One of the cool parts of running a distillery that specializes in contract distilling is that no day is the same. With different customers come different recipes and operating procedures. Yet we are always looking for ways to standardize procedures, so we can work as efficient as possible.
That became even easier with the arrival of our second iStill NextGen 2000. As distilling is all about heating up and cooling down, we use a lot of energy and a lot of water. So why not reuse that energy and water where possible.
The cooling water coming from a running still is quite hot, around 40 degrees Celsius. Usually it goes down the drain. But in the past we already started to collect this cooling water in an IBC. When the run was finished and the still cleaned, we had already 1000 liters of water on hand. And believe me; you fill a still a lot quicker by emptying an IBC than by filling it with water from the tap.
But now with two iStills next to each other, we can not only save on water and time, but also on energy. The cooling water from the still that is running now goes directly into the boiler of the other still. So we are filling the still with hot water, speeding up heat-up times considerably. In theory you could do this with any still, but the iStills make it particularly easy for two reasons.
First, there’s no plumbing and piping involved. We just take the hose from still no.1 out of the drain and put it into still no. 2 through the manhole. Reached the desired level? Just pick it up and put it back into the drain. (Well yes, you might want to use a bucket under the hose for that small journey from still to sink)
And secondly; even when we are not yet ready to start the run on the other still, there’s energy saved. The iStills are perfectly insulated and keep warm for a very long time. When we fill the still in the afternoon and come back the next morning, it’s still at 35 degrees. Saves us an hour and a half of heat-up time and energy.
So nowadays we have very happy juniper berries soaking in a warm bath during the night. Give them a little bit of warmth and love and you get even better flavors from them. And it doesn’t even cost you anything to warm them up now!