Modern-Day Distilling Takes Over the World (5)!

Here is a map of the iStill customers in Scandinavia and the Baltics. As you can see, there is no stopping progress! Are you considering to join the ever growing family of modern, 21st century distillers? Do you want to learn more about the amazing technology iStill has to offer? Do you want to learn about distilling via one of our courses? Then please reach out to us via

Modern-day distilling takes over the present-day world …

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Whisky Club Italia!

Whisky Club Italia’s Claudio Riva visits 52eighty Distilling in Denver, sees his first iStill, and tastes whisky. If you want to learn more and polish up your Italian along the way, read on!

Primo iStill che vedo negli Stati Uniti, la macchina infernale ideata dall’olandese Odin allo scopo di semplificare il processo di distillazione. Un cubo di acciaio che può effettuare in successione mashing, fermentazione e distillazione, il tutto automatizzato grazie ad un controllo numerico su cui sono già caricate le ricette standard per vodka, gin, brandy, rum, whisky e liquori. “Distilling made easy” come dicono loro, in sostanza ti compri l’apparecchio e ti danno compreso nel prezzo un mastro distillatore, pensa quante rotture di palle in meno .

La squadra …


Scherzi a parte mi fermo alla 52eighty Distilling di Denver. Zona industriale, distilleria molto pulita con piccola ed elegante tasting room. Tre soci, nessun dipendente, le mogli che danno una mano, arrivare la domenica a mezzogiorno e vedere che a un certo punto compaiono i figli venuti per mangiare qualcosa con la mamma che era lì a fare cocktail, sarà ma mi emoziona un sacco.

L’iStill …


Visto che producono anche whiskey, ho la possibilità di verificare per la prima volta se la forma cubica dell’alambicco poi porta a spigolosità anche nel distillato 😁. Il risultato è molto piacevole, anche se le ricette non sono proprio classiche. Il Cackler’s è un blend di un bourbon tradizionale a basso contenuto di rye e di un bourbon ad alto contenuto di rye ottenuto con una maturazione più accelerata. Piacevole e morbidissimo, come sorprendentemente morbido è anche l’altro loro esperimento, l’Hearthstone ottenuto blendando un loro rye whiskey con un irish di tre anni – idea venuta perché cercavano rotondità nel loro rye ma non volevano passare dalle note grasse del bourbon.

I whisky hanno un sapore eccellente …





Q&A regarding iStill Design!

Is the iStill a potstill or a column still?

Both. The iStill offers new technology that allows one and the same unit to do both pot and column runs.

Why is the iStill made out of stainless steel?

Stainless steel is chemically inert. This makes both running and cleaning the iStill very easy, without the risk of contaminating your drinks.

But isn’t copper good for flavorful spirits?

No, copper’s only benefit is that it catalyzes sulfuric compounds that may have developed due to improper fermentation protocols. With proper fermentation protocols and control no copper is needed. Copper doesn’t add flavor, it may take bad ones away.

So, is there no copper in the iStill?

Yes, there is copper in the still. To help you control sulfur, the iStill comes with a copper waffle and copper reflux capacitor. Together they offer as much copper contact as a traditional copper column.

If they are made out of stainless steel, how come they look – for the most part – black?

All iStills have insulated boilers and columns. The insulation saves 15 to 20% in energy. The insulation material happens to be black.

Why is the boiler square? All other stills have round boilers …

The boilers of all iStills are flush square, because this results in better mixing. The wash cannot rotate with the agitator, as it does in a round boiler.

So where do we connect the pipes from the steam boiler?

You don’t. iStills do not need separate steam boilers. Instead, they are fully working solutions, with integrated heating system. Others may basically sell you a shell, but with us you get a complete, and plug and play distillery. The heating system is included.

I don’t see trays or bubble caps. How does the column work?

The column is packed with Helicon Column Packing (HCP). When liquids are returned to the column, the HCP fills up and more distillation cycles take place. Without liquid return the column functions as a potstill.

How do I manage those liquids and the number of distillation cycles?

On our production units, this is managed automatically, via the computer, the automation, and the robotization the iStills offer. You dial in what you want and the iStill takes care of the rest.

Automation? Doesn’t that take the “craft” out of distilling?

No. You design the recipe. You decide on what flavors you make, concentrate, and harvest. The automation just makes it more efficient and reproducible, while limiting your hours behind the still. It’s a better toolkit for a more successful distiller.

But I want to spend hours and hours behind the still! I love distilling!

So do we, but please be advised that distilling takes time and costs money. It is marketing and sales that earns you the money you need to continue distilling. Unless it is a hobby, of course …

Still, fellow distillers tell me that I need a manual, copper still … because it is … traditional?

Sure, and so were horses and carriages only 100 years ago. And some still enjoy riding them on weekends, when the sun shines. For actual day to day transportation, though, everybody has moved on to cars and bikes.

Now that I look at the iStill a bit closer … where is the dephlagmator?

We do not manage the iStill via cooling water. There are just too many variables to cope with, which results in poor control and different results on every run. Instead, we have a robotized valve manage liquids. Much more precise!

