What may well be the world’s best Sake producer choose iStill. Their staff followed the iStill Distilling University. They then purchased an iStill 2000. And now they emailed us some feedback:
The iStill 2000 arrived at our company two weeks ago and was quickly assembled. We have completed the cleaning and have already produced the first lot.
What a great gin we’ve created! This is truly a wonderful quality.
Thanks to all the members of iStill.
Umenoyado Brewery: over 120 years of Sake history …
Where tradition matters …
Atsushi Ohkawa’s feedback …
The direct operating costs of producing a liter of new make whiskey or rum on an iStill, ready to barrel at 65%, are EUR 0,49 versus EUR 1,99 on a traditional copper potstill. Producing whiskey or rum on an iStill reduces operating costs with as much as 75%, when compared to a traditional copper potstill. The lower operating costs of running an iStill translate into higher margins and a more sustainable, future-proof business model.
This iStill Blog post presents an operating cost comparison for new make whiskey or rum production. iStills versus traditional set-ups. Why operating costs are important? Well, the lower they are, the higher your profit margin – given a certain selling price. Higher margins allow you to make more money or use part of that extra margin to weather through tough times. Also, lower operating costs signal a more eco-friendly, more environmental and sustainable business model. Less energy consumption equals a lower carbon footprint.
Of course we know the iStill numbers through-and through. The numbers of traditional stills, that we present in this iStill Blog, are based on feedback we got from customers experienced in running traditional equipment before switching to iStills. If the manufacturers of more traditional, copper stills feel that the examples underneath do not do their distilling solutions total justice, please reach out to us directly, so we can discuss and – where needed – amend.
Operating costs are the expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis. Rent of the building, power to run the stills, the costs of buying in grains or other substrates, staffing costs, equipment depreciation costs, etc.
In order to keep this post relatively simple and to the point, we’ll focus on the variable costs of running the still, depreciation costs of your distilling machine, and the staffing needed to keep on distilling. Costs like the rent of the building or substrate purchase costs won’t be investigated, since they are (in the context of this iStill Blog post) considered a given. Meaning they don’t necessarily vary a lot between different still options.
Calculating energy costs for whiskey or rum
The efficiency number of a traditional potstill is around 35%. A traditional potstill needs two distillation cycles to bring an 8% whiskey beer or rum wine to the barrel aging strength of 60 – 65%. The iStill can turn an 8% base beer or wine into 60 – 65% new make in one go. So you save the manpower and energy of at least one run.
The iStill 2000 uses around 280 kWh to make rum or whiskey new make spirit. The associated costs are per run are well under EUR 50,-. Given the inefficiencies of the traditional set-up, a total energy usage of 800 to 1000 kWh is expected per run. This translates into direct energy usage costs, for a double distillation, of around EUR 190,-.
The amount of 2000 liters of base beer translates into about 220 liters of 65% strong new make spirit. When we divide the energy usage per still type by the number of liters of new make produced, we can learn the energy costs per liter. For the iStill the energy costs per liter are EUR 0,22. For the traditional copper potstill the energy costs per liter are EUR 0,87.
Calculating depreciation costs for whiskey or rum stills
A traditional 2000 liter copper still, made by a reputable manufacturer costs at least EUR 200.000,-. The iStill 2000, with some options, is around EUR 80.000,-. Because the iStills are made from chemically resistant stainless steel, instead of copper, the unit has an expected longevity of around 20 years.
The copper or stainless steel boiler of a traditional set-up may have the same longevity or slightly less. The copper column or riser oxidizes and suffers from the continuous need for (acid) cleaning. It is usually eaten away in around 10 to 15 years. Adding up boiler and column life expectancy for traditional potstills and averaging them out, leads to an overall total system longevity of 15 years for a traditional copper potstill.
Following a lineair depreciation curve, the 80k iStill 2000 has an annual depreciation of EUR 4.000,-. Based on 200 runs per year, the depreciation costs per run are EUR 20,-. When one run produces 220 liters, the depreciation costs per liter are EUR 0,09.
