At Limited Distilling we have decided to take a more traditional approach with our processes. Our equipment includes:
- 175 Gallon (662 Liter) Still with a copper scotch column and a four-plate bubble copper column
- 26 Gallon (98 Liter) Recipe Still with both a copper pot still head and a six-plate bubble column
- 300 Gallon (1100 Liter) Mash Tun
- 1000 Liter Lauder Tun
- 300 Gallon (1100 Liter) Cypress Wood Fermenters
Stage 1 - Mashing
The first step in creating spirits is mashing. Mashing is the process of heating up the ingredients (wheat, barley, rye, corn, etc...) to break down the starch within the grain into sugars.
One of the advantages of being a micro distiller is the ability to create a variety of spirits. At Limited Distilling we have chosen to acquire both a mash tun and lauder tun so that we assure we are using the correct mashing process for our specific products. To keep it simple when we use the mash tun we will be looking to keep the grain when moving the 'mash' into our fermenters. With the lauder tun however, we will be removing the grain before the fermentation process and only fermenting the liquid, aka the 'wort'.
Although we will be providing details on whether our recipe was made using the mash tun or lauder tun here are some ideas as to what type of spirits will be used with each:
Mash Tun: Bourbon Style Whisky, Rye Whisky and other types of whisky.
Lauder Tun: Vodka, Gin bases and Scotch Style Whisky.
Step #2 - Fermenting
After converting the grain to sugar, yeast is added and the mash (or wort) is put into some sort of vessel, yeast is added and it is left for a designated amount of time to 'ferment' into alcohol. After fermentation is complete you end with a product that can be anywhere between 7% and 13%, depending on the product being produced.
When making the decision on what we will use to ferment we knew we wanted to go with an open ferment. Although we intend on bringing in and experimenting with a variety of commercial yeasts, open fermenting will allows our products to access some of the wild yeast within the air. We hope in the future that open fermenting will allow us the flexibility to potentially begin harvesting our own yeast. Another benefit to open fermenting is the air lets sulfur and other unwanted compounds to readily escape rather than be re-absorbed into your mash/wort.
With open fermenting as our choice we have chosen to use traditional, cypress wood, open fermenters. Our fermenters were had crafted in Alabama, USA.
Step #3 - Distilling
Once fermentation is complete your final product which contains only 7-13% alcohol is converted into a high percentage spirit using distillation. We have chosen to have two stills at Limited Distilling:
26 Gallon "Recipe Still"
This specific still was acquired so that we at Limited Distilling can fulfill the needs of our wandering minds and provide us with the ability to consistently explore new ideas! With some of the crazy things we come up with we want to be sure we have a set up small enough to always be able to try new things.
Just like our 'big' still, we chose to have both a copper pot still head and a six-plate bubble column. A pot still simply allows you to collect and condense alcohol vapors from your mash. Pot stills use a 'batch distillation' process, simply meaning that the spirit will be produced using multiple runs - most likely two runs. This allows you to produce an alcohol with plenty of flavor which is perfect for whisky and rum runs.
When we are looking to make a more neutral or cleaner tasting spirit, such as vodka or gin, we will switch out the copper post still head make use of our six-plate bubble column. This is often referred to as a 'continuous still'. When you use a continuous still, each column acts like a single series of a pot still run. Columns essentially allow you to continuously distill vs. distilling in multiple batches and provide you with a high concentrate of alcohol in one run.
175 Gallon "Production Still"
Similarly to the recipe still our 175 gallon 'production still' has both a pot and column distillation option. Unlike the recipe still whereas the still heads are interchangeable, the production still is referred to as a hybrid pot still. This still has a pot at its base but also has one 4 bubble plate column. When distilling spirits such as whisky and rum, the column can be bypassed completely giving us the option to purely pot distill our spirits. However, having the option to use the 4 plate bubble column not only allows our distillery the flexibility to produce different types of spirits, but also allows us to control the specifics of distillation along the way.
Both of our stills were produced in the USA. The 26 Gallon Recipe produced newly for us. The 175 gallon recipe still was built for and previously used by the award family owned Ozark Distillery in Osage Beach, MO to create award winning moonshine and whiskey.