The majority of the stills used today are plated stills and pot stills. Hybrid stills, like iStill’s original design, find their fanbase mostly among early adopters, not the industry majority.
Plated stills have columns with plates in them. The plates help redistill the base beer or wine into a higher proof New Make in one go. Bubble cap plates offer fixed liquid baths above the plates, hampering tails smearing and making post-run cleaning more difficult. Perforated plates offer more flexible liquid baths above the plates, allowing for both some early tails smearing and easy cleaning.
Up until now, iStill has sought to innovate everything, combining newly developed automated control systems with new packed column designs. Targeting early adopters, that made perfect sense. But over time, more and more distillers reached out to us, often from more mature segments of the industry or with a slightly more traditional inclination, asking us why we didn’t help them with improved plated stills as well. That was the question. The introduction of the iStill Plated Still is the mother of all answers.
Balanced Spirits, Produced Efficiently
Listening to the industry taught us that existing distillers, that have been in operation for 10 to 15 years, in general don’t value the newest or latest technology per se. They have product on the shelf. They often already have a distillery. What they are interested in, instead of the newest or the latest, is higher production volumes, more efficient means of operation, savings on staffing or at least the ability to grow without adding more personnel costs. Existing distillers are looking for established technology. Not just any version, but the best performing, the most efficient, and the most productive version of that technology.
In order to comply, we have set the standards high. Very high. We didn’t just add our amazing automated control systems to an existing plated column, but redesigned the original 1870’s specs to new, modern, improved plates, that we nicknamed “Performance Plates”.
The result? This all new Plated iStill blows any other plated still out of the water. It can achieve 87% with two instead of three plates in operation, which is the norm (out of an 8% boiler charge). Its production rate trumps existing designs times two. Double the output, at half the energy consumption, and with only a quarter of the manual labor. There you have it: the all new iStill Plated Still made all other plated column stills obsolete over night!
Features & Benefits
Performance Plate Technology (PPT)
iStill optimized the perforated plate design for minimized vapor speed disruption. Minimized disruption translates into a more free, less interrupted vapor flow for higher run performance (more liters per hour) and better flavor consistency (better control over smearing, cuts, and taste).
Cold Finger Mini Thumper (CFMT)
The specially designed downcomer boosts inter-plate heat-transfer. Colder liquids above a plate are transferred to the warmer environment below that plate, resulting in a more gradual temperature gradient in the column. The almost complete absence of temperature shock inside the column further boosts performance (in liters of output per hour) and stabilizes flavor composition.
The slightly colder reflux, as it returns through the cold finger downcomer, gets heated up so that it starts acting as a mini thumper or small re-distillation chamber. This gives another boost to performance.
The final important role the CFMT plays, is that it centralizes reflux. It helps feed the plate underneath with centered reflux, thus optimizing the performance of that lower plate as well.
Liquid Management (LM)
“How do you create and manage reflux?” is the central question, when operating a plated still. Traditionally, a plated still is managed via cooling management. Add more coolant to the dephlag and you create more reflux, higher proof, more purity, and less flavor. Add less coolant to the dephlagmator, and the plated column starts to smear more flavors into the New Make, at lower ABV.
The drawbacks of this traditional management system are huge. Because the coolant can be hotter or cooler, in itself and in relation to the temperature in the distilling hall, the amount of reflux produced is never the same, disrupting the production of reproducible drinks. Further interrupters are the pressure with which the coolant is provided (a slight pressure drop results in more smearing and lower ABV directly) and air pressure.
In the Plated iStill we replaced the inaccurate and antiquated Cooling Management design (often – and correctly so – considered the bottle-neck in any plated still design) with our very accurate, state-of-the-art Liquid Management controls. In the iStill all gasses are cooled back to liquid phase, thus reducing the number of variables that otherwise influence column performance and flavor production. No more coolant temperature or coolant pressure variability. The only variable left to deal with in iStill’s unique Liquid Management design is air pressure. The only thing that still influences flavor variability and optimized production rates is air pressure. So guess what? We invented Air Pressure Control …
Air Pressure Control (APC)
iStill’s APC unit measures current air pressure on a second-to-second basis. If the air pressure changes, the iStill automatically adapts the cut points for heads, hearts, and tails, to secure spirit reproducibility. In plain English? The iStill Plated Still helps make the same product, consistently, over and over again.
Auto Plate Deployment (APD)
No need to manually deploy additional plates. No more need to bypass plates either. You dial in what strength and purity you want your spirit to come over, and the iStill Plated Still will deploy the exact needed number of plates and the depth of the redistillation baths automatically.
Automated Cuts Management (ACM)
Depending on what flavors you are looking for in your drink, you can dial in how you want the iStill Plated Still to execute the heads, hearts, and tails cuts. ACM works together closely with iStill’s build-in air pressure controls.
