Tales from the Work Floor!

Distilling below sea level

Working with an iStill is so easy you sometimes forget what a great piece of machinery it is. At Loki Distillery we are always reminded of this whenever we show a visitor around. Our distillery is dedicated to contract distilling, so we have a lot of customers and potential customers visiting Loki to see what all the fuss is about.

Not many people have seen a working distillery in action and we all know that visitor centres and tours are great in promoting the product, but do not give you a lot of information about the actual processes that are taking place. And even people who are already selling and producing spirits often don’t know their mash from their draff.

So imagine our surprise when a visitor yesterday showed some real knowledge and pointed out that our settings where wrong. He looked at the screen and read out loud: “Ethanol boiling point: 78.7 degrees Celsius. That’s not the boiling point of ethanol.”

And of course he was right; the boiling point of ethanol should be 78.4 degrees Celsius. But as we explained to him, that boiling point is only so precise at sea level. As our distillery in The Netherlands is situated below sea level AND we had a bit of bad weather, the air pressure changed and so did the boiling point of ethanol. Luckily for us the iStill takes a measurement of the air pressure every second and recalculates the boiling point. So we see it sometimes change during the week from 78.0 to even 78.9 degrees.

Does it really matter? Yes, it matters a lot. On an average gin run it would mean we would loose out on 30 to 40 liters of gin at distilling strength. That’s over 90 bottles of gin lost, just because the weather changed. When we are making whisky the consequences are even bigger, because we loose out on tailsy flavours. By using the air pressure sensor we have the exact same product time and again. It’s not something we think about when we are distilling, because the iStill does it for us. But every now and then, thanks to a visiting customer this time, we are reminded of how automation on the iStill makes our products consistent and our lives easier.

Sebastiaan owns Loki Distillery …


The Story Of Giants Basalt Rock Gin

The Gin with the ‘Giants Spirt’ – The Story Of Giants Basalt Rock Gin

Inspired by the dramatic local natural landscape, the Basalt Distillery is the home to Giants Basalt Rock Gin. Located just a stone throw from the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, this brand-new distillery represents a departure from traditional craft distilling, emphasising the latest sustainable processes, cutting-edge distilling technology, and an unrivalled focus on precision.

Having met while studying for a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering in Edinburgh, James Richardson and Martha Garbe are the founders and distillers behind Giants Basalt Rock Gin. Applying the same meticulous scientific approach to distilling, they step away from the hand-made, craft approach. It’s something new, built on precision and accuracy as a way of creating the most incredible flavours and high-quality spirits.

With the spirit of innovation driving everything they do; James and Martha chose to complete a university course set by the still manufacturer iStill to learn about their state-of-the-art distilling equipment made from stainless steel and not the traditional copper. With a focus on precision-distilling, the features of the iStill allow them to exactly replicate the liquid every single time they distil – a level of accuracy unheard of among craft distillers. Temperature, pressure and vapour speeds are just some of the distilling elements they must precisely control when creating a unique, complex, three-dimensional ultra-premium gin.

The founders wanted to develop a unique gin with powerful flavours – a bold, strong gin full of heat and spice to truly represent a ‘Giants’ spirit. Giants Basalt Rock Gin was created and given a name inspired by the basalt rock that filters the water from their own 600ft well. Key botanicals selected from the coastal regions of Northern Ireland include Kombu Royale, which gives a salty forward flavour followed by hints of mint, and sea buckthorn with a sour forward flavour and a slight fruity sweetness supporting flavour. The third key botanical is from further afield – Tailed peppers, or piper cubeba – which brings peppery spices and a slight bitterness. The addition of buckwheat harmonises the complex flavour profile of Giants Basalt Rock Gin whilst thickening the spirit to give a pleasant mellow mouthfeel. All these botanicals contribute to the complex, bold, three-dimensional flavour profile that our high 50.1% ABV carries and brings on heat and a kick.

With a focus on innovation, more products are already in the pipeline at the distillery that was only established in 2021.

iStill Disruption: Fire your Recipe Developer!


Here’s the second post in a short series of how iStill, with its amazing technology, is empowering the craft distilling industry. Every post highlights one topic or field that we are disrupting. We’ll explain what is different, how the change envisioned is empowering the industry, and what your specific benefits are.

Today? Today we discuss how iStill made it possible for you to fire your recipe developer and – instead – own recipe development yourself. Your recipes are your future money makers. You want them in-house not outsourced!

The old way

Traditionally, a business owner, that wants to start a craft distillery, needs to hire a recipe developer. The recipe developer designs the gin, vodka, rum, or whiskey you want to produce. What herbs will you use? What grains should you purchase? What standard operating procedure do you follow? Where are your cut points? What flavor profile do you aim for? What flavor intensity do you want to achieve?

And, to obtain answers to the questions asked in the above paragraph, how will your mashing and fermenting procedures look like? How do you extract flavors from herbs and berries? What equipment do you need in order to support the processes the recipe developer thinks you need? Will you age your products? If so, how? At what ABV?

The list of questions is almost endless. Distilling has always been considered something almost “magical”, with only a merry few being introduced to its secrets. Those are the master distillers and recipe developers we should all be after. That’s where the secret knowledge resides, that we want access to!

Of old, recipe development has been expensive and out of the business owner’s direct control. Here’s how iStill, with it’s disruptive approach, empowers you to become the master of your distillery’s future …

The new way

Our founder and CEO Odin designed the Holy Trinity of Distillation. It is a comprehensive model of how flavors are formed, concentrated, and selected in craft distilled products. The impact of understanding this model is so profound, that, the moment you learn how to work with it, you are able to create your own recipes. Better recipes than most other “recipe developers” out there, that pretent to possess “secret” knowledge, can deliver because they base their work on unproven, unscientific anecdotes, rather than the science the iStill University trains you in.

We support our theory of distillation with a set of amazing courses, that transform you into a recipe developer. Why? Craft distilling is all about flavor. Thus, the craft distiller should possess intimate knowledge on how flavors are formed, and how they can be concentrated and highlighted in your drinks. It is what makes you stand out. It is what will make you successful.

We support your training and recipe development with the amazing iStill Mini. It is small enough to help you learn from making a mistake or two. It is controlled to the extend that you can do your recipe development on ‘m. Before you scale up to the bigger production iStills.

What future do you choose?

As a craft distillery owner, you want to own your future. Maximizing growth opportunities while at the same time limiting risks, dependencies, and costs are essential in order to achieve the future that you envision.

Traditional ways hook you and set you up for failure. What if the recipe developer leaves? What if you disagree with his approach or the outcomes presented? What if you want to develop your craft distilled spirits in another direction? Who is in charge now? You? Not anymore, it seems.

iStill provides an alternative. Rather than spending 20k on a recipe developer, you can now spend half that amount of money with us. You get proper training. You get the R&D iStill Mini. You’ll learn how to make better spirits than the competition. You are back in charge of your distillery and your future. Isn’t that the future that empowers you? Isn’t that the direction all of us should take?

What future do you choose?