect an average strength of approx 92%. Re the volume, there are too many variables to give an exact number, ie: type of yeast, amount of sugar used, etc, but from a 25 litre wash using commercial home brew yeast and 6 kg sugar, you would reasonably expect approx 3 – 3 1/4 litres.   It takes approx 3 ¼ hours to run.

Is the boiler thermostatically controlled??

Distilling alcohol is the removal of alcohol from a wash utilising the different temperatures that various chemicals boil at. As such, the wash must continue to boil in order for the still to continue producing distillate (steam).

Essential oil extraction

The pot still can be used for essential oil extraction.  There are 3 methods – steam distillation, water or alcohol immersion.  I am unable to give any numbers on production values as there are too many variables – type of plant matter used, quality (oil content) of plant matter used, etc.  We also have a basket available for holding material when using steam method.  I would suggest looking online for information about the specific type of plant you wish to extract oil from.

Water usage

The reflux uses about 5-600 ml per minute of water, and the pot still uses anywhere from 600 to 1000 ml per minute.  Both still take between 3 & 3 ¼ hours to put a wash through.  Using a commercial home brew yeast & 6 kg sugar, the reflux will yield approx. 3 ½ litres at 90%, and the pot will yield approx. 4 ½ litres at 60%.  If you buy the pot still, you can either add the reflux later, or buy the combo, which has one boiler and both condensers.

Water conservation

Fill a large plastic drum (250 litres or more).  A small pump (12 volt pond pump or similar) can then be used to pump water through condenser.  This water can be reused in future distillations.  In summer, you may need to put 4 or 5 1.5 litre soft drink bottles of frozen water into drum to maintain cooler temperature.

Element wattage

Our boiler has dual output of both 1000 watts to run the pot condenser, and 2000 watts to run the reflux condenser.  If you purchase one still, you can add the other condenser at any stage without having the expense of purchasing another boiler.

My boiler cuts out when doing a fruit mash

All of our boilers have a built in thermal cut out which is designed to automatically turn off the element if overheating is detected.  Boiling a fruit mash, grain wash or similar causes solid matter to build up on the bottom of the boiler and causing overheating.  Before distilling a fruit mash, grain wash or similar, you must strain your wash.  Only liquid can be put in the boiler for distilling.

I ran my still and didn’t get all my alcohol

The most common problem when using a still is an incorrectly fermented wash.  Ensure the following criteria have been met prior to distilling:

  • The wash must be 990 or below as measured on a beer, wine, wash hydrometer
  • Ensure your wash does not go above the recommended temperature for your yeast while fermenting.
  • Fermenting a wash in summer – you may need to put a soft drink bottle with frozen water into the fermenter to keep the temperature to an acceptable range.
  • Fermenting a wash in winter – you may need to move your fermenter to a warmer area or use a heat pad to maintain the necessary temperature.
  • Does the wash smell clean? If it has an “off” smell, you may have bacterial contamination.  Clean and sterilize all your equipment, including dismantling and scrubbing the tap.

My still made a funny noise and liquid spurted everywhere

This is messy but generally caused by one of two reasons, and sometimes a combination of both.  (Some people refer to it as their still “puking”).

  • The wash did not ferment completely and there is excess wash sugar in the wash being distilled causing foaming.
  • The boiler has too much liquid in it so when it starts boiling, there is insufficient expansion room.

Danger

Alcohol Vapours are explosiveCopperhead still

  • Highly flammable
  • Operate in a well ventilated area
  • Clear of any ignition source

Alcohol

Alcohol produced is in 90% plus rangeskull-100

  • Which is extremely toxic
  • It must be diluted to 40% or
  • Less for making alcohol based drinks
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