Traditional Pot Still vs. Electric Air Still: Distilling Traditional Rum Compared

Traditional Pot Still vs. Electric Air Still: Distilling Traditional Rum Compared

When it comes to crafting the perfect traditional rum, the choice between the time-honoured pot still and the modern electric Air Still is pivotal. Both methods bring their unique essence to the distillation process.

In this comparative exploration, we will delve into the nuances of distilling a traditional rum, focusing on key factors such as Alcohol by Volume (ABV), distillation time, quality control, and the final volume and strength of the distilled spirit.

Please note that the results below are from our experience, using our methods, and our equipment. Your results my vary.

So let's dive in!

1. Alcohol by Volume (ABV):

Traditional Pot Still (70% ABV): The pot still is renowned for its ability to produce high-ABV spirits. In our comparison, the pot still yielded a robust 70% ABV from a 20-liter wash, demonstrating its comparative efficiency in extracting alcohol content.
This high ABV sets the stage for a robust and flavorful rum.

Electric Air Still (50% ABV): In contrast, the electric Air Still produces a slightly milder 50% ABV from the same 20-liter wash.

Pot Still for the Win! √

2. Distillation Time:

Traditional Pot Still (36 hours): Steeped in tradition, the pot still demands patience, taking 36 hours to distill 20 litres of wash. This unhurried process extracts rich flavours, embracing the essence of time.

Electric Air Still (10 hours): The electric Air Still, designed for efficiency, completes the same distillation in a mere 10 hours. This quick turnaround suits those who seek a prompt reward for their efforts.

One for the Air Still! √

3. Quality Control:

Traditional Pot Still: One of the pot still's crowning glories is its ability to separate alcohol quality stages. Distillers can discern and collect fractions, ensuring the capture of the purest and most refined spirits. This meticulous process contributes significantly to the final product's quality and complexity.

Electric Air Still The Air Still, while efficient, lacks the finesse of separating alcohol stages. It produces a more consistent output, without the opportunity to refine the spirit through selective collection. This limitation affects the depth of character in the final rum.

Another for the Pot Still! √√

4. Volume of Output:

Traditional Pot Still: From the 20-liter wash, the pot still yields 3 litres of exquisite rum. This concentration promises an intense and full-bodied drinking experience.

Electric Air Still: The electric Air Still, on the other hand, delivers 3.5 litres of a milder yet flavourful rum.

Another for the Air Still?

Not so fast...

5. Dilution to 40% ABV: To attain the widely appreciated 40% ABV, dilution calculations are essential:

- Pot Still (70% ABV to 40% ABV):** To reduce 3 litres of 70% ABV rum to 40% ABV, approximately 2.25 litres of water need to be added.
- Electric Air Still (50% ABV to 40% ABV): To bring down 3.5 litres of 50% ABV rum to 40% ABV, approximately 0.875 litres of water must be incorporated.

ABV Calc

Yet another for the Pot Still. √√√

After the final analysis, it's a 3-1 tie!

I call it a tie because in this distillation duel, the choice boils down to speed versus sophistication. The Traditional Pot Still, with its meticulous process and ability to refine alcohol stages, delivers an uncontested superior product, while the Electric Air Still offers efficiency and speed but sacrifices some degree of quality and complexity.

To be fair to the Air Still, it should be stated that distilling a "traditional rum" is not this pony's trick. It is actually much more versatile than that. There are many packaged flavourings that you can buy for your output – Rum, Whiskey, etc. the best tasting result for the Air Still may come from purchasing a rum flavouring for your alcohol. If one were to take that approach, it might result in not only a faster, easier process, but also a lower cost too. We have no experience with packaged flavours, but it might be something to consider for another experiment and comparison.

So, whether you prefer the swift pace of the modern age or the patience of tradition, the decision rests on your palate and your patience.



  • Pot Still vs Air Still –
    The Pros and Cons


Gurus and Vendors


  • The Original "Spirit of the Infidel", A traditional rum distilled with all natural ingredients using a pot still.
  • The Mexican "Spirit of the Infidel", A variation of the original recipe, modified to work here in Mexico.
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