Recipe Development: Odin makes Cachaca!

What’s cachaca?

Cachaca is basically rum made Brazilian style. Contrary to most rums, cachaca is not made from molasses. Instead, the base wine is fermented from fresh or reduced sugar cane juice. Right, a bit like rum agricole.

The resulting wine is distilled into a high proof spirit. The cachaca can be consumed white, after just a few weeks of aging. Usually at 40 to 45%. And it can be aged in barrels at around 50 to 60%.

Mind you, officially cachaca has to be made in Brazil. It is also called Brazilian rum. But let’s call it a cachaca here anyhow. Hey, what do I know? Maybe you are from Brazil!

What is cachaca not?

Well, it is not rum. Rum is made from the molasses that remain when sugar is extracted. The molasses has residual remaining sugars that ferment into a rum wine. The rum wine is then distilled into rum. Either via potstill or via column still.

In general, rum has a spicier and deeper flavor profile. Cachaca is fruitier, more lively, since it is made directly from the (fresh or reduced) juice that’s pressed out of the sugar can stalks.

What ingredients and tools are needed to make cachaca?

To ferment 180 liter of wine of around 7% you need:

  • 210 liter fermenter
  • 25 kilo’s of panela or muscovado sugar
  • 160 grams of baker’s yeast
  • 170 liters of water
  • pH meter
  • Calcium bicarbonate
  • Fish tank heater (60 – 120 Watt)
  • Stirring paddle

To distill the 180 liters of wine you need:

  • iStill 100 NextGen
  • iStill Potstill Striprun Recipe
  • iStill Potstill Bourbon Recipe (for a white cachaca)
  • iStill Potstill Rum Recipe (for a cachaca that you want to barrel age)

What is the process of making cachaca? 

Fermentation procedure:

  1. Add the 25 kilo’s of panela or muscovado sugar to the fermenter
  2. Add the water and stir the panela or muscovado sugar in
  3. Top the fermenter of to 180 liters
  4. Add 40 grams of yeast to a liter of boiling water and let it cook for 10 minutes
  5. Add the cooked yeast to the fermenter
  6. Sprinkle the remaining yeast on top of the liquids in the fermenter
  7. Add the heater and set the temperature to 30 degrees Celsius
  8. Close the fermenter and let the fermentation run dry (which will take around a week)
  9. Check the pH every second day and use calcium bicarbonate to correct pH upwards and let it sit between pH 5 and pH 5.5

Distillation procedure:

  1. Add 100 liters of cachaca wine to the iStill 100
  2. Upload the iStill Striprun Recipe and do the first stripping run
  3. You will collect 25 liters of around 30% ABV
  4. Empty the boiler of your iStill 100
  5. Put the remaining 75 liters from the fermentation tank in as well
  6. Let the last few liters of cachaca wine (with loads of yeast) stay in the fermenter
  7. Upload the iStill Bourbon or Rum Recipe and do the finishing run
  8. You will collect around 20 liters of Hearts at around 50%

How to finish your cachaca?

The white stuff, cachaca prata (“silver cachaca”) can be diluted to 38%. Anything between 38 and 54% is still cachaca territory. I’d advice to dilute to around 43%. The stuff you age in a barrel (usually up to a year) may be best barreled at 45 to 48%. It is called cachaca dauro (“golden cachaca”).

One final trick you can use to influence the flavor profile of your cachaca is to add a little bit of sugar (or better: the panela or muscovado sugar you started the fermentation with) to the bottle. It will both highlight the cachaca flavor and slightly sweeten your drink. Legally, one is allowed to use up to 6% sugar, but you’ll probably find 3 to 5% enough. More back sugaring is possible, but then you are officially making a “sweetened cachaca”.

Wanna scale up?

No problem. If you have an iStill 500, 2000, or 5000, things go pretty much the same. When you have an agitator and boiler radiator on your iStill, you can do the fermenting in the iStill as well.

Fermenting my first 180 liters of cachaca wine …

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http://www.iStill.eu

iStill Whiskey Workshop in Utah!

Our team is currently training another group of 12 new (well, mostly) distillers in the noble art of making top shelf whiskey! Here are some pictures.

