The Pot Still is the simplest possible still, consisting of a boiler (or evaporator) directly connected to a condenser.
The Survival Still and the laboratory retort both qualify as pot stills.
A more sophisticated pot still will have a boiler (usually electrically heated) with a tight-fitting lid and short tube to carry the vapor to a condenser. The alembic, with its very long spout, used air for cooling, but modern stills usually use water cooling. This simple, straightforward design makes the pot still attractive.
The disadvantages of a pot still are that the strength of the product can be fairly low, and it does not do a good job of separating out the congeners.
Typically, a pot still will produce 35% ethanol from a 10% wash. Early in the run, the concentration is higher, starting at about 60%. The concentration drops steadily throughout the run as the ethanol is removed from the boiler. We discuss this effect thoroughly in Chapter 4.
You can discard the first part of a run, containing the most volatile congeners, (called heads), and stop the run when the less volatile ones (called tails), start to appear, but the middle portion of the distillate will still contain a fairly high proportion of them. These materials help produce the true flavor of whiskey, rum or brandy, but a more sophisticated still offers greater control over these trace components.
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