New distillers experience with an Air Still

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New distillers experience with an Air Still

Postby BadSeed » Thursday Oct 25, 2012 12:55 pm

Against some peoples advice I jumped in and bought an Air Still, I actually got the complete kit from Brewcraft. This included a 10l fermenter, carbon filter cartridges, a plastic filter bucket, an air still and the ingredients for my first 2 washes.
The ingredients were 'Turbo Yeast' based recipes (more about that later)

I will document my experiences here, as much for me as anyone else.

First thing that struck me is how simple it was:
Sugar
Yeast & Nutrient
A sachet of Carbon.
Top up to 10l and your done.

Compared to the lengths I go to when making beer this is like a walk in the park.

So after about 10 days the wash was feremnted so I added the finings and waited for 24 hours for it to settle.
Then put 4l in the still plugged it in and stepped back to watch.

After about an hour I got a trickle of some (nail polish remover smelling) noxious liquid.
I had done a bit of reading so I knew what to expect.
After about 60 ml had come out I took away the first container (poured on weeds) and added another one to collect my hooch.

I took the next 700ml, topped it up with good water to 1l and put it through the carbon filter.
I then refilled the still and kicked off the rest of my batch.
After the first one had finished filtering I poured it into a glass bottle and added Top Shelf Vodka essence.

It didn't smell too good. A bit like a fermenting rubbish bin or rotting veg.

It tasted ok though, no real taste at all maybe a bit of sweetness but not unpleasant. A perfect mixer, apart from the smell. It was so bad that you have to try not to breathe when you drink it.

So I refiltered it, and refiltered and then refiltered it again.
4 times through the carbon filter to get rid of the foul smell for each batch.

This smell is caused by Turbo yeast and not a reflection of the Air Still.
Turbo Yeast (I have read) was developed for rapid conversion and maximum yield of alcohol for the purposes of bio-fuel, not a food.

A lot of LHBS sell Turbo Yeast and advise it's use, I can't really comment on that, but it's expensive.

After multiple filtering the resulting spirit is good, I made vodka and a coconut rum (Malibu) and my Mrs is loving it.

The Air Still itself is a great little unit, very happy with it. I really don't get why people are so against them. It's tidy, clean easy to use. Ideal.

So I have run the second batch of Turbo which came with my kit, this time I discarded the first 80ml.
Same foul smell from each batch so they have been repeatedly filtered (this takes days) before I had a clean sprit.

So I did a bit more research on creating a cleaner wash.

I created an account on an great Aussie based distilling site :wink: , and have found a lot of good information from there, including the recipe for a basic Tomato Paste Wash.

Sugar
Tomato Paste
Citric Acid
bakers yeast
Water

All from Coles and cheap.

This is supposed to produce a good clean spirit without any of the foulness of Turbo products.
I mixed it up to 25l, pitched yeast and covered the fermenter with glad wrap.

The bakers yeast are hungry, fermentation had begun within minutes. Having spent a few years making beer (czech pils yeast, starters etc etc) this was jaw dropping to witness.

The glad wrap formed a good bubble and it remained like that for about 12 days. Then it was finished so I racked it off the trub and it has been in a secondary clearing a little bit more. It is a light orangey pink colour and smells like a very sweet wine, but not unpleasant.

I am planning on running my first TP wash through the still tonight.


...to be continued.
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BadSeed
 
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Re: New distillers experience with an Air Still

Postby BadSeed » Friday Oct 26, 2012 7:47 pm

...so I distilled the first 4 litres of my Tomato Paste Wash.
The smell was much better, strong alcohol fumes and slight sweetness but not the foul decaying smell of the Turbo wash.

One thing though, I noticed the surface of the spirit was specked with a couple of tiny red dots, almost like specks of red oil. You could hardly see them but they were there.
I distilled another 4l tonight, same thing.
Must be something from the Leggos Tomato paste, I have the no salt added version for my next one.

No big deal, I just put it through the filter. I was going to let it breathe for 24 hours anyway so it may as well breathe in the filter. It's a step I hadn't anticipated but not worth worrying about.
It polished up nicely in the filter and I made an Ouzo using Top Shelf Essence.

Lovely smelling, looking forward to getting some down my neck tonight. :)~
I am not counting on it acting like real Ouzo (louching) but I am still looking forward to it (after a couple of HB pilsners and Pales :D )
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Re: New distillers experience with an Air Still

Postby BadSeed » Monday Nov 05, 2012 9:51 am

Taste the rainbow...
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