Basic information distillation facilities

1) How it works, heating, agitator, cleaning/purging, lighting

Distillation is a thermic separation technique – the aim is to separate two substances according to their boiling points. In a distillery, the goal is almost always to separate the alcohol created by a fermentation process, and to concentrate it. Actually, you take advantage of the fact that while boiling a fermented liquid (mash), the alcohol concentrates in the vapor. Thus, if you evaporate, for instance, a mash with 5% ABV, the steam contains more than 35% alcohol (strengthening factor = 7). If you condense this vapor, the result is a liquid with the same alcohol concentration. This principle works with simple distillation facilities such as a pot still with a helmet. In this case, you’ll have to distill twice to receive a clean product with a higher concentration of alcohol. 

To reach this goal in one go, we provide a column still with distillation plates and a dephlegmators. On each distillation plate, another boiling process takes place, leading to the effect of alcohol strengthening. However, the strengthening, i.e. the degree of alcohol enrichment, gets less from one distillation plate to the next.

The dephlegmators sits on the head of the column, condensing the vapor leaving the column once again. During this process, the component water – with its higher boiling point – is condensed out, resulting thus in an improved alcohol enrichment. 

The vapor containing alcohol is then cooled and condensed. 

The heating is done indirectly by water bath, which can be heated using wood, oil, or gas, or electrically. Also, heating is possible using direct or indirect steam. 

To heat the mash evenly, we also offer an agitator: using it has a positive effect on the quality of the distillate. Viscous mashes are heated more evenly, which decreases the mash temperature. In other words, the distillation is possible at lower temperatures. The agitator is equipped with a low-speed gear motor. In combination with a three-blade agitator paddle, this ensures intense rotation. 

Also available is an optional CIP cleaning for the installation: the hot water accrued during the distillation process is collected in a stainless steel container. After the distillation, a high-pressure pump squirts this water through a spray head into all parts of the facility. The hot water removes fat depositions and dirt. Closed-circuit flushing with detergents is also possible. 

To be able to watch all this, including the distillation process itself, it is possible to illuminate the facility. The pot sill and every distillation plate can be illuminated, which is an additional much-demanded option, especially by distilleries that invite visitors to watch the distillation process. 

2) The CARL distillation plate

CARL keeps working at improving distillation facilities. That led, for instance, to the creation of an especially effective distillation plate. The steam arrives through a perforated ground plate, getting in touch with condensed liquid. The result is a superfine atomizing effect with an intensive energy exchange. As to make that effect not to proceed too turbulently, there is a gabled ridge mounted over the holes. This saves the aroma and is effective – ideal for all kinds of products. The plates are equipped with a total drainage system, and can thus also be connected or switches off, whatever is necessary. 

3) Types of construction: with helmet, with column on top, with column adjacent

The construction type is not only a matter of price. As mentioned in 1), a facility with a helmet is only suitable for distilling twice or more times, as you cannot produce a high-quality product in only on process. This is the principle of, for instance, all classic whisky and cognac distilleries, according to their tradition and their company philosophy. This kind of distillation was widespread I the old days. Since column stills have become legal also for smaller distilleries, many such companies have switched to this technology. The advantage is that high-quality distillate can be produced in one go, and that also smaller quantities of mash can be distilled. The rectifying column can be placed on top or adjacent to the still. This is less of a question of product quality, but has something to do with the ceiling height and visual appearance. In Germany’s small settlement distilleries columns with three distillation plates and a dephlegmators are permitted. Otherwise, you may want to add a few more plates, to be able to react more flexibly to the various requirements. For producing gin, for example, it takes at least six to eight plates. For fruit brandy as well, especially with larger stills, a higher number of distillation plates is recommended. 

Hands-on distilleries are often constructed with the column standing next to the still, as especially the many attractive shapes of helmets are eye-catchers for the visitors. In connection with an illumination system, such installations are a perfect way of presenting your company. 

4) Batch vs. continuous distillation 

Usually, classic distillation facilities are run in batch mode. For this, stills with volumes up to 2,500 liters are the best solution. We produce facilities with capacities of up to 6,000 liters, but always keep in mind the longer heating and distillation times – especially a decisive question when it comes to producing fruit brandy. 

We also construct continuously running facilities, including mash preheating and steady mash feeding combined with steady distillate extraction, for quantities of at least 600 liters of mash per hour. Such facilities are mostly used in grain, wine, and molasses distillery The results are alcoholic strengths up to 91 % ABV. The raw spirit produced is then to be completely processed and cleaned in a rectification facility or in a smaller batch facility. 

5) What can be produced with such installations?

Of course, all kinds of potable alcohol can be produced. Our facilities are operated around the globe, producing whisky, vodka, pisco, gin, fruit brandies, and many more. Essential oils and flavor extracts are other possibilities. 

6) Space planning

Space planning is the most important phase when you set up your distillery. Efficient production processes are essential for a successful enterprise. It is thus better to invest some more time in preparations to avoid rectifications later on. 

We will be happy to support you with drafts and plans for your distillery, mash preparation, and accessories in suitable dimensions. 

7) Excise and tax laws

Please consider the excise and tax laws valid in your country, state, or region! It is absolutely important to obey to these laws and legislations, as punishment can be harsh. Anything else is moonshining!

In certain regions of Germany, it is still possible to get hold of traditional settlement distillery. authorization rather easily. In case we can support you in that respect, please let us know.