Whiskey tasting: looking for heads, hearts, and tails …

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The class helps start up a new batch of Bourbon whiskey …

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Whiskey blending: what flavor profiles to emphasize …

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http://www.iStill.eu

iStill London Craft Distilling Expo 2018!

Introduction

We are proud to announce that we will again be the PLATINUM sponsor to the London Craft Distilling Expo 2018! It is a great show, and if you are interested in distilling, it is a must go to. In this iStill Blog post we want to dive in deeper: the program, what we’ll take with us, and the special offer we have for you.

Program

There are a few distillery visits programmed for September 25th. The actual Expo, in the Boiler House, Brick Lane Road, East London, is on September 26th and 27th.

All right, how about the program in the Boiler House on September 26 and 27? Here we go for September 26th:

  • Gin Blending Masterclass (Pre-Expo Event)
  • Vodka Masterclass
  • Gin: Tidbits and Time travel with David T. Smith
  • The Art of Artemisia – Distilling with Wormwood
  • Beer & Burger Night for iStill Aficionados (18h30 – 22h00)

Beer & Burgers will be just across the street. It will start at 19h00 and take … well … as long as it takes. The goal is to meet & mingle. To eat, drink, and have loads of fun together! We assemble at 18h30 at the iStill Booth.

September 27th looks like this:

  • Nosing Spirit Faults
  • Gin FAQ Part 3
  • Rum: A new perspective – Cachaca and other cane spirits
  • Rum: Beyond oak – a tasting of rums matured in non-typical casks
  • Future of Distribution of Craft Distilled Spirits by Odin

Odin gives his speech on the future of distribution. With technology now fully available to Craft Distillers to compete with Big Alcohol when it comes to taste, it is now time to direct our attention to the next hurdle. In a 20 minute speech Odin of iStill will inform the Craft Distilling Industry about Portfolio Distilling. Portfolio Distilling is a  new platform for and by Craft Distillers. Produce locally, distribute globally!

iStill Staff

William (Assembly), Veronika (Finance), and Odin (the muppet that made this mess) will be manning the stand. They will be supported by the multiple award winning distilling team of The Wrecking Coast Distillery. And – as is the tradition – for sure more iStill Customers will show up and share their drinks. I expect Tom to show up with his rum … and others will join us with Tequila, whisky, and gin and vodka for sure!

Jason Cawthron 

Award winning bar tender, mixologist, and distiller Jason Cawthron is part of the iStill Team. He helps represent us on the North American market. Jason will join us in London and shake-up some cocktails! But, knowing Jason, he’ll do more. If you bring your own drink, he’ll probably advice you how you can make a signature cocktail out of it. And we all know that cocktails sell …

iStill Stand

We will bring a lot of fun equipment with us! Some barrels and stills. For sure, there will be an iStill 500 NextGen in combination with the all new glass column sections, indirect heaters, and potstill lay-out.

iStill Offer

Here’s why you should visit us at the London Craft Distilling Expo 2018:

  • It’s an awesome event with great speeches and classes
  • Odin will speak about future distribution opportunities for Craft Distillers
  • iStill’s stand is manned by customers that bring (and pour!) their own drinks
  • Jason will be there, making cocktails
  • On the evening of September26th, iStill hosts the yearly Beer & Burgers event;
  • The iStill 500 NextGen is on display
  • If you visit our stand, take a picture, and post it on Facebook, with a reference to iStill, you will get a EUR 250,- discount on iStill equipment or spirits design (like your special signature cocktail by Jason Cawthron)!

iStill Customers that want to join us at the show can get tickets for free. There is a limited amount of them. First come, first served. Please reach out to Veronika@iStillMail.com if you want tickets …

iStill London Craft Distilling Expo …

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https://www.distillingexpo.com/

Certified iStill Whiskey Workshop in Utah!

Yes! Sunday September 2nd we start another 4-day Workshop. Where? Eden, Utah. An hour north of SLA. What? All you need to know to make the best whiskey possible. Corn, bourbon, rye, single malt. The ins & outs. Knowledge so ancient most of it has been forgotten. Until we dug it up. And science so bright new, it will give you the chance to take your whiskey to the next level. How? By learning about cuts. Taste. Management. And most importantly: control.  If you want to learn more about the noble art of whiskey production, hands-on, state-of-the-art, in a small group at the great New World Distillery, please reach out to Veronika@iStillmail.com. We still have  few places available!

