Two weeks ago we travelled to Florida and assembled Roger Morenc’s iStill One. We had a great time and did a few great runs. In this post, and maybe some others, I will try to update you on what we found out and how the iStill One performed at the Marlin & Barrel Distillery.
On the first day of our arrival, we assembled both Roger’s iStill One and his iStill 250. The iStill 250 can easily be assembled by two men. Assembling the iStill One takes three people. Well, two can built her up, but it takes three to move the boiler of the pallet it originally sits on.
The second day we had the gasman come by. He connected the iStill One to the gas supply (remember, 1 inch gas pipe is needed!). And after that it was the electricity guy’s turn. He connected both the iStill One, the iStill 250, and the iStill Pump to the pre-installed electrical sockets. The last guy to visit us, that day, connected the iStill One’s chimney to the existing “through the roof” chimney system.
The third day was all about testing. We used the iStill Pump to transfer 1,000 liters of molasses wash into the iStill One’s boiler. Took no more then a few minutes.
After that Roger fired up the gas burners and we set them at 100%. We dialed the agitator in to make two revolutions per minute, and we set the computer alarms on 85 degrees C (boiler), 65 degrees C (column entrance), and 78 degrees C (column exit – near the top).
I think heating up the boiler took around 2 hours. That’s really the first phase. The second phase is when the boiler charge starts to heat up the column section. That takes maybe another hour. Not an hour lost, because the column heat-up phase is where fores & heads are stacked (and boy do they stack!). After that, it’s on to the actual fores & heads cut, and from there to the hearts, and – at the end – the tails cut.
Fores and heads started to come over at temperatures under 30 degrees centigrades. And they came off in drips per second. Acetones first, then other headsy alcohols. We could pick them off one by one, boiling point by boiling point. Very, very impressive to see the iStill One take fores & heads so increadibly well and compact. Total fores & heads cut? Just 2 liters …on a 1,000 liter boiler charge!!!
Fores & heads were taken until the top of the column reached 78 degrees C. That’s when ethanol starts to boil off, right? So when the alarm sounded for 78 degrees C, we knew fores & heads were done, and we progressed to the hearts collection phase. We turned down power to around 50%, by closing the outer rings to each of the three burners. Power input down, but – since hearts were eminent and fores & heads had been taken – output went up. We collected around 35 liters of hearts per hour. And just to be perfectly clear: pure hearts. No strippings, but ready to barrel product. Around 35 liters per hour at an ABV of around 60%. The perfect ABV for barrel ageing.
We stopped the run, when tails arrived. How can you tell when they do? Easy, when the stream that comes out, during hearts, starts to break up, you know pretty much all of the ethanol has come over, and you can shut down.
Total run time was something like 7 hours. The total costs of natural gas for that run was just USD 12.-.
On day four, we diluted the rum hearts to around 30% and fractionated the crap out of them with the iStill 250. We turned a good rum into a fine vodka, and tested the iStill 250 along the way.
The best part of our trip to Florida? Not sure. Running the iStill One was awesome. But maybe tasting Roger’s great rum fresh of the still was even better. We had a few, and then we had us a few more! Darn tasty!
The iStill 250 and iStill One in Roger’s distillery hall: