Mass Measurement

Increased whisky production with Yokogawa’s Coriolis mass flowmeter

January 2018 Mass Measurement

The James Sedgwick Distillery was established in 1886 and is situated in the picturesque region of Wellington in the Western Cape. The distillery produces both malt and grain whiskies on the same site, which is rare due to a distillery normally only producing one type of whisky. The distillery handles the entire whisky making process from milling the raw ingredients through to maturation and final blending.

Excise duty was becoming costly

Due to the international success of the distillery’s Three Ship’s whisky brand, in 2009, Distell decided to expand its whisky production. As a spirit manufacturer, Distell is liable for the payment of excise duties by the South Africa Revenue Services (SARS). Spirits may generally be defined as ‘ethyl alcohol obtained from the distillation of various base products to an alcoholic strength of usually more than 60% per volume’ and is subject to the payment of excise duty if consumed as liquor within the Southern African Customs Union. Whisky production is also legally regulated, with distillation strengths required to conform to strict limits. Following this, Distell required an online alcohol percentage meter to curb the costly and sometimes time consuming collection of samples, which they had used in the past in order to meet the legal requirements for a whisky as well as SARS’ regulatory obligations.

Distell sought the services of a chemical engineering specialist in the design and supply of equipment and services to the beverage industry in South Africa, with the necessary expertise in ethanol plant specialisation. Logichem Process was awarded the project and was commissioned to provide a turnkey solution. Yokogawa South Africa was contracted by Logichem for the installation and commissioning of a Coriolis Rotamass flowmeter for the distilling process.

Coriolis technology offers the solution

The majority of whiskies at the distillery contain grain whisky made from corn that is mashed, fermented, distilled and matured for at least three years at 66%/vol. strength. The full strength product that exits the distillation column passes through Yokogawa’s Rotamass Coriolis flowmeter at 94,3 %/vol, and is closely controlled and logged. After the cask maturation process, the product is also blended with the use of the Coriolis Rotamass and is then ready for offsite bottling.

Both measuring points of distilling and blending are therefore crucial during the process and accuracies of 0,6% are required. During the distillation phase, the process has to be controlled though the Coriolis Rotamass flowmeter at 94,3 – 94,6%/vol. and exactly 43,0% at bottling phase.

SARS’ stringent monitoring and auditing of the alcohol levels requires that the readings have to be accurate and consistent in order to pass their assessments. Yokogawa’s Rotamass Coriolis mass flowmeter was well-matched for the job with its density calibration for ethanol or water percentage and a special calibration for maximum accuracy and stability. The mass flow meter’s dual bent tube technology and advanced software enabled the customer to measure the very small and sensitive range required. Yokogawa commissioned the mass flowmeter onsite to ensure the correct installation and commissioning from the outset.

In the last decade, the use of Coriolis meters has been changing from general purpose to supporting customers’ needs in specific applications. While the technological complexity increased, the demand for simple operation and handling remained an important requirement.

Yokogawa answers these needs by offering six dedicated product lines with two specialised transmitters allowing the highest flexibility. Yokogawa’s Rotamass philosophy gives Total Insight through the entire product lifecycle.

For more information contact Christie Cronje, Yokogawa South Africa, +27 (0)11 831 6300,,


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