Note from ND:
WARNING: The article below mentions the distilling of alcohol. You are warned that private distillation of alcohol is illegal in many parts of the world, including the UK. DO NOT DO IT unless you have checked the regulations for your country. Extremely heavy fines are imposed by H.M.Customs and Excise, and this site does not condone illegal activity.
The experiment below is reported solely because of its historical interest and relevance to my article “Alcohol at Colditz”. I often receive emails asking how British soldiers made alcohol when locked up in the middle of nowhere. The experiment below answers some of the questions.
OK – back to D.H:
Jar 1, jar 2 and jar 3 are all still working. It will be a while before distillation starts.
Took the darlek back on Tuesday, and swapped it for a more traditional pot still. It's made by the same people in New Zealand but is very different. It's a deep stainless steel cake baking tin with a bare heating coil inside. The lid clips on, and has a pipe screwed to the top. There is a water jacket around the output pipe to condense the vapor, which has fittings to push onto a tap.
It's wasteful of water if used like this so I bought a submersible pump to recycle the water through a bucket. It’s the type of pump used to run garden fountains.
Have run 4 liters of a very unpretentious port through the still; 4 litre cask for $17. (the type you get out for the inlaws).
The lined up shot glasses in the photo above were not a statement of intent, just a way of keeping different parts of the output liquid separate. This is helping me learn about the different smells and tastes through the process. A half trained nose could pick the methyl alcohol, assume they would have discarded this in colditz .
Appeared to get more output than with the darlek.
I ran the ‘turbo yeast’ mixture through at the weekend, more output again.
It may be that I’m just getting used to the process, and understanding the possibilities.
Jar 1 and jar 2 look like there is a storm in the liquid. The crust has settled, but is circulating within the jar. Goes up in the middle and comes down at the outsides. Interesting, assume the heat has something to do with the movement. Wasn’t too bad today, only got to 29, but we have had a string of very hot days.
All the Colditz jars are still fermenting. It looks like jar 2 is further down the path, and jar 3 has more fermenting to go. This is judged from bubble frequency and the time when the floating stuff settled.
The photo above shows all jars with ‘settled’ sediment. Jar 2 has a finer sediment, this is from using pectinase rather than lemon.
It appears that the storm in the bottles resulted from bubbles forming within the sediment layer, not being able to float free, taking the pulp along as it rises.
Little pulp rises now; will shake the jars to ensure that there is sugar available in the sediment.
Will leave the jars running until fermentation stops, on the assumption that in Colditz, they were interested in quantity and quality, and were not just pushing it through as quickly as possible. Jam would have been a scarce item; they would not waste it.
If you are interested in the current state of play of the assorted liquids:
Left to right:
Plum wine, has been racked (taken off the sediment)
Colditz Jar 1, still fermenting, (notice the nice little labels I made from a plastic milk bottle)
Colditz Jar 2, still fermenting
Colditz Jar 3, still fermenting, most vigorous of the three
Back, Marinating grapes in port, ginger beer plant with powdered ginger on top. Ginger Beer Plant has been restarted, after bottling 5 liters on Sunday
Front, two 2 liter jugs with a sugar/yeast mix. Seem to be stuck, will probably ditch them.
Back. First pass elderberry, has been racked. Bottle in one week
Front, second pass elderberry, strained, now in jar with fermentation lock.
Back, Secondary fermentation of the mead, has been racked
Front, another pass of the recommended turbo yeast. Just started
Front, various liquid outputs from the distillation process. Runs kept separate at this stage. Headers and tails in the 2 litre bottle. Will reprocess when I have enough.
Not shown, one gallon storage jar with white plums from my neighbor Bruno. It's sitting on the sink. I’m trying a new yeast, it has working so vigorously that the pulp is being pushed out the top.
....to be continued
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