Customer Journey New Zealand!

“Hi Odin,

Hope you’re good. 
We got our 1000 finally last Friday and it’s now off the pallet and almost set up. 

The quality of the crate and packing was excellent. The company you use is the best I’ve seen. Please pass on our thanks.

The Istill looks brilliant and the quality is superb, congratulations on making such a beautiful still. We really cannot wait to use it as orders are piling up fast.

Thanks and speak soon.

Jonathan”

Black Collar Rums …

https://www.blackcollardistillery.com/

Building the Heidell Brand – One Cocktail at a Time!

An interview by the London Spirits Competition. For more reading also see:

https://londondrinksguide.com/en/blog/features-106/brands-108/whiff-the-finnish-sea-with-heidell-gin-270.htm?fbclid=IwAR12Y0szYXuGooQBiREYK7wTaJQNfF0k4tWq8aZlT892OZOtTBNeLmwsVdU

From making sure their distributors know their story, to creating some great cocktails, here’s how Heidell Distillery honors the Finnish land.

The Heidell Distillery Company, owned by retired Navy Officer Timo Heidell (owner and Master Distiller) and his daughter Erika (owner), began its journey of award-winning spirits in 2019. The brand was built on Timo’s lifelong dream of creating spirits that honor his family’s culture and lifestyle, and his love for the Finnish land and sea.

The London Spirits Competition 2021 awarded the Heidell Gin with a silver medal. The gin, being the brand’s flagship, opens with a nose of coriander seeds and spearmint. Taste follows through with these flavor profiles and closes on a long finish with hints of black pepper.

We spoke to Erika Heidell, who shared with us the Heidell journey, gave us a glimpse of what is yet to come, and shared insights on how they work with restaurants, bars, and distributors.

Every aspect of the Heidell Distillery Company reflects Finland in one way or another. “Our product labels are inspired by the flag of Finland and the Finnish yacht club ensign,” says Erika. “Thus, the maritime atmosphere of the Finnish archipelago conveys strongly through our products.”

The town of Naantali, also known as the sunniest city in Finland, has influenced the Hiedell brand immensely through its beautiful views and history as being one of the oldest towns in the Finnish archipelago.

According to you, what makes a great spirit?

Our initial answer is quite simple: pure water. All spirits are a mix of alcohol and water, water being the main ingredient in quantity, so the taste of any spirit is highly dependent on the quality of water. Luckily for us, water in Finland is among the cleanest and highest quality in the world. Then comes the delicately formulated recipes and carefully selected ingredients and botanicals. Preferring and favoring local and domestic producers is important. Furthermore, the latest distillation technology and processes guarantee the high quality of handcrafted small-batch spirits. A great spirit is made with passion and dedication and has a balanced but distinctive and soulful taste.

What would be your typical day at work?

Our typical workday at the distillery consists of distilling, bottling, sales, deliveries, product development, and emails. We love our work because every day is different, there is no day that is the same.

How often are you firing up the stills and how long does a batch take?

We fire up our hyper-modern still, iStill Hybrid 500, once a week, and distilling a batch takes approximately 10 hours.

Erika with Heidell Gin

What excites you the most about your brand?

The most exciting part of our brand is our love for creativity, craftsmanship, and, most importantly, good taste. Our brand essentially reflects us – the people behind Heidell Distillery Company. Hence, we want our products to portray our values and ideology and, when it comes to our brand, we believe in quality, integrity, and transparency. 

It is a privilege to handcraft premium quality spirits that not only tell our story but also honor our culture and homeland. We consider our products to be a nocturne for the Finnish Archipelago Sea and its maritime atmosphere. Every sip is a voyage of enjoyment.

Tell us a bit about Heidell Gin. What makes it your flagship spirit?

Heidell Gin is our flagship spirit for two reasons. Firstly, figuratively speaking, Heidell Gin is Heidell Distillery Company in a bottle. It is a true handcrafted gin combining traditional taste with the aroma of sea breeze. Secondly, Heidell Gin was the first product that we launched in January 2021 and is our best-seller, opening the spirits market and industry for our distillery. Heidell Navy Strength Gin, on the other hand, is the big brother of Heidell Gin, a true handcrafted gin combining traditional taste with the aroma of a stormy sea.

Erika and Timo Heidell

Are you working on something new right now?

We are always working on something new because we strongly believe that innovation is one of the most important factors of success. At the moment, we are working on a new product (or two) but what type of spirit, that is a secret for now. 