Okay, that’s great. But how about longevity? Modern-day technology is a nice addition, I get that, but does it last?

Good question! First, do you remember how stainless steel is chemically inert? It does not rust, corrode, and oxidize away like copper does. Secondly, we build double spec. Meaning we calculate what size, strength, and thickness parts need to be, and then double them. You don’t want to just start a distillery, but run one trouble-free.

All right, I like what I hear. But can it make the spirit category I …


Wait, I wasn’t finished and didn’t tell you what I actually want to make …

That’s okay. The iStill can distill any spirit. You don’t need upgrade kits, other columns, new and different iStills for various products. One machine can do it all.

Ok, but if I check out the design center on your website, there are still options I can choose from. What are those for?

The agitator, boiler radiator, and indirect heaters allow you to also mash and ferment in the iStill. The additional manhole is, well, just convenient. Glass column segments can make a difference if you want to showcase your still and have it be part of the customer experience.

Hold on! Did you just say that I can use the iStill for mashing and fermenting as well?

Yes, with the iStill you can basically do the whole spirit production process in one machine. Quite frankly, they also provide fast maturation technology.

Is that efficient? I mean, fermentation takes longer than mashing or distillation …

It is a very efficient way to start. Once you grow larger, and know what products sell best, you can always add dedicated fermenters and mashers.

I really like what I hear! The iStill isn’t just a still, it is a complete distillery. Where and how can I learn more?

You decide! You could visit an iStill distillery near you and hear what our customers think of them. Or you can register for one of our courses, where we teach the latest science of distillation, and train you in recipe development and in how to use the iStill. In that case reach out to!


Further Professionalizing iStill Support!


This post dives into how we support you at being a successful distiller and iStill user. Of course, you, as the craft distiller, are responsible for the actual mashing, fermenting, and distilling that you perform. And, in order to do so correctly, you are also responsible for obtaining the right amount of training and learning, via your own research and reading, via traineeships, with the help of forums or consultants, or via peer advice. We chime in and help you out along your path. Here’s how.

iStill University Course

We offer a 4-day course, where we bring you up to date on the latest science regarding mashing, fermenting, distilling, and aging. It is a great way to learn about distilling, to learn how to develop a recipe, and to experience how the iStills work. With a score of 9.8 on a 10-point scale, it is considered the best course in the craft distilling industry and that’s a great way to get started and find out if craft distilling is meant for you.

iStill Mini

Did you fall in love with distilling in general, and our amazing theories and technology specifically? Then it may be time to take the next step and purchase the iStill Mini. Our product development still helps you finalize recipe formulation, while you gain hands-on distilling experience.

iStill Support

Buying a production size iStill (like the iStill 100, 500, 2000, or 5000) automatically gives you access to four hours of consultancy. Use it to bridge the time, size, and experience gap between the course and the reality of you opening up, between the small-size semi-manual iStill Mini and the big size automated production unit!

Here’s how:

  1. Use one hour of support to have us help check your assembly of the iStill, to upload the latest software, and to talk to you about cleaning protocols.
  2. Use the second hour to inform us about the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) you want to use for your mashing. Let us check it, before you use it.
  3. Use the third hour to inform us about the SOP you want to use for fermenting. Again, let us check it. Four eyes see more than two.
  4. Use the fourth hour to share your distillation SOP. Use our experience to help make sure your first distillation run is going to be the success you deserve!


  1. After you assembled your iStill, send an email to and name it “Assembly done”. Our support employee will give you a date and time slot for the check to take place, to update you to the latest software, and to instruct you on cleaning protocols.
  2. When you want to start mashing in the foreseeable future, send an email to, name it “First Mash Support”, and include your SOP. As before, our support employee will give you a date and time slot for feedback.
  3. When you are planning to start your first fermentation, send an email to, name it “First Fermentation Support”, and include the fermentation Standard Operating Procedure. Our employee will contact you.
  4. Almost ready to distill? As before, send an email and name it “First Distillation Support”, and include your SOP. Our support employee will propose a time and date to help check and give his feedback.


The runs are your responsibility. Mashing, fermenting, and distilling, even with automated equipment, can be challenging, so make sure that you know what you are doing. The machines we produce have no brain, so you better learn how to use yours! It is among your tasks to make sure you are equipped with the required knowledge and experience to do your runs professionally and safely. Using iStill Support does not take anything away from that responsibility.

Create more control with iStill Support …


“We’re all going to America!”

It’s Friday again, and Friday is often our dispatch day. It’s when our transport and crating partners picks up the iStills we finished building that week, and that are about to be shipped to customers around the world. Today we are dispatching two iStills 2000. Both go to customers in the USA. Do you want to order a still? Do you want to learn more about the amazing technology we offer? Please reach out to us via!

This iStill 2000 will go to a US craft brewer …


And this one goes to a craft cider company …


In the truck they go …


And guess how many we’ll be dispatching next week …


Yeast Nutrition Protocol!

