Wanna become the best distiller you can be?

Quotes from our students …

I loved the course! It gave me a chance to be around like minded people and talk about my most favorite thing in the world: producing great spirits and enjoying the process. Trying a few things out and hearing how others go about achieving this. Dispelling the myth around spirit production allows for more innovation an this is what I have discovered here through the right amount of science. (Aris Aristidou, Cyprus)

The workshop was very enjoyable and gave us a massive amount of knowledge to build on and use in coming years. (Jonathan Heard, UK)

Thank you for an incredible experience. The iStill family was great company and incredible hosts. I would be happy to help with future applicants by speaking to them in advance if they need an outside opinion about the course. (Gavin Miklauchich, UK)

The training was top! I loved every minute and found it very informative. (Ian Mansell, UK)

I recommend the course to anyone thinking about buying a still. (Julian Curtoys, UK)

Great combination of theory and practice (and fun!). Focus on a broad spectrum of topics, not only the technical processes, with very competent speakers. The course was fantastic and I would really like to thank the whole team for creating and delivering such a first class experience! (Hans Lentz, UK)

Very enjoyable 4 days, and well organized. I appreciate the enormous amount of preparation that went into on your part. (Robin Johnson, UK)

Odin’s lectures were good. The hands on element of using en assembling the still was great. Putting together the gin recipes was very useful. (Bradley Christensen, USA)

I was very happy. Visiting iStill is like visiting an old friend, you get a warm welcome. Much of the knowledge of distilling is kept mysterious – e.g. aging periods/techniques, how to make really good whisky/rum etc. – this inside knowledge was part of the course. (Alan Milne, UK)

All the information was good, but the section on virtuous cycles to produce more flavor rich products was the highlight. The hands on components were also excellent. The external site visit and group dinner the first evening is a great way to get to know each other. (Vic Testolin, Australia)

You met all my expectations of the course and some more. I love how you evolve not only through courses but also through new innovations and technology. I’m convinced that your growth as a manufacturer and distiller will help me in the future to do the same. Thank you for sharing the knowledge and the craft. Looking forward to the future. (Hrvoje Busic, Croatia)

Very attractive presentations and open discussions. All the lecturers have experienced knowledge that they unselfishly distribute. There was no question asked at the course that hasn’t been answered. You guys are great, keep up the amazing work,  and see you in Zagreb Luftbremzer distillery! (Filip Presecki, Croatia)

I loved the overall experience. Almost all aspects of distilling have been discussed and have been explained in a very down to earth manner which makes it very understandable. Great group with great people. (Rene Kamphuis, Netherlands)

Many thanks to the whole iStill team! I loved meeting and sharing with fellow spirits enthousiasts/distillers/soon-to-be distillers and understanding how a chosen type of production (mashing/fermenting/distillation/maturation) protocol will influence the flavor of the final product. I loved Odin’s passionate, sincere and generous delivery ad engaging teaching style. I may not buy an iStill yet (have to sell cocktails first) but I am now a firm follower. (Yves Cosentino, UK)

I got a much better understanding of the basics of distilling, and also the possibilities and quality of the equipment. A great course with lots of new knowledge for me. Keep up the good work! (Bernt Gran, Norway)

Excellent explanation of all parts of the process and how to affect flavor of spirits. It was also great to meet some “real life” distillers and talk about business aspects as well as practical. (Andrea Stanch, UK)

The course was: very enjoyable, very well thought, very informative with hands on experience, aimed to teach the process and not just tell the students which buttons to push, thought in a clear, easy to understand way. Thank you very much Odin and Veronika for a very enjoyable few days! (Tom Grills, Ireland)

We were made to feel very welcome by everyone from iStill and really enjoyed spending time with all those involved with the course. Buying everyone beer and dinner was very much appreciated. Great course, great product, great people! (Peter Dignan, UK)

Odin was en excellent teacher with great ideas. The level and depth of knowledge was about right. I really love the community feel of iStill. Anything you can do to encourage that even more would be great. (Arthur Parkinson, UK)

Odin is a consummate teacher. His use of multiple teaching methods, from verbal instructions to analogies to graphs makes for lasting lessons. The breaks from classroom time to actual production floor demo’s was key. The field trip was also fun and allowed for some social interaction early in the schedule. (Ashley Cross, USA)

