Australian iStill Workshop!

We just completed our 4-day distilling workshop in Australia. With 18 participants, the group was pretty big. Since we even had to turn people down, we’ll probably do another class in Oz in the second quarter of 2019.

The workshop combined our state-of-the-art theories on mashing, fermenting, and distillation with hands-on activities. In the course of just 4 days, we made a single malt whisky, a brandy, some vodka, and no less than 3 gins. The students helped with mashing, fermenting, and distilling. With the help of iStill’s amazing Extractor technology a strawberry and cinnamon liqueur were produced. Pictures underneath!

Odin and the students …


Dinner …


Mashing in the iStill 2000 …


The iStills Mini have arrived …


Making Sloe Gin … iStill Style!


This post deals with what it is, how it is made, and how iStill helps you produce better sloe gin in a more economical manner.

What is sloe gin?

Sloe gin is a traditional English liqueur, made from – you guessed it – gin and sloes. It is traditionally consumed at and around Christmas. And is integral to the UK hunting scene, where it is the drink of choice. Sloe gin is usually 25 to 35% strong, sweetened, and bright red in color.

Now that looks delicious …


How is sloe gin made?

For around 150 liters of sloe gin, this is the traditional way to go:

  1. Pick 50 kilo’s of ripe sloes;
  2. Wash them with water;
  3. Puncture them with a fork or tooth pick;
  4. Throw them into your maceration tank;
  5. Add 25 kilo’s of sugar;
  6. Add 100 liters of gin;
  7. Macerate for 8 – 10 weeks;
  8. Strain the berries out of the liquid;
  9. Bottle the sloe gin.

Fresh sloe berries …


Making sloe gin … iStill style!

The amazing extractor technology, that iStill designed, makes sloe gin production very easy. Here is the procedure:

  1. Pick 5 kilo’s of ripe sloes;
  2. Wash them with water;
  3. Puncture them with a fork or tooth pick;
  4. Throw them into the iStill Extractor;
  5. Add 100 liters of gin to your iStill;
  6. Choose the Extraction Program and let it run for 8 hours;
  7. Add the sugar and mix it in;
  8. Bottle the sloe gin directly from your iStill.

iStill Extractor …



Instead of making sloe gin via maceration, we propose to use our Extractor technology. Basically you load your iStill with gin. That gin is then used to extract flavors and color from the sloe berries, that sit in the Extractor. When the extraction is done, you have created a sour slow gin in the boiler of your iStill. Add the sugar and mix it in. You can now directly syphon the ready to bottle sloe gin from the iStill’s boiler.

This example is for around 150 liters of sloe gin. Using different sized iStills and Extractors, please know the recipe is perfectly scalable. Depending on the size of your iStill and Extractor, you can now make anything from 100 to 5000 liters of sloe gin per day!


There are two major benefits to the iStill style of sloe gin production. First, you only need 10% of the berries to get to the same flavor and color levels as maceration does. This means you can save 90% on your most essential substrate: the sloe berries (and the ordeal of picking them). Put differently – if the amount of sloe berries is your bottle-neck – you can now produce 10 times more sloe gin, when using a similar amount to the traditional maceration approach!

The second big benefit of using iStill’s technology, when making sloe gin, has to do with time. Maceration, the traditional way of how to produce a sloe gin, takes up to 10 weeks. Sloe gin production iStill style takes a day. This means that if people, tank size, and throughput time are essential to your production schedule, the iStill approach saves you up to 90% of time, energy, and money invested.

iStill Automated Sloe Gin Extraction Program …


Single Malt Whisky Review!


Here is a review by Mark Dermul, whisky connaisseur. Mark is a whisky lover in general, and an Auchentoshan collector in particular (google Toshan Man)!

He has has is own Whiskyblog (in Flemish) at, where he posts daily whisky news and tasting notes. Mark also has a You Tube channel under the same name, where Whisky Video Ramblings are posted in English.

Mark is also co-owner of MMM Mark & Manny’s Malts. Check out, where you’ll find their single cask releases.

His favourite whiskies are Auchentoshan, BenRiach, Port Ellen, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Greenore, Caol Ila, and Caperdonich. His latest review? Bart Joosten’s Eaglesburn Single Malt Whisky. Yes, made on an iStill.


Dark & Sweet & Smoky

I had mentioned the Dutch Eaglesburn from Bart Joosten before, when he launched his gin and rum, but also his cask aged spirit and the 1 years old Xenna. I then wrote that I was eagerly awaiting the first single malt release and… here it is! Distilled on the 8th October 2015 and bottled on the 10th October 2018, so finally there is a new Dutch whisky. This one is produced from a peated spirit, that matured in a combination of Virgin Oak and 1st Fill Bourbon barrels. As it is a single cask and his first release, Bart decided to release it in small 20cl bottles.

Let me start with some good advice. Pour the whisky (don’t be thrifty, even though it is only a small bottle) and leave it to breath for four to five minutes. You’ll thank me later. The nose is a prelude to a flavor bomb and I’m sure the virgin oak has a lot to do with that. Citrus fruit (mostly sugared orange peel, in fact), plums, vanilla ice cream and apfelstrüdel, grainy wood and cinnamon. It has a candy-like quality that I quite fancy. And let’s not forget the peat. This translates to a light, but pleasant smokiness on the nose.

The body is creamy and mouth coating, the ABV perfectly quaffable. It is even a touch piquant. Pepper, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg. At first, the spices take the lead, but then the other aromas burst on the palate. Plums, oranges, mandarins in syrup, tinned pineapple. A spicy fruit salad with a bitter edge from the wood and a surprisingly salty edge. All of this is wrapped in a lovely blanket of soft peat.

The finish is the trump card of this young malt. Dark and sweet and smoky and it lasts forever. Impressive!

Do not expect an Islay whisky (that is not what Bart is trying to do either), but be ready for a flavor bomb. And this after only three years? Very, very tasty! The retail price of 32.50 EUR is anything but cheap (because that would make it 114 EUR for a 70cl bottle), but it is a craft whisky and then some. I for one did not hesitate. Recommended!

“Het Arsenaal”, in Doesburg, where Eaglesburn Distillery is situated …


iStill Congratulates Eaglesburn Distillery!

Congrats to Bart Joosten for winning the prestigious Master of Vodka title at the Spirits Business Vodka Masters! We are proud that Eaglesburn Distillery uses iStills for their spirits manufacturing process. And we are proud to have Bart Joosten joining our team as the Amsterdam iStill Center Master Distiller, helping customers out from all over the world with iStill Contract Distilling!


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 …


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 …


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


Whiskey blending: what flavor profiles to emphasize …