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Old 14-01-2019, 21:20   #1
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Distilling on board?

Hello friends!

Ive been pouring over posts and the internet trying to get some insight on legal hurdles of having a still on board a circumnavigating boat? One YouTube channel flaunts their boat-made hooch from a small electric still made by Still Spirits based out of New Zealand. These units cost around $150-$200 USD...and they work wonderfully! They are advertised as meant for hooch, essential oils, water, etc. I have one at home and plan to bring it with me when we leave for our circ in a couple months. They are very simple, and make great product from plain table sugar, water, and yeast...dirt cheap.

I know most countries restrict the actual act of distilling alcohol, but what about even owing a still? The distillation can occur while underway outside country borders. They are very inconspicuous looking, kinda like a coffee pot. Think my beloved still going to be confiscated by some immigration/customs officer?

Thanks for any and all help!
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Old 14-01-2019, 21:52   #2
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Re: Distilling on board?

Those things look like rice cookers.......and if anyone asks, that's what it is.
We're looking into getting one.
A couple of cruisers we ran accross have them.

Cheers.
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Old 14-01-2019, 22:08   #3
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Re: Distilling on board?

These degenerates have been traveling with not one, but two stills all over the world with no issues. I would imagine possession of a device to make alcohol is treated differently from possessing alcohol.

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Old 14-01-2019, 22:51   #4
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Re: Distilling on board?

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Originally Posted by FrankF View Post
Hello friends!

Ive been pouring over posts and the internet trying to get some insight on legal hurdles of having a still on board a circumnavigating boat? One YouTube channel flaunts their boat-made hooch from a small electric still made by Still Spirits based out of New Zealand. These units cost around $150-$200 USD...and they work wonderfully! They are advertised as meant for hooch, essential oils, water, etc. I have one at home and plan to bring it with me when we leave for our circ in a couple months. They are very simple, and make great product from plain table sugar, water, and yeast...dirt cheap.

I know most countries restrict the actual act of distilling alcohol, but what about even owing a still? The distillation can occur while underway outside country borders. They are very inconspicuous looking, kinda like a coffee pot. Think my beloved still going to be confiscated by some immigration/customs officer?

Thanks for any and all help!
Yes! I used to buy the product frm one of those stills. Quite good but be careful what you wish for.
Imagine it would be fairly easy to disguise as sumthn else.
I'm an NZ resident but have refrained frm buying one as making my own beer is enough for me.
If you are good at operating I imagine you could sell it too as the bloke ( guy) I used to buy from did to augment his pension.
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Old 14-01-2019, 23:00   #5
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Re: Distilling on board?

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Yes! I used to buy the product frm one of those stills. Quite good but be careful what you wish for.
Imagine it would be fairly easy to disguise as sumthn else.
I'm an NZ resident but have refrained frm buying one as making my own beer is enough for me.
If you are good at operating I imagine you could sell it too as the bloke ( guy) I used to buy from did to augment his pension.

I am not planning on selling anything I make with it, I just want to be able to keep it on board for making cheap sundowners. Weve got the boat set up for being pretty self sufficient, and this seems like an ideal answer to the issue of tasty (but usually expensive) adult beverages.
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Old 14-01-2019, 23:59   #6
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Re: Distilling on board?

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I am not planning on selling anything I make with it, I just want to be able to keep it on board for making cheap sundowners. Weve got the boat set up for being pretty self sufficient, and this seems like an ideal answer to the issue of tasty (but usually expensive) adult beverages.
Sorry I didn't make myself clear.
The only drawback AFAIK is that it's so cheap you can over-indulge. But if you are self-disciplined yes they are great. It is a real boon to self -sufficiency absolutely as long as you can keep a handle on iyr consumption. Depends where you are tho. In Mexico @ $4 per litre for tequila I couldnt be bothered but in French Polynesia @ $20 for a glass of wine it makes perfect sense
Let the hive know how you get on if you take the plunge & buy one please.
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Old 15-01-2019, 02:40   #7
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Re: Distilling on board?

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Originally Posted by FrankF View Post
.............

I know most countries restrict the actual act of distilling alcohol, but what about even owing a still? The distillation can occur while underway outside country borders. They are very inconspicuous looking, kinda like a coffee pot. Think my beloved still going to be confiscated by some immigration/customs officer?

Thanks for any and all help!
In Oz, you have to have a permit to own a still (or even to have the components to make one) if it's capacity is greater than 5 litres.

The small 5 litre NZ made Air Still is therefore legal in Oz providing you are not distilling alcohol with it so tell Border Force you use it for making fresh water from seawater
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Old 15-01-2019, 02:44   #8
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Re: Distilling on board?

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The small 5 litre NZ made Air Still is therefore legal in Oz providing you are not distilling alcohol with it so tell Border Force you use it for making fresh water from seawater
Actually, that begs the question... if your watermaker broke on passage, could you use the still to make freshwater from seawater to complement your emergency water stores?
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Old 15-01-2019, 03:14   #9
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Re: Distilling on board?

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Actually, that begs the question... if your watermaker broke on passage, could you use the still to make freshwater from seawater to complement your emergency water stores?
Yes, if you have enough power to operate it.
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Old 15-01-2019, 07:15   #10
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Distilling on board?

