When people tour our facilities they are always blown away by how beautiful our big still, Jules, is (so am I actually). Working on Jules is a pleasure; you load him up, make sure the valves are in the correct orientation, then turn on the steam and wait and that’s where the trouble can begin.
The theory is that while the still is warming up, anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour plus, I have free time to do other important tasks such as paperwork, washing and labeling bottles (we still do this by hand), answer emails, you get the point. The problem is that time is relative. How many of you have got so involved doing something (videos on YouTube maybe) only to realize that a couple of hours have passed? This is problematic when you have a still warming up and you don’t pay attention. I have, on more than one occasion, snapped back into focus and rushed into the back room only to find alcohol spilling on the floor. That’s literally money down the drain and I feel like an idiot too.
I hear people bragging how they can multi-task so well and, quite frankly, I don’t believe them. I guess listening to music on your i-Pod or texting and walking is technically multi-tasking and what could be easier? (Check out YouTube videos of distracted texters) I feel if you are doing 3 things at once you are probably doing 3 things poorly because you are not focusing on any one thing or you are focusing on what you are doing that you neglect the other 2 things you were supposed to be doing. For some tasks this is not super critical (doing a task and listening to music. For fun try singing the lyrics to the music and concentrate on your task).
I have solved this problem, partially, by setting the timer on my i-phone. I have a general idea on the time available to me until I have to pay attention to the still again and I set the alarm using the claxon alarm, which you can’t miss hearing. Again the problem arises when I either forget to set the alarm or set it for too long of a time. Ignoring your equipment for too long could have some dire consequences, alcohol vapor in the air or a pump running dry. In fact just a minute ago I turned my back on the still for just a second, honest, it was just for a second to talk to my landlord and the temperature jumped about 10 degrees and started pushing Rum distillate out the Parrot, very hard. I caught it before it got bad.
On the other hand though, due to providence perhaps, on rare occasions forgetting to turn off a piece of equipment, say a filtering pump, can result in something pretty darn good. Outcomes like these are very rare; someone has to win the lottery. Some people would say I am being paranoid. I say I am being cautious because of the potential consequences. Either way, I keep a close eye on my equipment. Cheers!