This is a sad post. It is about how the industry takes advantage of some starting distilleries or distilleries that are less well funded. Or maybe it is about distilleries wanting a cheap ride, and getting a nasty surprise instead. I have thought long and deep about this issue, and came to the conclusion I should post about it. If there are manufacturers out there with less than acceptable quality levels, the craft distilling industry should know about it.
A distiller buys a cheap double boiler design still that pretends it can be used for mashing as well as distilling. The equipment is supposed to help this craft distillery at making whiskey. It breaks down on the first (!) run. The agitator engine (quite important for mashing) stops working on the maiden run. It also turns out that the double boiler does not have the capacity to actually cool the mash, as was promised. Finally, the still rusts.
Checking out the unit, it becomes clear that this so-called distillery equipment supplier cut all the corners. And that the distiller is paying a hefty price for that. Here’s what went wrong:
- The agitator engine was too weak for the job;
- The manufacturer didn’t perform a pre-shipment test run (otherwise they would have found out);
- The double boiler didn’t have an additional heat exchanger and/or pump, so could never cool;
- Again indicating this “option” wasn’t tested at the factory;
- As a result the distiller got delivered a unit that should have failed quality and features testing;
- Instead of a working unit, he got an inferior “prototype” of a still;
- “Inferior” as in that large parts of the unit were made from iron instead of stainless steel.
Since this cheap piece of crap didn’t agitate or cool, and since it was rusting already (see picture underneath) this investment was a complete write-off for the craft distiller. A total-loss in terms of invested money, but also a long delay in his capacity to actually start whiskey production.
To solve the issue, and having learned the hard way that there’s no cheap short-cut into the industry, the craft distiller purchased an iStill 2000 instead.
As a craft distiller, especially a starting craft distiller, please take notion! This low quality still does not stand alone. For the above manufacturer (yeah, you can figure out for yourselves who it is – you want to become a craft distiller, after all, so please do your research!) we have heard many other complaints, such as:
- Rubber and plastics being used inside the still, that dissolve over time;
- Iron being used instead of stainless steel, explaining the rust formation;
- Inadequate welding, leading to oil from the double boiler leaking into the still;
- Inadequate material thickness and robustness, leading to boiler deformation;
- Burned out plugs, leading to explosion risks and stills not working.