Love in the Time of Corona!

Hello All at iStill,

I wanted to update everyone on the iStill installation. We successfully installed the unit and had it running last week. We did the cleaning and sacrificial runs and ran about 120 gallons of 194 proof ethanol on the first run.

This was excellent news as we have changed gears in the US. Limited distilleries have joined forces to produce hand sanitizer due to the extreme shortage in the US given the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The timing of receiving the still could not have been  better. We are making hand sanitizer for the public as well as local and regional health care facilities. Without this iStill, I would be dramatically reduced in capacity.

The Crostwater Team says THANK YOU. As well as our local community and health care teams.

Best regards,

Kevin D. Close

COO, Crostwater Distilled Spirits


The new iStill 2000 has arrived at Crostwater Distilled Spirits …


Business as Usual?

Even though Corona is holding the world in a grip, so far, we are able to continue to manufacture and deliver iStills all over the world. If anything, it is getting busier!

Here are a few pictures of a 5000 liter fermenter (Mexico), a 2000 liter iStill with 500 liter Extractor (US Virgin Islands), and an iStill 500 with Extractor (UK) that are picked up for crating, and then transport.

Fun at work …

Into the truck you go …


Distilling Whiskey and Rum Sustainably!

Management summary

The direct operating costs of producing a liter of new make whiskey or rum on an iStill, ready to barrel at 65%, are EUR 0,49 versus EUR 1,99 on a traditional copper potstill. Producing whiskey or rum on an iStill reduces operating costs with as much as 75%, when compared to a traditional copper potstill. The lower operating costs of running an iStill translate into higher margins and a more sustainable, future-proof business model.


This iStill Blog post presents an operating cost comparison for new make whiskey or rum production. iStills versus traditional set-ups. Why operating costs are important? Well, the lower they are, the higher your profit margin – given a certain selling price. Higher margins allow you to make more money or use part of that extra margin to weather through tough times. Also, lower operating costs signal a more eco-friendly, more environmental and sustainable business model. Less energy consumption equals a lower carbon footprint.

Of course we know the iStill numbers through-and through. The numbers of traditional stills, that we present in this iStill Blog, are based on feedback we got from customers experienced in running traditional equipment before switching to iStills. If the manufacturers of more traditional, copper stills feel that the examples underneath do not do their distilling solutions total justice, please reach out to us directly, so we can discuss and – where needed – amend.

Operating costs

Operating costs are the expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis. Rent of the building, power to run the stills, the costs of buying in grains or other substrates, staffing costs, equipment depreciation costs, etc.

In order to keep this post relatively simple and to the point, we’ll focus on the variable costs of running the still, depreciation costs of your distilling machine, and the staffing needed to keep on distilling. Costs like the rent of the building or substrate purchase costs won’t be investigated, since they are (in the context of this iStill Blog post) considered a given. Meaning they don’t necessarily vary a lot between different still options.

Calculating energy costs for whiskey or rum

The efficiency number of a traditional potstill is around 35%. A traditional potstill needs two distillation cycles to bring an 8% whiskey beer or rum wine to the barrel aging strength of 60 – 65%. The iStill can turn an 8% base beer or wine into 60 – 65% new make in one go. So you save the manpower and energy of at least one run.

The iStill 2000 uses around 280 kWh to make rum or whiskey new make spirit. The associated costs are per run are well under EUR 50,-. Given the inefficiencies of the traditional set-up, a total energy usage of 800 to 1000 kWh is expected per run. This translates into direct energy usage costs, for a double distillation, of around EUR 190,-.

The amount of 2000 liters of base beer translates into about 220 liters of 65% strong new make spirit. When we divide the energy usage per still type by the number of liters of new make produced, we can learn the energy costs per liter. For the iStill the energy costs per liter are EUR 0,22. For the traditional copper potstill the energy costs per liter are EUR 0,87.

Calculating depreciation costs for whiskey or rum stills

A traditional 2000 liter copper still, made by a reputable manufacturer costs at least EUR 200.000,-. The iStill 2000, with some options, is around EUR 80.000,-. Because the iStills are made from chemically resistant stainless steel, instead of copper, the unit has an expected longevity of around 20 years.

The copper or stainless steel boiler of a traditional set-up may have the same longevity or slightly less. The copper column or riser oxidizes and suffers from the continuous need for (acid) cleaning. It is usually eaten away in around 10 to 15 years. Adding up boiler and column life expectancy for traditional potstills and averaging them out, leads to an overall total system longevity of 15 years for a traditional copper potstill.

Following a lineair depreciation curve, the 80k iStill 2000 has an annual depreciation of EUR 4.000,-. Based on 200 runs per year, the depreciation costs per run are EUR 20,-. When one run produces 220 liters, the depreciation costs per liter are EUR 0,09.