Whiskey cuts by taste …

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Whiskey cuts by theory …

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Whiskey cuts by science …

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Corn whiskey wash …

http://www.iStill.eu

Odin Removes Sulfur!

Problem

Wine gets sulfur (SO2) added to it to prolong its longevity. Basically, the sulfur kills of any yeast or bacteria that could otherwise create spontaneous fermentation or basic spoiling of the wine.

But, even though sulfur has its merits in wine making, it does create a problem for brandy makers. Especially for brandy makers that want to use wine that has added sulfur to it.

Why? Because, during the brandy distillation process, not only the alcohol of the wine gets concentrated, but the sulfur as well. And when the sulfur, by concentration, breaches the taste thrash hold, the brandy all of a sudden becomes undrinkable. Undrinkable to the extend that the brandy now basically tastes like rocket fuel.

Solution

Hydrogen peroxide reacts with sulfur and neutralizes it. It is therefore perfect to get rid of the sulfurs in the wine you bought or made to make brandy from. Here is how it works:

  • Measure the quantity of wine;
  • Measure the amount of sulfur (the supplier should be able to inform you correctly!);
  • Calculate total amount of sulfur;
  • Add enough hydrogen peroxide and mix it in;
  • Let the wine – with added hydrogen peroxide – sit with an open lid over night;
  • Distill the wine;
  • Because the sulfur has been neutralized, you can now make amazing brandy!

Sulfur Dioxide Remover

How much total sulfer is in the batch of wine you acquired? How much hydrogen peroxide do you need? I tried to make life easier for you by designing a Sulfur Dioxide Remover. You just fill in batch size, sulfur content, and how strong your counter-acting hydrogen peroxide is, and the Calculator will tell you exactly how much of the hydrogen peroxide solution available to you is needed. Click on the link below to upload the Sulfur Dioxide Remover Calculator: SO2 vs H2O2.

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http://www.iStill.eu

Fixation on Wood has gone Too Far!

Article from http://www.scotchwhisky.com

Wood is an indispensable component in creating the flavour and characteristic of whisky, but producers are relying too heavily on the material, believes Angus MacRaild.

‘The Wood Makes The Whisky’ is Gordon & MacPhail’s latest slogan, but in reality it’s a long established notion held and espoused by swathes of the mainstream whisky industry. It is the philosophy at the root of the massive, producer-benefiting innovations in wood technology that have emerged over the past two decades.

Everything from the age of trees to the construction of staves; the length of seasoning to the heat treatment of casks; the palletisation of warehouses to the rejuvenation practices of ‘tired’ wood – all have seen ‘improvement’. The science of cask creation and management has allowed whisky companies the greatest influence over the speed at which they make their product, and it is intimately tied to the dwindling emphasis placed on the importance of the distillate.

Of course, casks and maturation are essential to the creation and character of whisky. What we have arrived at though is a situation where the reliance on wood to give flavour to distillate is massively lopsided.

Modernisations in the production of whisky through the 1970s led to a homogenisation of Scottish distillates. This character void has been filled by an over-reliance on wood to give flavour – so much so that the official language of whisky has evolved with it to reflect this. Emphasis on ‘vanilla’, ‘sweetness’ and ‘quality wood’ automatically means first-fill Bourbon barrels, though I am not a proponent of the notion that Scotch is undergoing ‘Bourbonisation’. I think this theory is a distraction from the wider issue of homogenisation, which has been going on for the past three or four decades.

This near-religious contemporary focus on wood is symptomatic of the fact that whisky has moved away from being a drink where the identity of the distillery is felt in equal harmony with the casks it was matured in. We associate maturity with wood flavour rather than with integration, balance, complexity and the tertiary aromas and flavours that can only be derived from lengthy interactive maturation processes.

The old idea that ‘refill is king’ and the best casks matured whisky without obscuring its inherent personality is a diminishing notion among distillers. For much of the mainstream industry, this has arisen through a desire to make whisky in greater quantity at greater speed and to achieve this, a heightening of the efficiency and activity of wood was seen as essential.

