24th of July 2019
While many distilleries are on their summer shutdown, we are braving the heat to keep on producing.
At our new site, final planning permission has finally come through, We can now make a start on the internal changes and put in for building warrants. Thanks for the patience and support from everyone involved in the project. There was quite a slow down satisfying all kinds of government agencies. If the transition starts to drag on we can make a start on producing the next round of casks at the current site as soon as the warehousing is ready. Final planning was quite a saga, I wont bore you with the details, we all have to deal with government agencies so you know what it can be like sometimes. Instead I will bore you with the latest addition to the distillery, The Thompson-Christensen Pattern Underback!
[An underback is a balancing tank. Your worts flow from the mashtun into the underback and then the pump draws from the underback so that the pump doesn’t suck down on your mash bed, causing it to compress and block the flow of liquid it also allows you to gauge the level of liquid worts left in the mashtun after the liquid is below the mash bed. Some new builds dont use an underback, instead they use fancy pressure sensors linked to the pump so it doesn’t suck too hard]
Our unique design allows us to use or not use a trub filter during the run. This makes it very easy to run clear worts. Its an old debate as to which is better, clear or cloudy worts. Old style full lauter mashtuns had much finer gaps in their false bottoms as the mixing with full lauter would start allow small particles to make their way to the bottom. The slower draw off and finer gaps would lead to clearer worts. With a semi lauters horizontal mixing, the layers are not mixed so you can have wider gaps on your mash plate and a faster draw off as the mash bed becomes its own filter.
We were previously able to run clear worts but it required constant attention… and my old underback was hastily constructed out of a 100 litre stainless steel pot, which also required constant attention.
Some distilleries use or have used inline trub filters, when clear worts is the aim but many have had problems with the filters clogging, at which point the mash is stopped and the filter is cleaned, leading to very long mash days as this may happen multiple times.
With the help of Lars Christensen, our friend and one of our original crowdfunders, we designed an underback with a trub filter that could be raised and lowered. After the mash is set, the filter is up, allowing trub to pass through when we recirculate the mash, dumping the trub back onto the top of the mash bed. When we begin to draw off, we can lower the filter to block the trub. If required we can push the trub down to the bottom of the underback if it begins to clog, so we don’t have to stop the mash. In reality, the trub hits the filter, accumulates, then drops to the bottom of the underback so we don’t even have to clean mid run. At the end of the mash, we allow the liquid to drain from the trub and drain it as a thick slurry, making it easy to handle. The trub goes to the compost heap. An added advantage is that our whole mash system is now clean in place so we don’t have to take everything apart, clean and then reassemble at the end of the day.
We have also made a heat exchange system by pumping worts through the (unused) steam coils, into a wash charger. This cools the pot ale and spent lees to a safe discharge temperature and preheats the next wash distillation, allowing us to use less energy and discharge and rechrge the stills quicker, leading to more reasonable working hours and a smoother production flow.
With the accumulation of all our upgrades, we have a very smooth single malt production cycle and regular output. Our second warehouse is starting to get full, we’ll be looking to get our new warehouses up and running ASAP.
Our gin being awarded a gold medal for taste and a silver for design at the world drinks awards has helped with sales. There were 3 golds for UK gins this year in our category. We are constantly experimenting and improving the process on the gin and we are pleased to see some good feedback.
Our independent bottlings continue to be well received. We have some very interesting casks lined up for the next few months.
As of writing we still have some bottles of our Inchfad, Mortlach, Ardmore and Diamond Rum in our shop.
Thanks to everyone who has supported us with the crowdfunding and by drinking our juice!