You may remember a few weeks back I interviewed a fellow by the name of Perry Noble who spoke of his families past making moonshine as well as local moonshine stories relating to West Baden and French Lick. Yesterday Perry dropped by to bring me a sketch of the common set up as seen here in the valley as well as some notation on how these rigs were run. It’s a pretty common prohibition style set up with a pot, thump barrel (retort), and a worm which was cooled via a local spring. The interesting thing about this particular skill Perry sketched is that the boiler was built from an old double walled (steam) washer from the hotel, the outside shell was cut off the contraption and salvaged to build the head of the still making the pot 100% copper (Many pots are, that it was copper isn’t surprising, it’s the source of such copper I found interesting). Seems the fellow who was running the still not only relied on traditional Luting (basically a mixture of grain flour, usually oats or rye, and water mixed to a consistency similar to bread dough) as well as the old “Snuffy” Smith “rag gasket”. Now days most “home distillers” rely on silicone gaskets and Tri-Clover connectors that are much safer.
Above are the notes on distillation that Perry also provided. Pretty straight forward methodology although a lot of distillers will run heads and tails in the thump barrel on the second pass and send all of the first pass back to the pot which has mash added back to it for re distillation while still others will rely only on the single pass. The only thing I possibly question is the proof being anywhere near 180-190. On a simple pot still, even with a thump barrel, anything much above 160-170 after multiple passes is pretty near impossible to achieve without rectification via a dephlemator or a plated column. The only other “flaw” I saw in the plans is that the cold water should be delivered to the bottom of the barrel to cool the entirety of the worm before the barrel overflows to the output. Needless to say, it’s nice to have documentation of the type of distillation that was happening here and as always Perry is a lot of fun to speak with and has so much to say about history and the pride he has in his great grandfather Mort who he spoke of in the interview. Perry knows a lot about distillation and moonshine history and I welcome him to my distillery any time he would ever like to stop in, it’s always a more interesting and brighter day when he does.