Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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Yahoo Distillers: Harry Jackson

In a conventional (brushed) DC motor, the brushes make mechanical contact with a set of electrical contacts on the rotor (called the commutator), forming an electrical circuit between the DC electrical source and the armature coil-windings. As the armature rotates on axis, the stationary brushes come into contact with different sections of the rotating commutator. The commutator and brush system form a set of electrical switches, each firing in sequence, such that electrical-power always flows through the armature coil closest to the stationary stator (permanent magnet).

~ wikipedia

Holy frijoles. Did you catch that? My eyes just glazed over like a pair of miniature Christmas hams. But I forced myself to go back and read it over until I got it.

Now, I'm no Luddite (observe these blog postings, a Skype account, my Xbox, and a mobile phone that rarely leaves my side), but I do appreciate low-tech gear from cast-iron Dutch ovens and hefty cleavers to...well, pot stills. And so, because I want to understand as much as I can about contempory distilling, I keep tabs on a few trusted sources, one of whom is the Australian Scotch aficionado Harry Jackson.

Jackson is moderator of both Yahoo's distillers and new distillers groups. The postings have become so numerous that he's got some help from three long-standing members of the groups, but you can count on him to have those crucial bits of technical information ready at hand when members have questions.

When Robert "Zymurgy Bob" Hubble (a man of keen insight) recently asked about a gear motor (explosion-safe, mind you) that would allow him to distill on the grain or fruit pulp, Harry was there with the answer that led right to the quote above. When another distiller had a question about odd vapor behavior, who was there with insight about ambient temperature?

If a few voices (Jeff Berry, Dale DeGroff, Ted Haigh, Robert Hess, Gary Regan, and David Wondrich, for instance) rise noticeably above the banter of cocktail enthusiasts, they have their counterparts in the world of very small batch distilling where advanced still designs are commonplace and the experts are considerably more expert than they used to be.

Slainte, Harry.


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