Three 2020-model iStills 100 for Sale!

Due to Covid, a customer that ordered three iStills 100 Hybrid Manual in early 2020 now cannot take delivery of them. The units never left iStill HQ and are brand new. They now become available for sale. If you want to order one (or more), please reach out to Esther@iStillmail.com. Here is the specification list:

  • 100 liter insulated boiler (net);
  • 2 1/2 inch diameter insulated hybrid column with reflux valve;
  • Column packing;
  • StillControll Probe & App;
  • 3.5 kWh heater, 230v;
  • Can pot distill and column distill (up to 96%);
  • iStill Distilling University (online course) at EUR 1.895,- is included for free.

Price per unit? EUR 9.950,- ex VAT and ex crating and transport. We can ship the unit all over the globe, or you can come by and collect it at iHQ. Coffee is always ready, and we usually have a drink to share as well! Here are some pictures of the units:

http://www.iStill.com

Never Mash Again! (2)

Here’s an update on the first round of tests we did. The good news? We have proof of concept! We succeeded in:

  1. Converting starch to fermentable sugars;
  2. Converting starch to fermentable sugars while fermenting.

The bad news? We have like a dozen more test trials to do in order to fine-tune procedures and come up with the best and most efficient protocols.

Then again … we’ll keep you posted!

Simultaneous mashing and fermenting …

http://www.iStill.com

Whiskey – What Equipment Do I Need?

Introduction

Planning a distillery can be daunting. What equipment do I need? A simple question, but there are so many answers that are rooted in even more considerations. This post is the fifth of a series called “What Equipment Do I Need?”. Each post highlights one consideration. This week? Whiskey! What equipment do I need to make whiskey?

Whiskey making process

There are basically three fundamental steps to whiskey making:

  1. Mashing;
  2. Fermenting;
  3. Distilling.

Mashing

Mashing is the process where grain starch is converted into fermentable sugars. It is done by putting the cracked grains with warm water and certain amounts of enzymes in a vessel. Mixing the concoction and carefully managing the temperature are critical. Since mashing takes 4 to 6 hours, you need but one masher.

Fermenting

Fermenting is the process where grain sugars are converted into alcohol and flavor molecules. It is done by adding yeast to the mash, and by carefully managing temperature and pH. The process takes about 4 to 5 days, so traditionally you need 5 or 6 fermenters.

Distilling

Distillation concentrates and selects the alcohol and flavors. Usually a double distillation cycle is needed. Since distilling takes about an 8 hour shift, traditionally two stills are needed. One for the first stripping run, another one for the second finishing run

iStill solutions

The iStills can basically mash, ferment, and distill. So one iStill (preferably as big as you can afford and house) is all you need. Let that sink in for a moment. And if you still want to go the traditional route of a separate masher, 6 fermenters, and two stills, well, we have these too!

Okay then, 6 steps …

Material – What Equipment Do I Need?

Introduction

Planning a distillery can be daunting. What equipment do I need? A simple question, but there are so many answers that are rooted in even more considerations. This post is the fourth of a series called “What Equipment Do I Need?”. Each post highlights one consideration. This week? Material! What will my still be made of?

Materials for still building

There are basically two materials a still can be build from:

  1. Stainless steel;
  2. Copper;

Each material has specific benefits as well as specific negatives. Time to find out more!

Stainless steel

As stainless steel is relatively affordable, stainless steel stills offer great value for money. Since this material is chemically very resistant, it has superior longevity. As a result of its resistance, it does not chemically interact with the spirits you are making, which has both positive and negative consequences. No contamination on the one hand, no sulfur catalysis on the other hand. Stainless steel stills can be fitted with a catalyst to manage sulfurs though. A final consideration? Some perceive a stainless steel distillery as modern looking, which can be both a pro and a con.

Coppper

As copper is expensive, both to purchase and to work with, copper stills are relatively expensive. Since the material is chemically very active, it offers limited longevity. A benefit from copper being very reactive, rather than inert, is that it catalyses sulfuric compounds that may have developed during (uncontrolled) fermentations. Without the iStill Copper Particle Filter, copper creates health risks in the spirits you produce. Many perceive a copper distillery as being more romantic looking, which can add to the artisanal experience that many distillers associate with being craft.

Copper vs. Stainless Steel …

Automation – What Equipment Do I Need?