Thank you all for a fantastic class! The teaching style was great because we were able to have personalized questions and answers. The balance between theory and hands on training was also great; you certainly need both to become a great distiller! Not only was the class and theory easily worth the price of admission and then some, but having the chance to be in an operating distillery and connect and network with other people in the business and hear and share experiences was also priceless. It was a privilege and an adventure. (Jared Lewis, USA)

Thank you! It was an excellent environment. Odin’s patience and humanity helped. (Peter Singh, UK)

The course gave me very much energy and positive vibes and at the end of every day I was exhausted … so much to give a place in my mind … great … wonderful! Thank you!! (Bert Penning, Netherlands)

It was an excellent experience and I’m glad i attended. The science and technical explanations were excellent and helped fill in a lot of questions that I had before attending the course. It’s hard to find resources that go into the “why” part of questions and not only into “how”. When you know why you are doing something, then you can ask better questions and seek better answers. Everyone was also eager to learn and ask about their own theories. I thought that a one-on-one course would be necessary to hammer out the theory on distilling but having many different perspectives helped me better understand distilling since there were many different questions during the course. (Dave Farnia, USA)

Thank you for a great weekend, it was extremely useful. (Ulf Agger, Denmark)

The subject matter was presented in an interesting manner with good class participation. The content was excellent and sessions were designed with a variety of learning methods to ensure retention of learning. Interacting and learning from others in the class was a bonus. I really enjoyed dinner the first evening. I also think the Facebook group is a good idea! Thank you for the great course and looking forward to producing my first spirit on an iStill. (Kecia E. McDougall, UK)

Everything was excellent! (Shaun Hancke, UK)

I had a very interesting weekend and I can recommend the course to anyone who want to start distilling. (Wilco Reefman, Netherlands)

Lots of information , great new insights and a great atmosphere to meet and exchange new ideas. (Sebastiaan Smits, Netherlands)

For me as a beginner in distilling it was a lot of useful information in theoretical and practical part. It was also nice to meet more experienced distillers who have shared their knowledge and experience. The course gave me enough knowledge and confidence to start to distill. (Juri Kiur, Estonia)

Had a great 3 days! Would like to be kept informed about follow-ups. (Jaap Lindeman, Netherlands)

It was a brilliant course, it gives you confidence, and nice to share experiences. (Kevin-Cameron Cross, UK)

iStill University …

The iStill University provides amazing 4-day workshops that will unlock your full craft distilling potential. Spiritual growth uncorked. Applicable theories and top shelf procedures brought to you by the industry’s most experienced, knowledgable and innovative distillers. Students rate the workshop with an industry leading 9.7 out of 10. Wanna participate? Please reach out to Veronika@iStillmail.com

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http://www.iStill.eu/university

 

Copper Column Math!

The traditional role of copper in still manufacturing

Traditionally, copper plays an important role in still building. Originally, copper was available, affordable, and bendable. That’s why traditionally stills were made out of copper.

Nowadays, copper helps solve issues Big Alcohol faces, but it comes with drawbacks. This blog post dives into the problem copper solves, the problems it creates, and the options iStill proposes.

The problem copper solves

When the industrial revolution and globalization hit the distilling industry, in the second half of the 19th century, it resulted in fewer but bigger distilleries. Bigger stills needed to be fed, as frequent as possible, with bigger, faster ferments. And bigger, uncontrolled, and faster ferments create off-flavors such as sulfurous compounds.

High, globalized demand asked for bigger and quicker ferments that resulted in higher sulfur content spirits. Sulfurous spirits aren’t very drinkable. Luckily, though, the stills were made out of copper. Lucky why? Lucky because copper reacts with sulfur. The problem copper solves is that it takes away sulfurous smells and tastes. Copper stills turned out to be a great medicine for imperfect ferments.

The problems copper creates

Copper solves a problem, while creating a bunch of new ones at the same time. Here is a summary:

  • Copper oxidizes and corrodes, so it needs to be replaced after 10 to 15 years;
  • Copper oxidation and corrosion can contaminate your drinks;
  • The oxidation and corrosion influence column vapor speeds;
  • Copper is expensive;
  • Copper has a high thermal conductivity, leading to lower total still efficiency;
  • With a low rate of control over column vapor speeds and passive reflux;
  • Copper columns need cleaning after every run, adding 2 hours to your work day.

