Aspects of Distillation (2): Power Management!


“Aspects of Distillation” is a new series the iStill Blog hosts. It aims to cover as many aspects as possible. Aspects of – you guessed it! – the distillation process. Think alcohol formation, flavors, mashing, distillery design … and more. In fact, if you have a suggestion, please email us the aspect you want us to dive into. Via Today’s topic? The importance of power management.

Power Management

The possibility to manage the power setting on your still is important, because it allows you to distill faster or slower. There are four more things I want you to consider, when investigating the role power management plays in the distillation process of taste-rich spirits like whiskey, rum, brandy, and gin:

  1. Higher power settings translate into more heads and tails being pushed into your hearts faction;
  2. Lower power settings translate into less heads and tails being pushed into your hearts faction;
  3. Power settings influence the flavor composition of the drinks you produce;
  4. And also have an influence on the size of the hearts cut: your yield.

Higher power settings result in more smearing, longer aging periods, and a lower total yield of new make spirit. Lower power settings result in less smearing, faster aging, and a higher total yield of new make spirit, at the low cost of the distillation run taking a bit longer. Since power settings have a huge impact on both yield and flavor composition, it is an important tool that any distiller should have on his or her still.


All iStills come standard with power management.


All iStill customers have perfect control over their still’s power setting. They can manage the power setting to 1% accuracy for total control over flavor composition and yield.

iStill’s Power Management …


iStill Online is Live!


We are very proud to inform you that iStill Online just went live! What it is? An online community from and for iStill customers and aficionados. For people that are interested in craft and advanced distilling! Go check it out via !!!

Lay-out and Levels

What iStill Online offers? Basically there are five major topics:

  1. Articles;
  2. Videos (iStill University online!);
  3. My Distillery;
  4. Calculators;
  5. Support.

There are three levels at which you can participate:

  1. Customers (access to all topics);
  2. iStill University students (access to everything, save support);
  3. Distillers in general (free access to articles and assorted videos).


A selection of articles is available to all. We want to share our experience and knowledge with as many people as possible. The articles are therefore open and available for anyone that wants to research distillation, advanced distilling, craft distillation, or iStill.

Videos (iStill University online!)

The whole iStill University Training is video-taped. People interested in the iStill University’s curriculum, distillers that want to learn more about the craft and science behind their (future) job can subscribe and order and study online. Purchasing the online iStill University Training is possible from next week onwards.

The online iStill University consists of 15 series of videos, ranging from making whiskey, gin and vodka, to still design, and the business side of affairs. Two videos are shared for free, so that potential students can get a good feel for the level of detail and practical applications the iStill University Training offers, before investing in their further education.

“Yeast Management” is the first video that’s free for all to see and enjoy. “Understanding Barrels” is the second one. Have fun watching them! We feel they contain information any distiller should have access to.

My Distillery

This is where you design your own distillery. In such a way that iStill Online remembers you and your design, so that you can easily come back and improve your plans as time progresses. The design center is already fully operational. The memory function will be added next week. My Distillery is available for free and for everyone.


Calculators are available for customers and people that followed the iStill University Training. In the past or now, via online. The calculators help you hone your business and distilling processes. We are currently building calculators that help you gain insight in yield, operating costs, brewing vs. distilling capacity, ABV/proof, SO2, and more.


This part of iStill Online is specific for our customers. What you can find under Support? Well, your manuals, for instance. On iStill assembly, testing, calibration, and cleaning. There will be a Q&A, that helps answer your questions. If you have an issue, Support is the section where you can find the online Issue Management Protocol. Customers will be informed about registering for support in the next few days.

iStill Online …




About iStill – distilling made easy!

Why we do the things we do? What makes our clock tick?

We believe that challenging the status-quo is the only way forward.

How we do that?

By thinking outside of the box and doing things differently, iStill designs beautiful and revolutionary high-tech products.

What we do?

We simply build the best distillation equipment in the world.

Where we are located?

iStills are designed and produced in the Netherlands, Europe’s most competitive and innovative economy (source: WEF).

How we support our customers?

iStill trains its customers to become master distillers. We share knowledge and experience widely and freely, and actively support various distillers networks.

When iStill started?

In started production in april 2013, so only around 7 years ago.

How big is iStill?

Since 2013 we delivered over 750 stills and distilleries to customers all over the globe. We are proud to be the world’s leading still and distillery manufacturer.

What will the future bring?

