Build a Keg Still for Whiskey (Pot still design)

Making a pot still using a keg as a base for making flavoured spirits, this is my second instructable on making a keg still the first one was a reflux still and you can see that here

Now before I continue lets get the boring legal stuff out of the way....

Check the laws in your local area, some places you cant even own a still let alone use it to make a drinkable product, check it out first. I know in New Zealand you can make your own booze and in the UK you can have a still that makes up to 5L if you have a permit.

ok lets carry on, so why am i making another keg still if I already have one? well its turns out that even in pot still mode the reflux still does not give enough flavour on the spirit, it strips it out due to refluxing too much. When you want to make rum and gin and other flavoured spirits you need a Pot Still as a reflux still will just strip out the flavours.

Now it is worth having a column for the reflux still as you can use this to make vodka which can be used to make gin in your pot still later on. I have both a pot still column and a reflux column now and they both fit on the same boiler, Now I will be repeating the boiler making process as some people may be reading this and have not seen the original instructable so I have to assume they don't have a boiler yet.
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marlo.see4 days ago

If you are interested in making whiskey you should check out

zamo277 days ago
One last thing, I only have 15L of plum wine so its just covering the element, shall I add some water to be safe?
n1cod3mus (author)  zamo277 days ago
yep I would
zamo278 days ago

i did it and its working as i type

bit rough on the auld solder but it works

thanks n1cod3mus

thanks for all the replies too

you're great

n1cod3mus (author)  zamo277 days ago
no worrys enjoy ;-) the more you use it the more you learn ;-)

what are you running?
Your recipes first, gin rum
I also have some plum wine and apfelweine I want to give a go

I have dodge elderflower champagne that is sparkling nicely but taste yeasty , you thinks the still can sort that out for me?
n1cod3mus (author)  zamo277 days ago

not sure about doing the sparkling in the still, might cause a lot of foam and the still to puke, you may want to have a hunt around the wine forums for answers.

try putting it in a really cold place for a few days, the yeast should settle to the bottom and you can then ciphon it off to a new container.

woodduck6 months ago

love your designs I've made both you stills now and love them. mine is slightly different to yours as you will see in the photos. I already had a condenser that I made for a bloke based on what he wanted which was huge. he ended up not wanting it cause he wanted a reflux still so I ended up with it and adapted it to suit my still and thumper. the still works great and I can't wait to try your jacks recipe. .

n1cod3mus (author)  woodduck7 days ago

nice setup ;-)

Where did you get that element from? Ive been searching for one online, and only find ones with out the temp probe.

n1cod3mus (author)  warren.moore.9638712 days ago
i'm in the UK so they are just available at heating stores or ebay.

i'm taking the probe out anyway so if you can get them without the probe you can just skip that step

Love this instructable, I'm in the process of building mine at the moment. Could only source a weldless 2200W element, so I'm guessing it'll take a while to kick off.

What I am most curious about however, how do you go cleaning it? I'm guessing you're not being able to get your arm in there to scrub (if necessary). SodPerc enough to give it a good clean?

n1cod3mus (author)  brad.friedrich13 days ago
take the element out, put in a couple of jugs of hot soapy water and a length of stainless steel chain, then basically man handle it so the chain rubs round the whole of the inside. then rinse with clean water.
zamo2720 days ago

hi im building this tommorow and i have one final question, the wireing

i got one of thos phase angle controller but it has no instructions on wiring

the L & E from the element go to the plug, the N goes in and out to the controller is that it?


n1cod3mus (author)  zamo2720 days ago
yep thats it
buzz-ard24 days ago
Hello and goodday to you sir, i am well impressed with such design so much rartha i am basing my own on ur creation. One thing plays on my mind tho, are they brass compression joins as brass contains lead nd genrally is not used how r u finding nd is there ne thing else one may use with copper pipes?? Thank you squire
n1cod3mus (author)  buzz-ard24 days ago
good day to you sir, you can get lead free brass fittings these days, just make sure any brass compression fittings are lead free.

God speed with your project.

