The World’s Largest Distilling Library!

Today’s post highlights the iStill Blog itself! With over 1,350 posts and articles, in just 7 1/2 year, the iStill Blog has become the world’s largest distilling library. Use the search function to find and investigate the topics you are interested in. Or read the whole blog, from beginning to end, to see how far craft distilling in general and iStill specifically have come.

The world’s largest body of distilling information …

And it comes with a search function!

Online Distilling University for Existing Students and Customers!

Confronted with Covid-19 and the ensuing unability to give our iStill Distilling University courses here at iStill HQ, we scrambled to bring the curriculum online. Thus the iStill Online Distilling University was created. And it has proven to be a great success.

So much so that we decided to incorporate the online course with the purchase of an iStill. Like this: anyone that buys an iStill gets the course for free. Well, it isn’t for free, because the online curriculum costs EUR 1.895,-, but it is included and the customer is discounted the purchase costs of the online course.

So … new students get the latest course and so do new customers. But how about existing customers and existing students, the ones that participated at the iStill University physically?

On the one hand, one might argue that, well, we delivered as agreed upon. The iStills that were purchased a year or two years ago were more affordable, so that’s a benefit that off-sets the free online course we now include. And the students that visited us, and attended the physical course, well, we delivered on that as well. And very much so, if we look at the feedback.

Still, especially in these weird times, that – for so many – are filled with uncertainty, and with our mission to advance and empower the craft distilling industry … shouldn’t we do more? The iStill Management Team has been struggling with this question for quite some time now. But we think we found a solution that does justice to our mission and to the huge investments we have done to get our course curriculum online.

Here it is: existing students and customers that want to purchase the iStill Online Distilling University can now do so for EUR 395,-. EUR 395,- instead of EUR 1.895,-.

How to order? Send an email to Finance@iStillmail.com, telling them you want to order the course. Finance will send you a payment link in return. You use that link to pay and you’ll get access to the online curriculum the next day …

Purchase Our Single Malt Whisky!

We are bottling a batch of single malt whisky that we mashed, fermented, and distilled in an iStill, a little over three years ago.

We plan to sell these bottles to leads or customers that contemplate whisky making with the iStill. Each and every bottle proves how our amazing technology creates better flavors, and how iStill produced spirits empowers the craft distilling industry. Do we need that confirmation? No. Do you need that confirmation? Probably not. But in an industry where partners and financiers – not understanding distilling on a first-principles level, like we do – want some additional “proof” this goes a long, long way!

For that purpose we currently have 50 bottles of single malt whisky (47%) available. We are working on a link, so you can order online. Please give us a few days to set that up!

Distillers Reddit!

Questions

Hi Odin,

I was also wondering if I could ask you a bit about gin louching. I usually ask people on the distilling subreddit when I have questions about distilling and you’ll be pleased to know that you are very popular on reddit, and are often mentioned by other distillers on there. One person said I should ask you directly.

I have had some issues with the gin louching when I add water to it. We usually distill 18L of botanical distillate at 78% abv and then add NGS at 96%abv and de-ionized water to bring the volume up to 200 liters and 40% abv. I have the following questions:

1) Does it matter how quickly I add in the water to the alcohol? Someone told me to add in the water slowly to avoid louching.

2) I’ve read that making a heads cut during spirit collection helps to prevent louching. I started taking 100mL off, and I do notice there are a lot of oils in it. Why is that? I thought the heavier oils would be in the tails, so why are there so many oils at the beginning of spirit collection?

3) I know that making a heads cut during spirit collection, making sure the spirit and water are around the same temp when mixing, and adding more neutral grain spirit to the final product help prevent and get rid of louching. Are there any other ways to get rid of louching?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

Answers

Hi there, dunno what Reddit is, but happy to be of assistance. If I should help the broader Reddit community let me know.

As for your questions:

  1. No. Quick dilution will cause temporary haze due to alc and h20 not being mixed, so spots have more or less alcohol. The “parts” with less alcohol have less solvency power and that’s what causes the temporary louching.
  2. Takes time for the column to heat-up. So the first fractions are going to be distilled many times by the time they come over. Gas rises, hits a cold column and returns to liquid, giving off its energy and heating up the column, while performing basically a distillation. This process leads to over concentration of early juniper oils and they need to be discarded. Often you can see the oils float like a ball in the middle, if you collect heads in a see-through glass.
  3. You see louching as a problem. It isn’t. It is a sign you got tremendous amounts of flavor over. Congrats. Now mix in 40% ethanol/water mixture to add solvency power. When the haze lifts you achieved a gin with maximum taste saturation. Pls. know that 43% for craft distilled is often better due to higher solvency power. Otherwise a slightly earlier tails cut or a slightly lower run. But that is if you continue seeing louching as a problem, which it really isn’t.

