Wanna become the best distiller you can be?

Quotes from our students …

I loved the course! It gave me a chance to be around like minded people and talk about my most favorite thing in the world: producing great spirits and enjoying the process. Trying a few things out and hearing how others go about achieving this. Dispelling the myth around spirit production allows for more innovation an this is what I have discovered here through the right amount of science. (Aris Aristidou, Cyprus)

The workshop was very enjoyable and gave us a massive amount of knowledge to build on and use in coming years. (Jonathan Heard, UK)

Thank you for an incredible experience. The iStill family was great company and incredible hosts. I would be happy to help with future applicants by speaking to them in advance if they need an outside opinion about the course. (Gavin Miklauchich, UK)

The training was top! I loved every minute and found it very informative. (Ian Mansell, UK)

I recommend the course to anyone thinking about buying a still. (Julian Curtoys, UK)

Great combination of theory and practice (and fun!). Focus on a broad spectrum of topics, not only the technical processes, with very competent speakers. The course was fantastic and I would really like to thank the whole team for creating and delivering such a first class experience! (Hans Lentz, UK)

Very enjoyable 4 days, and well organized. I appreciate the enormous amount of preparation that went into on your part. (Robin Johnson, UK)

Odin’s lectures were good. The hands on element of using en assembling the still was great. Putting together the gin recipes was very useful. (Bradley Christensen, USA)

I was very happy. Visiting iStill is like visiting an old friend, you get a warm welcome. Much of the knowledge of distilling is kept mysterious – e.g. aging periods/techniques, how to make really good whisky/rum etc. – this inside knowledge was part of the course. (Alan Milne, UK)

All the information was good, but the section on virtuous cycles to produce more flavor rich products was the highlight. The hands on components were also excellent. The external site visit and group dinner the first evening is a great way to get to know each other. (Vic Testolin, Australia)

You met all my expectations of the course and some more. I love how you evolve not only through courses but also through new innovations and technology. I’m convinced that your growth as a manufacturer and distiller will help me in the future to do the same. Thank you for sharing the knowledge and the craft. Looking forward to the future. (Hrvoje Busic, Croatia)

Very attractive presentations and open discussions. All the lecturers have experienced knowledge that they unselfishly distribute. There was no question asked at the course that hasn’t been answered. You guys are great, keep up the amazing work,  and see you in Zagreb Luftbremzer distillery! (Filip Presecki, Croatia)

I loved the overall experience. Almost all aspects of distilling have been discussed and have been explained in a very down to earth manner which makes it very understandable. Great group with great people. (Rene Kamphuis, Netherlands)

Many thanks to the whole iStill team! I loved meeting and sharing with fellow spirits enthousiasts/distillers/soon-to-be distillers and understanding how a chosen type of production (mashing/fermenting/distillation/maturation) protocol will influence the flavor of the final product. I loved Odin’s passionate, sincere and generous delivery ad engaging teaching style. I may not buy an iStill yet (have to sell cocktails first) but I am now a firm follower. (Yves Cosentino, UK)

I got a much better understanding of the basics of distilling, and also the possibilities and quality of the equipment. A great course with lots of new knowledge for me. Keep up the good work! (Bernt Gran, Norway)

Excellent explanation of all parts of the process and how to affect flavor of spirits. It was also great to meet some “real life” distillers and talk about business aspects as well as practical. (Andrea Stanch, UK)

The course was: very enjoyable, very well thought, very informative with hands on experience, aimed to teach the process and not just tell the students which buttons to push, thought in a clear, easy to understand way. Thank you very much Odin and Veronika for a very enjoyable few days! (Tom Grills, Ireland)

We were made to feel very welcome by everyone from iStill and really enjoyed spending time with all those involved with the course. Buying everyone beer and dinner was very much appreciated. Great course, great product, great people! (Peter Dignan, UK)

Odin was en excellent teacher with great ideas. The level and depth of knowledge was about right. I really love the community feel of iStill. Anything you can do to encourage that even more would be great. (Arthur Parkinson, UK)