How iStill helps solve the problems copper creates

There are basically two questions in need of an answer:

  1. How do our designs help solve or prevent the problems copper creates?
  2. How does iStill help fix sulfurous drinks?

If we start with the second one, please know that sulfurs are created in speedy, cold, big and under-managed ferments. How we solve that? Well, by introducing a new line of revolutionary fermentation vessels that give you perfect control over time, temperature, SG, and pH! A perfectly controlled ferment will not make notabel amounts of sulfur. For more reading, please see: https://istillblog.com/2018/12/07/innovation-fermenting-made-easy/.

How we tackle the first question? How do iStills deal with the problems copper creates? Easy. Our stills are build out of stainless steel. Stainless steel is chemically inert and does not rust. It is affordable and does not need replacement. Insulated, it offers perfect control over vapor speeds and passive reflux. Stainless steel column cleaning doesn’t need detergents. A five minute cold water flush will do it.

But if you do not have access to iStill level of fermentation control, and you end up with a sulfur over-expression, ruining your drink, we can still help out. Instead of copper columns, we provide copper catalysts.

A copper catalyst is a designated part in the still or column that has copper in it so that the gases, rising from the boiler, can mingle with it so that sulfur can catalyze. A copper catalyst means the rest of your still can be made out of stainless steel. You limit the oxidation, degradation, and contamination to a small and controlled part of your still, almost completely negating the negatives deriving from copper use, while at the same time creating all the surface area needed to polish up your sulfur-infected drink.

Surface area? Yes, the amount of surface area, where copper and gases can mingle, is the real measure of how much sulfur can catalyze. The more surface area the column or catalyst has, the more sulfur is scrubbed out. So how much surface are does a copper column have? And how should we design a catalyst that performs as well as a copper column?

Copper Column Math

The inside surface area of a column (or riser) is calculated via the following formula: D*Pi*H. Column Diameter times 3.14 times column height. Let’s take the iStill 2000 column as an example. Its diameter is 20 centimeters, Pi is always 3.14, and it has two column segments of each 75 centimeters tall. The formula now calculates a total inside surface area of 20*3.14*150 equals 9,420 cm2. Were the iStill 2000’s column made out of copper, it would offer 9,420 cm2 of surface area for the sulfur to catalyze on.

Here is a picture of the iStill 2000 and its column in potstill configuration …

Copper Catalyst Math

Now, let’s do the same calculations for a copper catalyst. First, we are going to take a good look at a copper spring filled catalyst, then we will do the math for our unique copper waffles.

The copper springs we have on offer are 1 by 1 cm tall and wide. If we apply the formula, we can calculate that the inner surface area is 1*3.14*1 equals 3.14 cm2. But, contrary to a copper column, these springs sit inside the still. It’s therefore not just the inside surface area that contacts gasses, but also the outside of the spring. This grossly doubles the surface are per spring to 6.28 cm2.

We can now calculate how many springs are needed to create the same surface area as a copper column. Let’s divide the total copper column surface area by the surface area of one spring. Here it is: 9,420 / 6.28 equals 1,500 copper springs. We only need 1,500 1*1 cm copper springs to have the same catalytic functionality as a complete copper column!

And that’s without taking into consideration that the springs are not perfectly round. Instead, they are made out of copper wire, which results in a corrugated shape that increases total surface area by 50%. 1,500 of our copper springs therefore surpass the catalytic functionality of the copper column by 50%!

Just three bags (500 springs per bag) outperform a copper column by 50% …

Copper Waffle Math

The copper catalytic waffle, that can be used in the iStill 2000, has a total surface area of 7,536 cm2. That is exactly 80% of the total surface are of the copper column calculated above. This means that if you add just two waffles to your (stainless steel) iStill 2000, you get 60% more copper surface are than a completely copper column.

iStill 2000 copper waffle …

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Summary

Copper, even though a great medicine for a bad ferment, comes with various drawbacks. The iStill solution of adding a copper catalyst or waffle to a stainless steel still gives you all the benefits, in terms of sulfur control, without any of the negatives associated with copper columns.

download

http://www.iStill.eu

 

 

Innovation: Fermenting made easy!

Introduction

iSanta comes early this year, and he brings loads of innovations! In the coming weeks we’ll inform you on what we  have concocted to disrupt the distilling industry some more. In the coming weeks we’ll be introducing new technology that will make your life as a craft distiller easier.