Following the same lineair depreciation curve, the EUR 200.000,- traditional copper potstill has an annual depreciation of EUR 13.300,-. At 200 runs per year, this translates into EUR 66,50 of depreciation per run or EUR 0,30 per liter of new make spirit produced.
Calculating staffing costs for whiskey or rum
Manning the still costs time, and time is money. Managing a traditional still asks for constant supervision. Cleaning can take 2 to 3 hours. Often the boiler design and column/riser design are not optimized for 8 hour shifts. How much manpower does it take to run a traditional still? At least 1 FTE. How much manpower does it take to run the iStill, which is automated and needs much less cleaning down-time? Around 0.2 FTE.
Say that hiring a distiller costs EUR 36.000,- per year. Running a traditional set-up then adds EUR 36.000,- to your overall costs. The iStill – by comparison – costs less than EUR 8.000,- to staff. A stunning difference of EUR 28.000,- per year.
In the above example, where we use a 2000 liter still to make 220 liters of 60-65% new make spirit per run, doing 200 runs per year translates into 44.000 liters of new make. The staffing costs of a traditional system are EUR 36.000,-, which translates into additional variable costs per liter of EUR 0,82. The much lower effort needed to run the iStill 2000 translates into only EUR 0,18 of staffing costs per liter.
iStill: reduce your operating costs by 75% …
“The aim is to do things the right way, not the cheap and quick way.” – Switch-Vodka
We expect to release a new website in a few weeks from now. The website will support a more integrated and logical customer journey, and will have 3d-models of the iStills as well as augmented reality. “Augmented reality” as in that you select your iStill and walk with your phone through your distillery hall, so that the software can show you how it looks, with the iStill in place!
Christiaan is programming the new website …
Digital iStill Mini added to the real world …
Impression new website …
The new … iStill Micron?
As times change, so do customer preferences. Asking our customers and relations what they feel would be a great addition to the iStill product-range, many of you reported that an iStill 200 would be a really nice inclusion to our line-up. Your wish is our demand, so we hereby proudly present … the iStill 200!
In this iStill Blog post we’ll elaborate on the features, their benefits, the different varieties, pricing, and the sort of customers the unit aims at. Here we go!
- 200 liter net boiler capacity;
- 4 inch diameter column;
- 2.5 inch drain;
- 4 inch legs;
- 11.2 kW heating system;
- Both direct and indirect heating are options;
- Jet Propulsion Agitator System (J-PAS) is now an option;
- StillControl App & Thermometer for Manual Series.
- The iStill 200 can distill any product;
- Easy discharge of pulp or on the grain left-overs;
- Sturdy design;
- Fast heat-up and run times;
- Both off the grain and on the grain and pulp distilling are supported;
- Manual Series: StilControl helps you manage your run and replicate recipes;
- NextGen Series: automation and robotization executes runs and replicates recipes.
- iStill 200 Potstill;
- iStill 200 Plated;
- iStill 200 Hybrid.
- Manual or Automated & Robotized;
- Agitator and Indirect Heaters (combined).
Pricing iStill 200
- iStill 200 Potstill Manual: EUR 15.000,-;
- iStill 200 Plated Manual: EUR 17.500,-;
- iStill 200 Hybrid Manual: EUR 20.000,-
- iStill 200 Potstill (Automated & Robotized): EUR 20.000,-;
- iStill 200 Plated (Automated & Robotized): EUR 30.000,-;
- iStill 200 Hybrid (Automated & Robotized): EUR 35.000,-;
- Agitator and Indirect Heaters: EUR 5.000,-.
- Starting distilleries;
- Gin and liqueur distilleries that work with GNS;
- Small batch distilleries or distilleries that want to add small batch production to their portfolio;
- “Bauern Brennereianlagen” (farmers doing seasonal fruit brandy distillations in f.i. Southern-Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and the Elzas.
