1852 – Aeneas Coffey, inventor of the Coffey Still, dies.

Aeneas Coffey (c.1780- 26 November 1852) was born in Calais, France, where he spent his early years. His family returned to Dublin (both his parents were Irish), where he was educated at tcd. He entered the excise servce around 1799-1800 as a gauger. He married Susanna Logie in 1808, and they had a son, also named Aeneas, who may have been their only child.

According to British customs and excise records, he was appointed sub-commissioner of Inland Excise and Taxes for the district of Drogeda in 1813, and was eventually promoted to Inspector General of Excise in Ireland. He resigned from the service at his own request in 1824.

He enhanced and patented the original column still (invented by Robert Stein), giving it the name Coffey still. Early Coffey stills produced 60% over proof spirit. Modern versions can achieve 66-68% over proof, approximately 95.6% v/v pure alcohol. As alcohol forms an azeotrope with water at this concentration, it is impossible to achieve higher purity alcohol by distillation alone.

On his retirement from service, Coffey went into the distilling business and for a short time ran the Dock Distillery in Grand Canal Street, Dublin. The development of the Coffey still paved the way for the distillation of grain whiskey and blended whiskey.

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