Introduction

Planning a distillery can be daunting. What equipment do I need? A simple question, but there are so many answers that are rooted in even more considerations and assumptions. This post is the third of a series called “What Equipment Do I Need?”. Each post highlights one consideration. This week? Automation! What level of automation do I need?

Levels of automation

There are basically three levels of automation a distiller can choose from:

  1. No automation – subjective sensory assessments control the run and all work is done manually;
  2. Semi-automated – objective measurements control the run and all work is done manually;
  3. Automated and robotized – objective measurements control the run and the work is done automatically.

The higher the level, the more support and control you get. Let’s dive in deeper, so you can make a better judgement call on what you need!

No automation

Without automation, you will find it impossible to reproduce spirit profiles successfully. You’ll need extensive batch-mixing to create any level of consistency. Since all the work is done manually, your distillery need to invest in labor, which leads to higher staffing costs. iStill does not support this kind of operation, since we strongly believe that spirits reproducibility is conditional to becoming a successful craft distiller.

Semi-automated

A semi-automated still measures what goes on inside your still objectively. This allows you to reproduce spirit flavor profiles. Since the measurements result in manual actions, performed by your staff, you run the risk of introducing some proces-operator bias into your spirts, where the distillers preferences shine through, rather than yours. Because most of the work is done manually, you’ll still need to invest in higher staffing costs. iStill supports this level of automation via our semi-automated line-up of iStills.

Automated and robotized

A fully automated and robotized still measures what goes on inside your still objectively, and makes the associated cuts itself. This leads to your distillery being able to fully reproduce the exact flavor profile time and again. No risk of proces-operator bias. No need to invest heavily in additional staffing. You’ll produce the best quality spirits in the most reproducible manner, and in the most efficient way. iStill is the only distillery manufacturer that offers this level three automation and robotization to craft distillers.

Automation => Control => Quality …

iStill USP’s!

Introduction

By introducing innovative and disruptive new technology to the market, iStill aims to empower the craft distilling industry. But what does our technology give you? How do we empower craft distillers all over the world? Or – to put it in marketing terms – what are iStill’s unique selling points or USP’s? Let’s dive in deeper.

Reproducibility

More than any other still out there, iStills are designed with perfect process control in mind. Our focus on technologically advanced monitoring and management systems, allow the craft distiller to make the same product over and over again, while deleting the risk of output variability.

Quality

The total control over taste formation, concentration, and separation processes results in higher quality spirits. More flavorful whiskey, gin, brandy, and rum. More neutral vodka.

Efficiency

iStill’s application and incorporation of 21st century technology results in more efficient distilling. Operational costs of an iStill distillery are only about 25%, when compared to a traditional set-up.

Versatility

An iStill can make any product. Instead of having to invest into new equipment for each and every new spirit you want to release, our technology supports the production of any spirit, be it whisky, rum, brandy, gin, vodka, tequila, or liqueur.

Continuously

Our stainless steel stills don’t rust and deteriorate. Careful material selection and a focus on over-engineering, results in the industry’s best longevity and lowest down-time ratio’s.

Column Type – What Equipment Do I Need?

Introduction

Planning a distillery can be daunting. What equipment do I need? A simple question, but there are so many answers that are rooted in even more considerations. This post is the second of a series called “What Equipment Do I Need?”. Each post highlights one consideration. This week? Type! What type of column do I need?

What type of column

There are basically three types of columns a distiller can choose from:

  1. Potstill column;
  2. Plated column;
  3. Hybrid column.

Each type of column offers distinct advantages and disadvantages, when making certain spirits and high-lighting certain flavor profiles. Let’s dive in deeper.

Potstill column

The potstill column excels at bringing over big, bald flavors. Since a potstill column can only perform a single distillation cycle in one run, it is relative inefficient. At least two distillation runs are required, leading to higher throughput times and or your distillery needing multiple stills.

The potstill column is great for full-bodied single malt whiskies and Jamaican style rums. It also does a great job at making gin. If we apply Odin’s Theory of Distillation and, more specific, the Holy Trinity of Distillation Model, potstills are great at making 2.5 and 3-dimensional flavor profiles.

Plated column

Plated columns are designed to minimize tails-associated flavor contamination. As such, they are great for 2-dimensional spirits like fruit brandy, or Bourbon, or Irish whiskey.

The plated column is more efficient than a potstill column. Depending on the number of plates, the design, power, and reflux management, this type only needs a single distillation run, saving you throughput time and additional investments.