What are some of the things you do to make sure your distributor has everything they need?

Ah, yes, this is important. For us, close cooperation and open communication matter a lot. They are the main aspects we focus on to ensure that our distributors have everything they need. We do our best to fulfill the needs of our distributors, and continuously strive to be a flexible and reliable partner. 

How do you work with restaurants, bars, and retailers to increase sales?

We work closely together with many restaurants and bars in Finland which sell our products. We value and care about our customers and always give our best efforts to help them to thrive and, as a result, increase sales. This means, for example, planning and designing together cocktails, menus and experiences as well as providing complementary products and leaflets. Social media also plays a significant part in supporting restaurants, bars, and retailers; we continuously promote our customers (restaurants/bars we work with) on our social media accounts.

What do you expect from restaurants and bars when it comes to increasing sales?

We sell handcrafted small-batch spirits of premium quality and, therefore, we believe that making and serving high-quality cocktails is the right way to do justice for our products. Cocktails are a craft that consumers appreciate and are willing to pay for; the sales will certainly increase when restaurants and bars invest in their cocktail craftsmanship.

How much of a role does social media play in your marketing?

The role of social media in the marketing of our distillery is of utmost importance. It is a great channel for us to tell our story, build our brand further, and spread awareness of our distillery and products. However, we believe in quality over quantity in social media – every post and picture must be well-thought-out and meaningful. Our social media following has and will continue to grow naturally because of the quality and realness of our content. Hence, transparency is very important for us; customers and consumers of our spirits are entitled to know the faces behind our company and the production methods of our products. You can find us on Facebook (Heidell Distillery Company) and Instagram (@heidelldistillery).

What advice would you give to fellow distillers looking to get their spirits into bars/restaurants?

For us, contacting restaurants and bars directly and building a relationship with the owners and personnel have worked the best. There are amazing professionals and individuals behind each restaurant and bar – the same way as with distilleries – that value the personal touch more than you can imagine.

What are some of the spirits you have on your personal shelf?

Of course, all Heidell Distillery Company spirits can be found from our master distiller Timo’s shelf, with the Heidell Barrel Aged Gin right at the front. But, in addition to our own products, there are also many excellent gins from other Finnish distilleries.

Have you incorporated any new technology in distillation recently?

We consider Heidell Distillery Company to be a modern distillery because we use the latest distillation technology and processes to ensure the highest possible quality of our products. Our hyper-modern still, iStill Hybrid 500, guarantees precision, consistency, and replicability in creating the best quality craft spirits. We have been very pleased with our still, it has been working like a dream.

What are some upcoming drinks trends, according to you?

Gin, whiskey, and tequila have been booming the last few years, which is great, but we would like to see more buzz about vodka due to its versatility and mixability. Also, we believe that the appreciation of craftsmanship and quality over price will increase in the future.

Lastly, what are you drinking right now?

Right now, we are (unfortunately) drinking coffee but, after work, a sauna and a Heidell Gin & Tonic is the perfect plan.

Interviewing Still Hollow Spirits’ Athey Lutz

Hi Athey, thanks for the interview. Can you tell us a bit more about your distillery, please?

Still Hollow Spirits is a small family run distillery located on a farm in the mountains of West Virginia, USA. We grow our own corn onsite using heirloom seed that has been saved in the area for generations. We focus on producing single barrel whiskeys with local ingredients and limestone spring water. We also raise beef cattle that are fed our spent mash. We currently operate with an iStill2000 with indirect heating elements. 

Why did you choose to purchase an iStill, Athey?

We were having trouble keeping up with whiskey production with our direct fired masher and still.  Corn mashing in particular on the direct fire masher, and then having to lauter the corn before distilling, where huge time sinks for us. (Trying to run a distillery and farm simultaneously is no easy task!) Something had to give and we were considering adding a steam jacket to our existing masher and putting an electronic control system our still. While researching options we came across the iStill system.

The ability of the iStill to mash and distill on the grain without installing and maintaining a steam boiler where instant attractions. We also like the flexibility of the still to produce different spirits and perform multiple functions (mashing, fermentation, distilling, fast aging, extractions). We were also attracted to the fact the still, power system and control system where all one cohesive unit covered by the same company and warranty. This seemed a smarter route rather than piecing a system together from different manufacturers and having multiple contacts for trouble shooting.

