The Compleat Distiller contains a wonderfully broad range of topics for distillers, including distillation and fermentation principles, fermentation design, some common still types and designs, and guides to proper still operation. There’s lots of nuts-and-bolts stuff about the choice and construction of still parts. In addition to beverage distillation, there’s a great section on creating essential oils, attars, extracts, macerations and hydrosols, and some clever equipment to produce them.
If the book’s breadth is wonderful, its depth is serious, and allows the serious hobby distiller to dig deep into the chemistry and physics of the fermentation and distillation processes. Calculate and predict the progress and outcomes of your fermentations. Learn about the good Count Avogadro’s magic number, and what it tells you about what’s happening in your boiler and still head. Learn some other gas laws (with Avogadro’s help) and also some state-change principles, and the mysteries of distillation will open to you.
If you intend to just “skim” the basic principles of your distillation hobby, this book will be useful. If you really, really want to understand what you are doing, it’s invaluable.