Tales from the Work Floor!

Distilling below sea level

Working with an iStill is so easy you sometimes forget what a great piece of machinery it is. At Loki Distillery we are always reminded of this whenever we show a visitor around. Our distillery is dedicated to contract distilling, so we have a lot of customers and potential customers visiting Loki to see what all the fuss is about.

Not many people have seen a working distillery in action and we all know that visitor centres and tours are great in promoting the product, but do not give you a lot of information about the actual processes that are taking place. And even people who are already selling and producing spirits often don’t know their mash from their draff.

So imagine our surprise when a visitor yesterday showed some real knowledge and pointed out that our settings where wrong. He looked at the screen and read out loud: “Ethanol boiling point: 78.7 degrees Celsius. That’s not the boiling point of ethanol.”

And of course he was right; the boiling point of ethanol should be 78.4 degrees Celsius. But as we explained to him, that boiling point is only so precise at sea level. As our distillery in The Netherlands is situated below sea level AND we had a bit of bad weather, the air pressure changed and so did the boiling point of ethanol. Luckily for us the iStill takes a measurement of the air pressure every second and recalculates the boiling point. So we see it sometimes change during the week from 78.0 to even 78.9 degrees.

Does it really matter? Yes, it matters a lot. On an average gin run it would mean we would loose out on 30 to 40 liters of gin at distilling strength. That’s over 90 bottles of gin lost, just because the weather changed. When we are making whisky the consequences are even bigger, because we loose out on tailsy flavours. By using the air pressure sensor we have the exact same product time and again. It’s not something we think about when we are distilling, because the iStill does it for us. But every now and then, thanks to a visiting customer this time, we are reminded of how automation on the iStill makes our products consistent and our lives easier.

Sebastiaan owns Loki Distillery …


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