Disruptive Technology and What It Means for Craft Distillers!


In less than a decade, iStill disrupted the technology distillers had been using for a century and a half. This iStill Blog post summarizes how we disrupted the industry, and – more importantly – dives into the very nature of disruption and what it means for craft distillers around the globe.

How we disrupt the craft distilling industry

Via innovations like “Liquid Management”, the flush-square boiler design, insulation, automation and robotization and the resulting process control, and by translating Odin’s vast knowledge of distillation into software, iStill has created a new technology for craft distillers to use. Via our educational and networking platforms, we replaced the existing “everyone for himself” mentality with an “all for one and one for all”, more cooperative and supportive mindset. Finally, by building distillery equipment with a longevity of 20 years and more, we broke the industry’s commercial model of cheating customers out of money via de facto mandatory in-house replacement orders for failing and sub-par designed parts.

The above innovations are disruptive, because they allow the craft distiller to:

  1. Produce higher quality spirits repeatably;
  2. Save up to 75% in energy costs;
  3. Save at least 1.0 FTE on labor costs;
  4. Be sustainable, flexible, and scalable – in other words: future proof.

No more need for a masher, fermenter, a stripping still, and a finishing still. One iStill can do it all. No more need for a consultant or master distiller. With the iStill the owner/operator is in control. Disruptive? Does iStill introduce and deliver disruptive technology? You bet it does!

Disruptive technology: what is it?

People perceive change as lineair and gradual. And most change is lineair and gradual. But not all change is created equal. Sometimes innovations come along that change the game, add such options that they outperform the existing technology by (at least) an order of magnitude (10x). Such technology is called “disruptive” and the change they bring along is far from lineair and gradual. It changes the industry quickly and with tremendous impact.

The biggest changes are exponential growth of the new technology and imminent replacement of the old technology. The exponential and disruptive character makes it difficult for people to perceive what’s going on. So the speed of adoption of the new technology and the speed by which older, more familiar technologies are replaced is perceived as mind-boggling. Or better said: it is not perceived at all until it is all over and the new tech replaced the old one. Here’s an example:

In 1900, on Broadway, there’s one car. In 1910 there are only cars …

Is there a problem, resulting from the mismatch between how most perceive change and what actually happens? Well, that depends on what you are, right? As a consumer, you have more options to choose from and maybe a better technology to take advantage of. But how about the carriage builder, the blacksmith, or the horse breeder? Get the point? If you are in business in a market that is being disrupted, you run big, very big risks. At the same time, early adopters can reap great opportunities and benefits …

Disruptive technologies result in ever faster adoption speeds …

The above chart shows how disruptive technologies quickly (and ever faster) take hold in our lives. Phones – invented in early 1900 – took the better part of 60 years to conquer the US market, but it took cell phones – introduced in the late 80’s – less than 15 years to replace wall-mounted telephones.

So, having established that disruptive technology knows an exponential adoption curve, it is clear to see that this comes with opportunities. As an early mover cell phone service provider, there is a lot of market to be conquered! Or imagine you are Henry Ford and see an opportunity to further scale the production process of cars.

But there’s a huge risk as well, for those working in an industry that’s being disrupted. Betting on the wrong horse will have devastating effects. Investing in carriage building or horse breeding in the early 1900’s? Good luck!

Disruptive tech QUICKLY replaces old tech …

Whether it is physical vs. digital cameras, non-GMO vs. GMO corn, or radial vs. non-radial tires, the new and disruptive technology replaces the existing technology quickly.

Opportunities for craft distillers

Having established that iStill introduced disruptive technology into the craft distilling industry, what are the opportunities and threats this creates for craft distillers? Let’s dive in deeper and explore further …

The opportunities are quite easy to spot. The new and disruptive iStill technology enables you to make better spirits in a more cost efficient way. Better quality and lower production costs? Sounds like a winning strategy!

As an early adopter of the iStill technology more chances come along. Since you are ahead of the curve, you can stop outsourcing and contract distilling your spirits. Instead, you yourself can offer contract distilling to other craft distillers in your region.

Those are just a few. There are many more opportunities. If you have any to share, please add them in the comments section.

Threats to craft distillers

Not investing in the new technology or investing in the old technology comes at a huge opportunity cost. Or better said: a huge “missed opportunity” cost.

A craft distiller that invests in the old technology of copper and manual plated stills and potstills, cannot compete with Big Alcohol on price and quality. Also, with more and more iStill customers setting-up distilleries around the globe (over 1,000 as we speak), those craft distillers that bet on the wrong horse can now no longer compete on price and quality with fellow craft distillers (that use iStills) either. That’s like being between a rock AND a hard place!


Investing in horses and carriages in the 1900’s? Not a good idea. Investing in manually operated copper plated stills and potstills in 2022? Not a good idea. With over 35% of market share in new still sales, we are not just the biggest supplier of craft distilling equipment. We are the new technology that is disrupting the industry. You now know what that means: iStill technology is well on its way to replace the old technologies.

Place your bets …


4 thoughts on “Disruptive Technology and What It Means for Craft Distillers!

  1. Maybe, if you are looking at making a fast buck with no real skill involved.

    All the skill has come from you guys and made it very easy for your customers to push a few buttons and produce great product

    You should be applauded for that and sharing your great skills and knowledge

    I for one get great satisfaction working with my old-fashioned bubble plates and regulating the water flow and taking the cuts by hand

    With a well-developed nose and taste buds i can produce a constant product time and time again and it doesn’t take that long

    I am not critical of you what you guys do quite the reverse your product is fantastic but i can’t help thinking your customers are missing out on the fundamentals of distilling and producing a true handmade craft product

    More power to your product, you are great craft and even better business people and i wish you well for the future

    By the way I also have a horse
    Best Regards
    Iain Macmillan

    • Hi there Iain. Our customers go through meticulous training. Recipe development, first runs, it’s all about the taste buds. Once it’s becoming repetitive, it’s the iStills that take over! 😉

      • Hi Odin , Sure the iStill does take over and you have developed something special and no doubt your training is very detailed to

        However, can you really say your customers are master distillers ?

        I enjoy your web site and your daily Jokes

        Keep up the good work

      • Yes. What makes a master distiller? Someone that designs, produces, and sells his product. They meet those criteria more than others. SOOO many non-iStillers use contract distilling or simply buy in from big alcohol. And based on the training we give, the feedback we get, and the number of so called experienced craft distillers that visit us and are blown away by our education … yeah, definately. The finest amongst them, I’d say.

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