iStill University Workshop!

This week we had 14 visitors from all over the world. In 4 days we trained them in the noble art of craft distilling.

Topics that we dealt with were:

  • Mashing;
  • Fermenting;
  • Distilling;
  • Aging;
  • Vodka;
  • Gin;
  • Whisky.

We made the following products and did the following runs:

  • We mashed 2000 liters of peated single malt grains and water;
  • We fermented 2000 liters of single malt beer;
  • We stripped and finished the beer and low wines and created new make spirit;
  • We barreled the new make;
  • We made vodka (1) and gins (5!) and a number of extracts.

All in all, it was another great course with lovely students! Here are a few pictures we took:

No visit to the Netherlands can be complete without tasting Gouda …

And afterwards … dinner in the Stadshotel …

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The students at the iStill University …

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Making whisky in the iStill University …

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Filling up barrels with new make spirit …

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https://istill.eu/university

Contract Distilling by iStill!

Do you want to contract out distillation, barrel aging, and warehousing? iStill now offers those services! For more information reach out to christiaan@iStillmail.com

We are currently processing some beer that turned sour for a local craft brewer. “Some” being a bit of a understatement. And experienced distillers know: nothing better than a sour beer to start a great whisky from! See pictures underneath …

Beer kegs in the iStill Distillery …

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Emptying the kegs …

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Some initial degassing …

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2,000 liters of beer ready for distillation …

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http://www.iStill.eu

Utah and Napa, here we come!

Hi there!

A quick update from Amsterdam, where we are preparing the coming 4-day Certified iStill Workshops. Coming Saturday I’ll fly over to Salt Lake City to give a distilling course to 15 craft distillers from all over North America. And two weeks after coming back, we have two Amsterdam 4-day workshops, one after the other. Busy times at the iStill University!

Next course in the USA is in March. In Napa Valley … and at the Napa Valley Distillery. Great location given all the wineries around as well as all the excitement related to craft distilling. The Napa Valley Workshop will be from March 19th to 22nd. If you want more information, please reach out to jason@istillmail.com or veronika@istillmail.com. Jason for info, Veronika for registration.

More courses in the near future? Yeah, I expect us to do a training in Australia in a few months from now!

Regards, Odin.

iStill University Certified Workshops are rated 9.7 out of 10 and considered the best craft distilling educations in the world …

https://istill.eu/university

 

Developing a New Drink: Kasha Whiskey!

Introduction

My thoughts have been wondering towards buckwheat for quite a few times over the last years, but I never really gave it a try. That’s about to change! I just found a good source to Kasha. Kasha is roasted buckwheat. I like that “roasted” addition, because I expect it to add nutty, rooty flavors, especially at the back of the taste pallet. Maillard? Probably. In short: I am hooked on giving this a try. If any of you want to follow this thread, chime in, or do parallel experiments, please be my guests. The party is open to all with good intend and a merry mindset!

Approach

Here’s the approach I’ll do:
– Buy 5 kilo’s of Kasha;
– Put it in warm water and boil it for 15 minutes;
– Put it in a 30 liter fermentation bucket;
– Add cold water to bring total temperature wise to around 85C;
– Add high temp enzymes and stir and let it sit for 45 minutes;
– Add more cold water to bring temp to 65C;
– Add low temp enzymes and stir and let it sit for another 45 minutes;
– Add more cold water to bring total content to 25 liters;
– Given the 64 to 65% of total starch in the Kasha, I hope to convert that;
– Maybe I need to grind it, not sure. Maybe the roasting and boiling is enough to open things up enough for extraction and conversion;
– The recipe can also be done as a sugar head. In that case, don’t use enzymes, just dissolve 3.5 kilo’s of sugar and then top up with cold water to 25 liters total content;
– In both cases: boil 5 grams of yeast into a yeast nutrient and add that to the mix;
– Now sprinkle 15 grams of dried baker’s yeast on top and let the fermentation begin!

Expectations

Especially on the sugar heads, I expect pH to crash easily, so pH monitoring is probably important. I’d go for pH 4.0 to pH 4.5. I’ll also pitch the yeast at around 30C to create some extra fruity notes to balance out nicely (or that is the goal) with the more rooty, nutty flavors I expect to come over from the roasting process.

My gut feeling tells me this recipe may be surprisingly good white. But for sure we are going to do some aging on wood as well.

