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Trouble Shooting

Fermentation

My wash failed to start fermenting?
The first thing to do is check the wash with a hydrometer. It might well be the fermentation has finished. If your hydrometer reads correctly, the reason that bubbles might not be coming through the airlock is that your fermenter may not be sealing. Remove the lid of the fermenter to check to see if there are any bubbles rising through the liquid or any froth on the surface or around the sides which would indicated the fermenter not sealing. Alternately, temperature may be too low or high. Fermentation should start as low as 15°C. If the wash is below this add heat using a Heat Tray , Immersion Heater or Brew Belt . If you added the yeast to the wash when it was too hot you may have killed the yeast. In this situation you should not add more Turbo Yeast as this will result in too much nutrient. Add a Wineworks Restart Yeast and add this to the wash when the temperature is 20°C.
My wash started to ferment but stopped and my hydrometer reading is not down to, or bellow 990 SG?
It’s probable the temperature rose too high in the first 24 hours of fermentation. It’s important to note that yeast activity can raise the wash temperature by as much as 6°C in the first 24 hours of fermentation. It’s essential to start the wash at around 20°C and not use any heat in the first 24 hours. If the wash overheats during this period the yeast may not have the energy to finish fermenting. If this has occurred, first stir the wash vigorously to stir the yeast back into circulation. If the SG has not lowered within 24 hours then obtain an Wineworks Restart Wine Yeast. As there is alcohol present you should first start the yeast working in 200 ml of water. Once the yeast has dissolved, add a teaspoon of sugar. When this is fermenting, add 200 ml of wash. When this is fermenting add half of this back to the stuck wash and top back up with wash. Continue this until the wash starts fermenting. Alternately, it may be because the wash has cooled down below 15°C. In this case, warm the wash up and stir vigorously to get the yeast back into circulation. Once the wash is warm fermentation should continue normally.
I have tried to get the wash going again but nothing seems to start it?
Distill it anyway. You will not get as much alcohol as you would from a normally fermented wash, but it will be fine.

Distillation - Airstill

I did not get as much alcohol as the instructions said I would?
Check that you have used the right quantity and type of sugar. The reason could be that your wash has not fermented fully.
My alcohol is not as strong as the instructions said it would be?
Check as above. If the alcohol is not in the wash then you can’t distill it.
My distillate is blue?
Ensure you have used Still Spirits Turbo System products (some brands produce a blue spirit due to an imbalance of nutrients). Use only one Turbo Yeast sachet per 25 Litre wash—if the fermentation sticks do not add another Turbo sachet as this will result in an imbalance of nutrients. Instead add an alcohol tollerant restart yeast .
My distillate is cloudy when it comes out of the still?
The wash has frothed. Use Turbo Clear prior to distilling and/or Distilling Conditioner, and make sure it is really clear before you add it to the still.
My distillate is clear when it comes out of the still and has been filtered, but it goes cloudy after a few days?
Mineral Salts have been washed out of the carbon and have reformed in the distillate. These are harmless but unsightly. This problem can also appear as coloured sediment when flavour essence has been added as the salts pick up the colouring from the flavouring. Ensure the temperature is kept as close as possible to 20°C during fermentation. Filter spirit containing sediment with a wine filter. Leave until sediment has all dropped out (cold temperatures will accelerate process) and decant off sediment. If fermentation temperature is too high it causes the production of unwanted but harmless proteins.

