The Extractor Column is an amazing new iStill innovation. In this iStill Blog post I want to inform you about the functionality of the Extractor Column, it’s applications, and the various prices and sizes we offer.
But let’s start with an evaluation of the existing technologies the Craft Distiller can use to add taste to his distilled drinks. Currently, leaving the new Extractor technology out of the equation, you can go for vapor infusion, boiler infusion, steeping or a Carter Head design.
The flavors of berries, herbs, fruits and nuts can be extracted by placing them in the vapor path, for instance in the column. This technique is called vapor infusion.
The disadvantage of vapor infusion is that vapors are very thin and light in make-up. This limits the amount of taste transfer one can achieve.
Examples of products made with this technique are:
- Bombay Saphire Gin, where the gin herbs are placed in the vapor path;
- Raspberry “Geist”, where raspberries are placed in the vapor path.
Flavor extraction can also be achieved by placing berries, herbs, fruits or nuts in the boiler. This technique is called boiler infusion.
The advantage of boiler infusion is that liquids are much denser (around 1300 times more dense) than vapors. As a result, boiler infusion creates a more taste rich, bolder drink.
The disadvantage of boiler infusion is that – depending on product – especially herbs and fruits can be overcooked, creating off flavors near the end of the distillation run. As a consequence, boiler infused distillation runs need to finish before all the alcohol is extracted from the boiler, leaving the Craft Distiller with either a loss in alcohol or extra work to recover that alcohol by turning it into a GNS again via an additional and separate pure distillation cycle.
Examples of drinks made with this technique are:
- Listoke Gin;
- Eagles Burn Gin.
Steeping berries, herbs, nuts, or fruits can be done pre-distillation or after distillation. In a pre-distillation steep, the ingredients are placed in the alcohol for a prolonged period of time, giving up their flavors. Then the ingredients are strained out of the solution and the (more or less) clear alcohol is distilled. Post-distillation steeping is where the ingredients are placed in the alcohol for flavor extraction and then strained out, whereupon the alcohol is bottled without further distillation.
The advantage of steeping is that you create more taste than in vapor infusion, while limiting the potential of overcooking.
The severe disadvantage is that steeping takes up weeks! This potentially generates bottle-necks issues for the Craft Distiller.
Examples of drinks made via steeping are:
- Clotted Cream Gin by The Wrecking Coast Distillery (pre-distilling steep);
- Strawberry liqueurs and wines (post-distillation steep).
A Carter Head is a separate chamber, filled with (usually) gin ingredients. The chamber is fed with gases from the column. Because part of these gases condense, the chamber creates a combination of boiler and vapor infused product.
Advantages and disadvantages? Pretty much a combination of the advantages and disadvantages of vapor and boiler/liquid infusion combined.
Examples? Sipsmith’s and The Beefeater Distillery use Carter Heads in their spirits production.
All right, so flavor extraction comes at a price. Too light in taste, danger of overcooking, and additional time and effort involved, depending on the procedure used …
You: “So, Odin, is the iStill Extractor Column the solution?”
Odin: “Yes it is!”
You: “How and why? Please explain …”
Odin: “Here we go …”
How the Extractor works
Envision an iStill 100 NextGen boiler with the 25 liter Extractor on top. If you want to see how it looks, please see the picture at the bottom of this post. Now, let’s say, for example, that we want to make that amazing Strawberry Liqueur. For more reading on that drink, please see:
Here is how we use the Extractor column to make it:
- Fill the boiler with 60 liters of 50% GNS or vodka;
- Fill the Extractor Column with strawberries;
- Start the run;
- After the initial heat-up, the boiler starts to produce gases;
- The gases bypass the Extractor Column to the left via the additional riser;
- The gases enter the standard i100 column cooler and return to liquid state;
- The liquids fall down and start to fill up the Extractor with its strawberries;
- Extraction takes place until the Extractor column is full;
- When the Extractor column is full, it is automatically drained via the syphon;
- The now extracted liquids re-enter the boiler;
- Where a new extraction cycle can start;
- After three extraction cycles all strawberry taste and color, as well as some juices, are transferred back into the boiler;
- Creating around 75 liters of the most tasty Strawberry Essence at around 40%.
You can use the essence as you like. Dilute it to make Strawberry Wine. Dilute and sugar it to make a liqueur. Ferment it (please extract with water instead of with alcohol) and then distill it to make a Strawberry Brandy. Or any other fruit liqueur, fruit wine, fruit essence, or fruit brandy.
The Extractor – with pretty similar procedures – can be used to make akvavit, gin or absinth, at any desired level of taste intensity. For distilled gin or absinth or for compounded varieties.
And its range of applications goes further, much further. Not only can you can use the iStill Extractor for pretty much any ingredient, it can also be used to mash grains or make hemp oil!
Why it is so amazing at taste extraction
The reason the Extractor is so amazing at taste extraction, is that it combines all the benefits of other procedures/technologies, while discarding all their disadvantages:
- The Extractor uses liquid infusion instead of the very partial vapor infusion technique;
- Since the liquids, that fall into the Extractor and onto the strawberries (or herbs or whatever), do not boil, there is no risk of overcooking;
- And since ingredients stay in the Extractor, no overcooking can take place in the boiler either;
- Because the extracted liquids are syphoned back into the boiler for another extraction cycle, a virtuous circle of ever increasing taste is created;
- And it does so in a matter of hours instead of weeks!
To summarize? The iStill Extractor Column helps create the best tasting product in the shortest amount of time with virtually no losses in total alcohol. And you can start ordering them as of right now. How’s that for a game changer?
The Extractor Columns fit on your regular iStill NextGen. Swapping out one column for another only takes like 5 minutes if you have a tackle.
The Extractor functionality is fully supported by our automation, robotization and software. When you order the Extractor Column, you get an additional program on your menu, called “Extraction”, where you can dial in your automated extraction run.
The Extractor column can also be used for pot distillation. This allows you to for instance extract your gin herbs … and then do the gin distillation run right after that, using the existing manual and automated distilling programs.
Extractor Columns are now available for all iStills. Each iStill will have a choice of two Extractors, the difference being size. The smaller version is ideal for akvavit, gin and absinth production. The bigger Extractors are great for compounded products, for mashing, and for liqueur and extract and essence making. The bigger size means you can make more product and even more concentrated tastes.
Here’s what the product line-up looks like:
- iStill 100 big Extractor Column (25 liter);
- iStill 500 small Extractor Column (25 liter);
- iStill 500 big Extractor Column (120 liter);
- iStill 2000/5000 small Extractor Column (120 liter);
- iStill 2000/5000 big Extractor Column (450 liter).
We have build and sold the first batch of Extractor Columns. We will start building new batches next week. For early adapters, we have a very competitive introduction price. For those ordering and paying in June, July, August or September 2017:
- iStill 100 big Extractor Column (25 liter): EUR 4.000,-;
- iStill 500 small Extractor Column (25 liter): EUR 4.000,-;
- iStill 500 big Extractor Column (120 liter): EUR 6.000,-;
- iStill 2000/5000 small Extractor Column (120 liter): EUR 6.000,-;
- iStill 2000/5000 big Extractor Column (450 liter): EUR 8.000,-.
iStill 100 Manual with 25 liter Extractor Column …