Last week, we kicked of with the new iStill Mashers. Please see the following link for more information: https://istillblog.com/2018/12/03/innovation-mashing-made-easy/. Today, let’s take a look one step downstream, at what may well be the most important part in the alcohol production process: fermenting.

Spoiler alert! We are not just going to talk about fermenting, but we are also introducing the all new iStill Fermenter! You know what? Let’s start with a picture of this amazing new machine …

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In this Blog post let’s first look at what fermentation is al about. Then, as a next step, we can draw up specifications on what constitutes a well-designed fermentation vessel. Last, let’s take a closer look at the all new iStill Fermenter.

What is fermenting?

Where mashing is about turning starch into fermentable sugars, fermentation is about yeast consuming those sugars and turning them into alcohol. Right? No, not really. Even though most distillers would answer the question “What is fermenting?”with a focus on the alcohol production process, that is only half of the answer.

Yes, of course, fermenting is the step where the actual alcohol is produced. And, no, that is not the most important role fermentation plays in the craft spirits production process. So what is? Flavor production! Fermentation is where 80 – 100% of your flavors develop. And that is key! Not the quantity of alcohol produced, but the quality. You are competing with Big Alcohol on taste levels, not on production levels. Craft distilling is conquering the market one glass, one bottle at a time.

The key to your craft distillery becoming successful at producing top shelf product is fermentation. Fermentation is where flavor is created. Fermentation is where you can make the difference … but only if you have perfect control over the alcohol and flavor production processes. So … alcohol production and flavor production, how does that work?

Fermentation as alcohol production process

The more sugar-rich the mash is, the higher the expected alcohol percentage at the end of the fermentation. Yeast consumes the sugars and turns it into alcohol. More sugars result in a bigger alcohol yield.

If we want to control the alcohol production part of fermentation, we need insight. Insight in the (remaining) sugar content AKA specific gravity of the fermentation. When we know specific gravity (SG), we know where we are in the alcohol production process and when the alcohol production process will finish. A drop in specific gravity (SG) means part of the sugar is already consumed and turned into alcohol. When the SG reaches zero on remaining sugar content, we know fermentation (as an alcohol production process) is done.

Of course, during the alcohol production phase a lot of CO2 is also produced. This gives you an indication that there is still fermentation activity going on, but it does not tell you where in the process the fermentation is or what kind of fermentation stopping emergencies you may have run into.

Fermentation as flavor production process

Over 80% of the flavor of your drink (or new make spirit AKA white dog) is made during fermentation. Basically, we can group the flavors in three factions:

  1. Base substrate flavors (e.g. grainy flavors in whiskey, molasse flavors in rum);
  2. Fruity flavors;
  3. Root-like and nutty flavors.

Base substrate flavors can be highlighted by a prolonged fermentation. Longer fermentation (even though bad for yield per production day) creates more flavors overall.

Fruity flavors can be highlighted via warmer fermentations. A warmer fermentation creates more fruity flavors.

Root-like and nutty flavors are underlined by more sour fermentations. A very sour fermentation creates more root-like and nutty flavors than a more neutral pH ferment.

Every drink has a specific flavor profile, with an emphasis on taste intensity, fruity flavors, and more root-like, nutty flavors. For instance, fruit brandy has a strong emphasis on fruity flavors. Single malt whisky and pot distilled rum have an emphasis on root-like and nutty flavors. Do you start to see why fermentation is so important?

What’s important in a fermenter?

Given the above, what does the (informed) craft distiller look for in a fermenter? Given the above, an IBC or tote may not be optimal, sure, you got that. But what is?

Fermenting fosters two processes. Alcohol production and (most importantly) flavor production. It therefore makes sense to expect any fermenter to give you information on time, temperature, pH, and SG. Insight in these parameters allows you perfect control over the alcohol and flavor production processes. Perfect control for spirits that have amazing, intense, and correct flavor profiles.

Specific Gravity or SG tells you where your fermentation is at from an alcohol production point of view. pH tells you how sour your fermentation is running, which in term helps you manage root-like and nutty flavors. Temperature management allows you to create more or less fruity flavors. And if you let your ferments take longer, you will highlight more of the substrate the spirit is made from.

Summary? Long story short? If you put fermentation center stage (as you should!) your fermenters better offer control over the alcohol and flavor production parameters, so you can create the best possible spirits!

