Two Tall Distillers from Madison!

Nick Hanson and Dave Farnia met at age 19 when they were assigned lab partners in a UW-Madison engineering class. Nearly 20 years later, they’re still friends — and working together again in a different kind of lab.

In September 2016, the pair opened Two Tall Distilling at 5353 Maly Road in Sun Prairie. Their spouses, Amy Hanson and Stephanie Farnia, are co-owners in the venture. It’s a small facility at the end of a country road — 1,800 square feet with a tasting room and three stills producing gin, vodka, whiskey and specialty liqueur. “We thought maybe we had to apologize a bit about that,” Stephanie Farnia says of the facility’s modest size. “But we’re finding that the small scale is letting us experiment.”

The Two Tall Distilling Team …


While working their day engineering jobs, Nick and Dave got interested in collecting and tasting Scotch and other types of whiskey. They began taking distillery tours around the Minneapolis area, where both were living at the time. They asked questions about the distillation process and recipe development. “A lot of what we heard was that [distilling] is an art,” Nick says. “Our basic idea was that we could do this, and we could do it a lot better if we apply what we learned as engineers to the process.”

A commercial distillery permit in Minnesota costs about $10,000, which was too expensive for the hobbyists. But when both happened to move back to Madison at similar times about two years ago, they found that in Wisconsin a distilling permit Wisconsin a distilling permit only costs $1,000 every two years.

From talking to others in the industry, they learned that many craft distillers struggle with consistency. Nick says an automated system solves the problem. “There’s definitely an art in terms of the taste and being creative,” he says. “But we want to figure out, once that art produces something, how to turn it into the scientific part.”

Two Tall Distilling’s iStill 500 …


The foursome has enjoyed creating and testing recipes that use such local ingredients as chokeberries from a farm in Oregon, sorghum syrup from Lodi, and honey from Door County. They’ve put out a barrel-aged gin, a London dry gin and a vodka made from corn, barley and rye. Whiskey is currently aging and will be available later this year. But the sleeper hit has been their coffee liqueur, which is made with French pressed coffee from Just Coffee Cooperative.

“That’s the one people seem really excited about,” Stephanie says.

Two Tall Distilling’s Coffee Liqueur …


Two Tall sells spirits from its tasting room, which is open some Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. (check the website,, for updated hours) and is available for private events. The spirits are available in local stores, and they’ve also partnered with The Lone Girl Brewing Company in Waunakee to develop signature drinks for the bar. All four co-owners are still working day jobs, but Nick is hopeful that might change as the company grows. When asked how the Two Tall Distilling lab compares to others he’s worked in, he laughs and says: “This is a lot more fun.”

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 …


Tight Fit in Tasmania!

We are helping Sarah Gunn open our first iStill Distillery on Tasmania! The Summerleas Distillery. Underneath are a few pictures. Also, please know we still have a few places available for the iStill 4-day workshop that we’ll be organizing at the Summerleas Distillery from October 31st till November 3rd. For more information, please reach out to

Nope, with the crate it does not fit …


Yes, now it does …


Big in Japan!

Here are a few pictures of our latest Japanese customers. They bought an iStill 2000 and will produce whisky, brandy, and gin.

Kohei in front of the University’s iStill 500 NextGen, mashing whisky …


Making brandy … do you see the heads to hearts smearing take place?


iStill in Japanese … ?


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!


Shawn McCormick’s Feedback!

Hi Jason!

I’d like to thank both you and Sebastian for the really great iStill Distilling class. Sorry this thank you is a month late.

I really learned a great deal from both of you!

This was my third distilling class and this one taught me things the other two never even mentioned.

Your information was very practical, insightful and helpful in what I’m looking to do.


Shawn McCormick – MickBourbon LLC


Tasmanian Distiller wants to help solve the Australian Strawberry Crisis!


Australian strawberry producers are facing an existential crisis. Tasmanian distiller Sarah Gunn thinks she found a way to help.

Q1: Sarah, what’s the situation on strawberries in Australia? What’s going on?

Well Odin, the situation here is causing a catastrophe for local Australian farmers. Some idiot placed some needles in some strawberries and now the supermarket shelves are empty – most being dumped!! There has been widespread panic throughout the media resulting in fears for the country’s multi-million dollar strawberry industry – local farmers are really suffering financially.

Q2: What’s the influence on consumer trust and loyalty? And what’s the impact on the strawberry producing industry?

All international exports are reportedly being scanned by metal detectors or x-ray machines in a bid to restore consumer confidence – but the damage has already been done and many countries have apparently blocked imports from Australia. The subsequent impact it’s having on farmers is devastating. In Queensland alone, they produce 15,000 tonnes of strawberries in a single season. This is really tough on not only the farmers but entire local communities.

Q3: Please tell us about your idea on how to help ‘m out?

There have been media campaigns to #SmashAstrawb to encourage consumers to start buying strawberries again and as a member of the Australian Women in Distillers Association, I thought how can we help our farmers get through this? As you know, I have a new 2000L iStill arriving soon so I want to order a new Extractor to be shipped shipped over from The Netherlands ASAP!  Then we can turn all those beautiful strawberries into Strawberry Liqueur and maybe Strawberry Vodka – how good would that be?? Everyone wants to do something to help and I guess this is my way of helping out… would you like to order a bottle or two?