The importance of yeast

If you want to produce brandy, rum, tequila, vodka, or whiskey, there are various steps to the manufacturing process. Mashing is where the starches, present in grains, are converted into fermentable sugars. During the second step, fermentation, we have yeast cells consume these sugars and produce both alcohol and flavor molecules. When fermentation is done, we can distill the resulting wine or beer into a stronger spirit.

Yeast cells are the living organisms that, during fermentation, create alcohol and flavor. And since they are living organisms, well, the environment in which they perform their magic needs to be such that they can perform optimally. What “optimal performance” means? That’s easy: the development of the right flavors, while maximizing alcohol yield, in the shortest time frame possible. So … how do we create that environment?

Yeast happy environment

Without diving in too deep, yeast, depending on the specific variety, needs a warmer or colder, and a more acid or more alkaline environment to perform optimally, and create the right flavors and a good amount of alcohol.

Yeast also needs nutrients. In the first phase of the fermentation, when there is still oxygen present, yeast cells grow and multiply. They need energy, vitamins, and minerals for proper propagation. During the second phase of the fermentation, when oxygen is depleted, the yeast cells also need energy, vitamins, and minerals in order to keep up the good work of turning sugars into alcohol and organics into flavor molecules. What nutrients they need? Good question!


Together with students and professors of the renowned Leyden University, our laboratory manager Willem Brakenhoff has performed extensive research on yeast nutrition. The goal was not just to create the best formula for the yeast to be “happy” and productive, efficient and effective, but to do it in such a way that esterification (the formation of flavor molecules) is not in any way negatively affected.

Over a period of over half a year, Willem and his team, working both in the iStill Laboratory and at Leyden’s facilities has achieved these goals. It results in a nutrient formula that will improve any fermentation. Faster fermentation, higher yield, identical or even improved esterification.

Towards better fermentations worldwide

In order to help craft distillers create better tasting spirits, and increase their yield, while minimizing fermentation times, we have decided to make the yeast nutrition information available. We want to give you the tools to bring the battle to Big Alcohol. And professional yeast treatment and management are essential for success.

What that means? It means you can now order the formula via our new eLearning Webpage, that is part of the iStill University Educational Programs. To help cover (at least partially) the costs of our research, we ask a mere EUR 25,-. You can order and pay online, and what you will get is a simple formula of the chemicals, vitamins, and minerals for you to order and mix to (further) improve your fermentation results. You will get an email with a PDF. The formula, an example for a 1,000 liter fermentation, and the procedure of how and when to add the nutrient are all in the PDF.

Here is the link to the formula:

And here is a picture of our laboratory manager Willem (without lab coat) …


Modern-Day Distilling Takes Over the World (4)!

Here is a map of the iStill customers in Ireland. As you can see, there is no stopping progress! Are you considering to join the ever growing family of modern, 21st century distillers? Then please feel free to reach out to us.

For more information on our distillery set-ups, our courses, or simply for proper introductions to a referring iStill distillery in your vicinity, send an email to:

  • (North and South America);
  • (Australia and New Zealand);
  • (yes, India);
  • (Mediterranean/Africa);
  • Rest of the world (including Ireland):

Modern-day distilling takes over present-day Ireland …

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Myth Busters: Milling and Particle Size!


The “Myth Busters” series are posts where we look at distilling lore and anecdotical industry wisdom. Is the topic at hand based on truth? On knowledge? Or is the question at hand merely a myth that needs busting?

The structure of this “Myth Buster” post is twofold. First, we’ll explain the (generally accepted) wisdom. Secondly, we’ll dive in deeper and give you the science behind it. Or at least our opinions. We’ll share as many facts as possible as well as our opinion. The goal is threefold: let’s get rid of misconceptions (1), allow you to make better informed decisions (2), in order to become a better craft distiller (3).

Anecdotical wisdom

The industry’s wisdom teaches us that distillers should prefer to mill grains to a fine flour, before mashing, because it creates a higher yield. What do you think? False or true?


A fine grain has a bigger surface are. Potentially, a bigger surface are makes it easier for water to contact the starch, that lies hidden inside the grain. In reality, this can create a faster conversion of starch to fermentable sugar, but it comes at various costs:

  1. Creating a flour, usually by applying a hammer mill, creates dust;
  2. Increased dust levels ask for more intense cleaning protocols;
  3. Dust is explosive;
  4. Dust harbors microbiological infections that float freely through your distillery;
  5. Dust is very unhealthy and can cause severe problems to the respiratory system ;
  6. Flour clumps easily, potentially infecting you wash while lowering yield.


In our experience a flour, when compared to a more coarsely roller-milled grain, does not create a higher yield of fermentable sugars. In the best case, it only converts quicker. But is a 15 to 30 minute time gain worth the associated risks of dusting the place up, putting your health at risk, and potentially infecting the wash you are working with?

We don’t think so and therefore advice you to do as brewer’s do: coarsely crack your grains, by applying a roller mill, and mash a little bit longer.

Traditional roller mill …