There are two generic types of plated stills. The bubble cap plated still focuses on lighter style spirits like fruit brandy. The perforated plated still focusses on medium style spirits like Bourbon or Irish whiskey or medium rum.

Hybrid column

Hybrid columns, when designed correctly, offer the best of both worlds. Due to huge advancements in still design and control in the last decade, iStill Hybrid columns can help the distiller make any flavor profile he or she is looking for.

The hybrid column can make bold flavored, 3-dimensional spirits, like Jamaican-style or single malt whisky. But it can just as easily make 2-dimensional medium flavored spirits or even one-dimensional vodka or GNS.

The hybrid column is very efficient. All spirits, save one-dimensional vodka, can be made in a single distillation run.

Type vs. hype …

Size – What Equipment Do I Need?

Introduction

Planning a distillery can be daunting. What equipment do I need? A simple question, but there are so many answers that are rooted in even more considerations. This post is the first of a series called “What Equipment Do I Need?”. Each post will highlight one consideration. This week? Size! What size of still do I need?

Sizing your still

What size of still basically depends on two tings:

  1. Will I make my own alcohol (e.g. whiskey) or will I redistill sourced alcohol (e.g. gin)?
  2. How many bottles do I expect to sell, now and in the near future?

Since the second question can only be answered on an individual level, let’s focus on the first one. This is a generic iStill Blog post after all. Not a one-on-one, customer-specific consultancy project.

Redistilling sourced alcohol

Alcohol, like GNS, can be sourced at 96%. So if you dilute it to 32% and do a gin run, well, you start with a high proof load in your boiler. High proof translates to high yield. The more alcohol you can process in one run, the more bottles you can make.

For example, on a 100 liter still, with generous cuts for heads and tails (that can be refined into GNS later), can produce around 75 bottles of gin. If you expect to sell 200 to 300 bottles of gin per week, this size will suit you well.

Using the same rule of thumb, a 500 liter still can make you as much as 375 bottles of gin in one run. So if you aim to sell up to 7000 bottles per month, the iStill 500 will be a great choice. You can even push the numbers higher, by doing multiple runs per day.

All in all, when processing bought in alcohol, a smaller size still still will probably be the right choice. An iStill 100, 200 or 500 will be great. Maybe a 1000 or 2000 liter still for the bigger producers.

Making your own alcohol

Making your own alcohol is both more time consuming, with mashing and fermentation taking the better part of a week. Also the final resulting beer or wine will probably be 7, 8, or 9% strong. Instead of 30 to 35% on the above mentioned bought-in alcohol.

As a rule, when you want to make your own brandy, rum, or whiskey, go as big as you can. A 500 liter still is the minimum. If you can afford a 1000, 2000, or even 5000 liter still, that would be even better. An iStill 2000 can produce a barrel-fill of new make spirit in one go (220 liter at 60-65%). An iStill 5000 makes you 2 1/2 barrel per run. An iStill 500 needs no less than four runs to help fill a 220 liter cask.

How size matters …

2-Row vs. 6-Row Malted Barley

Introduction

Malted barley comes in two basic categories: 2-Row and 6-row. Each variety has its own sets of pro’s and cons in terms of yield, enzymatic content, and flavor. Here’s what you need to know, if you want to make malted barley part of your whiskey grain bill.

Flavor

2-Row malted barley has better/more flavor than 6-row.

Yield

2-Row malted barley has slightly better yield than 6-row.

Enzymatic content

6-Row has much more enzymes available than 2-row. A 20% contribution of 6-row converts its own starches as well as the remaining 80% of unmalted grains. A 40% contribution of 2-row is needed to convert its own starches as well as the remaining 60% of unmalted grains.

Conclusions

Use 2-row if you are after the flavor of malted barley. Use 6-row if you want to highlight the flavors of the unmalted grains in your grain-bill, like corn, rye, wheat or oats.

Use cases

Single malt whisky is made up solely of malted barley. Since any type of malted barley has enough enzymatic power for its own starch conversion, choose 2-row. It has more flavor (more depth and more smoothness) and slightly better yield.

Bourbon style whiskies want to highlight sweet corn flavors. If you want to use malted barley, it will be to convert the corn starches into fermentable sugars. Use 6-row malted barley, because of its higher enzymatic content and conversion power. 6-Row also has less of a flavor impact, leaving room for the corn to shine.