You can dial in the proof or percentage at which you want your spirit to come over. The iStill Plated Still supports any percentage from 40% to 94%. You dial it in, the iStill does the rest, saving you time and money.
Reflux Capacitor (RC)
The RC processes reflux one final time, before it exits the column, and re-enters the boiler. In doing so, it boosts total column performance, just by itself, with a whopping 20%. This results in a more stable run, energy savings, and higher production rates.
Anti Entrainment Zone (AEZ)
The Plated iStill comes with four perforated plates. The two bottom plates and the two top plates are separated via an Anti Entrainment Zone. The AEZ prevents unwanted, late tails traveling up the column and infecting your New Make Spirit.
Auto Sanitation & Cleaning (ASC)
The iStill Plated Still uses the last bit of alcohol from the run to sanitize the still post operation. It does so automatically. The iStill Plated Still also uses the first bit of alcohol of the next run to automatically clean out column, plates, coolers and cuts selector at the beginning of that next run. The benefit? It saves you an hour of cleaning per day or per run.
Copper Foam Technology (CFT)
In case imperfect fermentations result in higher than wished for sulfur counts, copper – as a catalyst – can clean up the contamination. But a copper column would add two hours to your daily cleaning protocols and copper facilitates the formation of ethyl carbamate (a carcinogenic). That’s why we developed CFT. All iStills come equipped with a CFT waffle that can be inserted low in the column and that takes care of any sulfur contamination without any of the downsides of a completely copper column.
The iStill Plated Still excels at the efficient production of medium-flavored spirits like American whiskies, Bourbon, and Irish Whiskey. Fruit brandy and brandy? Oh, yes! It doesn’t have the raw, robust flavor concentration power of a pot still, so well suited for single malt whisky or Cognac production, spirits that need extensive aging. It does not have the versatility of the original iStill Hybrid Still / Packed Column Still either, that can make any spirit.
Those familiar with Odin’s Theory of Distillation, know that a potstill is very well suited at creating three-dimensional drinks. The original iStill, with its hybrid, packed column can make one-dimensional spirits (vodka), two dimensional drinks (Bourbon, gin), and three dimensional drinks (the more traditional whiskies). The iStill Plated Still sits on the sweat spot in the middle. It shines when you want to make two-dimensional and 2.5-dimensional drinks. Drinks that will take 6 to 24 months to age, not 3 to 12 years to mature into their own.
Sizes & Prices
The iStill Plated Still comes in 100, 500, 2000, and 5000 liter configuration. The iStill 100 Plated Still features a 3 inch column, where the 500 liter model is equipped with a 5 inch column. The iStill 2000 and 5000 Plated Stills have column diameters of 8 and 12 inch respectively.
- Plated iStill 100: EUR 20.000,-;
- Plated iStill 500: EUR 40.000,-;
- Plated iStill 2000: EUR 70.000,-;
- Plated iStill 5000: EUR 110.000,-.
First Edition Series
Orders placed in May and June 2020 get upgraded with the additional square manhole and WiFi for free!
- ABV output range (on an 8% boiler charge): 50% to 94%;
- Run times (on an 8% boiler charge): 4 to 5 hours;
- iStill 500 Plated: over 35 lph at 50%;
- iStill 500 Plated: over 30 lph at 60%;
- iStill 500 Plated: over 20 lph at 80%;
- iStill 2000 Plated: over 75 lph at 50%;
- iStill 2000 Plated: over 70 lph at 60%;
- iStill 2000 Plated: over 45 lph at 80%;
- iStill 5000 Plated: over 175 lph at 50%;
- iStill 5000 Plated: over 160 lph at 60%;
- iStill 5000 Plated: over 110 lph at 80%.
The Plated Series by iStill can be ordered as of today. Lead time is around 4 to 6 months (depending on size and options). If you want to order one, please reach out to Sales@iStillmail.com.
Optimized plate design for better performance …
Column assembly is a breeze …
Impressive bit of kit …
Power Plate Technology in action …
Power Plate Technology in action (video) …
iStill 500 Plated: start of hearts collection …
Odin, why do you run your plates at such a low hold up? Possible to significantly increase holdup and by definition, throughput which is what you probably want for most plate still applications?
Hi Liam, thanks for chiming in. It isn’t the liquids being redistilled but the gasses that travel through the liquid bath. The goal in the design is to do so in the most effective way possible, with minimal (if such a thing is possible with a plate) disturbance to vapor speeds. The relative low hold-up on the plates is key here. And more important than theory … it works! Our throughput numbers are twice that, when we compare out 5 inch column to their 5-incher, for instance.