T500 quality vs Airstill

Info specific to the T500
Brock
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T500 quality vs Airstill

Post by Brock » Sun Nov 10, 2019 6:14 pm

Hi, this is my first post and would first like to thank the folks I recognise that helped me get started on the right track from the original forum. Much appreciated.

My question is I've been thinking about moving from Airstill (AS) to T500, and the "exceptional quality". But am wondering what should I expect as an improvement?

My current AS proceedure is (1) relatively slow ferment wash with carbon paste, (2) strip run with small foreshot cut, (3) strip run with FS cut, heads cut, pre hearts sampler cuts and tails sampler cuts and with copper in botanic basket, (4) carbon filter approx 30 hours for approx 6L, (5) vapour distillation e.g. to make gin, triple sec, etc, again with a small FS cut. The results are as good as commercial brand mid point gins, but maybe not as good as the very best of the best (purity of the base neutral behind the gin botanics). Have completed many dozens of AS runs.

Since I know from AS much depends on cuts, and with T500 it seems this is still the case, should I expect an obvious quality improvement e.g. from reflux as opposed to the AS pot still smearing that is probably still evident even in the hearts? I do notice at stage 4 above, that prior to carbon filtering I still can detect some ethyl acetate (nail varnish) in the product, thankfully the carbon removes this but would prefer it not to be there to start with. Does the T500 enable more distinction in the cuts than I could ever achieve with the AS? I can see some folks use coolant management, some use voltage control and some do both to achieve a more distinct separation but am wondering how successful this is?

I do recognise that T500 would cut down 6x strips runs and 3x spirit runs into 1x and 1x each but I think I need a quality improvement to make the change worthwhile, as I can see I'd need voltage module, reflux condenser and alembic condenser for strips so is quite an investment. And if I do strip with alembic condenser in pot still mode, then I'm only doing 1 reflux spirit run distil thus arguably diminishing the value of the T500?! It would all come down to that one run....

Thanks for any advice on this!

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Curmudgeon
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Re: T500 quality vs Airstill

Post by Curmudgeon » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:44 pm

Your well thought out questions answer the main points I would have put forward for consideration.

The one I would add (which you did touch on) is time. The T500 is a lot more efficient in that regard. A lot.

With regards quality, you will get more ABV and purity (as in closer to neutral) from a T500, but cuts are still very important.

There is another thread here and it has been mentioned by lots of us that those who moved to T500 don't regret getting it, but do regret getting rid of their airstill(s) and still use them if they kept them.

I don't regret getting a T500 as it was comfortably in budget for me what with the airstill having paid for itself many times over. That said, I completely see the logic of those who got a 2nd airstill instead.
Slowly slowly, catchy funky

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Easydrinker
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Re: T500 quality vs Airstill

Post by Easydrinker » Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:15 am

That is indeed a considered treatise that you question.
Quality? No better,IMHO.

Curmudgeon hits the nail on the head with time, (and therefore volume).
A T500 will get you higher ABV more quickly.
And a little higher in ABV than an AS.
But that is really small Potatoes, as you don't drink at that % anyway.
Cuts will still be needed.
You will be able to process a larger volume of strip/spirit faster.
What have you got, what do you want, and what is the best way of getting there?
It is a decision you have to make.

mash has a couple of AS's running, on timers in a shed. And is a happy bunny.

A T500 will call for a lot of "fiddling" at the start.
And some of us like to fiddle.
Some like to argue that our way is best. :)

Robert.
There is no ONE way.
"Everyone's happy. Everyone's smiling. No-One here is sad anymore" :D

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gaza the instructor
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Re: T500 quality vs Airstill

Post by gaza the instructor » Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:53 am

Make your neutral in the T500 and make your Gin
in the Airstill.
Mirror-signal-manoeuvre.

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Mash
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Re: T500 quality vs Airstill

Post by Mash » Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:56 am

Agree with all of the above.

The T500 imo is the first step into proper stillin.
You will need to add more time and paraphernalia.
It increases volume, but does it increase quality. Perhaps not. That is the operators job.

I looked at the end to end procees.
For quality. I concentrated first on a better ferment, after all "crap in crap out". I found my best neutral wash.

When it came to the "volume per hours spent" question I revisited freeze stripping. And immediately removed 5 runs. Then bought another AS.

So where are we... Before you spend the wonga punt a couple of quid on a power controller for the
YOUR AS. Slow it down for the cuts, then turn it up again...... Oh and make some room in the freezer. Perhaps even keep an eye out for a preowned AS...the power controller can run 2 :D.. Or 3:D

Quality also comes with consistency and repeatable procees.
To Gin-finity and beyond !

Brock
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Re: T500 quality vs Airstill

Post by Brock » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:29 pm

Thanks, all good advice! I'm going to try voltage reg first see what that does. And the suggestion of a 2nd AS is a good one. On the voltage reg how much slower is the output - what should I look for? On standard 240V the AS produces 10ml per minute, after a ~1 hr warm up. Should I try and halve that during FS, heads? And I'm still experimenting with different yeast and sugar: brewers sugar gives very low aroma during fermentation, vs table sugar but the benefit seems reduced after strip and sprit runs (that is probably part of the point of the two runs). If I had a chest freezer I'd try the freeze strip!

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Easydrinker
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Re: T500 quality vs Airstill

Post by Easydrinker » Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:54 pm

All I will add at this point, is that I consider the extra cost of a brewers sugar to be wasted on a neutral wash, use the cheapest that you can find.. :)

Robert
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Curmudgeon
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Re: T500 quality vs Airstill

Post by Curmudgeon » Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:43 am

I believe most "funk"/undesirable aromas/flavours come from taking shortcuts as in using various turbo yeasts or artificial nutrients with standard yeasts.

I am not of the opinion that the type of (just) yeast we use has a huge effect on what we finally produce in spirits, though I do of course advocate not going at max temp or with max sugar amount etc etc.
Slowly slowly, catchy funky

Don't stress the yeast

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Mash
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Re: T500 quality vs Airstill

Post by Mash » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:41 am

Easydrinker wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:54 pm
All I will add at this point, is that I consider the extra cost of a brewers sugar to be wasted on a neutral wash, use the cheapest that you can find.. :)

Robert
ABSOLUTELY

I think you need to get you running a good, natural well managed way. Try kale, lentil, tomato wash all in the recipe section.

Kit comes later. You really really will be surprised the difference you can make in the fermenter.

Ps. You sound like you have good taste buds.... And I know this might make some scream..... Use cane sugar (tate & lyle) NOT beet sugar (silver spoon) it is different. You can taste the difference.
The sugar industry know this too, as do many bakers.
To Gin-finity and beyond !

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Jennysgin
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Re: T500 quality vs Airstill

Post by Jennysgin » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:59 pm

Use cane sugar (tate & lyle) NOT beet sugar (silver spoon) it is different. You can taste the difference.
I didn't know that! Every day is a school day etc etc. Will need to look more closely at the packets. Any ideas about Lidl own etc?

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