Stripping Run – Using A Pot Still For Distillation Of Moonshine

What is a Stripping Run ?

When distilling moonshine the stripping run is often the first distillation of the mash. The goal of this first distilling run is to strip as much alcohol from the mash as possible. This distilled alcohol is often referred to as “low wines” and what’s left over in the boiler is the bulk of the water, sediment and yeast from the fermentation process which can be discarded.

A pot still is often used for this distillation process and is run hot and fast, No cuts are made during the run so the separation between fractions is bad. It’s common to see a stripping run abv range between 40% – 60% abv.

Below is a illustration of whats going on during a pot still stripping run. Notice as the ABV drops the water increases. This is why many distillers stop the stripping run around 20% abv it’s simply not worth distilling anymore,

Why Should I Do A Stripping Run Before A Spirit Run ( Primary Distillation) ?

The Stripping run allows you to significantly reduce the volume of product that needs to be distill during the spirit run thus significantly reducing distillation time. It will also produce a better tasting alcohol. For example if we start with 50 Gallons of Wash we can strip this down to 10 Gallons of “low wines” and then run a single spirit run this will take much less time then doing 5 or 6 spirit runs.

Stripping Run Yields

For 5 Gallons of wash you can expect the stripping run to yield approximately 1 Gallon of low wines. Thus the typical stripping run yield is 20% of original Mash volume.

Stripping Run temperatures

Common practice is to collect low wines until the stripping run temperature reaches 208 F or 98 C. Remember you don’t make any cuts during this distillation the primary goal is to strip off the water, yeast and sediment contained in the wash.

Can I Use A Reflux Still To Do A Stripping Run ?

If you don’t have a pot still you can use your reflux still to do a stripping run by removing the packing from the column.

Below is a video that will show you how to do a Stripping Run with your Pot Still

How to Do A Spirit Run

Once you’ve completed several stripping runs it’s time to do a final product run aka a spirit run.  During the spirit run you will be separating the heads, hearts and tails which will require you to pay close attention to your still, slow and steady is the key here. For anyone new to distilling I would recommend you check out this “How To Guide For Cuts and Fractions”which explains how to properly separate heads, heats and tails during the spirit run.  If you’ve got any questions feel free to drop me a line in the comments.

Here’s some some other distilling articles you might be interested in reading :

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