Fermentation

Fermentation should take a week, no longer. The goal is to achieve a 7.5 to 8% result. After that a quick strip run and then a finishing run. Maybe some backset from generation one to start a backset/sourmash cycle. The sourness of the backset may help esterification on next generations. And the taste transfer will definately boost taste as well.

If you use backset on follow-up generations, no more yeast starter will be needed. You may need to pre-adapt those second, third, etc. generations with bicarb to prevent further pH crashes.

Distillation

I want to go taste rich, so probably a 1.5 distillation approach is best, where we combine one strip with fresh wash and then do a finishing run.

The size of this test batch is small. That allows us to change things easily. Or to scale up, when we achieve success, quickly.

Time frame

All right. Let the fun times begin. I’ll order the Kasha today. I expect to start mashing later this week. I’ll let the fermentation run its course next week, when I am away anyhow. Of to Utah to give another distillation workshop. Distillation will take place after I come back.

Regards, Odin.

Kasha before cooking …

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http://www.iStill.eu

The Best Distilling Workshops of the World!

Introduction

Bold statement? Sure. Then again, it’s our trainees that say so. And the on average 9.7 out of 10 evaluation they give us confirms it: the iStill Workshops ARE the best distilling workshops available!

The feedback we get, is that the courses provide a really nice mix between theory and experience. Odin’s theories of distillation and fermentation are perceived as very informative. They lay down a easy to follow path by which the participants can start to design their own (award winning) spirits. Working with the iStills, and see how these automated and robotized distilling machines help put the theories into easy practice, is also conceived as a big eye opener.

Madison Introduction Workshop

Last December, we had a great 1.5 day introduction workshop in Madison, WI. Our generous hosts, Dave, Nick, Stephanie, and Amy, from the Two Tall Distillery helped us organize an event for 14 participants, primarily from the Chicago and Detroit areas.

We dived into distilling, fermenting, and extracting. We made gin on the iStill 500. We made and barreled and tasted Two Tall’s amazing rye whiskey. And we made apple liqueur with the iStill 100 in combination with our revolutionary Extractor column. The trainees also did extractions and distillation runs in four different groups. If I remember correctly, the all spice that we made on-site won!

Do you want to see pictures of the even? Please click on this link:

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipNy5WPHxcLcvcfZexcW_oQ2oShRmwWS-AuN5ElrR2B17vDFkGfyTPEFKSSorvd7ng?key=WEdxd1ZnR29uSTdnRWNQOVpXdEkwaFFCSHNGN21n

Amsterdam 4-day Certified in February 2018

In February 2018, in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), we organize two classes. The first one is fully booked. The second one, from February 19th till February 22nd still has one or two places left. If you want to register, now is the time to do so!

For more information, please reach out via veronika@istillmail.com

Napa Valley 4-day Certified Workshop in March 2018

From March 19th until March 22nd Napa Valley Distillery hosts a USA West Coast 4-day Certified iStill Workshop. The training, aimed at both beginning and experienced distillers, is now open for registration!

For more info, please see: https://istill.eu/university

Or reach out to Veronika directly via veronika@istillmail.com

Madison by morning …

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Napa Valley Distillery …

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http://www.iStill.eu

 

The Finance of Whiskey!

Introduction

Here at iStill we build amazing equipment for the craft distilling industry. But we do more. We help our customers make better drinks by (collective) training and (individual) product development projects. But there is another side to that same coin of producing spirits … and that’s the business side. Via our business consultancy we help our customers in that field too. This posts dives in deeper and shows how we support our customers at making better business decisions. More in detail? The example we want to promote here is all about whiskey production. We call it The Finance of Whiskey.

The Finance of Whiskey

Producing whiskey asks for investments up front. Mashers, fermenters, stripping stills and finishing units. Or iStills, that can do the whole process for you in one and the same machine. These combined are the so-called long term investments. Barrels, grain can almost be considered commodities. And the spirits production process asks for energy input as well as cooling water. Other things to consider are the rent of your distillery hall, staff associated costs, and marketing. With the Finance of Whiskey spread sheet, we aim to take all that into consideration. And we do so in a flexible way, so as not to develop a standard business model, but to help you design your own specific plans and planning.