How do you use the iStill?

We use our iStill 2000 with indirect heaters as a do it all workhorse for mashing, fermenting and distilling whiskey.  We run a continuous cycle where the still is never empty except for a brief cleaning. First we mash in our grain, step down cool to pitching temp, and add our yeast. After a temperature controlled fermentation in the iStill, we activate the agitator and go into column distillation mode.  In the column distillation we are able to go straight from mash to whiskey for barreling. The next day we siphon off some backset for the next mash, pump out the spent mash for the cows, clean the still, and start another mash. Our iStill setup is somewhat unique in that we run off an electric phase converter because 3 phase electric is not available in our rural area.

How is it to work with iStill as a company?

We have had a good experience working with iStill. Jason was my sales rep and helped with specs and questions through the product selection phase. We attended a training and met Odin and Jason and learned a great deal as well as seeing the iStill in action. The purchase process and shipping where straightforward and the unit arrived in the USA in great condition. We have had quick response to setup questions and troubleshooting requests.

Anything else you want to share, Athey?

Yes! We have an Extractor for sale. We originally purchased our iStill 2000 with a stand alone extractor unit for making flavored spirits and gin. We have found with our continuous cycle of whiskey making that we do not have enough still time to use the extractor and are offering it for sale. It is in new condition and would make a great addition to anyone’s existing iStill 2000 setup. Please contact me at info@stillhollowspirits.com or 304-227-4692 for more info.

http://www.iStill.com

Copper-Gate?

Only a few years after Germany’s car manufacturers were held responsible for Diesel-Gate, do we now have German still manufacturers creating the next big deceit? Stills should work for many years, but that does not seem to be the case with German copper stills anymore. Does the craft distiller, purchasing a traditional German still get the required quality, or do these still manufacturers underperform in quality and material thickness?

An interview with Patrick van Zuidam, managing director and master distiller at Zuidam Distillers, by WhiskyPassion teaches us the following (translated from Dutch) and may serve as an example of how poor things have gotten:

“The sours and acids in the wash eat away the copper with each and every run, basically dissolving part of the still. Fortunately weak parts can be replaced. The copper in our lyne-arm was gone in just five years. The copper was, at some places, as thin as paper.”

Shouldn’t a still last longer than that? Here at iStill we strongly feel it should. But how can we hold other manufacturers responsible for delivering at higher quality levels? We can’t, but you can. All we can do is inform you. It’s the craft distillers that need to take it from here onwards.

http://www.iStill.com

iStill Customer Stories!

Do you want to learn more about our customers? How they became craft distillers? Why they choose iStill? Learn more on a new page we just created: Stories! At the Stories section of the iStill website we share interviews with our customers.

Do you want to be interviewed as well? Please reach out to Sebastiaan@iStillmail.com.

https://istill.com/stories

Production Constrained, not Sales Constrained!

I remember when, after having produced iStills for about a year, we got the first real truck in. We needed a truck to get an order shipped to Scotland. A big order. A feeling of pride and accomplishment. The weird thing is, we now do about a truck per week. A truck of iStills per week, yet it never gets normal or boring.

Thank you all for your continued support, your orders, your feedback, and your success stories! It is a delight to work for you. It is amazing to see you all making a difference and putting an ever bigger dent into Big Alcohol’s industrialized mass production, one drop, one glass, one bottle, one iStill at a time.

The steep increase in demand for iStills does create its own set of challenges, though. We are nearing a situation of being production constrained rather than sales constrained. In plain English: we sell more stills than we make. iStill currently plans production batches as far ahead as January 2022.

What you can do about it, as a prospect iStill customer? Order as early as possible. That way lead times or future price increases won’t surprise you. What we’ll do? We’ll keep increasing our production capacity. For 2021 with probably another 15 to 25%.

Regards,

Odin, CEO of iStill.

http://www.iStill.com

The iStill is not a still, it is a distillery!

“Good morning Odin! I just wanted to share this with you because having made the right choice makes me feel really good. I have been mashing-in corn and barley, fermenting, and distilling non-stop for 2 months now. I have been able to process 1.7 tons of grain per month (all this on my own). All this would not have been possible without my iStill along with the rest of my setup, and the experience to manage all that, of course!”

Aristides Distilling uses an iStill 2000 to mash, ferment, and distill (in one run) whisky and bourbon …

https://aristidesdistilling.eu/the-distillery/