Following the same lineair depreciation curve, the EUR 200.000,- traditional copper potstill has an annual depreciation of EUR 13.300,-. At 200 runs per year, this translates into EUR 66,50 of depreciation per run or EUR 0,30 per liter of new make spirit produced.

Calculating staffing costs for whiskey or rum

Manning the still costs time, and time is money. Managing a traditional still asks for constant supervision. Cleaning can take 2 to 3 hours. Often the boiler design and column/riser design are not optimized for 8 hour shifts. How much manpower does it take to run a traditional still? At least 1 FTE. How much manpower does it take to run the iStill, which is automated and needs much less cleaning down-time? Around 0.2 FTE.

Say that hiring a distiller costs EUR 36.000,- per year. Running a traditional set-up then adds EUR 36.000,- to your overall costs. The iStill – by comparison – costs less than EUR 8.000,- to staff. A stunning difference of EUR 28.000,- per year.

In the above example, where we use a 2000 liter still to make 220 liters of 60-65% new make spirit per run, doing 200 runs per year translates into 44.000 liters of new make. The staffing costs of a traditional system are EUR 36.000,-, which translates into additional variable costs per liter of EUR 0,82. The much lower effort needed to run the iStill 2000 translates into only EUR 0,18 of staffing costs per liter.

iStill: reduce your operating costs by 75% …










iStill Distilleries Help Battle Corona!


As the world hordes toilet paper and hand sanitizer, more and more iStill distilleries switch from spirits to hand sanitizer and detergent production. I guess making toilet paper with an iStill is a challenge, where producing hand sanitizer isn’t?


We sorta lost count of who is helping out to relieve shortages, help care institutions, hospitals, or simply the citizens of their city, but here are a few:

  • Ireland: Listoke Distillery (in production);
  • Northern Ireland: Boatyard Distillery (in production);
  • Scotland: Verdant Distillery (in production);
  • England: Exmoor Distillery (soon);
  • Belgium: Sterk Stokers (in production), Acker & Go (soon);
  • Cyprus: Crimdell Distillery (soon);
  • USA: Jersey City Distillery among many others, Kyle Wray, Jeff Denise, Joe Canella, Michael Hart, and Ron Folino, Frank Kudlack and Lisa Desrocher;
  • Australia: Brisbane Distillery, Earp Distillery (both in production);
  • Virgin Islands: Mutiny Rum (in production);
  • Netherlands: iStill HQ/”In Onschuld Initiative” (in production), The Stillery (soon).

And that’s just a few of ‘m!


If you want to make a hand sanitizer, please use the WHO recipe. You (as a distiller) can either use remaining feints (heads & tails) or GNS or even new make rum or whiskey as a starting point. Like this:

  1. Bring the base alcohol to 70% (via distillation or dilution);
  2. Add around 1% of glycerine;
  3. Mix well;
  4. Bottle and distribute.

iStill is already producing 1,000 liters of hand sanitizer per day …


Sloemotion is Distilling Responsibly with iStill!

Message from the Sloemotion Distillery

Hi Odin,

This is Joff Curtoys, I’m the Founder of Sloemotion and brother of Julian who you met and trained, along with our Head of Production, Ian Mansell when we bought our iStills in 2018.

We’re really delighted with the way our iStill works and we love talking about it in our brand story; I’m an ecologist and conservationist by trade and so the environmental performance of the iStill is very important to us and one of the reasons for our purchase.

We often comment to people when they come into our distillery, even when the iStill is on, that it’s literally (& metaphorically!) cool; all other distilleries are hot. This is a first-hand demonstration of how iStill is minimizing energy usage and waste, and therefore minimizing our carbon footprint. We call it Responsible 21st Century Distilling with iStill.

I wondered if you had any information that we could use publicly about the overall environmental performance or perhaps how energy usage of an iStill compares with traditional stills. I’m pretty certain that unless you are using an iStill you can’t really call yourself a “green” or eco-friendly distillery. It would be great to get some facts and figures to use to justify that.

If you want to call instead of emailing my number is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

I hope you are all keeping well there and managing to cope with the impacts of the coronavirus.


Joff Curtoys, Founder, Director

Answer by Odin

Hi there Joff, good to hear from you! Yes, all are fine here. Business as usual, only more busy than ever.

Thanks for reaching out and thank you for your very kind words. Very happy to see you so content.

You strike an important point: the efficiency of the iStill translates into lower energy consumption and a “greener” form of distillation. More environmentally responsible and lower production costs. Usually it is one OR the other, but here it’s one AND the other.

Joff, please know we are working on an iStill Blog post where we dive in deeper and where we present some calculations on energy consumption, and compare the iStill 500 and 2000 to two more traditional stills.