There remain exceptions of course. Laphroaig has been one of the most vocal advocates of first-fill American oak barrels, and this philosophy is glaringly evident in their whiskies. It was matched, however, by an increase in their peating levels which created a new kind of Laphroaig – one still distinctive in bottle, but bearing little resemblance to its classic ‘fruit-heavy’ style.

Something similar might be said for most of Scotland’s traditionally peated malts. And there are examples of good modern whiskies that embrace wood technology – Glenmorangie has done it with admirable honesty. I don’t generally enjoy Glenmorangie’s wood-centric style but at least the company has always been clear that it wants its products to be very much about the wood.

This is perhaps the crux of the matter: honesty. I find it greatly disheartening to hear producers harp on about the wood while still banging the tired old drum of traditionalism. It is a lie.

Wood is only one part of the story but producers cannot truly speak of the importance of fermentation in the creation of whisky flavour when virtually all distilleries now use the same two strains of distiller’s yeast. This is laughable to the makers of wine, beer, Cognac, Armagnac, rum, mezcal, Tequila and many of the new generation of distillers in America and the rest of the world. They cannot speak honestly about barley, locality of peat or malting techniques when this part of the process has long been centralised and standardized, with the varietals of barley all designed solely for their yield.

As long as the core part of whisky making – the creation of the distillate itself – is honed in the name of efficiency to the point of homogenisation, then the language of promotion, marketing and education will always revert disproportionately to wood.

No one doubts the significance of wood, but I long for the day when it is revised in proportion to the immense importance of fermentation, raw ingredients and methodology.

Once again, to the new generation of Scottish distillers: the responsibility lies with you. The mainstream industry won’t do it.”

Postscriptum: Odin gives his personal opinion

An article aimed at the heart of big alcohol Scotch whisky distilling. And a post that resonates with me personally. Why it touches me personally? Because I love whisky. Well made whisky especially. My definition of whisk(e)y? “A spirit distilled from a grain mash, where one can recognize the grain the spirit is made from”. Traditionally, grain is at the heart of any good whisky. Not wood, not sherry, not port, nor peat.  Yes, wood, sherry, port and peat “finishes” could (and often should) accompany the base whisky taste, but they should never dominate the grain flavor.

Personally, I see all the current emphasis on wood, as a result of marketing and economy, instead of originating from the great, traditional whisky production, where different varieties of (“imperfect”) malt, yeast and production protocols created different (and interesting) styles of whisky.

By overemphasizing the wood, the industry seems to have achieved two things. First, as mentioned in the above article, it allows distillers to cover up the relatively bland base spirit now often produced, where reproducibility, efficiencies of scale, and ease of operation seem to trump the base product’s flavors. The wood (and especially the wood finish) is one way to cover up lacking flavors. I mean, really, when is the last time you opened a bottle of Scottish Single Malt and thought “Wow, that actually tastes malty!”. No, contrary to a few decades ago, we (the consumers) now are expected to hail the red hue of the whisky, the vanilla in the nose and the sherry in our mouths. Sorry, but if I want to drink sherry, I’ll just buy a bottle of sherry. Please, give me back my malty grain flavors instead.

Secondly, the emphasis on wood (and peat) allows existing distilleries to create demand by exclusivity. The more varieties out there, the more the (bland or not) New Make is smeared out over multiple iterations. Each iteration allows for marketing action. And of course, each iteration is (or will become) a new collectors item. Why wood serves existing big alcohol owned Scottish Single Malt? It drives prices up and creates more margin for the behemoth owners behind them. Darn, I have trained multiple Scottish whisky master distillers and they all tell me they are paid by the shareholders to do one thing and one thing only: to push out as much of the same New Make as possible.

And since now most of the base spirits are like all the same, one needs wood (and peat) to make a distinction. Really? Where have the times gone where master distillers were actually … master distillers instead of wood finishers? What happened to master distillers designing different New Makes? Control over fermentation temperatures and sourness levels allow any well trained distiller to make very different (fruity, rooty, nutty) New Make. Different yeasts to complete the pallet he (or she) is looking for …

I invite existing big alcohol producers (and the de facto owners of so many great, original Scottish whisky distilleries) out there to read Angus’s article carefully. As mentioned above: it aims at the heart of what Scottish whisky should or could stand for. If you guys want to give control of your distilleries back to your master distillers, we are here to help you train them. Really, they wouldn’t be the first, nor the last Scottish party we welcome.