Odin is a consummate teacher. His use of multiple teaching methods, from verbal instructions to analogies to graphs makes for lasting lessons. The breaks from classroom time to actual production floor demo’s was key. The field trip was also fun and allowed for some social interaction early in the schedule. (Ashley Cross, USA)

Thank you all for a fantastic class! The teaching style was great because we were able to have personalized questions and answers. The balance between theory and hands on training was also great; you certainly need both to become a great distiller! Not only was the class and theory easily worth the price of admission and then some, but having the chance to be in an operating distillery and connect and network with other people in the business and hear and share experiences was also priceless. It was a privilege and an adventure. (Jared Lewis, USA)

Thank you! It was an excellent environment. Odin’s patience and humanity helped. (Peter Singh, UK)

The course gave me very much energy and positive vibes and at the end of every day I was exhausted … so much to give a place in my mind … great … wonderful! Thank you!! (Bert Penning, Netherlands)

It was an excellent experience and I’m glad i attended. The science and technical explanations were excellent and helped fill in a lot of questions that I had before attending the course. It’s hard to find resources that go into the “why” part of questions and not only into “how”. When you know why you are doing something, then you can ask better questions and seek better answers. Everyone was also eager to learn and ask about their own theories. I thought that a one-on-one course would be necessary to hammer out the theory on distilling but having many different perspectives helped me better understand distilling since there were many different questions during the course. (Dave Farnia, USA)

Thank you for a great weekend, it was extremely useful. (Ulf Agger, Denmark)

The subject matter was presented in an interesting manner with good class participation. The content was excellent and sessions were designed with a variety of learning methods to ensure retention of learning. Interacting and learning from others in the class was a bonus. I really enjoyed dinner the first evening. I also think the Facebook group is a good idea! Thank you for the great course and looking forward to producing my first spirit on an iStill. (Kecia E. McDougall, UK)

Everything was excellent! (Shaun Hancke, UK)

I had a very interesting weekend and I can recommend the course to anyone who want to start distilling. (Wilco Reefman, Netherlands)

Lots of information , great new insights and a great atmosphere to meet and exchange new ideas. (Sebastiaan Smits, Netherlands)

For me as a beginner in distilling it was a lot of useful information in theoretical and practical part. It was also nice to meet more experienced distillers who have shared their knowledge and experience. The course gave me enough knowledge and confidence to start to distill. (Juri Kiur, Estonia)

Had a great 3 days! Would like to be kept informed about follow-ups. (Jaap Lindeman, Netherlands)

It was a brilliant course, it gives you confidence, and nice to share experiences. (Kevin-Cameron Cross, UK)

iStill University …

The iStill University provides amazing 4-day workshops that will unlock your full craft distilling potential. Spiritual growth uncorked. Applicable theories and top shelf procedures brought to you by the industry’s most experienced, knowledgable and innovative distillers. Students rate the workshop with an industry leading 9.7 out of 10. Wanna participate? Please reach out to Veronika@iStillmail.com

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http://www.iStill.eu/university

 

Copper Column Math!

The traditional role of copper in still manufacturing

Traditionally, copper plays an important role in still building. Originally, copper was available, affordable, and bendable. That’s why traditionally stills were made out of copper.

Nowadays, copper helps solve issues Big Alcohol faces, but it comes with drawbacks. This blog post dives into the problem copper solves, the problems it creates, and the options iStill proposes.

The problem copper solves

When the industrial revolution and globalization hit the distilling industry, in the second half of the 19th century, it resulted in fewer but bigger distilleries. Bigger stills needed to be fed, as frequent as possible, with bigger, faster ferments. And bigger, uncontrolled, and faster ferments create off-flavors such as sulfurous compounds.

High, globalized demand asked for bigger and quicker ferments that resulted in higher sulfur content spirits. Sulfurous spirits aren’t very drinkable. Luckily, though, the stills were made out of copper. Lucky why? Lucky because copper reacts with sulfur. The problem copper solves is that it takes away sulfurous smells and tastes. Copper stills turned out to be a great medicine for imperfect ferments.