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Actually, that begs the question... if your watermaker broke on passage, could you use the still to make freshwater from seawater to complement your emergency water stores?


Yes, but you may get more water from rigging up a Solar still and fitting a rain catcher.
Sears used to sell a water distillation unit that did look like a big coffee pot. It worked, I had one, but did likely consume quite a bit of power.

If your doing your own distillation, be sure to dispose of the first bit as itís got a lot of the bad alcohol, they type that makes you go blind.

If your distilling from just sugar and yeast, your getting pure grain alcohol, which is very potent and usually tastes like fire water. I did it in Military school growing up, if memory serves the alcohol cooks off at 79 centigrade and water at 100 of course.
I learned very quickly that you can have no rubber stopper or tubing, the taste is truly horrible if you do
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Old 15-01-2019, 07:32   #11
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Re: Distilling on board?

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Let the hive know how you get on if you take the plunge & buy one please.
I have already owned this unit for nearly a year and I absolutely love it. Highly recommend to anybody interested.
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Old 15-01-2019, 07:49   #12
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Re: Distilling on board?

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If your doing your own distillation, be sure to dispose of the first bit as it’s got a lot of the bad alcohol, they type that makes you go blind.

If your distilling from just sugar and yeast, your getting pure grain alcohol, which is very potent and usually tastes like fire water.
Yes the methanol is the first alchohol to boil off, and thats what can build up in your body and cause blindness. With a 4 litre capacity, it is recommended that you dispose of the first 1/2 ounce to come out of the still, but I err on the side of caution and throw away the first 2 ounces.
The strength can be pretty impressive, I usually get around 85% pure alchohol outof it, +/- about 5%. The taste can be yeasty and unwelcoming, combined with the stregth.
Using 4 litres of wash putinto the still, I usually take 500ml of good alchohol at around 85% out of that. Then I filter that full strength alchohol thru a charcoal filter, I do it about 6 times. Still Spirits sells one, but any cheap charcoal style drip filter is fine, I use a Brita H2o filter. That removes the yeasty off flavors and leaves it almost perfectly tasteless. Then I dilute the 500ml with another 500ml of pure water, to bring the strength down to something actually drinkable by humans. That leaves me yielding 1 litre of good usable product per 4 litres of wash made.
Now take that 1 litre and chop up some fresh fruit and infuse for a few weeks, or buy the flavor additives from Still Spirits for almost any taste you want. Some of their flavors are very good! Or just mix whatever mixers/soda/juice you have. My costs are usually around $1.50 per litre of finished product. And its good! Hard to beat that anywhere I imagine?
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Old 15-01-2019, 07:59   #13
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Distilling on board?

That reuse of the mash has a name, and I believe is considered quality liquor, but I canít remember what itís called.
Looked it up. I think itís called sour mash
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Old 18-01-2019, 10:40   #14
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Re: Distilling on board?

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That reuse of the mash has a name, and I believe is considered quality liquor, but I canít remember what itís called.
Looked it up. I think itís called sour mash
The term "sour mash" refers to fermenting a new batch by carrying the settlings etc from the previous batch forward.


You can't reuse your mash.... the sugars have all been fermented out. Distillers often throw heads and tails in with the next batch to be distilled in the belief that they can get a bit more yield that way.....



I've built several stills over the years. You can tell when to cut off the heads by the smell... and by the temperature change, likewise the tails. The heads has a distinctive nail polish remover odor. I can't describe the smell of the tails, and the tails are non-toxic, but are not desirable... they contain the low alcohols that give you a doozy the next morning. The best distillation system uses a reflux column if you want maximum purity and extraction.

Put a good quality accurate thermometer in the still. I used thread in thermocouples and an accurate meter.



Making strong alcohol is easy.... making good smooth well rounded whiskey is another matter. I found that I could artificially age "in wood" by placing the alcohol in flip top bottles (EZ Cap 1L size), along with charred white oak slivers, and cycling between heat and cold (day and night), relieving the pressure or vacuum between cycles. This forces the whiskey to move in and out of the pores of the wood, mellowing the flavor and giving it color. Staves from an old whiskey barrel couldn't hurt. There's a ton of info on the internet.


I never got around to making a botanicals basket to draw the flavor out of botanicals as the vapors passed through them to the column or worm, but that might be kind of interesting to play with.



I'm mostly dry these days, aggressively changing my lifestyle and diet and losing the weight from all those years of drinking....... I'd gone 22 overweight based on "my normal" (30 year normal), and have shed that and am working toward the BMI number, which seems absurd, and where I haven't been since my teens. Always fit and physically active... at 63, I still can hike 20 miles in a day in the mountains.... though maybe not with a 35 pound pack. Alcohol has done me no favors, but I've always been able to take or leave it, but I like it more than I'm comfortable with. I've brewed literally hundreds of gallons of beer and wine (mostly beer). Got rid of my equipment. Blood pressure through the roof, I started listening to my body.....not my doctor, as I haven't seen one except walking past one on the street for 11 years. I'm working on adopting a lifestyle to make the next 20 years the best instead of the worst. I hope they find my bleached bones on my sailboat drifting with shredded sails many years hence somewhere in the Pacific, Atlantic, or Indian Ocean, or scattered on a rocky beach in some remote place along with the wreckage of my boat.



H.W.
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