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November 14, 2012
Last updated

Copper High Country Moonshine Stills

Owner of Clawhammer Supply

north carolina high country stillA recent episode of the TV show Moonshiners (on Discovery) featured a "North Carolina High Country Still," which is nothing more than a traditional pot still with a thump keg (or thumper) and a coil condenser (or worm). A lot of folks ask us how our copper distiller parts kits are different from traditional pot stills. The answer to the question is, "they aren't very different." Clawhammer parts kits were actually modeled after traditional pot stills, such as the North Carolina High Country style shown in this picture.

We love traditional copper stills. Copper looks good and it's easy to work with. However, the best characteristic of copper is that it reduces sulfide content during the distillation process, as alcohol vapors react with boiler, vapor cone, and condenser walls. As a result, the final product will be much better. These are the primary reasons our still kits are made from pure copper.

Another big difference between our stills and North Carolina high country pot stills is the condenser. Clawhammer stills use an inline "liebig" condenser on the drip arm to turn alcohol vapor back into liquid. Traditional pot stills use a copper coil or a "worm."  Although the worm looks really cool, it isn't necessary and is a fairly inefficient way to condense the alcohol vapor. The addition of a worm requires another vessel for water storage, it uses a lot of material, and it isn't as easy to work with as a liebig condenser. Clawhammer inline condensers are compact and effective. Simply supply the lower side input tap with cold water using a garden hose (straight from a spigot, or from a cool body of water using a small pump) and drain from the top side tap. Trickling water through the condenser is enough to do the trick.

The difference between Clawhammer stills and high country stills is the way our stills improve purity and then condense alcohol vapor back into a liquid. Traditional copper pot stills use a thumper or thump keg to increase proof (improve purity). In the thump keg, the liquid is essentially re-distilled before it is condensed back into a liquid. Because the addition of a thumper effectively distills alcohol twice during one run it's sometimes referred to as a "doubler." Clawhammer stills produce the same effect as a thumper but they do so using a different method. Our stills utilize a column that gets packed with pure copper scrubbers. The addition of the scrubbers causes liquid with a higher boiling temperature (i.e. water) to condense out of the vapor before it reaches the top of the column. This means, that as alcohol vapor moves up through the column, it is further purified by the removal of water caused by the temperature difference of the copper packing material.

Remember, Clawhammer stills can be used for the production of distilled water and essential oils without the need for any federal permits. Production of fuel alcohol requires a federal fuel alcohol permit. Production of distilled spirits requires a federal distilled spirits permit. Also, each state has its own rules on use and permit requirements. Be sure to research a particular state's rules and comply with all legal requirements. 

Here's some more info on how to distill using one of our still kits which highlights all of the similarities between traditional copper stills and our copper column stills.

Kyle Brown is the owner of Clawhammer Supply, a small scale distillation and brewing equipment company which he founded in 2009. His passion is teaching people about the many uses of distillation equipment as well as how to make beer at home. When he isn't brewing beer or writing about it, you can find him at his local gym or on the running trail.

  • In your advertisement photo of the high country still what is the price of the kit pictured and how many gallons
    Thanks :

    Posted by barry on July 18, 2013
  • When running the shine do you need to filter it through charcoal or clean cloth if so what kind thank you woodsman2013

    Posted by woodsman 2013 on May 19, 2013
  • Was thinking bout ordering a ten gallon from ya but was wondering what size and length the column and condensor was.thanks…..

    Posted by mickey t on April 18, 2013
  • I want to get a small complete 10 gallon still turn key prosess ready to go just put together!

    Posted by Lincoln Blankenship on March 20, 2013
  • Do you sell 5 or 10 gallon pot stills with thumper kegs kits? Thanks Tony

    Posted by Tony on February 22, 2013
  • I like one like the size of a 2gl, pot, all copper just fir looks but has to have ALL THE PARTS and COME A PART like a real one dos if this is ( HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ) Gene and how meney is the small order

    Posted by Gene Stribling on February 20, 2013
  • I like one like the size of a 2gl, pot, all copper just fir looks but has to have ALL THE PARTS and COME A PART like a real one dos if this is ( HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ) Gene and how meney is the small order

    Posted by Gene Stribling on February 20, 2013
  • I like one like the size of a 2gl, pot, all copper just fir looks but has to have ALL THE PARTS and COME A PART like a real one dos if this is ( HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ) Gene and how meney is the small order

    Posted by Gene Stribling on February 20, 2013
  • am very interestedin purchaseing a 4 or 5 gallon still….

    Posted by c.t.mckenzie on February 19, 2013
  • will your still produce 180-190 proof shine or the better question is how does one produce and cut this high of proof.The other question why is it necesary to use crushed corn flakes and the old timers use corn watered down every day and then when it starts sprouting they use it.I know some old shiners and they say it makes the very best shine with a higher proof.Please inlighten a dummy such as myself and just one more question why cant i click onto the tab for indiana laws on making shine as i really dont wanta call the local abc office as i hear if one does that they may show up on your door step to have a look , ha ha ha they would have to get past my wife—thanks Greg

    Posted by Greg Hubartt on February 18, 2013
  • I would like to have some prices on your stills.
    Am interested in a 30 to 50 gal.
    I am really interested in looking at more pictures
    of your really nice stills

    Posted by Tom Hartman on February 11, 2013
    These guys dont answer or pay attention to the comments here so why bother asking?”

    It says right above the comment box that if you have a specific question that you want them to answer, then email them.

    Posted by Grant Callant on January 31, 2013
  • Clawhammer does NOT (2 tha best of my knowledge) sell High country still kits.Pricez of what they DO SELL are on tha homepage.

    Posted by Dirka Dirka Jihad Mohammed on January 30, 2013
  • Does the thumper have to made out of a certian materials?

    Posted by Austin on January 27, 2013
  • if you guys went back to the begining of this you would see the kits and prices

    Posted by Herb on January 23, 2013
  • Whats the best way to install a Temp. Gauge, on my still for my Wash.

    Posted by Justin on January 21, 2013
  • where can i get some prices on the high country still with thumper i am very interested but see no prices or sizes you offer

    Posted by david on January 09, 2013
  • Kyle, hey brother, I would really like to hear back from you about the size and $$ of your High Country Still. Please Email me.

    Posted by Jason on January 04, 2013
  • I am interested in a 10 gal High Country Still Kit. Please email me price and estimated time frame. Thanks.

    Posted by Jason Fail on January 03, 2013
  • Awesome product! I’ve been using a pressure cooker for small batches for years and been wanting to make my own still to make a bigger quantity of my own recipe. This would be perfect and I appreciate the videos and your recipes. Thanks!!

    Posted by Josh on December 31, 2012

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