God save the Queen ;-)
Speg27 days ago
Any reason you didn't use two T connectors on the liebig for the water in/out pipes?
n1cod3mus (author)  Speg27 days ago
just availability and cost
Speg1 month ago
So once vapor leaves the 2" pipe, it will enter a 15mm pipe right through to the end?
n1cod3mus (author)  Speg1 month ago
enters the 15mm pipe and around that is a jacket with cold water running through it to cool the vapor back to a liquid and then it comes out the end

This really makes me want to make a still and give it ago, How much alcohol are you getting from one run of the keg and what proof are you getting with this set up and how long do you normally run for, Do you fill the column with copper wool as I have seen pictures of people doing it and I can only think of one reason behind doing and its to slow the steam down and allow water to condense on the sides of the column am I right, I am also wanting to use a thumper and for my first run would it be a good idea to fill it with vodka so it already have some alcohol present and is it ok to pre heat the thumper with a blowtorch to around 60deg and let the steam do the rest of the work to get it upto running temp once the still up and running, Sorry about all the questions I'm grateful for any input

n1cod3mus (author)  peterjnr.white1 month ago
for a pot still you dont have any packing in the column as it strips the flavor out. if you want high proof vodka go look at my reflux still instructable because thats what you would be doing.

the yield is really dependant on the % of the wash/mash/beer you are putting in, with my rum recipe which is in my instructables I get around 3.5 - 4l of around 65% (170 proof) and that takes a few hours to run. that recipe is around 22L of wash. and thats without a thumper. trick is to run it slow, slower the run the higher the proof but you lose some flavor, so if you are making something like a brandy you want a bit of flavor so you run it a little faster so you get a lower proof but better flavor.

the thumper, no point using vodka just use a bit of wash or just water. no need to preheat it the steam will flash heat it really fast. use some wash if you want to keep the flavor.

if you want just vodka, if you look at my reflux still instructable that will show you how to build a still that you will get 96% out of if you run it right. you cant drink it at this strength but its super pure, water it down with spring water or distilled water to 40% and enjoy.

I also have a potato vodka recipe you would be interested in.
k.hitchens1 month ago
I have been looking at heating element that don't have the probe that you pull out does that matter?
n1cod3mus (author)  k.hitchens1 month ago
nope doesn't matter
WilliamD41 month ago

Great build! I'm starting work on my own version of a pot still and this is one of the main inspiration. I've got a quick question, I've read somewhere on that using ANY silicon in the path of the vapor is not good but using tri clamps with a silicon gasket is what actually makes sense (to me at least) if you want to have quickly interchangeable columns. Have you had second thoughts about using one since you built this design? Do you notice any "chemical" taste in the final product?

n1cod3mus (author)  WilliamD41 month ago
i'm using PTFE Gaskets at the moment, I haven't read anywhere about not using silicone gaskets

Ah, I'm sorry, I seem to have confused two discussion from the forum together... Too many tabs open at the same time. This being said, thank you for the fast answer!

zamo271 month ago
Can I use a pid temperature control for the element and if so where will I put the probe? In the keg above the element or in the column?
n1cod3mus (author)  zamo271 month ago

I guess you could, and you could put it either place, i prefer my voltage controller as it's more consistent.

Ferret992 months ago

How much did this cost all in all?

n1cod3mus (author)  Ferret992 months ago
Roughly £150 (GBP)
wallopadonkey3 months ago
Thank you so much!! I was searching for phase voltage controller instead
wallopadonkey3 months ago
Can you help with a source for the phase controller thing
They seem to be £65 on ebay!!
Do you have a link to them by any chance.
Great instructble I am making it as I type !!
n1cod3mus (author)  wallopadonkey3 months ago
quick search on ebay for "voltage controller" reveled just under 1000 results, limited the search to the same as mine "voltage controller 3800w" and this is what I found

for £4.05 including postage.
egosselin13 months ago
have you ever had any issues using glass for the thumper ?
n1cod3mus (author)  egosselin13 months ago
not really no, the only problem is that its probably too small, so I don't use it any more, if I have to I do a larger run or a double run and then distill it a second time. This is known as a stripping run.
I understand what you mean by too small after reading this article :

The last part gives a rule of thumb : "A good rule of thumb is make the thumper twice the size of the amont of distillate in a single run. ie: one run = 1 liter of spirits then make the thumper 2 liters .... as a minimum, have it at least 1/3 the volume, ie ((#gallons of wash * %alc of wash) / 3)"
n1cod3mus (author)  egosselin3 months ago

yep thats exactly what I read, and where I read it, but at the time I wrote the instructable I was far too excited about producing alcohol of my own. I realize now, though it did work a bit, it wasn't correct. I have since ditched it. I might make another one later out of a milk can or a smaller keg. is an awesome resource once you have sifted through the dross

egosselin3 months ago

Where did you buy the tri clamp n1cod3mus ? I'm having a hard time tracking one down...

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