We had a successful Drinktec 2022 in Munich. Hundreds of brewers and distillers visited our booth, asked questions, and expressed their interest in our disruptive technology. But what did they ask? What were the questions on their mind, as they saw the iStills? In a series of posts called “Questions & Answers” we will summarize the questions that were asked most as well as our answers.
Where’s the copper?
iStills are primarily made out of stainless steel. Stainless steel is a high-grade, modern, non-reactive material. It lasts a very long time, because it is resistant and strong, offering the craft distiller a machine that lasts a lifetime.
Copper is a reactive material that rusts. It has limited longevity in a still. Copper particles, blowing over during distillation are toxic. So there are many reasons, when designing a still, to want to limit the amount of copper.
Copper is abundantly available with many other still manufacturers. The reason? Tradition, business model, and chemistry. Firstly, traditional still builders are basically copper smiths. They know how to process copper, more than they understand still design. That’s not merely an opinion. It’s backed up by the fact that not one copper still manufacturer has designed any new innovation in over a century and a half. Copper smiths, not still designers, there you have it.
Secondly, traditional still manufacturers are incentivized to continue building copper stills. As copper rusts and degrades quickly, it offers them the opportunity to sell more and more replacement parts. Parts on which they make money. Parts for which you do not have any other choice but to shop with them with.
Finally, sulfuric compounds, that may have formed during poorly managed fermentations, are catalyzed by copper. Copper is a medicine for a bad ferment. A medicine with very harmful side effects.
Here at iStill we train people how to correctly manage their fermentations, so that no sulfuric compounds are formed. Also, at iStill we design fermenters that give you total control over the alcohols and flavors you are creating. And if that isn’t enough, we can add a copper waffle to the bottom of your iStill column. It has the same surface area as a complete copper still, without the costs, the extensive cleaning protocols, and the copper particle contamination risk.
What reactions did we get, when answering the question of why copper plays such a minor role in our designs? The reactions ranged from “that makes total sense” till people being flabbergasted by the simplicity of how we solve their real world problems.
At your service!
The iStill Team
Copper serves the manufacturer more than it does the craft distiller …