The all-new iStill 200 can be ordered as of now. Please know that our website will see a major overhaul in July. The new model is not yet shown on our current website. For more information and ordering, please reach out to Sales@iStillmail.com directly.
The new iStill 200 Hybrid …
Today we uploaded two more movies. The first one explains how to perform a cleaning run on your iStill Mini. The second one tells you how to do a brandy stripping run, using white wine.
Do you want to become a member of the distilling industry’s best education program? You can register via: https://istill.web.app/university
I strongly feel that the craft distilling industry deserves worse terms of payment, when ordering stills and fermenters and mashers. Yes, you read that correctly: worse instead of better. Why? Let’s dive in deeper.
When you purchase a still, the manufacturer will inform you about their terms of payment. These terms basically tell you when to pay what percentage of the total acquisition sum. Usually, there are two or three terms. Always an initial downpayment (to take your order into production) and a final downpayment (usually upon delivery), and sometimes there is a payment in between (for instance upon completion of the actual build).
Given the above, a 30%/70% payment scheme sounds like a better deal for you than a 70%/30% payment scheme, right? I mean, in the first example you only pay 30% to place the order and start the manufacturing process. In the second example, you have to pay much more up front. Sorry to throw a bucket of cold water your way, but considering the 30%/70% order the better deal is actually wrong!
When considering the build of a new still, a still manufacturer basically has to judge the answers to three questions:
- What are the direct costs of building the still?
- What are the indirect costs of building the still?
- Does the price, and the terms of payment, cover both direct and indirect costs?
Direct costs can be directly attributed to the still the manufacturer contemplates building. Think “material” and “labor hours”. Examples of indirect costs are “rent” and “finance”. The rent of the building and the budget for the finance department are fixed costs. Even when no still is built, these costs need to be paid.
Of course the price, and the terms of payment, need to cover both direct and indirect costs. Where that is not the case, that company runs a severe risk of bankruptcy. When a company’s price covers more than the direct and indirect costs, a profit is realized.
How does this translate to terms of payment? Quite easily, actually. The first downpayment, that basically triggers the start of the manufacturing process of your still, should cover the direct costs. The final downpayment should cover the indirect cost and result in a profit margin.
Now, with that knowledge in mind, what does that “advantageous” 30%/70% deal tell you? Here are some answers:
- If 30% covers the direct costs, this manufacturer must be very bureaucratic or use sub-standard materials or workforce, or:
- If 70% is needed to cover indirect costs and make a profit, for sure those profits are excessive;
- If 30% does not cover the direct costs and no excessive profit is realized, this payment scheme means that the manufacturer is pre-financing your order.
A low initial downpayment means that the manufacturer’s overhead is too high (or his quality too low), that his profits are too high, or that he is in financial trouble and needs to pre-finance orders (building inventory for which there are no customers).
Do you feel any of the above is good for you, as a distiller, considering to place an order? Would you like to pay more for overhead, an inferior product, or excessive company profits? Are you comfortable doing business with a company that pre-finances your order at its own expense?
I guess the answer to the above questions is “no”, isn’t it? The only good thing that can come from a 30%/70% proposal, is that there may be room to negotiate the price downwards … but that may increase the other risks mentioned above.
So what about the aforementioned “less advantageous” 70%/30% terms of payment, where you need to invest more up front? What does that tell you about the manufacturer you want to order with? Here we go:
- If 70% covers the direct costs, this manufacturer must have low overhead and focus on quality, or:
- If 30% is needed to cover indirect costs and create a profit, that profit for sure can’t be excessive;
- This manufacturer does not have to pre-finance orders, does not experience loss of demand, and probably runs a sound financial organization.
The only downside to doing business with a still manufacturer that has 70%/30% terms of payment, is that there isn’t going to be room for downward price negotiation …
Worse terms of payment are the better deal …
Here are pictures of distilleries being shipped to Estonia and North America. An iStill 500, an iStill 2000 and an Extractor …