The problems copper creates

Copper solves a problem, while creating a bunch of new ones at the same time. Here is a summary:

  • Copper oxidizes and corrodes, so it needs to be replaced after 10 to 15 years;
  • Copper oxidation and corrosion can contaminate your drinks;
  • The oxidation and corrosion influence column vapor speeds;
  • Copper is expensive;
  • Copper has a high thermal conductivity, leading to lower total still efficiency;
  • With a low rate of control over column vapor speeds and passive reflux;
  • Copper columns need cleaning after every run, adding 2 hours to your work day.

How iStill helps solve the problems copper creates

There are basically two questions in need of an answer:

  1. How do our designs help solve or prevent the problems copper creates?
  2. How does iStill help fix sulfurous drinks?

If we start with the second one, please know that sulfurs are created in speedy, cold, big and under-managed ferments. How we solve that? Well, by introducing a new line of revolutionary fermentation vessels that give you perfect control over time, temperature, SG, and pH! A perfectly controlled ferment will not make notabel amounts of sulfur. For more reading, please see: https://istillblog.com/2018/12/07/innovation-fermenting-made-easy/.

How we tackle the first question? How do iStills deal with the problems copper creates? Easy. Our stills are build out of stainless steel. Stainless steel is chemically inert and does not rust. It is affordable and does not need replacement. Insulated, it offers perfect control over vapor speeds and passive reflux. Stainless steel column cleaning doesn’t need detergents. A five minute cold water flush will do it.

But if you do not have access to iStill level of fermentation control, and you end up with a sulfur over-expression, ruining your drink, we can still help out. Instead of copper columns, we provide copper catalysts.

A copper catalyst is a designated part in the still or column that has copper in it so that the gases, rising from the boiler, can mingle with it so that sulfur can catalyze. A copper catalyst means the rest of your still can be made out of stainless steel. You limit the oxidation, degradation, and contamination to a small and controlled part of your still, almost completely negating the negatives deriving from copper use, while at the same time creating all the surface area needed to polish up your sulfur-infected drink.

Surface area? Yes, the amount of surface area, where copper and gases can mingle, is the real measure of how much sulfur can catalyze. The more surface area the column or catalyst has, the more sulfur is scrubbed out. So how much surface are does a copper column have? And how should we design a catalyst that performs as well as a copper column?

Copper Column Math

The inside surface area of a column (or riser) is calculated via the following formula: D*Pi*H. Column Diameter times 3.14 times column height. Let’s take the iStill 2000 column as an example. Its diameter is 20 centimeters, Pi is always 3.14, and it has two column segments of each 75 centimeters tall. The formula now calculates a total inside surface area of 20*3.14*150 equals 9,420 cm2. Were the iStill 2000’s column made out of copper, it would offer 9,420 cm2 of surface area for the sulfur to catalyze on.

Here is a picture of the iStill 2000 and its column in potstill configuration …

Copper Catalyst Math

Now, let’s do the same calculations for a copper catalyst. First, we are going to take a good look at a copper spring filled catalyst, then we will do the math for our unique copper waffles.

The copper springs we have on offer are 1 by 1 cm tall and wide. If we apply the formula, we can calculate that the inner surface area is 1*3.14*1 equals 3.14 cm2. But, contrary to a copper column, these springs sit inside the still. It’s therefore not just the inside surface area that contacts gasses, but also the outside of the spring. This grossly doubles the surface are per spring to 6.28 cm2.

We can now calculate how many springs are needed to create the same surface area as a copper column. Let’s divide the total copper column surface area by the surface area of one spring. Here it is: 9,420 / 6.28 equals 1,500 copper springs. We only need 1,500 1*1 cm copper springs to have the same catalytic functionality as a complete copper column!

And that’s without taking into consideration that the springs are not perfectly round. Instead, they are made out of copper wire, which results in a corrugated shape that increases total surface area by 50%. 1,500 of our copper springs therefore surpass the catalytic functionality of the copper column by 50%!

