The strangest thing happened one day...

Scott & Becky at the potstillWhat would you do if you walked into your home one day, and everything you own had turned purple?

Well, this happened to us.  But let me start at the beginning...

Way back in 2010, when we were first starting the distillery, we had a single copper potstill.  One particular day, we were distilling pear wine into brandy.  As the day went, it was rather unremarkable.  The wine was boiled, the cuts made, and the day's bounty of brandy was collected and readied for the barrel.  As usual, at the end of the day, we dumped the spent wine and washed down the still with the hose.  With the potstill still steaming, we turned off the lights, locked the doors, set the alarm, and went home.

Barney the purple stillThe next morning, as we arrived early to work, we entered the distillery and turned on the lights. Our beloved (and very expensive!) potstill had turned purple!  And not just a hint of lavender or pastel purple, but a bright shining amethyst purple.  I'm talking King Henry VIII royal robe purple!  It was beautiful!  But....  what on earth?!

I immediately started combing the Internet looking for answers, and finally stumbled upon a site where a Scottish chemist had the answer.  Apparently, pear wine has trace amounts of a chemical called cyanuric acid.  This acid, in contact with copper under conditions of low pH (which wine definitely is), causes copper to turn bright purple!  Lo and behold, we had our answer!  

We thought it was cool to have a purple potstill, but sadly, over the next few days, it tarnished and dulled to resemble the color of gray concrete, not exactly beautiful.  So we polished it only to see the purple return.  Eventually, its patina moved into the more typical copper brown of an old penny.  But you can still see traces of cyan and magenta in the sheen if you look at it right.  And the funny thing is, to this day, every time we polish the still (which we do rarely these days), that purple returns bright and shiny.

So we have a potstill that insists on being purple, and hence we named him... Barney.

Sláinte and Cheers!

Scott short signature

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Catoctin Creek Distillery
120 W Main St
Purcellville, VA 20132

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