Rinsing, Filling and Capping Machines for Distilled Spirits

Rinsing, Filling and Capping Machines for Distilled Spirits

As we have discussed previously, the last year plus has seen an influx of new craft distilleries opening along with great new products hitting the market.  As a result, we have seen a great increase in the number of packaging machines and complete lines that we produce for the industry.  While each new distillery creates distinct spirits and uses unique packaging, we have found that a handful of machines work well for the industry.    

Container Cleaning Equipment

Keeping in mind that bottles are normally sanitized when produced, a distiller also needs to realize that dust, debris and other contaminants may reach the bottles during shipping or storage.  For this reason, many distilleries will choose to use a rinsing machine on their packaging line.

Rinsing machines may use either air, water or some cleaning solution to remove debris from bottles prior to the introduction of the actual product.  While the rinsing media is really a matter of personal preference, many bottlers are moving toward air rinsing machines, as these remove the necessity of handling water or used cleaning solution.  In other words, the air rinser produces less waste than the wet rinsing machine, though either machine helps to ensure product is not contaminated with dust or other debris once the spirits are introduced.  

Filling Equipment

In most cases, craft distillers will use one of two filling machines for their products.  Both overflow fillers and gravity filling machines can be manufactured as semi-automatic or automatic equipment to suit the needs of the bottler, with each type of liquid filler having an advantage.

Overflow filling machines fill to a level, which means that volume can vary slightly if the interior volume of bottles varies.  Overflow fillers are ideal for spirits packaged in see through type containers, as the shelf appearance will be aesthetically appealing when each bottle is filled to the same level.  Distillers need to be sure, however, that the bottles they choose to use do not vary greatly in internal volume so as to take them outside of the variance allowed in the industry.  

Gravity filling machines are, in a way, exactly opposite the overflow filler.  The gravity filler will allow for a more accurate volume in each container, but if interior bottle volume varies, the fill levels will differ on each bottle.  For non-glass bottles or bottles that are not transparent, the non-level fills may not be an issue.  But if see through bottles are used, the distiller will once again want to be aware of the fluctuation in interior volume of the bottles as they come from the manufacturer.

Capping Machines

The capping machine used for a distilled spirit packaging line will depend on the type of closure being used on the bottles or other containers.  Some bottles will use simple screw on type caps like you would find on bottled water or soft drinks.  These products will be sealed with a spindle capper or a chuck capping machine.  Others may use pilfer proof caps, like can be found on many wine bottles.  These closures are applied with a ROPP capping machines, used specifically for roll on, pilfer proof lids.  Still other packagers will use bartop corks or T-corks to plug bottles, and bartop corkers can be used to push these seals into place.  Some packagers of distilled spirits will also incorporate neck bands or capsules for tamper evident sealing as well.  Each of these methods of capping will require the correct machinery for a consistent and reliable seal.

Of course, as the market for distilled spirits continues to grow, some bottlers use unique packages and closures to stand out from the competition.  From time to time, custom packaging machinery will take the place of these equipment described above.  For each distiller, the unique solution will come from a combination of the product, the packaging used and the personal preference of the distiller.