History of Still Construction and Operation

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History of Still Construction and Operation

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:22 pm

I wasn't sure where to put this as it's not strictly bourbon related, but it's not unrelated either.

The construction of stills and their design was an active practical and scientific research area all through the 19th century both in Europe and the new United States. The French were very active in this area and with the close relations between the two countries there seems to be some information exchange in this area.

Forbes' A Short History of the Art of Distillation gives a good history of the patents of Adam (1801) leading up to the developments from the ideas of Cellier Blumenthal in the latter part of the century. But Forbes does not discuss American developments perhaps due to his European perspective. But the early American distilling books often mention particular inventions and still designs. Whether these are as uniquely American as is claimed is perhaps a matter for for scholarly research than I.

But I'll mention a few things as I run across them.

Harrison Hall (1818) The Distiller has been discussed here, though perhaps not as much as M'Harry. He mentions the patent of one Col. Alexander Anderson.

There is the book A history of American manufactures from 1608 to 1860...: comprising annals ... By John Leander Bishop, Edwin Troxell Freedley, Edward Young and you can find mention of many discoveries some of which relate to distilling. Page 92 mentions this patent where steam was used to heat the mash (it's not sure if the steam was injected into the mash or if a coil or jacket was used). There is also mention of the distillery operated by Anderson with a Mr Hall (a steam engine inventor) in Lamberton, New Jersey. This is 1801. Page 146 (1809) mentions a patent of Joseph Coppinger, Beaufort, SC for distilling in cast-iron stills. Page 145 (1809) mentions Burgess Allison, Pennsylvania for a patent on distilling corn stalks. Page 103 (1803) simply mentions a number of patents related to distilling without giving details.

Beginning on page 29 there is discussion of the imposition of the tax on whiskey which included not only the tax but the first paperwork for registration of stills and records of production. (A pox upon Alexander Hamilton! :) Mention is made of the import of molasses for the production of rum, which it was said occurs mostly in the seaport towns, especially New England, with Massachusetts exceeding all others.

Another patent mention is made for 1829 (page 341) to Anthony Doolittle, Ann Arbor, Michigan Territory, for distilling maize.
Cheryl Lins - Proprietor and distiller, Delaware Phoenix Distillery, Walton, NY
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