Distillation - Turbo 500 (T500) Still / Super Reflux Still

I did not get as much alcohol as the instructions said I would?
Check that you have used the right quantity and type of sugar. Check there are no steam leaks from your still. Another cause could be that your wash has not fermented out.
My alcohol is not as strong as the instructions said it would be?
Check as above. Also, make sure you do not exceed the maximum temperature allowed at the top of the Condenser. If the alcohol is not in the wash then you can’t distill it.
My distillate is blue?
Ensure you have used Still Spirits Turbo System products (some brands produce a blue spirit due to an imbalance of nutrients). Use only one Turbo Yeast sachet per 25 Litre wash—if the fermentation sticks do not add another Turbo sachet as this will result in an imbalance of nutrients.
My distillate is cloudy when it comes out of the still?
The wash has frothed and come out the condenser. Use Turbo Clear prior to distilling and/or Distilling Conditioner.
My distillate is clear when it comes out of the still and has been filtered but it goes cloudy after a few days?
Mineral Salts have been washed out of the carbon and have reformed in the distillate. These are harmless but unsightly. This problem can also appear as coloured sediment when flavour essence has been added as the salts pick up the colouring from the flavouring. Replace your EZ Filter Carbon Cartridge. Ensure the temperature is kept as close as possible to 20°C during fermentation. Filter spirit containing sediment with a wine filter. Leave until sediment has all dropped out (cold temperatures will accelerate process) and decant off sediment. If fermentation temperature is too high it causes the production of unwanted but harmless proteins.
My distillate comes out of the condenser discoloured or has dark flecks in it?
If the condenser is used for the first time then this could be residue from the manufacturing process. Soak with White Vinegar or flat CocaCola to clean this away then rinse with a weak solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water. If this has not occurred the first time the condenser has been used but occurs on subsequent uses then it can be traced to collecting too much distillate. This will result the problem showing up next time the condenser is used. Clean as above and only collect the correct amount of distillate. Before distilling ensure that the SG is down to 990 otherwise make sure that you do not distill above the temperature limits of your condenser.
The condenser seems to overheat even though I am running plenty of water through it?
The condenser may not be plumbed correctly. Fill the condenser with warm water then pull the hoses off the base of the main condenser. One of these will be the inlet for the water and the other will be the hose that transfers the water into the reflux condenser. The water should flow out of the condenser through the pipe that the inlet water pipe is connected to. If it flows out of the other one then the hoses have been fitted the wrong way around.
No spirit comes out of my condenser and the lid pushes off? (Super Reflux Only)
There is a blockage in the condenser – When the condenser is removed from the still it should be easy to blow in through the spirit outlet tube. Any resistance here would indicate a blockage that will most likely be at the back of the nipple that the outlet tube is attached to. Using a 4mm flat punch and a hammer just tap the punch up the outlet to push the inside wall of the main condenser away from the back end of the nipple. This should clear any blockage.
How do I know how much water flow the condenser needs to run correctly?
Water flow is extremely important for the correct operation of the condenser. First the water runs through the main condenser, then into the reflux condenser. The water warms up in the main condenser as it removes heat from the condensing spirit. This hot water is then fed into the reflux condenser. If the flow of water is too high then the reflux condenser becomes too efficient which reduces the flow of steam into the main condenser. The reduced flow will also result in a higher alcohol content as more of the heavier molecules like water are returned to the Still and what does get past the reflux condenser is the lighter molecules or the alcohol – When a condenser is running properly the top two bands of the main condenser should be very hot. The bottom band of the column should be cool above it should be hot but not too hot to touch.
Classic Finest Reserve Scotch Whiskey goes cloudy when I mix it?
This essence is prone to going cloudy if the alcohol content is below 40% or the spirits is very cold - Make sure the alcohol content is above 40% when mixing. If possible mix it in at 50% then slowly water the spirit down. Make sure the spirit is warmer than 25°C.
My yeast and carbon fermentation won't clear bright it is showing a grey colour in the bucket.
The most likely cause of poor clearing results are the fermentation had not fully finished. You probably found it was difficult removing the gases at the end of fermentation prior to adding the finings. Don't worry we have several options:
  • Leave it for a few days and it will probably clear on its own.
  • Add some more finings and that should do the trick (make sure remove all the gases before doing this).
  • Run it through a wine filter to remove the grey matter.
The lid on the Air Still is lifting during distillation.
The reason the lid is lifting is the wash will still have some grey matter in it-carbon. This will increase the surface tension which in turn will cause the lid to lift. The cure for this is:
  1. Make sure the wash is clear before adding it to the still.
  2. Make sure all the gases are out of the wash
  3. Add one cupful of Distillers Conditioner to each pass through the still
  4. Make sure you always add the ceramic disks to the bottom of the still. This will prevent surge boiling (where the bubbles join together at the bottom of the still) which will also help this problem.
  5. Some people seem to thing it is the seal which is not tight enough but I have rarely found that this to be the case. It is bad news the lid lifting for two reasons
    1. The vapours which escape are alcohol reducing the amount you will collect.
    2. Stuff spilling all over is messy and dangerous as it can cause a shortage in the plug and again is a waste of alcohol.

    Where did you get the still from (was it us?) did you get the ceramic saddles with it? If not these can be ordered from us along with the Distillers Conditioner.

I am only getting 50% ABV from my Still when I collect 800ml. Why?
The first thing we need to do is check our Spirit Hydrometer. The best way is to try it in some Commercial Spirit as this will have the ABV on the label. If its reading wrong you need to get another Spirit Hydrometer When we make our wash we are relying on you using the Triple Distilled Yeast adding the correct amount of sugar (6 kilos of Granulated Sugar or 7 kilos of Brewing Sugar), the right amount of water (21 litres plus the sugar making a start volume of 25litres) and then fermenting down to 990 to 980 gravity. This will give us 14% ABV in our wash (you wont be able to use your spirit Hydrometer to check this as its very inaccurate below 25%ABV)If any of these vary then the amount of alcohol will be reduced. If the gravity for example is 1004 then we will have only 11%ABV. The Air still can only extract the alcohol that is present in the wash. So if we only get 50%ABV instead of the 60%ABV its because there is less alcohol than 14%ABV in the wash. It cant be anything else so please dont think your still could be faulty. If it extracts alcohol its doing its job. Calculating the amount of ABV in your wash please do a start gravity (say 1100) and a finish gravity (say 990) take one from the other (1100-990 is 110 which is 1100) and then divide this by 7.362 (which makes it 14.94%ABV).
Why is the Z Filter Slow?

Finally if the distilled alcohol takes ages to run through the Z Filter then this is great news as the slower the better the cleaning process is working. The normal time is 6 hours for 8 to 10 litres but this can increase up to 24 hours. The way the carbon is packed into the Z has a bearing on this. The tighter the carbon the longer it will take. Tapping the plastic Z during filling will increase the tightness of the carbon.

We are sorry that this might be necessary but we do believe this kit produces the best results on the market today and is worth the extra effort.

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