Control has a secondary benefit and that’s ease of use. Knowing what’s going on lets you know what needs to be done. Ease of use is further enhanced by designs that make filling and emptying easy. You shouldn’t have to take care of your fermenter. Instead, your fermenter should take care of you. And of making the best possible distillers wines and beers in the world.

Efficiency is important too. Ferments create a lot of heat. The more efficient the cooling is, the less money you loose on cooling water.

Longevity, last but not least, is another topic on which fermenters should score high. If (controlled) fermenting sits at the center of successful spirits production, the craft distiller better makes sure he invests in equipment that does not break down and is build to last.

What technology is currently available?

Looking around at what’s available, fermenter-wise, is disappointing. Let me share our findings:

  1. Control. Existing fermenter technology offers either no control or (poor) temperature control. Time control, pH control, SG control are absent;
  2. Ease of use. Filling is often only possible through the top manhole, meaning one has to climb up. Fermenters in general discharge close to the ground, creating bottle necks during clean-out. Insight, computers, automated fermentation programs are not available;
  3. Efficiency. Most units use double boilers for cooling. Indirect cooling is inefficient, a waste of money and water.
  4. Longevity. Our research shows that most fermenters are made of 0.7 to 1.7 mm thick stainless steel. That is thin, way too thin! We understand that thinner sheeting makes a fermenter cheaper, but our material expertise lets us conclude it is a trade-off you don’t want to make.

So, understanding what makes for successful ferments, and what a good fermenter should offer, made looking at what was available in the market space a very disappointing experience. Our thoughts? Let’s make things better. Let fermentation take its place center stage. As the distiller’s most important access to flavor creation and spirit expression, fermentation deserves that spot. And as a (wannabe) successful craft distiller, you deserve the equipment to help get you there.

The iStill Fermenter

With the goal of making fermenting top shelf spirits easier, iStill now introduces next generation fermenters. In 5,000 and 2,000 liter net capacity. Here is a picture of the 5,000 liter model:

IMG_2458

And here’s what makes our new iStill Fermenters nextgen and unique. Using the same coatrack applied when judging current fermentation technology, we can differentiate between:

  1. Control;
  2. Ease of operation;
  3. Efficiency;
  4. Longevity.

Control

The nextgen iStill Fermenters offer:

  • Time control, that allows you to dial in how long and in how many steps you want to ferment. Important for substrate flavor control;
  • Temperature control (0.1 degree accuracy), both with automated cooling and heating, for control over fruity flavors;
  • pH control (0.1 pH accuracy) for the expression of root-like and nutty flavors;
  • SG control for insight in the alcohol production part of the fermentation process.

Ease of operation

The iStill Fermenters can be ordered fully automated. After you dial in your fermentation procedure, you just press “Start” and the machine does the whole fermentation process for you.

The iStill Fermenters are connected to the internet. This way you can remotely supervise and control your ferment. It also allows us to upload new software or perform remote checks, future-proofing your distillery.

The iFermenters come with push messaging, whenever certain parameters (like temperature, time or pH) run out of their pre-set values.

Our Fermenter comes with automated programs for Brandy, Bourbon, Fruit Brandy, Rum, Vodka, and Whisky. Each program helps create those flavors you are looking for, given the specific spirit category you want to make.

The iStill Fermenter comes with two big manholes. One at the top (for filling) and one near the bottom (for easy access). The PLC is operated via a touch screen or via your smartphone or computer.

Another unique feature the new iStill Fermenter has, is the Easy Discharge Center. The unit sits, as it were, on stalks. This creates a high and easy access discharge exit. You can easily forklift a receiver/container under the actual boiler for easy cleaning and grain handling. Lastly, it has Easy Filling Connect. Just connect a hose to the connect and you can start filling your Fermenter with either water or mash.

Easy Discharge Center …

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Efficiency

Due to its compact design, unique indirect heater, insulation, and direct cooling, the all new iStill Fermenter is the most efficient fermenter in the world.

Both sizes, the 2000 and 5000, can be additionally equipped with the patented Jet Propulsion Agitator System (J-PAS). Together with the flush square boiler design, it helps prevent shearing, which leads to better mixing efficiency, better particle distribution, and optimal heat distribution in your ferment. The system counteracts vortex formation too, resulting in higher fill grades, easier cleaning, and no unwanted oxygen addition.

