Reflux Still vs Pot Still: Choosing the Right Distillation Method

When it comes to crafting spirits, whether it’s whiskey, vodka or rum, the choice of distillation method plays a crucial role in determining the flavour, aroma and purity of the final product. Among the various distillation methods, two popular options are the reflux still and the pot still. Each method has its own set of pros and cons, catering to different preferences and production goals.

Reflux Still:


1. High Purity: Reflux stills are renowned for their ability to produce high-proof, pure spirits. The continuous distillation process allows for better separation of alcohol from impurities, resulting in a cleaner and smoother product. This makes them ideal for home distillers to mix with flavour essences.

2. Efficiency: Reflux stills are highly efficient, capable of producing large quantities of alcohol in a relatively short amount of time.

3. Versatility: Reflux stills offer unique versatility. The production of neutral spirits is very easy to flavour with a wide range of essences and ingredients.


1. Time & water: Running a reflux still on a home scale can take anywhere from 3.5-4 hours. Water is needed to cool resulting in a large quantity being used if not recirculating.

2. Limited Flavor: While reflux stills excel at producing high-proof alcohol, they may not capture as much flavor and character from the original ingredients compared to pot stills. This makes them less suitable for spirits where flavor complexity is desired, such as whiskey or rum.

Pot Still:


1. Flavor Complexity: Pot stills are renowned for their ability to preserve and enhance the flavors and aromas of the original ingredients. The slower distillation process allows for more interaction between the alcohol vapors and the copper surfaces, resulting in a richer and more nuanced final product.

2. **Artisanal Appeal:** Pot stills are favored by craft distillers and enthusiasts for their hands-on approach to distillation. The traditional pot still design and batch distillation process offer a sense of craftsmanship and authenticity that appeals to consumers seeking unique and artisanal spirits.

3. Flexibility: Pot stills offer flexibility in terms of experimentation and customisation. Distillers can adjust various parameters such as temperature, reflux and cut points to tailor the final product to their desired specifications.


1. Lower Purity: Compared to reflux stills, pot stills typically produce lower-proof spirits with higher concentrations of impurities. While this contributes to the flavor complexity, it may require additional processing or aging to achieve desired levels of purity.

2. Time and Labor Intensive: Pot still distillation is a slower and more labor-intensive process compared to reflux distillation. Each batch requires careful monitoring and adjustment.

3. Consistent Results: Due to the artisanal nature of pot still distillation, achieving consistent results from batch to batch can be challenging. Variations in ingredients, equipment and environmental conditions can impact the final outcome, requiring skill and experience to maintain quality standards.


The choice between a reflux still and a pot still ultimately depends on factors such as production goals, desired flavour profile and level of expertise. Reflux stills offer efficiency and purity, making them ideal for large-scale production of high-proof spirits. On the other hand, pot stills excel at preserving flavour complexity and artisanal appeal, making them a favourite among craft distillers and enthusiasts. Whether you prioritise purity or flavour, both distillation methods have their own unique advantages and considerations to take into account.

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