How To Pick Your Still Guide

Last Updated on February 15, 2021

You can find all of the supplies referenced in this guide, including moonshine still kits, in our shop.

Our team at Mile Hi Distilling, loves helping people who are passionate about spirits by providing top quality supplies and helpful how-to guides. We know how exciting it is when you first discover your passion for distilling spirits. Our team also understands that there is a lot to learn in order to become a great distiller.

We find that most of the questions we get are about what distilling equipment and supplies you’ll need for your first distilling set up to be a success.

Our team has created this guide to help answer all of your questions, so you know exactly what equipment and supplies you should purchase to get your distilling passion up and running.

Browse By Topic/Question. Click on any of these links to jump to the topic you want to learn about:
Copper Stills Vs. Stainless Stills
Reflux or Pot Still Column?
Flute Stills | 4 Sections vs. 6 Sections?
Bubble Plates vs. Copper Down Plates
How Much Volume Are You Looking To Distill?
What Type Of Spirit Will You Be Distilling?
– Bourbon and Whiskey
– Gin
– Vodka
– Tequila
– Rum
– Brandy
Complete Still Kits
Conclusion

Copper Stills Vs. Stainless Stills

Copper Stills

Because of its porous material, Copper is said to retain flavor better.  Copper stills also retain heat better than stainless and have a classic and beautiful distilling appearance.

2 Inch Copper Dual Purpose Tower 8 Gallon Milk Can
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Stainless Stills

Stainless stills also have some advantages above copper stills.  Stainless stills are easier to clean, more durable, and are more cost-effective than their copper still counterparts.

16 Gallon Stainless 4 Inch Mile Hi Flute - 4 Sections
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Both Copper and Stainless Stills

It’s very important to mention here, that we know distilleries that are winning gold awards for spirits made with both copper and stainless stills.  So we think the quality of your spirits will depend less on the material of your still, and more on your skills as a distiller.

Reflux or Pot Still Column?

Another question that we get from almost every new distiller is whether they should get a reflux still column or a pot still column.  We usually recommend our dual-purpose columns to anyone who wants to experiment in the future or just want a versatile unit. Our dual-purpose columns are amazing because they allow you to get the best of both distilling worlds.  Use it as a pot still to carry over the flavor to your 120 proof spirit or produce 180 to 190 proof moonshine as a reflux still.

Most distillers want to be able to grow with their still set up as they develop their skills.  Our Dual-Purpose columns offer a versatility that you will appreciate far into your years of distilling.

Pot Stills

Pot Stills are traditional stills that have been quite popular for keeping the flavors in your alcohol. These stills revert back to the old roots of distillation with a simple design made for easy spirit runs.

Copper Pot Still 8 Gallon Boiler
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Reflux Stills

Reflux stills are stills that are designed to produce a cleaner, higher-proof distillate with a more neutral taste, such as vodka or fuel alcohol.  They come with an additional condenser called a reflux condenser or dephlegmator.

16 Gallon with 3 Inch Torpedo Reflux Tower Two Piece
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Dual-Purpose Stills

With our Mile Hi Distilling Dual-Purpose stills, you get the best of both worlds.  They can be used as a pot still or a reflux still if you want to create a higher proof distillate during your spirit’s run.

8 Gallon with 2 Inch Diameter Dual Purpose Pro
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Flute Stills | 4 Sections vs. 6 Sections?

When it comes to our Flute Stills, we get a lot of questions about 4 sections vs. 6 sections on them. I explain that both models are capable of achieving 185 proof or 190 proof if ran slowly, but the extra section available in the six-section increases the probability to stay with that 190 proof azeotropic level.  So basically the more sections you have installed on the still, the higher probability you have to stay at the highest proof level possible

FLUTE DISTILLER TOWERS
COMPLETE FLUTE STILLS

Bubble Plates vs. Copper Down Plates

Again concerning flutes, new distillers often wonder about the differences and similarities of bubble plates vs. copper down comer plates.

Between the two, you can get by with either style of plate. When you use bubble plates, you will get a little better control of your reflux runs. If you use copper down comer plates your runs will process a little faster.

Bubble Plates

These copper bubble plates are used in a flute still column positioned between sections to help with the separation of alcohol and waters. The alcohol-water bubbles up on the plates allowing the distiller to see the action happening in the still column.

copper bubble cap plate
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Copper Down Comer Plates

These perforated copper plate down comers allow the spirit you are distilling to steadily flow through your flute, between sight glass sections.  Using these copper plates will help purify the distillate that you’re creating.

Perforated Copper Plate with Down Comer 6 Inch Diameter
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How Much Volume Are You Looking To Distill?

Depending on how much distillate you’re looking to produce, we recommend a range of different still sizes. For example, for most home distiller environments, we recommend a dual-purpose still like our Dual Purpose Pro model.

On the other hand, for a micro-distillery that’s planning on producing brandy and whiskey on a larger scale, we’d recommend a 26-gallon jacketed pot still, 21-gallon Alembic, or a 26-gallon flute if they wanted to expand into distilling different types of high proof spirits down the road. Check out each of those stills below.

