Firmware V5.0

The easy peach brandy recipe I worked on … sucked. I don’t know where it went wrong, but it does not taste well at all. Hot, harsh, oily. Mr. Hermes did the same experiment, used the same iStill settings, and tells me his drink tastes just fine. Well, this must mean I screwed something up during fermentation. More info on that later.

Currently, we are testing the new firmware for the iStills 50, VISION and 250. V5.0 has the ability to dial down the Fores cut to as low as 60 degrees C. Important for customers that live high up in the mountains, because they very much wanted to be able to choose a lower temperature Fores cut. Why? Because high up in the mountains air pressure is less and boiling points drop. The iStills, during production, will automatically adapt to this, but a stabilization time is needed for the iStill to be able to establish a new boiling point of pure ethanol. And Fores are taken prior to that stabilization …

The aim for the Fores cut? Dial the temperature in so it gets you around 0.1 liters for the 50 models and around 0.4 liters for the 250 models. Save that temperature and from there onwards, you will be fine. Rule of thumb: find out at what temperature pure ethanol boils, if you live in the mountains. Dial the Fores cut in at the first 0.5 degrees above that. And if you can’t find the boiling point, please remember, the iStill will tell you during the production phase, when you do a Pure run.

Procedure to decide on temperature setting for the iStill’s Fores Cut high up in the mountains is as follows:

  1. Charge the boiler with a mash or low wines;
  2. Dial, via the menu, the Fores Cut down to the lowest temperature setting;
  3. All other settings stay at factory default;
  4. Choose the Pure Mode;
  5. Do a run;
  6. When production starts, the iStill calculates the temperature of boiling alcohol (T_da);
  7. Let’s say that, due to altitude, pure ethanol boils at 72.3 instead of 78.3 C;
  8. Now push “menu” and choose option 1 “Fores Cut”;
  9. Dial the Fores Cut temperature in for the 0.5 degree point just above the boiling point of pure ethanol;
  10. In this example: dial in 72.5 C as your Fores Cut temperature;
  11. Press “OK”, then press “Escape”;
  12. You are now back in the full information screen, where you can see how the run progresses. And you have dialed in the Fores Cut you can use for now and in the future.

What’s more? Well, you can now choose to either look at the limited information screen or, by pushing +, to have the full information screen in front of you. The full information screen will not automatically go back to the limited information screen. Just push + if you want to change one screen for the other.

The advantage of this new functionality? Most distillers love to look at the maximum information screen. After a few runs, it gives them instant oversight and insight in what’s going on, where they are during a run. They can now have that oversight and insight continuously, without having to push the + button every 90 seconds.

Those of you that perform potstill or stripping runs on a regular basis, must have noticed that, on the full information screen, the opening reads “0”. This was a minor omission. In potstill or stripping mode, the needle-valve is off course completely open and not closed. Potstilling is about power management, not about managing reflux, right? So, even though the older firmware read “0”, the needle-valve, while potdistilling, was always completely open. In Firmware V5.0 we changed the way the opening of the needle-valve is represented. It now reads: “Opening: max”. “Max” for “maximum”, that makes more sense.

Functionality wise, the biggest addition to V5.0 is Automated Tails Collection. Just as you already could dial in whether you just wanted a Fores cut or rather a more extensive Fores & Heads cut, you can now play with the Tails cut.

This is how it works:

  • In the menu you can dial in the End Tempearture. Business as usual. End Temp is when the run (including Automated Tails Collection) is stopped;
  • Because we added Automated Tails Collection, you can now use the End Temperature setting not to end your Hearts cut, but to end your Tails cut. Tails that you may re-use in a next rum, whiskey, or brandy run.
  • Let’s say – as an example – you are doing a whiskey finishing run on a 30% low wines charge. You could dial in an End Temperature setting of 97 degrees C. This means the total run will end, when the temperature of gasses entering the column is 97 degrees C. It is now also the temperature at which you stop Automated Tails Collection;
  • Now start to dial in the run. Choose Potstill Mode, choose either Fores or Fores & Heads Collection, decide on if you want to use the filter (probably not on a whiskey), and – hey! – the next screen is new: you are asked if you want Automated Tails Collection or not. Choose Automated Tails Collection please;
  • The next screen allow you to dial in the temperature setting for the Hearts to Tails cut. The beginning of the Tails Cut. Or the end of the Hearts Cut. Say you dial in 95.5 C and start the run.

This is what will now happen:

  1. The iStill will heat-up and will take Fores and Heads;
  2. When, during the production process, the computer sees that the temperature of the gasses that enter the column is 95.5 degrees C, the iStill will automatically switch to Tails Collection via the Fores, Heads, (and now) Tails Tap;
  3. It will stop with the collection of Tails, when T_in reaches 97.0 degrees C.

One tip: if you are going to automatically collect Tails, use a longer line/hose and a bigger Tails Collection Vessel. Just a cup, as for Heads Collection, won’t be enough.

Long story, but we hope you like the extra versatility V5.0 gives you. And I may make a short movie about it. Pictures say more than a thousand words.


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