Just three bags (500 springs per bag) outperform a copper column by 50% …

Copper Waffle Math

The copper catalytic waffle, that can be used in the iStill 2000, has a total surface area of 7,536 cm2. That is exactly 80% of the total surface are of the copper column calculated above. This means that if you add just two waffles to your (stainless steel) iStill 2000, you get 60% more copper surface are than a completely copper column.

iStill 2000 copper waffle …

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Summary

Copper, even though a great medicine for a bad ferment, comes with various drawbacks. The iStill solution of adding a copper catalyst or waffle to a stainless steel still gives you all the benefits, in terms of sulfur control, without any of the negatives associated with copper columns.

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http://www.iStill.eu

 

 

iStill Contract Distilling!

We just shipped 4,000 bottles of Perfumetrees Gin to Hong Kong. The gin, was designed by the Cheung  Brothers. And they asked us to distill it for them, using the iStill Distillery near Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Are you you considering to contract distill your spirits? Please consider our services. Why? Well, here we go:

  1. We help you template and replicate your spirit to perfection, using our laboratory
  2. Our iStills have unmatched control of the distillation process, resulting in perfect production runs
  3. Given our large network, we can produce your spirits to perfection on almost every major market
  4. The efficiency of the iStills is unrivaled, resulting in low production costs per bottle

Do you want to learn more about iStill Contract Distilling? Please reach out to sales@istillmail.com.

http://www.iStill.eu

Day 3 of the iStill Workshop in Amsterdam!

Today, we made whisky as well liqueurs. The students made their own Paprika Extract and Licorice Essence and some other exotic stuff. And they helped with the mashing and fermenting of another batch of single malt whisky. Here are some pictures!

Odin brings in the malt …

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After grinding, the students fill the iStill 500 with the now cracked grain …

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Odin explains how mashing works on the iStill 500 …

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The students start to design their own liqueurs …

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Licorice extraction …

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Paprika, really? Yes, really …

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http://www.iStill.eu

Day 2 of the iStill Certified Workshop!

Day 2 of the workshop is nearing its completion! Let’s dive in deeper and see what the students did today.

We started the day with a single malt whisky run on the iStill 500 …

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And after that we dived into gin making …

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The students were split up in 4 groups and every group designed their own gin …

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And are currently using an iStill Mini to distill their gin …

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Do you want to participate at the best workshop the industry has to offer? Please reach out to Veronika@iStillmail.com.

http://www.iStill.eu

iStill Certified Workshop in Amsterdam!

The first day of the new edition of the iStill Certified Distilling Workshop has started. The students have just been trained in my theory of distillation, called the Holy Trinity of Distilling. And to put theory to practice, they are currently doing a finishing run on the iStill Mini. Using organic 12.5% strong white wine, they are making a brandy. Heat-up, power management, cutting for heads, hearts, and tails … in small groups of 3 students per iStill Mini …

http://www.iStill.eu

New Distilling Workshops!

Introduction

For three years now, iStill has been hosting distilling workshops. Our goal was to educate distillers on our theories and still designs, and to train them in how to make top shelf whiskey, rum, vodka, and gin.

From the start onwards, the iStill courses were a great success. Participants rate our courses at a steady 9.7 out of 10. We are very proud to be the world’s best educational facility for (future) craft distillers!

Over the last years more and more students found their way to the iStill University. So much so, that we now educate around 200 distillers per year. For 2019 that number is expected to grow. So … here are new iStill Certified Distilling Workshops, now open for registration!

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

When: January 21st – 24th

Where: iStill University, Woerden, the Netherlands

Amsterdam class …

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Wisconsin, USA

When: February 14th – 17th, right after the ACSA Trade Show

Where: Two Tall Distilling

The Two Tall Distilling Team …

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Tasmania, Australia

When: February 25th – 28th

Where Summerleas Distillery

The Summerleas Distillery Team …

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Colorado, USA

When: March 25th – 28th, right after the ADI Trade Show

Where: 52eighty Distilling

Colorado, here we come …

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Content

You will be tutored and trained in:

  • Mashing
  • Fermenting
  • Distilling
  • Aging
  • Extracting

You will be making the following spirits:

  • Whiskey
  • Rum
  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Brandy
  • Liqueurs

 Registration

For more information, please reach out to Veronika@iStillmail.com. If you want to register, please do so via https://istill.eu/university

 

http://www.iStill.eu

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fermentation Frustration!