A distilling industry that frees itself from the tyranny of tradition, and – instead – bustles with vibrant and creative energy.

Anything else?

Hope to meet you soon in Amsterdam. Let’s have a drink and discuss distillation!


Drs. Odin van Eijk, MScBA, etc.

CEO of iStill.

Creating big ripples …


Love in the Time of Corona!

Hello All at iStill,

I wanted to update everyone on the iStill installation. We successfully installed the unit and had it running last week. We did the cleaning and sacrificial runs and ran about 120 gallons of 194 proof ethanol on the first run.

This was excellent news as we have changed gears in the US. Limited distilleries have joined forces to produce hand sanitizer due to the extreme shortage in the US given the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The timing of receiving the still could not have been  better. We are making hand sanitizer for the public as well as local and regional health care facilities. Without this iStill, I would be dramatically reduced in capacity.

The Crostwater Team says THANK YOU. As well as our local community and health care teams.

Best regards,

Kevin D. Close

COO, Crostwater Distilled Spirits


The new iStill 2000 has arrived at Crostwater Distilled Spirits …


Verzoek Aanpassing Staatscourant 2020 / 17248 (Dutch)!

Tijdelijke Vrijstelling Handdesinfectie WHO-formuleringen Covid-19 2020

Staatscourant 2020 17248


WHO-formulering 1 stelt destilleerderijen onvoldoende in staat om snel en adequaat de handdesinfectie-middelen te maken die nodig zijn om de tekorten in Nederland op te lossen en zo een bijdrage te leveren aan de Corona-Crisis.

Het eerste probleem is dat WHO-formulering 1 veel te strak gedefinieerd is en aangehouden wordt. Het tweede probleem is dat de Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport stelt dat uitsluitend uitgeleverd mag worden aan eerstelijns zorgverleners.

Door de te strakke definiëring is elke destilleerderij, die hoopt bij te springen, de facto in overtreding. Door de levering uitsluitend aan eerstelijns zorgverleners toe te staan, duwt ILENT de destilleerder in een onmogelijke positie richting zijn lokale clientèle enerzijds en zijn administratieve verplichtingen anderzijds, waardoor directe (en snelle) uitlevering de facto onmogelijk wordt zonder in mogelijke overtreding te geraken.

WHO-formulering 1 (aanpassingsvoorstel)

WHO-formulering 1 stelt dat vrijgestelde handdesinfectie de volgende ingrediënten moet bevatten:

  • Ethanol (80% v/v);
  • Glycerol (1,45% v/v);
  • Waterstofperoxide (0,125% v/v)

Het moet gemaakt worden van de volgende ingrediënten:

  • 96% ethanol;
  • 98% glycerol;
  • 3% waterstofperoxide.

Een ethanol percentage van 80% is voor de destilleerderij eenvoudig te bereiken. De problemen zitten hem in de veel te strakke formule-percentages voor glycerol en (vooral) waterstofperoxide.

WHO-formulering 1 moet momenteel 1,45% glycerol bevatten. Dit betekent dat de destilleerderij die handdesinfectie wil leveren met volledige zekerheid een glycerol-volume moet bieden dat tussen de 0,01445 en 0,01454 ligt. Dat is een nauwkeurigheid van 5 cijfers achter de komma die niet of nauwelijks haalbaar is.

Omdat de glycerol voor de ontsmettende werking zelf niet van belang is, maar meer een huidverzorgende functie biedt na de daadwerkelijke ontsmetting, is het voorstel om tot een minder strakke interpretatie te komen wat betreft de te gebruiken hoeveelheid glycerine.

De aangepaste NL-formulering kan, wat betreft glycerol, dan als volgt zijn:

  • Glycerol (1-1,5% v/v).

Verder staat in WHO-formulering 1 momenteel dat de handdesinfectie alleen gemaakt mag worden met 98% glycerol. Dit is een onnodige en complicerende factor.

De aangepaste NL-formulering kan, wat betreft de ingrediëntenlijst, dan als volgt zijn:

  • >95% glycerol.

WHO-formulering 1 moet momenteel 0,125% waterstofperoxide bevatten. Dit betekent dat de destilleerderij die handdesinfectie wil leveren met volledige zekerheid een waterstofperoxide-volume moet bieden dat tussen de 0,001245 en 0,001254 per liter handdesinfectie ligt. Dat is een nauwkeurigheid van 6 cijfers achter de komma die niet haalbaar is.

