We offer various heating options. This iStill Blog post explains the thinking behind the specific designs. This’ll be covered in the first two paragraphs: heating in relation to vapor and flavor creation. The third paragraph dives into our directly fired electric heaters. The fourth paragraph explains the workings and benefits of iStill’s amazing indirectly fired electric heaters. The fifth paragraph introduces our latest innovation: steam heating. And you don’t want to miss out on the fifth the last paragraph, where we reveal how our heating options future-proof your distillery!
Heating and vapor creation
Heating generates vapors and flavors. Both are essential to craft distillers. Without vapors no distillation, and without distillation no alcohol enrichment. Without flavor? Well, why would you – as a consumer – even consider purchasing craft distilled product if it isn’t tasty?
The vapor creation parts of heating needs to be both stable, controllable, and efficient. The more stable the power input is, the more stable the vapor speeds are – and stable vapor speeds generate better separation between heads, hearts and tails.
Heating also needs to be controllable. Some products need more power input than others, so to be able to control power input (and its one-on-one translation to higher or lower vapor speeds) is essential for your still to be more versatile. A controlled power input allows for stripping and finishing, for gin, whisky, and vodka production. A still without controllable power input (or better said: a still without controllable vapor speeds) is just a one-trick-pony.
When we look at it from the angle of vapor production, an efficient heating system is needed. Lower energy costs translate into lower spirit production costs, and lower spirit production costs result in higher profits and a more sustainable craft distilling business.
At iStill, we always design heating solutions that are as direct as possible. Why? Because Indirect heating is both inefficient and slow to react. Indirect heating, like the double boiler design, hampers the controllable and efficient production of vapors that craft distillers need. That’s why all of our heating options sit directly in the wash: to give the craft distiller better tooling to create better tasting products in a more efficient manner.
Heating and flavor generation
Heating also generates flavor. Well, temperature differences in the boiler do. How? Together with below 100c boiling temps and minimal amounts of sugar (from fruits, berries or grains) those temperature differences trigger the Maillard Reaction. The Maillard Reaction adds up to 25% flavor and is essential to most well-made, craft-distilled product. As a craft distiller you sell on taste.
Indirect heating systems, like double boilers or “au bain, Marie!” systems, generate even heat distribution that prevents the Maillard Reaction from taking place. That’s why all our proprietary heating solutions have heat-exchangers that sit directly in the wash. This design choice allows for temperature differences, that we can manage via our amazing Jet Propulsion Agitator System (J-PAS), in combination with our patented flush square boiler design. Yes, a higher degree of agitation results in less Maillard. And a lower degree of agitation leads to more Maillard Reaction to take place. Remember: up to 25% more flavor!
Direct electrical heaters
These are our standard heaters. Great power control and efficiency. Amazing for distilling relatively clear boiler charges like (diluted) GNS, wine or beer. The Maillardization, that they give, allows even this “standard” heating system to win more prices and awards than any other still out there.
Indirect electrical heaters
Our indirect heaters offer a better protection against scorching than the standard directly fired electrical heaters. This is an amazing heating option for mashing as well as on the grain distillation. As they sit inside the wash, they help trigger – depending on your agitator setting – the Maillard Reaction.
Our steam heating option also has its heat-exchangers sitting directly in the wash. Like the electrical heating options (both direct and indirect), they support the Maillard Reaction for 25% additional flavor and combine that with excellent anti-scorching qualities. This probably thee option of choice if you already have a steam powered brewery or distillery.
Future-proofing your heating options
As none of us know what the future has in store, we designed all of our heating systems to be interchangeable! If you start out with the standard direct heaters, because you focus on – say – gin and vodka, please know that you can upgrade to indirect heaters or steam heaters at any moment.