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Updated at: 6 March 2024

Distillation is a crucial process in alcohol production. Column and Pot Stills are two different types that contribute to the complexity and taste of premium spirits like Single Malt Whisky, Vodka, and Gin. While both methods have distinct benefits, the technique used has a significant impact on the character and quality of the distilled spirit. 

Whether you're sourcing or Whether you're sourcing or manufacturing alcohol, our team at Sasma BV is here to help you understand the differences between each type of production to make the best decision.

Column Still vs Pot Still

Pot stills, with their distinctive pot or kettle shape, epitomize the traditional approach to spirit distillation. This process is ideal for distillers looking to operate their production on a batch-by-batch basis. The design allows for more complex spirits with a robust flavor profile, as it retails more of the congeners and impurities from raw materials. 

How Does It Work?

The distillation process involves heating the liquid in the pot, causing it to vaporize. The vapor then travels through a swan neck and condenses back into liquid form in the Lyne Arm, collecting in the receiving vessel. Pot Stills are known for producing spirits with a more robust and diverse flavor profile. They retain more of the original character of the raw materials, resulting in a product with distinct and complex flavors.  

Column Stills–another efficient form of distilling–present a starkly different design and functionality. The tall, vertical columns are characterized by multiple plates or trays. Designed for uninterrupted operation, Column Stills continuously processes liquid and efficiently separates alcohol from impurities to produce pure and light spirits.

The Lasting Impact

The distillation process of Column Stills differs greatly from Pot Stills. From the top down, liquid is continuously introduced at the top of the column. As it flows downward, it encounters rising vapor. The vapor carries more concentrated alcohol as it moves upward through the trays or plates, allowing for multiple distillations to take place within the column. The end result is a purer, more neutral spirit. It is used for the production of vodka and other light spirits, as it removes many of the impurities that contribute to flavor.



Differences in Alcohol Strength 

When it comes to producing spirits, Pot and Column Stills differ in the alcohol content of the final product. Pot stills generally yield spirits with lower alcohol content. On the other hand, Column Stills are very efficient in producing high-proof spirits. Below are a few examples of products by distillation type:

Spirits Produced in Pot Still:

  • Single Malt Scotch Whisky: the batch distillation process of pot stills contributes to the complexity and character of this spirit, emphasizing the unique flavors derived from malted barley.
  • Irish Pot Still Whiskey: includes a mix of malted and unmalted barley, producing a smooth and flavorful whiskey.
  • Cognac: contributes to the rich and fruity characteristics of this grape-based spirit.
  • Craft Gin: pot stills allow for the preservation of botanical flavors, resulting in a more aromatic and flavorful gin.


Spirits Produced in Column Still:

  • Vodka: pot stills allow for the preservation of botanical flavors, resulting in a more aromatic and flavorful vodka.
  • Light Rum: a clear and neutral base spirit that can be easily flavored or blended for a consistent product.
  • Grain Neutral Spirits (GNS): a highly purified and neutral alcohol that serves as a blank canvas for flavoring and blending.
  • Light Whiskey: characterized by a milder flavor profile, the continuous distillation process results in a spirit with a lighter taste compared to whiskeys produced in pot stills.


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