Putting It Back Together
The cacophony of still parts didn’t last in the driveway for too long before it moved in to the distillery, where it remained it apparent disarray for a few months while Tom pieced it all back together.
I got a headache every time I stepped foot inside and just couldn’t imagine where all these pieces were going to go!
Tom had the original set-up diagrams from Vendome to study as well as old photos from their time at both Michter’s Distillery and David Beam’s Barn. So, Tom had a good idea of how these pieces were supposed to work together. How to fit it all in our space was the puzzle. And he solved it! Little by little, everything began to take shape. It was always really cool to walk inside and suddenly there were new tanks up in place and fewer pipes on the floor.
The Condenser was the first large piece put in to place. To this day I do not know how he got it up where it is, but he did—with amazing precision.
The stills were going to be a different issue all together. The tow motor was fine for getting the pots in place,
but the columns were going to be another story.
Using a tractor, a tow motor and a series of pulleys, we hoisted the larger of the two columns in place on the 800-gallon still. Quite a feat!
Unbeknownst to me, however, was that the smaller column is actually quite a bit heavier than the larger one, due to its insides. So this one was a bit trickier and a little scarier. Now McGyver isn't one to make hasty decisions or movements, so we were able to guide it in to place with all fingers and toes intact!
It was really starting to look like a distillery in there again.
More pipes to solder in to place, heads and tails boxes to connect, shelves for tanks to be built….but it was getting cleaner and cleaner by the day—we were beginning to see that this was really going to work!
Although it was a couple of months in the making, it was well worth the wait!!!
The next phase of the set up involved putting together the mash room. We had a room built to the side of the main distillery to be dedicated for making our Sour Bourbon Mash. the mash tub came with the stills, so it had been out of use for a number of years. The first thing we did was to have the mash tub sand blasted. Then we painted it a lovely Chocolate Brown. The pump needed some attention as well, so it was refurbished and readied for moving day.
Tom put the blades and the engine back in place and we were all ready to go.
The Boiler Company had their work cut out hooking up all these moving parts, but they did it with apparent ease. We now had the ability for steam in every room and for all equipment. We were getting closer and closer to test running everything.
The Cypress Fermenters were the last parts that needed to be put in to place.
First we power-washed the insides and got them as clean as possible. Then we moved to the outer surface where we removed the iron rings, removed the rust, sanded and painted them. We also scraped the rust off the tubs and gave them all a good sanding.
With the outer rings back on, McGyver fashioned a device out of plastic tubing that helped to stretch the individual slats back in to their circular shape before the rings were tightened.
Our Brother-in-Law, Pat and my dad, Bob, come out for a weekend to help put these last few pieces in to place. They got to witness that which is MacGyver in full swing. Tom built an angled deck for the fermenters to sit up on so it would be easier to drain and clean them. With barely a millimeter to spare, two of the three fermenters were carefully moved in to the fermentation room.
Now, we just needed to swell them out—after 20 years of waiting, they were about to get their first drink in preparation for the mashes to come! It took 3 weeks or more to swell out the first one so that it held fluids. It was amazing!
So, all the parts were finally in place. Steam was ready to go. We were ready for the maiden voyage….time to Mash!!!!!!