The results, I can reveal, are quite … shocking. If not disturbing. More on this topic next week!

Regards, Odin.

Sloemotion & iStills & Extractors: an amazing combination …





Robert James Distillery Chooses iStill!

Shumrick and Leys Gets Bought, Rebranding On The Way.

I love Cincinnati’s drinking culture, and I’m endlessly fascinated to watch the drinking industry here in town grow and change. I’m a diehard craft beer fan, and a fairly novice booze lover as well – which is why this news is really exciting to me.

Let’s take this, one step at a time.

Who Was/Is Shumrick and Leys?

This website is new to the world of covering our local booze scene, so I haven’t had a chance to really dig in and let you get to know these guys… so here’s your crash course.

Shumrick and Leys is located in Norwood, Ohio on Highland Avenue, and they’ve been distilling there since 2017, with a former location literally in a barn in Milford. With a portfolio that includes rum, a Bourbon, a wine barrel aged whiskey that they call “Bourvin”, and some vodkas… they’ve been chugging along crafting things that have started to win them over plenty of fans locally.

As For Bob Slattery?

Bob Slattery is a mogul here in town. The founder of Reach Magazine, Valpak and several other digital and print advertising venues along with Slatts Pub while also being a partner in the Cincinnati staple brewery, Fifty West. The guy is the definition of an entrepreneur.

When he talks about why he is buying Shumrick and Leys, he talks about exploring new technologies in the space. Playing around and experimenting are things that have made Fifty West who they are in Cincinnati, and it’s exciting to see that spirit brought into another industry, and another company.

This Isn’t A Fifty West Distillery

When I first started hearing rumblings of this purchase happening it was definitely pushed to me as “Fifty West is buying the distillery”. That’s not the case, and the guys at 50W have made that very clear to me. While they support Bob 100% in his new venture and look forward to seeing what he is going to do – they are most definitely dedicated to beer, and you can expect to see that represented in their products.

What’s The New Distillery Going To Look Like?

They aren’t trying to change too much right now. The former owner of Shumrick and Ley’s is staying on as Master Distiller, while the whole brand itself is being reimagined as Robert James Distillery.

The biggest changes right off the bat are on the technology side. A big invest is being made in iStill technology, a company that has some really fun ideas about “fast aging” products that will help Robert James Distillery to not only collaborate among a unique network of similar distilleries, but to come to market faster with cutting edge, patented spirits production processes.

I can’t wait to see how this all plays out, and to try the stuff they’re planning.

It sounds to me like the new Robert James Distillery is trying to keep the things they love about Shumrick and Leys while pushing things into a new experimental realm that is really exciting for not just the community – but the industry as a whole…

Stay tuned – You know you’re going to be hearing more about these folks.

Progress is just six letters …


Congrats Jonathan and Sarah!

Students of the iStill University and owners of an iStill 500 … The iStill Team congratulates Jonathan and Sarah Nelson on their amazing success!

By Miranda Rock, March 3rd 2020

In an increasingly competitive craft gin market, The River Test Distillery has eclipsed the competition to scoop the highest accolade of Best London Dry Gin in England at The World Gin Awards 2020.

Presented by leading drinks industry publication, Gin Magazine, these awards select, reward and promote the best gins to consumers and trade across the world.

The River Test is internationally renowned for its gin-clear waters and unique flora and fauna, which inspired husband and wife team, Jonathan and Sarah Nelson, to launch The River Test Distillery from their home in Longparish, Hampshire. 

Their award-winning London Dry Gin uses pure, chalk-filtered water drawn from the aquifer which feeds into the river.  They use local botanicals in their recipe which includes handpicked meadowsweet flowers and rosemary, mixed with juniper, angelica, coriander, cassia bark, orange and lemon peel.

The judges’ tasting notes for the River Test Distillery London Dry Gin include “Very fruity and soft spice on the nose” and “a very good complexity and well balanced juniper notes.”  

Commenting on the win, Anthony Denny, Publisher and Managing Editor of Gin Magazine said: “The River Test Distillery’s enthusiasm is unrelentingly infectious and nailing the best English London Dry is an absolutely enormous achievement. Their success speaks volumes for the dedication and skill of what is the bedrock of British gin production.”

The River Test Distillery’s, Sarah Nelson, said: “to be recognised by such leading authorities in the drinks industry, and so early on in our journey, is incredible. We are over the moon! 

The River Test London Dry Gin is produced in small batches and to purchase a bottle visit

From Hampshire to the world’s stage, where next for this award-winning gin?

Wow, Sarah and Jonathan just emailed us:

We simply couldn’t have done it without istill and we’re very proud to have joined the list of istill customers that have the awards to prove how great the istill is. We’re very proud to be associated with you all!

Massive thank you to all the team there!

Jonathan and Sarah