Also know that we have mashing, fermentation, and distillation equipment available that can help you diversify your New Makes, thus lowering your dependence on wood finishing. Perfect temperature control and perfect pH control and perfect SG control, combined with the right strains of yeast, equal taste. Malty, grainy, fruity, rooty, and nutty flavors. No more need of port or excessive peat, of sherry and/or Bourbon cask finishes. The New Make will be so good, and so unique, that you want to let those tastes shine, without overpowering them by what are basically taste substitutions.

Scottish Single Malt whisky is my favorite drink. I want to keep it that way. I’d love to see the numbers go up again: of Scottish whisky actually growing again, instead of dwindling and loosing ground to other drinks, like Bourbon and Irish whiskey. Please see this personal postscriptum as what it is: my little nudge to maybe help us get there.

And if it isn’t big alcohol owned distilleries that do it, I am pretty sure its going to be the Craft Distilling industry that takes over. Young, Scottish entrepreneurs with the same love as I have: for the whiskies their fathers and grandfathers made and drank. I am pretty sure that if Scottish whisky doesn’t find its amazing roots back soon, we’ll see happen to whisky in Scotland, what’s already happening with gin in England and Ireland, where Craft Distillers are taking over like half of the gin market in just a few years time.

The spirit of those English and Irish gin distillers? Young, innovative, with a mindset that can be described as “following in the footsteps of tradition, without tradition stepping on our feet”. And if we look beyond the numbers, it becomes clear what makes these gin distillers so successful. It’s quality. Put their drinks up against any of the established (soon less well established) gins and you’ll see for yourself: tradition only helps make better spirits as long as quality isn’t overpowered by marketing and economy.

Put our money where our mouth is, Odin? Here I go: we have designed amazing new tech that fully complies with the standards and regulations of the Scottish Whisky Association. Lyne arm. Pot still. Copper all over the vapor path. And there is more. As of today, each and every new Scottish customer will get a 10% discount on iStill University workshops as well as equipment. Why? Because we care! The discount is available for orders placed in 2018.

Is wood’s role in creating whisky flavour over-exaggerated?

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http://www.iStill.eu

Advanced Gin School in Jersey City!

We are just starting the second day of the NJ Advanced Gin School. Yesterday the students already made a base gin recipe. With some pretty impressive results! Today we are adding extraction into the mix and we’ll probably finalize the first round of gin recipes. Underneath some pictures we took yesterday, on the first day of the course …

http://www.iStill.eu

Special Project for Scotland!

Introduction

So we got a special demand from Scotland, the cradle of single malt whisky. Customers of ours want to make single malt whisky and they want to do it as traditional as possible. Hey, it’s Scottish single malt whisky: a product that has been around since the 1400’s, right? So we were honored to get invited. Yet we (the customer as well as iStill) also felt that we needed to bring something amazing to the market place. Our interpretation of of “traditional”, so to say.

Traditional

The first thing we wanted to find out, when we got the above request to help design a modern take on a more traditional whisky still, was … what’s traditional? Well, the Scots were very clear about that. What they wanted was a potstill design instead of a column still design.

Instead of our normal iStill design of boiler, column, collection / robot plate and column cooler, they opted for this set-up:

  • Boiler (nothing new there);
  • Riser (instead of the column);
  • Lyne arm (to guide gases away from the boiler and the riser);
  • Product cooler.

Dynamic Cuts Management

If you know anything about who we are, about our DNA, you understand that we felt we needed to bring something amazing to the market. Our interpretation of the potstill with lyne arm. Something to compensate for the absence of a robot and the appurtenant reflux management.

And we are proud to announce that there’s a new iStill innovation to take traditional pot distilling into the 21st century. We call it Dynamic Cuts Management. This new iStill innovation helps even the more traditional pot oriented distillers at making perfect cuts.

Without robot? Without reflux? Yes and yes. Based on measurements the iStill takes every second, perfect insight is gained in the constitution of the product being made. And that info is then fed into the automated cuts array.

Basically, the only thing this lyne arm design special order iStill cannot do, is make vodka. But our Scottish customers aren’t interested in vodka. They are interested in Scottish single malt whisky only, in a slightly more traditional way.

