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Issue 134 - Still Repairs

Whisky Magazine Issue 134
March 2016

 

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Still Repairs

Keeping on top of maintenance

You must acquire corn, rye or wheat, and barley, mill the grains, store them, then cook and ferment to create the rudimentary beer that is distilled and distilled again, placed into a barrel and stored into a warehouse. After distillation, the grains fall to the bottom of the still, are dried and turned into distillers feed through a drying out process. After the whiskey meets the distiller's intended age, the barrels are dumped with other barrels, it's cut with water and filtered – or not, depending on the brand – and bottled, placed in a case and loaded onto a truck.

In order for the Bourbon bottle to reach your hands, hundreds of machines must work, and keeping the distillery equipment working is a 24/7 job. At any given moment, a belt could snap, a bolt could come loose or a pump quits, causing a domino effect that would halt all distillery operations.

At least once a year, distilleries shut down for anywhere from two weeks to a month to make scheduled repairs. For example, when a major valve is replaced, the manufacturer and the distillery will notate the repair and schedule the next one for 2025 or whenever it needs to be done. Coils, tubing, seals and everything in between will be fixed and improved during the shut down. They also pressure wash at 10,000 PSI all evaporator tubes, take apart and inspect the reflux line and inspect the doubler, repairing any obvious faults. They retube stills about every 20 years. Water softeners are replaced about every decade...

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