The Coffey Still

Coffeystill

Waste and condensed steam

THE COFFEY "PATENT" STILL

In 1831, Josef Coffey patented a still design that revolutionized the whiskey and spirits industries. The Coffey still, also known as the patent still, was the first continuous still to achieve commercial success.

The patent still combines two batch operations into one single process. The analyzer performs the function of the wash still. Steam is fed into the base of the analyzer and pre-heated wash into the top. They meet on a series of perforated plates, condensing the steam and boiling the wash. Alcohol and water vapors rise to the top of the column. The spent wash runs down and is removed at the base.

The rectifier takes the place of the spirit still. Vapor enters the base of the rectifier and rise through chambers containing a long coil that carries conveys wash to the analyzer. Vapor condenses on the coil, warming the wash, and a large amount of reflux is generated to interact with rising vapors. Many more cycles of reflux and evaporation take place than in the traditional still. Once started, it runs continuously.

Because the action of the rectifier extracts a lot of congeners, the distillate has less flavor and aroma than traditional whiskey, and requires less time to mature. Increasing the amount of rectification removes even more congeners, giving a flavorless product used to prepare vodka or gin.

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