Omdat de waterstofperoxide voor de ontsmettende werking zelf niet van belang is (de ultra-kleine hoeveelheid reageert en oxideert binnen een paar uur met de rest-zuren – met name sulfer – in de ethanol), is het voorstel om tot een minder strakke formulering te komen wat betreft de te gebruiken hoeveelheid waterstofperoxide.

De aangepaste NL-formulering kan, wat betreft waterstofperoxide, dan als volgt zijn:

  • Waterstofperoxide (0-0,125% v/v).

Verder staat in WHO-formulering 1 momenteel dat de handdesinfectie alleen gemaakt mag worden met 3% waterstofperoxide. Dit is een onnodige en complicerende factor.

De aangepaste NL-formulering 1 kan, wat betreft de ingrediëntenlijst, dan als volgt zijn:

  • 3-20% waterstofperoxide.

De aangepaste NL-formulering 1 wordt dan:

  • Ethanol (80% v/v);
  • Glycerol (1-1,5% v/v);
  • Waterstofperoxide (0-0,125% v/v)

De aangepaste ingrediëntenlijst wordt dan:

  • 96% ethanol;
  • >95% glycerol;
  • 3-20% waterstofperoxide.

Uitlevering (aanpassingsvoorstel)

In plaats van uitsluitend uitlevering aan eerstelijns zorgverleners toe te staan, zou ILENT de volgende (werkbare) regel moeten introduceren:

  • Uitlevering vindt bij voorkeur plaats aan eerstelijns zorgverleners.


Wij roepen de politiek op om de bovenstaande aanpassingen zo snel mogelijk door te voeren, zodat destilleerderijen bij kunnen dragen aan de oplossing van de Corona-Crisis, zonder daarbij in overtreding te zijn!


Business as Usual?

Even though Corona is holding the world in a grip, so far, we are able to continue to manufacture and deliver iStills all over the world. If anything, it is getting busier!

Here are a few pictures of a 5000 liter fermenter (Mexico), a 2000 liter iStill with 500 liter Extractor (US Virgin Islands), and an iStill 500 with Extractor (UK) that are picked up for crating, and then transport.

Fun at work …

Into the truck you go …


Aspects of Distillation (1): Air Pressure!


“Aspects of Distillation” is a new series the iStill Blog will host. It aims to cover as many aspects as possible. Aspects of – you guessed it! – the distillation process. Think alcohol formation, flavors, mashing, distillery design … and more. In fact, if you have a suggestion, please email us the aspect you want us to dive into. Via Today’s topic? The influence and importance air pressure has on distillation.

Air pressure

There are three things I want you to consider, when investigating air pressure and its role in the distillation process:

  1. Air pressure directly influences the flavor composition of the drinks you produce;
  2. Air pressure constantly changes;
  3. So changing air pressure constantly changes the flavor composition of your drinks.

Starting this investigation with air pressure variability, I want you to understand that higher altitude results in lower air pressure. Also – at any altitude – air pressure changes constantly.

When you make drinks like gin, whiskey, rum or brandy, you cut for heads, hearts, and tails. The best way to measure and replicate cuts is by looking at the temperatures in the column or riser of your still. Do you cut from heads to hearts at 82c? Good, you now have a reference point to do the exact same run again tomorrow, and create the exact same cuts again, by using 82c as the switch-point from heads to hearts, right? Wrong.

As air pressure constantly changes, so do associated boiling points. In other words: given yesterday’s air pressure, the 82c cut-point may have been spot-on. But what if air pressure is lower, due to a bad weather front moving in? What was a good decision at 82c yesterday, may need to be 81.6c today.

Now, 0.4c degrees difference does not sound like a lot, but look at it this way: if it takes your still 25 minutes to move up in temperature 0.4c … that now means you either have collected 25 minutes of heads into your hearts, or that you just lost 25 minutes of good product to a badly judged heads cut!

Cut management via a parrot and ABV only deepens the problem. Cut management by taste is very subjective and influenced by what you ate, so no solution either. So how can this problem, that hugely influences flavors and therefor the consistency of craft distilled spirits, be solved?


iStill designed an air pressure sensor. It measures the air pressure every second. If the air pressure changes, the sensor informs the computer. The computer then automatically adapts your cut-points to compensate.

