It took two years of research and development by the Amphora Society to create the revolutionary PDA-1. Many have tried to copy it, but none have achieved the same efficiency, nor the same purity of product.
How is it unique? In several ways:
- It has a short (but very carefully engineered) column! Much of the research mentioned above was into the specific behaviour of columns at a wide variety of power levels. We learned that by carefully matching column to power, and by carefully controlling the reflux, the long columns of the past are not needed. Ultra-high purity distillates (no carbon treatment needed) are now available with just a few hours of processing.
- It uses pure copper structured packing material. This is much more efficient than random packing (raschig rings or scrubbers) because it imposes structure on the flow of liquid downward and presents much less resistance to the flow of vapour upward. ONLY the Amphora Society offers structured packing to the personal distiller.
- Fully tunable over a wide range of production. For those interested in beverages (and residing where it is legal to produce them), this tunability allows the production of any desired product from ultra-pure 96% alcohol to very high quality whiskey, brandy or rums (see below).
Operating as a water distiller, this also allows the rapid removal of salts, or the slower production of extremely pure water stripped of volatile organic materials as well.
The Amphora Society has taken great pains to build flexibility into this design. Every country has different power and legal requirements that can control the choice of boiler. Each distiller has his or her own personal goals for materials to process, batch size, etc. Knowing that we could never meet all these widely diverse requirements, we have made the unit very flexible in its attachment capabilities, so that it can easily be attached to almost any commercially available or custom-built boiler (See Optional Boiler below).
We designed the PDA-1 to couple perfectly to a 1-gallon boiler, because we believe that that is the perfect size for the majority of hobby projects, but it is just as comfortable attached to a 15-gallon unit, and it has performed admirably with both during our extensive testing. The standard PDA-1 comes with a ¾ inch NPT female connector at the bottom and can be attached immediately to most commercial water heaters. However, we can provide appropriate adaptors or engineer a custom-built solution if you have special requirements (for a small additional fee ... please contact us for details about options to satisfy your needs).
The PDA-1 features flare fittings instead of compression fittings for ease of assembly. The thermometer has also been replaced by a swivel-headed design relocated nearer to the product take-off point. This enables the PDA-1 to be set up for left-hand, right-hand or central operation to cater for personal preferences.
So, if you've been wanting to take up the fascinating hobby of botanicals extraction or (where legal) home distilling, but don't have the time or desire to manufacture your own equipment; if you want the best possible equipment, and if you want to get started in this fascinating hobby as rapidly as possible ... the PDA-1 is for you.
Note: All units come with structured copper packing, gaskets and an instruction manual. The ONLY thing not provided is a boiler, for the reasons given above.
MORE ABOUT THE PDA-1
We said earlier that the PDA-1 was designed to be fully tunable over a wide range of production. However, as many will know from personal experience, performance can often fall short of design expectations.
We had tested the PDA-1 to check its performance as a water distiller and found it easily capable of exceeding the output rate of all domestic water distillers that we have seen ... and with the product cooler, the pure water was cool and ready to drink immediately.
We had tested its ability to purify water contaminated with volatile organic materials, and it produced clean, pure water.
We had tested it as a vodka distiller, and found that despite its compactness, it produced vodka that was so pure that it required no further treatment
What we had not done was to see how it
performed as a flavoured spirits still, for
whiskey, rum, etc. We decided to give
that task to one of our Amphora Society
author, an acknowledged world expert
in flavoured spirits, as such spirits require
more art than science if they are to come
This is what he reported:
Today I ran a whiskey run in the Amphora PDA-1 at 1500W. It was the combined low wines from two batches of bourbon mash (i.e., 5 parts corn, 2 parts rye, and 1 part malt). There was 20.5L of 37.5% alcohol low wines.
The separation and efficiency were incredible. I had to keep turning the flow rate up to keep it from stripping the alcohol out of my whiskey.
I settled at 35-ml per minute and the whiskey was very clean (too clean to many people's standards). As I was experimenting with it, I tried many different flow rates, and for a long time I had the flow rate at 60-ml per minute. I backed it down to 35 because I thought 60 just had to be too high. I'm now convinced that 35 was too slow and that 60 may have worked fine.
Upon reflection, to be able to turn around whiskey at 60-ml per minute is pretty high performance. After dilution to 40%, and only running at 35-ml per minute for the majority of the run, I made 13.25L of whiskey yesterday in just 3¾ hours.
The whiskey that it produced was remarkably good. This model is definitely suited to making whiskey if the user wants to. The Amphora PDA-1 passes the whiskey test with flying colours!
Frankly, we were astonished - we had expected that some significant modifications might be necessary to perfect the PDA-1 for use in making whiskey, brandy, rum, and other flavoured spirits, but our research work had paid even better dividends than we thought!
Ian Smiley's tests proved that the PDA-1 can produce excellent whiskey distillate (or any other flavoured spirit) at 60-ml per minute. Now that equates to production of no less than 8 standard bottles of high-quality whiskey (750-ml at 80 proof) in just one hour!
We have seen claims by other manufacturers that they have better and faster stills, but such claims appear to come more from wishful thinking than hard facts. One is declared to be "The best still on the world market", but with a stated production rate of 42-ml per minute and no expert assessment of quality, we leave you to judge which still you would prefer to have.
The facts are that the PDA-1 was developed after many years of research and stringent testing and without exception, all those who now use it tell us that they are delighted with both its versatility and the quality of the spirits they get with it.
This is reflected in sales of its larger cousin, the PDA-2, whose design was based on research and experience gained in development of the PDA-1. Several specialist distilleries now use the PDA-2 in preference to older equipment as it enables them to ensure they obtain the highest quality, with assurance of reliability and ease of maintenance.
So if you want to be able to make extremely pure vodka, or distil flavoured spirits quickly - yet with full control of quality - then the PDA-1 is the ideal apparatus for you.
OPTIONAL PDA-1 COLUMN EXTENSION
The PDA-1 was designed to be compact, yet able to produce the purest vodka at a rate that suited the personal requirements of the average amateur distiller. Our calculations showed that with a column length of just 12 inches, the optimum power for the boiler would be in the region of 550 to 850 watts. Most users find that the middle of this range, 750 watts, consistently produces distillate that, when diluted with water to potable strength of 40% abv (80 proof), provides them with a standard bottle (750-ml) of extremely pure vodka every hour.
However, as we also wanted users to be able to use their PDA-1 to perform initial stripping of the raw fermented wash quickly, the design included a top condenser rated at 1500 watts, so that power could be applied to the boiler during that process.
The PDA-1 Column Extension was produced in response to requests from customers who wanted to apply the same 1500 watts during the rectification run, enabling them to cut final production time in half. This column, which is simply inserted between the boilerand the PDA-1, achieves this aim by providing the additional length needed to cater for the doubled vapour speed through the packing. This ensures full separation of the vapour components by the time that vapour reaches the product extraction port - in short, pure vodka in half the time.
The Column Extension comes complete with Amphora Structured Packing and heat insulation sleeving.
OPTIONAL 6-GALLON BOILER
The Amphora Society 6 gallon boiler holds a 5-gallon carboy of beer or wine with plenty of headspace. High-quality 6-gallon stainless steel boiler, complete with adaptor for PDA-1. Thick aluminum core in base spreads heat evenly, reducing chance of scorching contents. Custom-formed silicone gasket seals the lid, which can easily be removed for cleaning. Other sizes can be custom made, contact us for details. Available to the United States and Canada only.