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A pot still is a kind of still used in some still manufacturing units to distilled liquors like cognac or whiskey, but never rectified spirits since they're too weak to separate congeners from the solids. Typically, pot stills work on a batch production basis. That means batches of raw materials are put into one container and then the distilled liquor is added to the other. When the boiling process completes, the resulting mixture is separated out into the still vessels. The raw materials are left over and the product distilled is then ready for sale.
While there are two types of pot stills - a column still and a demissive still - their basic principle is basically the same. The process works by placing an immiscible column of liquid material in a container and heating it to evaporate quickly. The resulting steam is then forced through a cooling column that forces condensation on the liquid inside the container. This process is repeated until the desired vaporization level has been reached.
A column distillation machine was invented in Scotland in the 19th century. These types of pot stills, also called Scotch stills or Highland stills, have a number of different parts. The bottom part, called a still vessel, holds the liquor. The top part, called a scotch drum, contains the heating coil and spark plug, which is needed for initiating the spark produced by the still coil.
In addition to being used for distilling alcoholic beverages, pot stills can also be used for making gin, vodka, whiskey and even coffee. The top part of the column still has a glass carafe that allows the distilled spirits to be poured into, or carried with, drinks. Distilled spirits do not taste very good if they are watered down, so it is important that you make sure to get the correct proof, or alcohol strength, from your distilled spirits. High alcohol content drinks should always be served at a much lower proof. You can find out what alcohol strength your distilled spirits are by the manufacturer.
There are many companies that manufacture home grade pot stills that can be used to make liquor. One company that is particularly popular is Midleton Distillery, which is based out of Scotland but has a manufacturing facility in Ireland. Midleton distills all of its products under strict guidelines set forth by the Homebrewing Association of America (HAFA).
Distilled spirits can be made from a wide variety of products. Whether you want to make a sweet whiskey, a strong liquor, an ale, or something in between, you can use a pot still to create the base spirit and mashing to produce the finished product. There are even companies that specialize in certain base spirits. For example, some companies make their brand of liquor from raw sugar while other brands make their base out of mash.