Many questions that distillers ponder in setting up their distillery center around the still. The purchase of a still is a major investment, for many it is the single largest expense in a new distillery – outside of purchasing a property. It makes complete business sense that during the thoughtful contemplation of still acquisition that the distiller consider ways to save money on this crucial piece of the distillery puzzle.
One of the ways to cut costs is to make the still yourself. The next option might be putting your own still together with pre-made pieces designed to be combined in custom configurations. Another option is an “off-the-shelf” still from a micro to medium sized manufacturer. Costs can escalate quickly. In the search for the best still at the lowest possible price one of the considerations distillers will have to confront is: “Direct Fire, Gas or Steam?”
Each heating method has its own positives and pitfalls. In terms of safety, a direct fire still is the least safe choice – steam jacketed is the safest choice. Many localities will not approve a direct fire still for fear of a deflagration – or rapid burning that can sometimes appear very similar to an explosion.
Stories like the recent fire at a new distillery in Moore, Oklahoma only help increase building and fire officials’ anxiety, across the country, about micro-distilleries in their own jurisdictions. Check out the coverage and photos from The Oklahoman of the most recent incident which appears to have occurred during a press visit.