Longevity

Most fermenters are made out of 0.7 to 1.7 mm thick steel. Since we feel fermenting is THE essential step in your flavor production process, we decided to beef-up design specifications.

Our fermenters use 3 to 5 mm thick stainless steel. They are build to last! The sides are insulated and the insulation is armored for heavy duty use.

The actual tank is suspended in a strong, stainless steel skid. The skid acts as an exoskeleton that protects your fermenter, and that allows for side-by-side operation of multiple mashers and/or fermenters.

Specifications

iStill Fermenter 5000:

  • 5,000 liter net capacity;
  • Insulated flush square boiler design;
  • Weight: 950 kilo;
  • Sizes: 170x170x320 (wide, deep, high, in centimeters, J-PAS adds 50 to height);
  • Power: 6.75 kW;
  • iStill Boiler Radiator for direct (instead of indirect) cooling;
  • Manholes: 40/60 cm diameter, one at top, one near bottom;
  • Supports on the grain, potato or pulp fermentations;
  • Patented indirect heater system;
  • PLC system and touch screen computer (option), with:
  • Automated fermenting programs;
  • Time, pH, temp, agitator, and SG control, and with:
  • Internet connectivity, smartphone & computer management and control;
  • Easy Fill Connect and Easy Discharge Center;
  • J-PAS variable speed mixing technology (option);
  • Optional: WiFi.

iStill Fermenter 2000:

  • 2,000 liter net capacity;
  • Insulated flush square boiler design;
  • Weight: 600 kilo;
  • Sizes: 130x130x230 (wide, deep, high, in centimeters, J-PAS adds 50 to height);
  • Power: 6.75 kW;
  • iStill Boiler Radiator for direct (instead of indirect) cooling;
  • Manholes: 30/50 cm diameter, one at top, one near bottom;
  • Supports on the grain, potato or pulp fermentations;
  • Patented indirect heater system;
  • PLC system and touch screen computer (option), with:
  • Automated fermenting programs, with:
  • Time, pH, temp, agitator, and SG control, and with:
  • Internet connectivity, smartphone & computer management and control;
  • Easy Fill Connect and Easy Discharge Center;
  • J-PAS variable speed mixing technology (option);
  • Optional: WiFi.

Pricing

The iStill Fermenters come in two sizes: 2000 and 5000 liter. Each size can be ordered “naked” as well as fully automated. The fully automated versions have the J-Pas mixing technology and WiFi as additional options.

The iStill Fermenter 5000 “Naked” costs EUR 20.000. The iStill Fermenter 2000 “Naked” costs EUR 15.000,-. It has screw-in ducts for heaters and controls (such as temperature), and it comes with the iStill Boiler Radiator, that can be used for both cooling and heating.

The fully automated iStill Fermenter 5000 costs EUR 25.000. The iStill Fermenter 2000, fully automated, costs EUR 20.000. The J-PAS mixing system adds EUR 7.500 to the price of the 5000 liter model and EUR 5.000 to the 2000 liter model. WiFi (instead of internet connection via a cable) adds EUR 1.000 to the bill.

Line-up

The iStill Fermenter comes in the sizes 2,000 and 5,000 liters. We could probably build them smaller, but why would you want that? Pricing will only go down marginally, and in order to make a living out of producing your own alcohol … well … there is no substitute for cubic inches.

This is the second of a new line of innovations. The iStill Masher got introduced first and optimizes the first step of your alcohol production process: starch to fermentable sugar conversion. The all new nextgen fermenters perform the next step, where sugars are converted to alcohol and flavors are formed. What’s next? Well, distilling of course. Pump the beer or wine you just created into your iStill and concentrate and harvest the flavors you are looking for.

Delivery and availability

We are currently building the first iStill Fermenters. Orders or requests for information can be placed via Sales@iStillmail.com. Current lead time is 1 month for the naked-series and 3 months for the fully automated one.

Our online design center (www.iStill.eu/designcenter) will be updated for the iStill Fermenter in just a week from now.

Building a new batch of iStill Fermenters as we speak …

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http://www.iStill.eu

Innovation: Mashing made easy!