Specifications

  • 2,000 liter net capacity boiler;
  • 150 cm high riser;
  • Lyne arm;
  • Dual product cooler;
  • Dynamic Cuts Management (heads, hearts, tails);
  • Production rate: 100 liters per hour;
  • Touch screen, PLC, product library;
  • Power management and Automated Heads Compaction;
  • Remote control and management via phone or laptop are supported;
  • Over the air updates.

Follow-up & Roll-out

We are currently building this customer’s first special order iStill with lyne arm and Dynamic Cuts Management. I hope to put up pictures of the final result in about a week from now.

We’ll roll out Dynamic Cuts Management to all of our “normal”, column design iStills in a few weeks as well. As a new and free addition to all of our new iStills. And as a firmware retrofit to all existing 2018 model iStills out there as well.

How about this lyne armed potstill version of an iStill? Will we bring that to the market place as a separate product, next to our column designs? Well, I guess that depends on you. Please let us know what you think. If the new design helps our customers out, for sure we’ll make more of these …

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http://www.iStill.eu

 

 

Advanced Gin School USA: 2 Places Left!

Another update on the Advanced Gin School, guys! Where: Corgi Spirits in Jersey City. When: June 18th – 21st. Hotels and lunches and shuttle bus are included. But there is more: this is going to be the mother of all gin schools. We are going all in and it is going to be amazing and it is going to be exclusive! And here’s some important news: only two places left!

Only 8 participants are allowed to join at what will be the only Advanced Gin School we are doing in North America this year. The reason for exclusivity is that we want to have you meet all of your goals … and become the very best gin makers on the continent. Quite frankly, I haven’t been very impressed by what I tasted. We are going to change that. And in order to do so, we need to go all in, yes, but so do you. So if you are interested, if you want to participate, please send an email to veronika@iStillmail.com. Explain us your goals (so we can prepare) and tell us why you should be allowed in. We only have 8 places and we want to make it count. Our goal is to make sure that each and every trainee will make a difference on the North American gin market the moment he or she walks out the door.

To realize our end of the deal, we’ll fly in a team from the UK and the Netherlands, homes and birthplaces of gin and its dad, genever. A gin team as the world has never seen before: the best of the best.

We’ll bring Seb, our Guru of Taste. Seb has designed many of the best gins and genevers that are currently on the market. A taste professional non plus ultra.

Willem, who heads our European laboratories, will be there too, helping you translate your ideas into feasible and achievable science. Or probably the other way around: he’ll bombard us with new, weird (and hopefully survivable) science to take the gins we’ll produce to the next level. When you meet him, you’ll know why we nickname him Captain America.

Avian, who is an award winning gin producer from the UK, will join us as well. He’s the only one on our team with a beard, but rest assured: this dude knows his spirits! Mouth feel is one of his specialties, gin and tonic pairing is another.

Jason is an award winning bar tender that worked his craft in both Boston and many of the Caribbean islands. He’ll show us how gin cocktails are made. He’ll explain how they help intensify your customers’ experience, boosting your reputation as well as your bank account.

Bob, the owner of Corgi Spirits, our generous host, is certainly going to be around, showing us how he used our theories and models and science and technology to create 9 gins (so far). He’ll also show us how to run gins on a professional scale and how his tasting room helps him sell more boze.

And last (and hopefully not least) I’ll be there, talking about the Holy Trinity of Distillation and how familiarizing yourself with this amazing model helps you create amazing spirits. Of course I’ll focus and tailor my models and presentations towards gin. I’ll be there all 4 days to explain, train, judge and help you move forward. I will also take some off-continent gins with me for you to taste and judge.

We’ll have test stills available as well as extractors. We aim to have at least 4 gin stills and 4 extractors, so that teams that cooperate in making a gin are 1 or 2 big. With every team having access to one personal trainer each and every hour of the day. And don’t worry, we’ll rotate!

I expect us to do a lot of theory behind gin and distilling on the first day, based on your background and your goals and plans and (current) distillery set-up. Day 2, 3, and 4 will be hands-on to the max, where we expect you (and help you) to make at least two gin runs a day.

Costs? Well, given the above, I’d advice you to look at it as an investment. An investment in and  a ticket to becoming one of America’s very best gin makers. Here it is at only USD 5,950,-.

http://www.iStill.eu