For instance, you can decide on:

  • The units and equipment size you want to invest in for mashing, fermenting, and distilling, and their respective write-off period
  • The costs of the grains and energy and water and barrels you work with (or expect to work with), and the expected Feints losses
  • The number of runs you want to do (mashing, fermenting and distilling wise)
  • The expected Angels’ Share size, bottling strength, barreling strength, and barrel size
  • Additional costs for marketing, renting, staffing and taxes
  • And so much more

Based on your input The Finance of Whiskey spread sheets help you:

  • Generate detailed information on the costs of setting up and running a distillery
  • Create a business model with revenue, costing, and profitability
  • Over a 5 year planning period
  • Where you can mimic the growth of your distillery by adding new equipment along the year

The Consultation Process

If you want our help and advice in setting up your distillery, please go our website and visit: https://www.istill.eu/consultancy. Choose Business Plan Consultancy and let us know what you expect from us. We’ll call you back and will let you know what we have to offer, so that a more sound decision can be made on if we have on offer what you need.

If you feel we can help  you out, we invoice you, you pay, and the process of Business Plan Consultancy starts. We dial in a few Skype meetings and will put your decisions, the vision you foresee, into The Finance of Whiskey spread sheets. And if you want to make vodka, rum or gin in stead, please know that we have sheets and support for that as well!

Pictures

Here is how The Finance of Whiskey looks if you start filling in your own details, assumptions, and expectations:

Choose the machines you want to work with …

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Decide on barreling strength, barrel size, barrel costs and Angels’ Share …

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Get detailed analyses of what makes up your costing per bottle (or run or year) …

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See how future investments in new equipment influence production costs …

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Get long term projections of revenue, costs, and profit …

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The Proof of the Pudding

… is in eating. Here are some outcomes based on running an iStill 500, 2000 and 5000. In all cases the units are set to make whiskey and do the whole process of mashing, fermenting and distilling in one 6-day cycle.

The iStill 500 NextGen:

  • Yearly production of 5.884 bottles at 43%
  • Nett production costs of EUR 2,80 per bottle (incl. write-off of iStills, energy, water, grain consumption, angels share, and investments in barrels, excl. overhead and taxes)
  • At 60 mash/fermentation/distilling cycles per year

The iStill 2000 NextGen:

  • Yearly production of 23.538 bottles at 43%
  • Nett production costs of EUR 2,13 per bottle (incl. write-off of iStills, energy, water, grain consumption, angels share, and investments in barrels, excl. overhead and taxes)
  • At 60 mash/fermentation/distilling cycles per year

The iStill 5000 NextGen:

  • Yearly production of 58.844 bottles at 43%
  • Nett production costs of EUR 1,95 per bottle (incl. write-off of iStills, energy, water, grain consumption, angels share, and investments in barrels, excl. overhead and taxes)
  • At 60 mash/fermentation/distilling cycles per year

Veronika, in front of an iStill 5000, celebrating her birthday today …

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http://www.iStill.eu

Rigorous Testing Creates Perfection!

Introduction

Every unit we build is tested to the max. And since our units are automated and robotized, every run creates more data. Data that we can use to further optimize the automated programs we offer our customers via firmware updates. Here’s an iStill Blog post that shows how we test and what the parameters are that we get over.

Today’s test run

Currently, we are testing a 500 liter iStill. The unit is filled with 450 liters of 30% low wines and we are doing both potstill run tests and pure run test. The first category teaches us how fast the unit can strip and/or finish taste rich product. We do these tests at 50% power settings, to simulate finishing, and at 100% power setting to simulate stripping. The second category – testing pure mode – tells us what the maximum ABV is that the unit can produce and at what rates it does so.

Strip run test in potstill mode

The iStill 500 produces 51 liters per hour at robot opening 750 and 100% power. This means the unit strips at over 50 liters per hour. The column cooler settles at 33C. Well below the maximum cooling temperature of 50C. Great result for the column and cooling!

Finishing run test in potstill mode

The iStill 500 produces 25 liters per hour at robot opening 500 and 50% power. That’s mimicking a slow finishing run, with relatively low vapor speeds. The cooler temperature drops to  below 27C. Again, a great result for both column and cooler.

Pure run test

We are currently finishing the pure run, where we make vodka and GNS. With a power setting of 80%, a robot tolerance of 0.3C, and a first opening of 200, the unit easily reaches > 96.5%. The amount produced is 21.5 liters per hour. In plain English? The iStil 500 reaches maximum purity levels (azeotrope) and produces 21.5 liters of it per hour. Another world record for iStill! Here are some pictures:

iStill 500 NextGen going through its test cycles …

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Touch screen computer showing the pure run tests …

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Alcohol strength above 96.5% …

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Potstill run at 100% power: influence of robot setting …

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http://www.iStill.eu