If we use the above example, with yesterday’s heads to hearts cut taking place at 82c. Today, you want to replicate the same recipe, so you look it up in your product library, load it into the iStill computer, and tell the iStill to start executing. The air pressure sensor notices immediately (and constantly) that the air pressure – relative to yesterday – is 0.4c off. As a result, the computer automatically changes your heads to hearts cut from 82c to 81.6c. If the air pressure monitor sees a change from 0.4c to – say – 0.3c, the heads to hearts cut will immediately compensate to 81.7c instead of 81.6c.


All iStills are equipped with air pressure sensors and the resulting dynamic cuts management for heads, hearts, and tails. It is a standard feature to our stills. It helps craft distillers make better product, more consistently, and with less guessing, effort and supervision.

iStill’s amazing air pressure sensor …


Distilling Whiskey and Rum Sustainably!

Management summary

The direct operating costs of producing a liter of new make whiskey or rum on an iStill, ready to barrel at 65%, are EUR 0,49 versus EUR 1,99 on a traditional copper potstill. Producing whiskey or rum on an iStill reduces operating costs with as much as 75%, when compared to a traditional copper potstill. The lower operating costs of running an iStill translate into higher margins and a more sustainable, future-proof business model.


This iStill Blog post presents an operating cost comparison for new make whiskey or rum production. iStills versus traditional set-ups. Why operating costs are important? Well, the lower they are, the higher your profit margin – given a certain selling price. Higher margins allow you to make more money or use part of that extra margin to weather through tough times. Also, lower operating costs signal a more eco-friendly, more environmental and sustainable business model. Less energy consumption equals a lower carbon footprint.

Of course we know the iStill numbers through-and through. The numbers of traditional stills, that we present in this iStill Blog, are based on feedback we got from customers experienced in running traditional equipment before switching to iStills. If the manufacturers of more traditional, copper stills feel that the examples underneath do not do their distilling solutions total justice, please reach out to us directly, so we can discuss and – where needed – amend.

Operating costs

Operating costs are the expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis. Rent of the building, power to run the stills, the costs of buying in grains or other substrates, staffing costs, equipment depreciation costs, etc.

In order to keep this post relatively simple and to the point, we’ll focus on the variable costs of running the still, depreciation costs of your distilling machine, and the staffing needed to keep on distilling. Costs like the rent of the building or substrate purchase costs won’t be investigated, since they are (in the context of this iStill Blog post) considered a given. Meaning they don’t necessarily vary a lot between different still options.

Calculating energy costs for whiskey or rum

The efficiency number of a traditional potstill is around 35%. A traditional potstill needs two distillation cycles to bring an 8% whiskey beer or rum wine to the barrel aging strength of 60 – 65%. The iStill can turn an 8% base beer or wine into 60 – 65% new make in one go. So you save the manpower and energy of at least one run.

The iStill 2000 uses around 280 kWh to make rum or whiskey new make spirit. The associated costs are per run are well under EUR 50,-. Given the inefficiencies of the traditional set-up, a total energy usage of 800 to 1000 kWh is expected per run. This translates into direct energy usage costs, for a double distillation, of around EUR 190,-.

The amount of 2000 liters of base beer translates into about 220 liters of 65% strong new make spirit. When we divide the energy usage per still type by the number of liters of new make produced, we can learn the energy costs per liter. For the iStill the energy costs per liter are EUR 0,22. For the traditional copper potstill the energy costs per liter are EUR 0,87.

Calculating depreciation costs for whiskey or rum stills

A traditional 2000 liter copper still, made by a reputable manufacturer costs at least EUR 200.000,-. The iStill 2000, with some options, is around EUR 80.000,-. Because the iStills are made from chemically resistant stainless steel, instead of copper, the unit has an expected longevity of around 20 years.

The copper or stainless steel boiler of a traditional set-up may have the same longevity or slightly less. The copper column or riser oxidizes and suffers from the continuous need for (acid) cleaning. It is usually eaten away in around 10 to 15 years. Adding up boiler and column life expectancy for traditional potstills and averaging them out, leads to an overall total system longevity of 15 years for a traditional copper potstill.

Following a lineair depreciation curve, the 80k iStill 2000 has an annual depreciation of EUR 4.000,-. Based on 200 runs per year, the depreciation costs per run are EUR 20,-. When one run produces 220 liters, the depreciation costs per liter are EUR 0,09.

Following the same lineair depreciation curve, the EUR 200.000,- traditional copper potstill has an annual depreciation of EUR 13.300,-. At 200 runs per year, this translates into EUR 66,50 of depreciation per run or EUR 0,30 per liter of new make spirit produced.

