The best method of setting Stills.
If stills are not set right, great injury may accrue to them, in burning and damaging the sides, singeing the whiskey, and wasting of fuel too, are not the only disadvantages; but more damage may be done in six[Pg 94] months, than would pay a man of judgment for putting up twenty pair.
If they are set with their bottoms to the fire, they are very apt to burn, without the utmost care of the distiller, in stirring her when newly filled with cold beer, until she is warm, and by previously greasing the bottom well when empty. If wood be plenty, stills ought to be set on an arch, but if scarce, the bottom ought to be set to the fire. The following method is calculated for a furnace of either two or four feet long, and with the bottoms exposed, or on an arch as the distiller may fancy.
Make up a quantity of well worked mortar, composed of the greater proportion of good clay, a little lime and cut straw.
Lay the bottom of the furnace with flag stones, or good brick, from two to four feet long, as may be deemed most proper, let it be from twelve to sixteen inches wide, and from twelve to fourteen high. Then if it is designed to turn an arch, set the end of a brick on each wall of the furnace, leaning them over the furnace, till they meet in the middle—so continue the range on each side, until the furnace is completely covered in, leaving a small hole for the flue leading to[Pg 95] the chimney behind, leaning towards the side, from which the flue is to be started, to proceed round the bilge of the still, which passage must be ten by four inches wide.
After completing the arch as described, lay thereon a complete bed of mortar, well mixed with cut straw, set the still thereon, levelling her so that she will nearly empty her self by the stoop towards the cock; then fill up all round her with mortar to the lower rivets, carefully preventing any stone or brick from touching her, (as they would tend to burn her) ... then build the fender or fenders; being a wall composed of brickbats and clay well mixed with cut straw, build it from the commencement of the flue, and continue it about half round the still ... this is to prevent the flames from striking the still sides, in its hot state, immediately after it leaves the furnace, presuming that it will terminate before it reaches the end of this little wall or fender, between which, and the still, a space of two inches ought to be left for the action of the heat, which space preserves, and prevents the wall or fender, from burning the still; the mode in common practice, being to place it against the still, which will certainly singe or burn her. When this defender is finished, commence a wall, which continue round, laying a[Pg 96] brick for a foundation, about four inches from the lower rivets; thus raising this wall for the flue, continuing it at an equal distance from the still, leaving a concave to correspond with the bilge of the still, and to be of precisely the same width and height all round the still. This precaution is absolutely necessary in building the wall of the flue exactly to correspond with the form of the still, and equally distant all round, for reasons 1st. The fire acts with equal force on every part of the still, and a greater heat may be applied to her, without burning. 2d. It has a great tendency to prevent the still house from smoking.
When the wall of the flue is completed round the still, and raised so high, that a brick when laid on the top of the wall will extend to the rivets in the breast of the still or upper rivets, then completely plaster very smooth and even, the inside of the flue, and then cover the flue with a layer of brick, with a slight fall, or leaning a little from the still outwards, so that if water were dropped thereon, it would run off outwardly, carefully laying a layer of clay on the top of the wall, on which the brick may rest, and thereby prevent the brick from burning the still; carefully forming the brick with the trowel, so as to fit the wall and rest more[Pg 97] safely—cautiously covering them well with clay, &c. and closing every crevice or aperture, to prevent smoak from coming thro' or the heat from deserting the flue till it passes to the chimney from the flue; then fill the still with water, and put a flow fire under her to dry the work. When the wall begins to dry, lay on a coat of mortar, (such as the next receipt directs), about two inches thick, when this begins to dry, lay a white coat of lime and sand-mortar, smoothing well with a trowel; rubbing it constantly and pressing it severely with the trowel to prevent it from cracking.
There are many modes of setting stills and bringing the fire up by flues variously constructed, but I have found the foregoing plan to afford as great a saving of fuel, and bringing the still to a boil as early as any other.
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