Introduction

Let me share my frustration regarding fermentation with you. My frustration regarding fermentation? Yes, I feel that if there is one part of the process of craft spirits production that is riding in the back seat, it is fermentation. It is the one step that so many craft distillers neglect. My message here, today, is that it shouldn’t be neglected, that it should be in the driving seat of any craft distillery, not in the back seat!

Focus on the wrong things

Most craft distillers focus on distilling. And maybe on mashing. But not on fermenting. Fermenting is often seen as a necessary evil. A time consuming process that hampers the distillery’s overall efficiency in maximizing alcohol production. Fermentation is where the actual alcohol is produced, so its all about yield, right?

Wrong! Yes, of course, the actual alcohol is produced during the fermentation stage. It is where sugars (converted from starch during the mashing phase that precedes it) are turned into alcohol. But alcohol production as fermentation’s focus point? That is all wrong! It is wrong because it is during the fermentation phase that most of the flavor (depending on recipe and equipment 80 – 100%) is created.

A paradigm shift on fermentation

If flavor is created during fermentation, and if craft distillers need to compete with Big Alcohol on taste, rather than costs per liter produced, I propose a shift in paradigm. That new paradigm sounds like this:

“Fermentation is the most important step for each and every craft distiller wanting to produce their own whiskey, brandy, or rum.”

Current and new paradigm: the consequences

The existing way of thinking, where fermentation is primarily judged to be a bottle neck part of the process, aimed at alcohol production, leads craft distillers to under invest in fermentation equipment. In stead of fermentation taking place in the controlled environment needed to optimize (consistent) flavor development, cheap options like IBC’s, totes or under designed, thin, stainless steel vessels are chosen.

Most craft distilleries focus on investing in distillation equipment and not in fermentation equipment. Most craft distillers look for a shiny new still that only helps them (in the best case scenario) to rectify the mistakes made during their uncontrolled fermentations. Most craft distillers spend 80% of their equipment money on the still and only 20% on those parts of the spirits production process that help create better flavor.

And the money that is spent on fermentation, is usually invested in underrated equipment. Most fermenters one can buy, have – depending on size and manufacturer – a sheet thickness of 0.7 to 1.7 mm. Would you buy a still that thin? Of course not! So why buy thin sheeted fermenters? Because the craft distiller considers fermentation less essential than distillation.

When we put fermentation in the driver’s seat, if we change to my proposed new paradigm, and declare it the most important step in the spirits production process, the following happens:

  1. Equipment investment focusses on fermentation as well as distillation;
  2. The fermentation equipment that will be acquired, will give you more control over consistent flavor development;
  3. The fermentation equipment will see a rise in build quality.

As a result, craft distillers will finally be able to make taste rich product with better taste than Big Alcohol. And as consistently as the bigger producers can.

Costs and investments in your craft distillery

When Big Alcohol sets up a new distillery, do you know how they divide their equipment investments? 98% goes into mashing and fermenting and only 2% into the actual still. Total control over flavor and alcohol production during fermentation makes the still actually less important.

I am not saying you, as a craft distiller, should follow their lead to the letter. But I do challenge you to evaluate and reassess the numbers. Where Big Alcohol spends 98% on mashing and fermenting, our industry only spends 20% in that realm. If flavor is king, shouldn’t craft distillers at least up the investment in their fermenters to (or slightly above) the costs of their still? And if you are not convinced about the importance of controlled fermentation, please take a look at craft brewing. Or investigate the wine industry. They have been “craft” for over 2 millennia and may know there priorities better.

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http://www.iStill.eu