Introduction

iSanta comes early this year, and he brings loads of innovations! In the coming weeks we’ll keep you posted on what’s new. Today, let’s start with what’s basically the first step in the alcohol production process: mashing. Spoiler alert: we are not just going to talk about mashing, but also introducing the all new iStill Masher! You know what? Let’s start with a picture of that amazing new machine …

Perspective-1.png

What is mashing?

Mashing is where we turn grain starch into fermentable sugars. We do so by heating-up water, adding the grains, and then adding enzymes (or malted barley) to help the starch to sugar conversion.

Steps and rests

Various steps can be distinguished, where various enzymes do their work. Most importantly:

  • Beta Amylase rest at 62c;
  • Alpha Amylase rest at 72c.

Depending on the grain bill and enzymes each rest can take 30 to 90 minutes. Sometimes additional steps are needed. Corn, for instance, needs much higher temperatures to give up its starch. This makes a boil or high temperature rest at 90c necessary.

When the enzymes have converted the starch into sugar, mashing is done. Before the next step in the alcohol production step can start – fermenting – the mash needs to be cooled down to 25-28c. A cool down is therefore always the last step of any mash process.

Two basic procedures

There are two basic mash procedures:

  1. Step-up mashing;
  2. Step-down mashing.

In a step-up procedure, water and grain is mixed and heated-up and taken through the various mash steps. Enzymes or malted barley (a grain with excess enzymes for starch to sugar conversion) are added along the way.

Basically, in a step-down mash, water is brought to the highest needed temperature (given the specific grain bill), grains and enzymes or malted barley are added, cooling the mash down and taking the process through its various steps and rests.

Step-up mashing is mostly used in the beer industry. Given that step-down mashing is easier, faster, and takes less energy, for the distilling industry most choose a step-down procedure.

What’s important in a masher or mash tun?

Given the above, what masher or mash tun do you need to buy? What’s important to consider? Let’s dive in deeper.

Mashing is a process. What process steps should your mash tun support? Well, mashing takes place at high temperatures, so heating efficiency is important.  And since different enzymes achieve conversion at different temperatures, so is control. Finally, because fermenting – the next step in the alcohol production process – takes place at much lower temperatures than mashing, cooling efficiency is important.

Functionally, it is the craft distiller that does the mashing. So how should the masher support you in your daily operation? Ease of operation for sure is important. The less time you spend mashing, the more time you can spend doing other stuff. And since no whiskey can be made without mashing, longevity is crucial too. Your mash tun needs to be build to last, so it will never become the weakest link in the production proces.

The iStill Masher

With the goal of making mashing easier, iStill now introduces next generation mashers. In 5,000 and 2,000 liter net capacity. Here is a picture of the 5,000 liter model:

perspective-2.png

And here’s what makes them unique:

  1. Efficiency;
  2. Control;
  3. Ease of operation;
  4. Longevity.

Efficiency

Due to its compact design, unique indirect heaters, and insulation, the all new iStill Masher is the most efficient mash tun in the world. A 5,000 liter Bourbon mash costs 360 kWh. At 0.15 Euro or Dollar per kWh, the total costs of mashing are only EUR 54,- or USD 54,-. A single malt whisky mash uses only 240 kWh, which adds up to 36 Euro’s or Dollars.

A Bourbon mash in the iStill Masher 2000 costs 140 kWh, which translates to 21 Euro’s or Dollars. A single malt mash, which takes place at lower temperatures, uses 100 kWh and costs only 14 Euro’s or Dollars.

Both iStill Mashers come with the patented Jet Propulsion Agitator System (J-PAS). Together with the flush square boiler design, it helps limit shearing, which leads to better mixing efficiency, better particle distribution, and optimal heat distribution in your mash. The system counteracts vortex formation too, resulting in both higher fill grades and easier cleaning.

Control

With only 0.1 degree temperature tolerance, the new iStill mashers offer total and unmatched control over the starch to sugar conversion process. Here’s a mash tun that puts you in charge!

Up to 40 individual mash programs can be dialed in. Each program gives the craft distiller control over the number of mash steps (up to 9), the temperatures and power settings during those steps, how fast the agitator should mix, and how long the conversion rests should take.

Ease of operation

The iStill Mashers come fully automated. After you dial in your mash procedure, you just press “Start” and the machine does the mashing for you.

The iStill mashers are connected to the internet. This way you can remotely supervise and control your masher. It also allows us to upload new software or perform remote checks.

The iMasher has auto-start. This enables you to pre-heat your mash water and shave off a few hours of your workday.

