Via this iStill Blog Post I want to congratulate you all on what should become … an amazing 2017! I wish you a happy new year!
Thank you for following the iStill Blog. Thank you for being an iStill aficionado. Thank you for buying and using our craft distilling solutions all around the globe. Thank you for trusting in us. Thank you for allowing us to take things further yet again.
Every time I speak to you, I realize how fortunate I am. It’s you that allow me to work at iStill. Every time we build a unit, I realize we are in this trade of making iStills because of you. It’s because of you that we can continue to pursue new innovations and translate them into newer, improved, better craft distilling solutions.
Better yet again? Sure! Stagnation means decline. So – as was 2016 – the year 2017 will be about innovation once more. Innovation and quality. Let’s look back a bit. And let’s look forward. What challenges did 2016 provide us with? What opportunities do we foresee for 2017?
Early 2016: Translating Challenges into Opportunities
The end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 were difficult. Not the best starting point for 2016, but I am proud of how we stepped up and about how the “sour” of the last months of 2015 helped me make big and important decisions for the future. And how my team followed up on these decisions, and how that helped make iStill take huge leaps forwards again.
The situation late 2015 and early 2016? Not good. Our commercial success had created a situation where the Eastern European production facility just couldn’t keep up with. Not just in production efficiency and output numbers, but also in quality and innovation. To the iStill management team the old production facility felt like a millstone, dragging our progress to a hold.
By early 2016 it was obvious that something had to give. To me personally it felt like we had two choices: to continue business as usual or to make some very important decisions that would allow iStill to grow further, to innovate at a faster pace, and to grow up into a much more professional organization. Obviously, we choose for that second option.
The second strategy asked for quality and innovation to be taken to a whole new level. For that level to be achieved, iStill’s management team knew it had to make tough decisions and do huge investments. In order to step-up our pace of innovation, we had to design a completely new line of stills, incorporating all the feedback we had gotten over the last years on the first line of iStills. In order to step-up quality, we needed to build a completely new factory.
Mid 2016: Introducing Next Generation Equipment
The first few months of 2016 we spend most of our time (and a shitload of money) on setting up the new iStill Factory in Woerden, the Netherlands. It had to be the city of Woerden, because 70% of Gouda cheese goes through this beautiful city. And over 60% of the professional hotel and restaurant kitchens build in Europe are made here. No lack of innovative companies in the city of Woerden. No lack of welders, piping, process control, heating, and so much more. Heck, we tapped into an amazing infrastructure and environment that provided state of the art technology from the diary industry, kitchen industry, and the oil and ship building industries!
Quickly, we were able to use that potential to set up the new iStill Factory, a production facility capable of producing the new line of iStills. “New” as in “better quality” and “even more innovative than before”. It took us until April, but by the middle of that month we were not only able to introduce iStill’s next generation distilling equipment, but we were also able to actually start its production. It took us no less than half a year to improve both our build quality and our innovation strategy. We started sending units all over the world again. Units like the world hadn’t seen before.
Our new elan, boosted by a (mostly) new production team, allowed us to take a few amazing hurdles:
- iStill is the first to integrate mashing, fermenting, and distillation technologies;
- iStill build quality became the best in the world, reflected by our warranty;
- Next generation innovations boosted spirit production outputs by 50 to 75%;
- iStill introduced bigger sized units, at 2000 and 5000 liter net capacity.
End of 2016: Towards a Bold, New Future
The second part of 2016 was aimed at production optimization. We know some of our customers had to wait on their units being delivered a few months longer than intended. The last months of 2016 have been about optimizing production in such a way that we can now produce … up to 200 distilleries per year.
Yes, 200 distilleries per year. By choosing for innovation and quality, we have fought our way into main stream craft distillery production. Not only are we the best, we are now also the biggest.
And the world of distilling starts to acknowledge our claims. Our visit to, and title sponsorship of, the 2016 London Craft Distillery Exposition payed of hugely. Now, over 80% of the UK’s craft distilleries choose iStills.
2017: A New Gold Dream!
I remember visiting the London Craft Distilling Expo in 2014. Most people past by our booth and didn’t recognize our units as stills.
I remember visiting the London Craft Distilling Expo in 2015. Many people visited our booth and told us our units looked weird.
Participating at the 2016 London Craft Distilling Expo was different. We had huge numbers of people visiting our booth. And most told us our units looked just fine and that they made perfect sense.
What we see taking place is a paradigm shift. From 18th Century, all copper still designs towards 21st Century innovative iStills. We worked hard to breach the old paradigm. We hope to keep on breaching it in 2017 as well. With smaller and bigger innovations.
At your service,
Drs. H.E.J. (Odin) van Eijk, MScBA, etc.
CEO of iStill.
2017: new 2 1/2 inch diameter heaters …
2017: new boiler temperature probes …
2017: new column caps with integrated CIP, cooler temperature, and hoisting eye …
2017: all new iStill Robot 3.0 …
And much, much more … !