iStill Spirits Recipe Design!


Over the years, the iStill Team has helped hundreds of craft distillers by providing them with amazing stills, and industry leading trainings and workshops. But we have done more. We have for instance helped create over 200 recipes. How we help the craft distilling industry by designing recipes, is what this iStill Blog post is all about.

Rooted in theory

The customers goals are the starting point. What product does he or she want to make? Should it be bold in style or more pure? One, two, or three dimensional? Fruity or rootlike or nutty in character? Front of mouth oriented? Back of mouth, maybe? And – very important! – should the drink barrel age prior to bottling? Color, alcohol percentage, time to market, time in the barrel … the list of questions to get started is long.

Odin’s Theory of Distillation is always the starting point. The theory explains, in a very straight forward manner, how a recipe should be designed in order to reap the right tastes, intensity, and complexity. It provides a theoretical toolkit the iStill Team uses to design your drink.

Aided by the right tools … and procedures

Of course the iStills are designed according to Odin’s Theory of Distillation as well. They are the perfect tools to help you harvest your drink’s taste profile with ease and repeatability. The control over vapor speeds and cuts and power settings and temperatures is unmatched by any other tool out there.

But that’s not how we start. Recipe development at the iStill Laboratory starts in small glass fractionating stills, small glass extractors, and small stainless steel potstills. The goal is to make the first concept on a very small scale in order to come to a speedy assessment if we are on the right track. Speedy and at relatively low costs in terms of alcohol, energy, ingredients, and time consumption.

Does the first concept turn out as expected? In that case we’ll dial things up a notch. Next thing we do is do a run in an iStill. We may tweak the recipe a bit still, but most of this second concept is about dialing in the right run procedure. How fast? What cut points for heads, hearts, and tails?

If we (and more importantly: you) are satisfied with the results, we go the next step: production procedure. How to mash and to ferment? How to use backset and/or dunder (if any)? On the grains, pulp, herbs, or not? Aging? These are examples of the questions we want to help answer for you.

Recipes are about ingredients, distillation run procedures, and production procedures. And how they help reach your initial goals. That last step is immensely important. It ties everything together and in general can mean the difference between an okay drink, and an award winning, above top shelf product.

Step by step

Step by step, the iStill spirits recipe design process looks like this:

  1. Goal formulation (what drink do you want to make and how should it taste?);
  2. First concept (where we design a recipe based on ingredients);
  3. Second concept (where we design the distillation run procedure);
  4. Third concept (where we design the most effective production process);
  5. Finalized recipe design (confrontation of third concept with original goals).

We help design a multitude of drinks

For instance:

  • Brandy (fruit brandies, brandy, cognac styles);
  • Gin and genever (Dutch gin);
  • Rum (light, middle, heavy, panella or molasse based);
  • Vodka (rye, wheat, potato);
  • Whisk(e)y (Irish, Bourbon, Single Malt);
  • Extractions (fruits, herbs, nuts).


We have never boasted about the recipes we develop. But given how important a good recipe is, and how important is is for craft distillers to win medals, maybe we should? Or at the very least we should get the message out there, so here it is:

“iStill helps of craft distillers by designing award winning spirits recipes!”

And with this service now out in the open comes responsibility. The responsibility to further professionalize this service. To do that we are not just building up a full scale laboratory, no, we are commissioning a full scale distillery to go with it. We hope you will take advantage of it, now and in the future. Of our knowledge and of our laboratory and distillery. A complete and professional set-up, where we can help you design new spirits and batch produce them as well.


Recipe development (goals, first concept, second concept, finalized product with recipe, run procedures and production procedures) costs EUR 3.600,-. That’s EUR 3.600,- for one recipe, be it gin, brandy, rum, whisk(e)y or something else.

Renting the distillery to make your product on a professional scale costs EUR 1.000,- per day. That is, when you successfully followed the iStill Certified Distilling Workshop. If not, one of our team members will do supervision, which adds EUR 800,- to the daily bill.

Distilling a first concept gin …




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s