Regards,

Odin.

Why Cooling Sometimes Sucks!

Starting a boil in your still results in vapors being produced. That’s how distillation works: you apply heat at one end to create gasses and you apply coolant at the other end to liquify these gasses.

Heating and cooling, and they should work together in perfect harmony. And they do. Well, as far as we design the iStills. Each and every design has a cooler that matches the power input. The cooler on an iStill 500 can cool down 18 kWh, while the iStill 100’s cooler matches its own, smaller, power input.

No worries then? Well, no, if you use water as the coolant of choice, and when you make sure it is below 10 degrees Celsius.

Now, I can hear you think … “What if our water isn’t 10c, but warmer?” And that would be the perfect follow-up question. Many live in warmer climates, where tap water is well above 10 degrees Celsius. And with the warmer cooling water comes a progressive decline of that water’s cooling capacity.

See the problem? In warmer climates, you need a chiller. That chiller is a device that cools the water down to below the required 10 degrees Celsius. The slightly higher electricity bill off-sets the lower water usage easily. Problem solved.

So why cooling sometimes suck? Well, because your distillery is situated in a warm climate. Congrats on the nice weather and our condoleances for having to invest in a chiller. That easy? If only it were … because, wait, there is more!

It turns out that cooling doesn’t just potentially suck in warmer climates, but that – quite often – it is distilleries up-north that struggle. How is that possible? Don’t they have access to cold water? Yes, they do, but since it is so cold, they are afraid the water might freeze, when put outside. “Outside” as in that’s where their chiller sits. Why a chiller in colder climates? Because of the warm summers.

What do distillers up-north do, in order to prevent their cooling water from freezing? They add glycol to it. “Glycol” as in an anti-freeze agent that has close to no cooling capacity. By adding it to the cooling water (and water has an amazing amount of cooling capacity), they are now diluting the overal cooling capacity of the coolant!

An example. Say, a distillery from Canada is advised to add a chiller to manage the temperature of their coolant downward. Because it can get pretty warm in the summer, right? And since it gets pretty cold in winter … well, they add 25% glycol to prevent the coolant from freezing over in winter. Since the cooling capacity of the glycol is very low, they (cutting only minor corners here) just “diluted” the cooling capacity with 25%! Start to see why cooling can suck even up-north?

The solution? Well, iStill provides one. Our bigger stills (500 liters and more) are now equipped with an additional pre-cooler. It adds 30 to 40% additional cooling capacity, off-setting slightly warmer cooling water and/or the addition of a limited amount of glycol.

But our pre-cooler is a band-aid. A great band-aid, but a band-aid altogether. Here’s what you, the distiller, needs to do. In a warmer climate, add a chiller and let it chill water. You don’t need anti-freeze. In a cold climate, limit the amount of glycol to a minimum and set your chiller up inside rather than outside.

Chill to know your cooler works just fine …

When do iStill Fermenters rock?

iStill Fermenters are, in general, more expensive than other fermenters. This makes for an important tradeoff: should you, as a craft distiller, invest the additional money and purchase our fermenters?

Here are three considerations to keep in mind, when investing in fermentation equipment. Or three explanations, as to why our fermenters are more expensive. Here we go:

  1. During fermentation, over 80% of your flavors are created. Flavor creation and composition result from managing your fermentation’s temperature, pH, and saccharification. Our fermenters are the only ones out there with temp, pH, and saccharification control.
  2. Since fermentation helps create over 80% of your esters, we feel it is a very important step. Robust control over flavor creation and composition demands robust engineering. Where other fermenters are made from 0.8 to 1.2 mm thick steel, we use 4 to 5 mm sheeting.
  3. Recipe development is fun, but producing the same spirit for the coming 20 years is repetitive work. iStill Fermenters are integrated in iStill’s Central Distillery Management, that allows you – via a single work-station – to manage your complete distillery single-handedly.

Thinking about it, makes us wonder … why are our “competitors” willing to make other choices? Why offer a fermenter with very limited controls, if that directly translates into non-reproducible results? Is it because they do not understand how important flavors are to the craft distiller?

And why ferment in an under-engineered vessel, unless you feel that the process of fermentation itself is not important? Why invest money in non-essential tooling, right? Unless maybe it is essential?

And finally: why automate and integrate fermentation management into the complete distillery … unless one feels that craft distilling isn’t about integrating various processes, but rather about some separate steps, mostly unrelated, and fermentation being the less important one?

If the goal is to make cheap drinks inconsistently, well, then the iStill Fermenters should not be part of your equipment portfolio. Our fermenters only rock for those interested in making better tasting drinks consistently.

iStill Fermenter for Shakespeare Distillery …

http://www.iStill.com

Live Stream and Q&A on all things Gin!

