How to make gin in an iStill

iStill 250: Making Gin

How can you use the iStill to make a gin? Well, in various ways. Here’s a general instruction as well as a  few Tips & Tricks you may want to apply.

Gin is usually made from a relatively neutral base drink. I won’t go into how you make that. Okay, just a bit: use the superfast stripping mode to strip like 3 or 4 washes, dilute the low wines back to 30%, now do a Pure Run, separating Fores, Heads, Hearts, and Tails.

So let’s assume the base drink is ready and you now want to make a gin. Let’s assume you have the berries & herbs ready to use. Since you are making gin professionally,  off course you have an iStill 250 at your disposal. Here we go!

  • At the end of a work day, fill the iStill’s boiler with 100 liters of 60% base likker;
  • Add 2 kilo’s of berries;
  • Next morning (another working day, I presume) add 100 liters of water to bring boiler ABV down to 30%;
  • Raise the iCatalyst with the Easy Lifting System;
  • Fill the iCatalyst with three hops of free fill tea bags. One with around 300 to 500 grams of coriander, one with around 100 to 200 grams of fruit skins, and the last one with around 100 to 200 grams of various herbs, depending on your herbs bill;
  • Lower and reconnect the now filled iCatalyst to boiler and column;
  • Start-up the iStill 250 and enter the menu;
  • Choose Fores at 78 degrees C, set end temperature at around 97 to 98 degrees C, and dial in 6 minutes of column stabilization time;
  • Press “Start”, choose the Pot Distillation program, and – after that – the Fores Removal program.
  • No need to carbon filter;
  • And off you go!
  • Fores cut is used to discard the first and excessive juniper oils that appear;
  • Toss them;
  • Collect the rest and dilute to 43 to 45%;
  • Let it age for 5 weeks, so the gin can reach its full taste potential prior to being released to the market place.

This approach will give you the best of both worlds. Berries are boiled in the boiler, giving off lots of great taste. Fruit skins are vapour infused in the iCat, functioning as a gin head. Herbs, that have the tendency to suck op liquids and sink, give a potential burn hazzard, given that the iStill 250 is directly heated. Putting them in the iCat takes care of that.

iStill 50: Making Gin

For our 50 units a slightly different approach may be needed. The tap for “liquid out” is smaller than the one on the iStill 250. The smaller diameter may cause clog up, when you try to empty your boiler after the run is done. Putting the berries in a bag, connected to the bottom part of the column, may be a way to deal with that.

Another approach you can use is the following. Already start making gin at the finishing run on your base drink. Make low wines and dilute them back to 30%. Now, before starting your finishing run on the base drink (in Pure Mode, taking Fores, Heads, Hearts, etc.), fill the carbon filter with around a liter of berries. Choose the Carbon Filtration program and create your base drink.

Since Hearts (95%) are fed to the filter, now filled with berries, you will get an ultra quick sorta macerated gin. With some colour and probably some haze (tasty oils, so a good thing!). How to proceed from there? As per normal: dilute the Base Gin Likker back to 30% and do a potstill run with herbs & fruit skins in the iCat as described above.

And back to the iStill 250: Making “Double Contact” Gin

The approach where you use the carbon filter for a first gin filtration approach, when you do the finishing run on the base likker, can also be used in the iStill 250 to create what’s called by Genever Distillers “dubbel gebeide genever”: a Genever that has seen a double gin run. For an extra pronounced juniper character. Maybe “double contact gin” would be an appropriate translation.

This is how it works:

  • Prior to starting the finishing run on your base likker, add 2 kilo’s of berries to the carbon filter (take the carbon out & clean, prior to adding the berries!);\
  • Now do that Pure Run, where you dial in Carbon Filtration;
  • Hearts will come out at 95% and will pick up a lot of taste and colour from the berries in the filter;
  • Dilute those ginned-up Hearts back to 30% and add them to the boiler, prior to the final gin run;
  • Now, and here it comes, add the two kilo’s of berries from the filter to the boiler;
  • There will be plenty of taste left in the berries and boiling them will carry these tastes over;
  • Now proceed as on the original gin run, described in the first part of this post;
  • To create a double contact gin, that has seen both hot and cold compounding as well as vapour infusion.


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