Calculating staffing costs for whiskey or rum

Manning the still costs time, and time is money. Managing a traditional still asks for constant supervision. Cleaning can take 2 to 3 hours. Often the boiler design and column/riser design are not optimized for 8 hour shifts. How much manpower does it take to run a traditional still? At least 1 FTE. How much manpower does it take to run the iStill, which is automated and needs much less cleaning down-time? Around 0.2 FTE.

Say that hiring a distiller costs EUR 36.000,- per year. Running a traditional set-up then adds EUR 36.000,- to your overall costs. The iStill – by comparison – costs less than EUR 8.000,- to staff. A stunning difference of EUR 28.000,- per year.

In the above example, where we use a 2000 liter still to make 220 liters of 60-65% new make spirit per run, doing 200 runs per year translates into 44.000 liters of new make. The staffing costs of a traditional system are EUR 36.000,-, which translates into additional variable costs per liter of EUR 0,82. The much lower effort needed to run the iStill 2000 translates into only EUR 0,18 of staffing costs per liter.

iStill: reduce your operating costs by 75% …










iStill Distilleries Help Battle Corona!


As the world hordes toilet paper and hand sanitizer, more and more iStill distilleries switch from spirits to hand sanitizer and detergent production. I guess making toilet paper with an iStill is a challenge, where producing hand sanitizer isn’t?


We sorta lost count of who is helping out to relieve shortages, help care institutions, hospitals, or simply the citizens of their city, but here are a few:

  • Ireland: Listoke Distillery (in production);
  • Northern Ireland: Boatyard Distillery (in production);
  • Scotland: Verdant Distillery (in production);
  • England: Exmoor Distillery (soon);
  • Belgium: Sterk Stokers (in production), Acker & Go (soon);
  • Cyprus: Crimdell Distillery (soon);
  • USA: Jersey City Distillery among many others, Kyle Wray, Jeff Denise, Joe Canella, Michael Hart, and Ron Folino, Frank Kudlack and Lisa Desrocher;
  • Australia: Brisbane Distillery, Earp Distillery (both in production);
  • Virgin Islands: Mutiny Rum (in production);
  • Netherlands: iStill HQ/”In Onschuld Initiative” (in production), The Stillery (soon).

And that’s just a few of ‘m!


If you want to make a hand sanitizer, please use the WHO recipe. You (as a distiller) can either use remaining feints (heads & tails) or GNS or even new make rum or whiskey as a starting point. Like this:

  1. Bring the base alcohol to 70% (via distillation or dilution);
  2. Add around 1% of glycerine;
  3. Mix well;
  4. Bottle and distribute.

iStill is already producing 1,000 liters of hand sanitizer per day …


Notification to the Craft Distilling Industry!


There is something we discovered and that we need to talk about. Over the last year, we have investigated the manufacture of copper stills next to our existing stainless steel iStill suite. Why? Simply because, when we look at the market, the majority of stills being sold is still made from copper.

I want to inform you that, based on recent research findings, we will not build copper stills. Is that what I feel we need to talk about on an industry level? No, I do not propose to discuss our decision. What I want instead, is to discuss why we decided to stop the copper project. The reason behind our decision affects us all and is therefor a topic that deserves a wider discussion.

Here is why we stopped developing copper stills: ethyl carbamate formation.

Ethyl carbamate formation

Ethyl carbamate is carcinogenic. It can cause cancer. Ethyl carbamate is formed during distillation, when the run is performed with a copper column or copper riser.

Fruits (like apples and apricots) and grains (like barley) contain cyanide. During fermentation the cyanide is released into the wash. During distillation a part of it travels up the column or riser.

When that column or riser is made from copper, the cyanide oxidizes with copper into cyanate. And when cyanate comes in contact with alcohol (in your still or in your bottle), it forms the toxic ethyl carbamate. These are the schematics:

cyanide + copper => cyanate + ethanol => ethyl carbamate

Glass and stainless steel columns and risers are chemically resistant. Research shows that glass and stainless steel do not transform cyanide into cyanate into ethyl carbamate. Like this:

cyanide + stainless steel / glass ≠ cyanate + ethanol ≠ ethyl carbamate


Since we now know that copper stills cause ethyl carbamate formation, a carcinogenic substance, shouldn’t something be done about it? Isn’t it in the industry’s interest to manage this, preferably to zero, or as close to zero as possible? Can craft distillers afford not to act, given their responsibility towards their customers, the consumers? And do you feel we need to play a role here?