Our masher comes with automated programs for Bourbon and single malt whisky mashing. You simply select the program and use our experience to help you mash.

The iStill Masher comes with two big manholes. One at the top (for grain filling) and one near the bottom (for easy access). The PLC is operated via a touch screen or via your smartphone or computer.

Another unique feature the new iStill Masher has, is the Easy Discharge Center. The unit sits, as it were, on stalks. This creates a high and easy access discharge exit. You can easily forklift a receiver/container under the actual boiler for easy cleaning and grain handling. Lastly, it has Easy Filling Connect. Just connect a hose to the connect and you can start filling your masher.

Longevity

Most mashers out there are made out of 1 or 2 mm thick steel. Since we feel mashing is an essential step to your production process, we decided to beef-up design specifications.

Our mashers use 3 to 5 mm thick stainless steel. They are build to last! The sides are insulated and the insulation is armored for heavy duty use.

The actual boiler is suspended in a strong, stainless steel skid. The skid acts as an exoskeleton that protects your mash tun, and that allows for side-by-side operation of multiple mashers and/or fermenters.

Specifications

iStill Masher 5000:

  • 5,000 liter net capacity;
  • Insulated flush square boiler design;
  • Weight: 1,000 kilo;
  • Sizes: 170x170x360 (wide, deep, high, in centimeters)
  • Power: 90 kW;
  • Heat-up time Bourbon mash: < 3 hours;
  • Heat-up time Single Malt Whisky mash: <2 hours;
  • Total mash time Bourbon: < 3 hours;
  • Total mash time Single Malt Whisky: <2 hours;
  • iStill Boiler Radiator for direct (instead of indirect) cooling;
  • Manholes: 40/60 cm diameter, one at top, one near bottom;
  • Supports grain as well as potato mashing;
  • Can be used as a cooker as well as a masher;
  • Patented indirect heater system;
  • PLC system and touch screen computer;
  • Automated mashing programs;
  • Internet connectivity, smartphone & computer management and control;
  • Easy Fill Connect and Easy Discharge Center;
  • J-PAS variable speed mixing technology;
  • Optional: WiFi.

iStill Masher 2000:

  • 2,000 liter net capacity;
  • Insulated flush square boiler design;
  • 650 kilo;
  • Sizes: 130x130x270 (wide, deep, high, in centimeters);
  • Power: 36 kW;
  • Heat-up time Bourbon mash: < 3 hours;
  • Heat-up time Single Malt Whisky mash: <2 hours;
  • Total mash time Bourbon: < 3 hours;
  • Total mash time Single Malt Whisky: <2 hours;
  • iStill Boiler Radiator for direct (instead of indirect) cooling;
  • Manholes: 30/50 cm diameter, one at top, one hear bottom;
  • Supports grain as well as potato mashing;
  • Can be used as a cooker as well as a masher;
  • Patented indirect heater system;
  • PLC system and touch screen computer;
  • Automated mashing programs;
  • Internet connectivity, smartphone & computer management and control;
  • Easy Fill Connect and Easy Discharge Center;
  • J-PAS variable speed mixing technology:
  • Optional: WiFi.

Pricing

The iStill Masher 5000 costs EUR 50,000. The iStill Masher 2000 costs EUR 35.000. Both units come fully pre-assembled. Immediately after being connected to water (in/out) and electricity, it is ready to run your first mash.

Line-up

The iStill Masher comes in the sizes 2,000 and 5,000 liters. We could probably build it smaller, but why would you want that? Pricing will only go down marginally, and in order to make a living out of producing your own alcohol … well … there is no substitute for cubic inches.

This is the first of a new line of innovations. The iStill Masher performs the first step of your alcohol production process. Expect us to release new products, like an iStill certified pump for easy mash transfer for example, in the very near future! Again, to make mashing easier, to make your  life as a craft distiller easier. This is the first of a wide range of new innovations. Stay tuned! Follow the iStill Blog and follow us on Facebook.

Delivery and availability

We are currently building the first iStill Mashers. Orders or requests for information can be placed via Sales@iStillmail.com. Current lead time is 3 months. Our online design center (www.iStill.eu/designcenter) will be updated for the iStill Masher in just two weeks from now.

We are building the revolutionary iStill Mashers right now. Wanna buy … ?

http://www.iStill.eu