Interviewing Still Hollow Spirits’ Athey Lutz

Hi Athey, thanks for the interview. Can you tell us a bit more about your distillery, please?

Still Hollow Spirits is a small family run distillery located on a farm in the mountains of West Virginia, USA. We grow our own corn onsite using heirloom seed that has been saved in the area for generations. We focus on producing single barrel whiskeys with local ingredients and limestone spring water. We also raise beef cattle that are fed our spent mash. We currently operate with an iStill2000 with indirect heating elements. 

Why did you choose to purchase an iStill, Athey?

We were having trouble keeping up with whiskey production with our direct fired masher and still.  Corn mashing in particular on the direct fire masher, and then having to lauter the corn before distilling, where huge time sinks for us. (Trying to run a distillery and farm simultaneously is no easy task!) Something had to give and we were considering adding a steam jacket to our existing masher and putting an electronic control system our still. While researching options we came across the iStill system.

The ability of the iStill to mash and distill on the grain without installing and maintaining a steam boiler where instant attractions. We also like the flexibility of the still to produce different spirits and perform multiple functions (mashing, fermentation, distilling, fast aging, extractions). We were also attracted to the fact the still, power system and control system where all one cohesive unit covered by the same company and warranty. This seemed a smarter route rather than piecing a system together from different manufacturers and having multiple contacts for trouble shooting.

How do you use the iStill?

We use our iStill 2000 with indirect heaters as a do it all workhorse for mashing, fermenting and distilling whiskey.  We run a continuous cycle where the still is never empty except for a brief cleaning. First we mash in our grain, step down cool to pitching temp, and add our yeast. After a temperature controlled fermentation in the iStill, we activate the agitator and go into column distillation mode.  In the column distillation we are able to go straight from mash to whiskey for barreling. The next day we siphon off some backset for the next mash, pump out the spent mash for the cows, clean the still, and start another mash. Our iStill setup is somewhat unique in that we run off an electric phase converter because 3 phase electric is not available in our rural area.

How is it to work with iStill as a company?

We have had a good experience working with iStill. Jason was my sales rep and helped with specs and questions through the product selection phase. We attended a training and met Odin and Jason and learned a great deal as well as seeing the iStill in action. The purchase process and shipping where straightforward and the unit arrived in the USA in great condition. We have had quick response to setup questions and troubleshooting requests.

Anything else you want to share, Athey?

Yes! We have an Extractor for sale. We originally purchased our iStill 2000 with a stand alone extractor unit for making flavored spirits and gin. We have found with our continuous cycle of whiskey making that we do not have enough still time to use the extractor and are offering it for sale. It is in new condition and would make a great addition to anyone’s existing iStill 2000 setup. Please contact me at info@stillhollowspirits.com or 304-227-4692 for more info.

http://www.iStill.com

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