The advent of the continuous or column still greatly changed the world of distilling, as it produces a much purer spirit than pot stills.
The inventor of the patented still is disputed, with some citing Jean-Baptiste Cellier Blumenthal of France or Robert Stein of England as the creator, but history attributes it to Aeneas Coffey, an Irishman, who was issued the patent and used it to produce whiskey. This technology was advanced by the work of Jean-Edouard Adam, who invented a method for isolating the ethanol in wine.
The continuous still heats cold wash by pumping it through a steam filled column called the rectifier into the analyzer, a column heated by steam. The wash is vaporized and rises through pipes into the rectifier where it travels through a series of perforated plates, cooling down gradually as it rises and condensing on each of the plates. The distillate is removed at the desired point, the plate. The steam escapes through the top, and the heavier liquids fall to the bottom of the rectifier and are eventually re-distilled.
This method produces a much purer product that is also more neutral and has a higher percentage of alcohol, than distillate produced in a pot still, but also one with less defined character.
After distillation, the distillate is reduced usually with water to between 40–60% ABV. In some cases, this is done prior to maturation though some spirits are not matured, while in other cases, there are long maturation regimes observed prior to the final blending.
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