Block Monday 12th of October in your agendas! As part of the iStill Distilling University’s Certified Craft Distiller Program, we’ll be doing a live-stream on making Gin. Starting time? 14h00 / 2 pm Central European Time Zone.
 
Free participation for everyone interested in gin!
 
Livestream via YouTube:
 
Livestream via Facebook:
 
And as an extra … we’ll show off the all new iStill 200!

iStill Fermenter 2000!

Here are pictures of the iStill Fermenter 2000 that we have built for a UK distillery. Like all of our fermenters, it comes equipped with agitator, temperature control, pH control, and SG control. Why? Because if we help the craft distiller control their fermentations, we help them control the consistent production of both alcohol and flavor composition!

http://www.iStill.com

Machine Learning for iStill Customers!

Introduction

We decided to make the practical training, that follows-up on the online iStill Distilling University, a one-on-one experience. One-on-one as in “one distillery at a time”. At iStill HQ. Where you make your recipe on a set-up similar to the one you purchased. Supervised by an iStill Master Distiller. The goal? To help increase your operational competence.

Machine Learning for iStill Customers

With a wink to our machines being pretty advanced, we call it “Machine Learning”. But it isn’t about the still learning new tricks. No, instead the new customer learns how to make his exact recipe on the new iStill equipment they purchased, exactly configured the way you ordered it.

Create operational competence!

Group-training is a great way to teach all of the participants the same thing. But if we want to help new customers gain more operational experience faster, we strongly feel that training should be perfectly tailored to the spirit they want to make, given the machinery they want to use. A more specialized educational experience generates more operational expertise, specific to your distillery, to your spirits, to the flavor profile you want to highlight, and to the distiller you want to be.

Not open-ended

Since gaining operational competence is based on passion, the willingness to learn, and on the wish to own all the processes related to running a craft distillery, iStill’s Machine Learning Program is not open-ended. Instead, we ask for your commitment, resulting in you coming to the party well-prepared. If that doesn’t make sense, please read:

Two Types of Machine Learning Programs

We foresee two types of Machine Learning Programs. The first one centers around the craft distiller making their own alcohol via mashing and fermenting and distilling. The second one centers on the craft distiller redistilling GNS with herbs.

“Distilled Machine Learning” is for those that want to make brandy, rum, or whiskey. “Redistilled Machine learning” trains our customers in making gin, akvavit, or liqueur. The first variety takes eight days, the second one only three. Both take place at iStill HQ in the Netherlands. The goal is that you become competent in distilling your recipe on your iStill configuration.

What’s included?

On the “Distilled Machine Learning”, the following is included:

  1. Assemble your iStill;
  2. Update your iStill;
  3. Test your iStill;
  4. Cleaning run;
  5. Mashing with your iStill Distillery;
  6. Fermenting with your iStill Distillery;
  7. Distilling with your iStill Distillery;
  8. Cleaning the iStill after a run;
  9. Certified Master Distilled Diploma.

You will assemble your iStill (or a similar model), update it to the newest software, and test the unit on the first day. Mashing will take place on the second day. Fermentation takes place on days three through six. You will distill your brandy, rum, or whiskey on the seventh day. You will clean the iStill on the last day. The entire process will be monitored and supervised by an experienced iStill master distiller.

On the “Redistilled Machine Learning Program”, the following is included:

  1. Assemble your iStill;
  2. Update your iStill;
  3. Test your iStill;
  4. Cleaning run;
  5. Distilling with your iStill;
  6. Cleaning the iStill after a run;
  7. Certified Master Distilled Diploma.

You will assemble your iStill (or a similar model), update it to the newest software, and test the unit on the first day. Distilling will take place on the second day. You will clean the iStill on the third and last day. The entire process will be monitored and supervised by an experienced iStill master distiller.

For whom is it?

For new or existing iStill customers or distillers, that want to gain operational competence in making one certain recipe. One distillery will be trained at a time, to do justice to your unique product, SOP, wishes, and equipment make-up. The maximum number of participants from your distillery is three. You can decide to send one, two, or three students, as long as they all certified for our online Distilling University (so we all speak the same language).

Criteria

Your Machine Learning Program will be planned after the following criteria are met:

  • The Machine Learning Program is paid for;
  • You graduated from the online iStill Distilling University;
  • We received your recipe;
  • And the yeasts, herbs, substrates, or grains that go with it;
  • We received your SOP.

How to order and what it costs?

New customers can add the Distilled or Redistilled Machine Learning Programs as options to their iStill purchase orders. Existing customers can send an email to Esther@iStillmail.com. The eight day Distilled Machine Learning Program costs EUR 10.000,-. The three day Redistilled Machine Learning Program is EUR 5.000,-. For that price, you can send one, two, or three participants.

Machine learning is about the distiller …