8-Gallon Copper
Pot Still

Copper Pot Still 8 Gallon Boiler
8 Gal Pot Still

21-Gallon Alembic
Pot Still

21 Gallon 80 Liter Alembic Copper Still
21 Gal Alembic Still

26-Gallon Jacketed
Pot Still

26 Gallon with 3 Inch Traditional Pot Still With Thumper
26 Gal Pot Still

26-Gallon
Flute Still

26 Gallon Copper, 4" Diameter 4 Section Flute
26 Gal Flute Still

What Type Of Spirit Will You Be Distilling?

We also recommend specific stills based on what type of spirit you’ll be distilling.  Some spirits are best distilled using a pot still while others we recommend using a reflux still. Below you’ll find our stills that are best designated for different types of alcohol production.

Bourbon and Whiskey

Bourbon and whiskey can be distilled using an assortment of pot stills made of copper and stainless.  Below are a few of our top recommendations to use if you’re focusing on distilling a bourbon or whiskey.

8 Gallon With 2″
Copper Pot Still

Copper Pot Still 8 Gallon Boiler
View Still

8 Gallon With 2″
SS Pot Still

Pot Still 8 Gallon with 2 Inch tower
View Still

8 Gallon Still With
3 Gallon Thumper

8 Gallon with 2 Inch Traditional Pot Still Tower and Thumper
View Still

Gin

If you’re looking to distill gin you’ll need a still that can utilize a gin basket.  The gin basket is a compartment that fits on the still column that you can pack with botanicals to infuse your gin with different flavors.  Below are a few of our top recommendations to use if you’re focusing on distilling a gin.

8 Gallon SS

Dual Purpose Pro

8 Gallon with 2 Inch Diameter Dual Purpose Pro
View Still

8 Gallon with SS Dual
Purpose with Gin Basket

8 gallon with 2 inch dual purpose tower and gin basket includes
View Still

Vodka

We recommend our Dual Purpose Pro series stills if you’re looking to distill vodka.  These Dual Purpose Pro stills will produce 180 to 190 proof moonshine as a reflux still and will also run as a pot still to carry over flavor at about 120 proof.  Below are a few of our top recommendations to use if you’re focusing on distilling a vodka.

8 Gallon SS
Dual Purpose Pro

copper still
View Still

8 Gallon with SS
Dual Purpose One Piece

8 Gallon with 2 Inch Dual Purpose Outback Tower
View Still

Tequila

Our series of copper and stainless pot stills are perfect for distilling a high quality tequila. Below are a few of our top recommendations to use if you’re focusing on distilling a tequila.

8 Gallon with 3
Gallon Thumper

8 Gallon with 2 Inch Traditional Pot Still Tower and Thumper
View Still

8 Gallon with 2″
SS Pot Still

Pot Still 8 Gallon with 2 Inch tower
View Still

8 Gallon With 2″
Copper Pot Still

Copper Pot Still 8 Gallon Boiler
View Still

Rum

Rum can be distilled using either copper or stainless stills. Below are a few of our top recommendations to use if you’re focusing on distilling rum.

8 Gallon With 2″
Copper Pot Still

Copper Pot Still 8 Gallon Boiler
View Still

8 Gallon with 3
Gallon Thumper

8 Gallon with 2 Inch Traditional Pot Still Tower and Thumper
View Still

8 Gallon with 2″
SS Pot Still

Pot Still 8 Gallon with 2 Inch tower
View Still

Brandy

Brandy can be made using either a copper still or stainless still. Pot stills are a perfect solution if you’re goal is to make brandy. We recommend these stills below for making a great brandy distillate.

8 Gallon With 2″
Copper Pot Still

Copper Pot Still 8 Gallon Boiler
View Still

8 Gallon with 2″
SS Pot Still

Pot Still 8 Gallon with 2 Inch tower
View Still

8 Gallon with 3
Gallon Thumper

8 Gallon with 2 Inch Traditional Pot Still Tower and Thumper
View Still

Complete Still Kits

For all in one still kits that will have everything needed for a beginner to get distilling minus the ingredients, our complete kits can be found here:

Check Out Our Selection
of Complete Still Kits

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Conclusion

We hope that we’ve answered any and all questions that you may have in deciding which still is the best choice for your distilling setup. If you still have questions regarding which still or distilling equipment you should purchase, you can email our team at [email protected] or by giving us a call at 303-987-3955. We’ll be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Thank you for visiting Mile Hi Distilling, your one stop shop for all of your distilling needs. Remember to stop by our shop for any distilling equipment or supplies that you may need for future runs.

Along with being your #1 resource for all distilling equipment and supplies, we also love being a resource for distilling guides and recipes. Check out our recipe guides on how to make rye whiskey and how to make rum.

Let us know what you thought of this guide by leaving a comment or a star rating below.

Last Updated on February 15, 2021