Add a Copper Column to Your iStill!

Introduction

As we are growing and serving an ever larger customer base, we have to take into consideration that not all demand is created equal. That’s why as a market leader, over the recent years, we have added plated stills and potstills and copper stills. Today we are taking flexibility one step further: you can now add a copper column to your stainless steel iStill!

Still Types

The iStill Potstill, Plated, and Hybrid are all supported. You can choose any type of iStill and choose to combine the stainless steel boiler with a copper column. Also, all sizes are supported. You can order a complete copper column for your iStill 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, or 5000.

Introduction Pricing for New Orders

Here are our introduction prices. Please be aware that these prices are valid for new still orders placed and paid for in 2021. For 2022 prices will be adjusted upwards.

  • iStill 100 (pot, plated, hybrid): EUR 5.000,-
  • iStill 200 (pot, plated, hybrid): EUR 7.500,-
  • iStill 500 (pot, plated, hybrid): EUR 10.000,-
  • iStill 1000 (pot, plated, hybrid): EUR 15.000,-
  • iStill 2000 (pot, plated, hybrid): EUR 17.500,-
  • iStill 5000 (pot, plated, hybrid): EUR 20.000,-

Do you already have an iStill and want to add a copper column to it? Retrofitting – as usual – is fully supported!

Ordering Process

We are adding the copper column as an option to the design center. Go to http://www.iStill.com, select the still type of choice (pot, plated, or hybrid), choose stainless steel as the bas building material for the boiler, and decide on the size of boiler you want. Now go to options and add the copper column. It is as simple as that!

Do you want to retrofit your current iStill column with the new Complete Copper Column? Email your order, including delivery address, to Finance@iStillmail.com, so that they can draw up the invoice.

What’s included

Everything from the boiler upwards is made out of copper. The potstill’s risers, bridge, and product coolers are all made out of copper. For the plated still, things are a little bit different, since the risers are still made our of glass. The connections, the collection plates, the column cooler and product coolers, on the other hand, are all made from copper. The iStill Hybrid’s risers, collection plates, column cooler, and product coolers are all made from copper.

Pictures of the iStill 200 Plated Complete Copper Column …

http://www.iStill.com

Liquid Management for Better Quality Spirits!

Introduction

Managing the distillation run is crucial for craft distillers, since it helps control flavor composition and concentration of the spirits they produce. This post dives into the technologies available. We distinguish between power management, cooling management, and liquid management.

Power Management

Power management is the simplest way to manage your still and distillation run. If you want to go faster, you just crank up the power. Throw more wood on the fire. Open the gas tap. Feed more kilowatts to your still.

Increased power results in more gasses being created, leading to a faster run. It also results in more smearing. More heads and tails molecules will enter your hearts cut. More fruity as well as rooty and nutty flavors will be added, resulting in a more complex product. A more complex product that needs more time to age to maturity.

If you decrease power, the run slows down. Slower runs mean less smearing. Cleaner, crisper spirits are produced, that do not need a lot of aging.

Power management is the only management technology available to pot distillers. A potstill doesn’t have an actively managed column, so power management is the only management tool the distiller has to influence his spirit’s flavor profile.

This technique is as old as the potstill itself. How old? Thousands of years. Power management is an easy, yet crude way to manage your distillation run. Smearing always takes place. Reproducibility is difficult, unless your still is fully insulated, to minimize for outside influences.

Cooling Management

The 1870’s saw the invention of cooling management, the first technology that allows for not just the pot, but also the column to be managed. Power management manages the pot. Column management manages the rising gasses as they come from the pot.

The way in which cooling management does this is as follows: as gasses rise, part of them are cooled back to liquid phase and redistilled on plates in the column. The additional distillation cycles on those plates result in a higher proof and a better separation of heads, hearts, and tails. The cooling is done by a heat exchanger 2/3rds up the column. The heat exchanger is called a dephlagmator or dephlag.

Adding more coolant to the dephlagmator results in more gasses being cooled down to liquid phase. More liquids or reflux created contributes to more distillation cycles taking place and less smearing of heads and tails into hearts. Limiting the amount of cooling water to the dephlagmator results in less distillation cycles and more smearing.

Adding column management to a still was a huge step forward. You can look at it like this: power management creates a crude form of input management where column management creates a form of output management. Power management defines what enters the column or riser. Cooling management gives a crude selection as to what portions come out of the column and make it over into the drink you are producing.

Even though two management techniques are better than one, cooling management comes with draw-backs. The amount of control it gives is limited, because of four confounders:

  1. The temperature of the cooling water varies;
  2. The water pressure varies;
  3. The temperature in the distilling hall varies;
  4. Air pressure varies.

Warmer cooling water in (e.g.) the summer results in less reflux and less redistillations and more smearing. A higher water pressure during some parts of the day results in more cooling and in less smearing. The colder distilling hall leads – in an uninsulated column – to more reflux being generated, resulting in less smearing, less fruity and rooty flavors in your hearts cut. High pressure weather fronts lead to different (higher) boiling points of the various distilled factions, resulting in a slower run with better separation between cuts.

Liquid Management

iStill introduced liquid management to the distilling industry 10 years ago. With this invention, we aimed to perfect column management, and to get rid of the imperfections caused by the 1870’s cooling management technology, that we addressed above.

Liquid management is not influenced by temperature variability of the cooling water. Is the coolant warmer or colder? Our liquid management technology doesn’t care. It simply delivers the same product quality over and over.

Liquid management is not influenced by water pressure. Again, iStill’s liquid management technology doesn’t care and simply delivers a totally consistent output, over and over again.

Is your distilling hall warmer in the summer and colder in winter? Given the insulation we use, there is no impact, so no variability. Again, with liquid management the craft distiller can consistently deliver high-quality spirits.

Air pressure variability? iStills column management measures the actual air pressure on a second-to-second basis. If the air pressure changes, the cut points are automatically adapted. There you have it again: total control over flavor composition and concentration.

Recap

For the craft distiller to produce his spirits at the highest quality level possible, and to do so consistently, liquid management is needed. Craft distillers do not enjoy the economies of scale that Big Alcohol has. This means that craft distilled price levels will be higher. To compensate for this disadvantage, the quality of your drinks needs to be higher. It takes iStill’s liquid management technology to get you there.

I expect this post to clarify how we help revolutionize (and energize!) the craft distilling industry. And it also helps explain why so many of our customers win medals all over the world! See the link for a selection:

https://istill.com/halloffame

iStill Industrial: Compelling Business Case!

Introduction

Alcohol is used extensively in the manufacturing industry as a cleaning agent. Parts are produced. The manufacturing process uses oils and creates dirt. As a result the parts that are produced need cleaning. Alcohol is used as the cleaning agent. It is used and then discarded.

Costs

A typical manufacturing plant can easily use 2000 liters of high-proof alcohol, as a cleaning agent, on a daily basis. Assuming the factory is producing parts 350 days per year, this results in 700.000 liters of high-proof alcohol being used. The direct purchase costs of the alcohol are around EUR 700.000,- or USD 800.000,- annually. If the costs of transport, manpower, storage, processing, and waste management are added, the total costs easily exceed 1 million.

iStill Business Case

An iStill 2000, with ATEx or IECEx certification, additional ports for automatic filling and emptying, and specific software programming to integrate with the factory’s process control software, costs EUR 200.000,-. The iStill 2000 cleans-up the alcohol in such a way that it can be re-used. The unit performs that function a daily basis, so there is no need to purchase new cleaning alcohol.

Offsetting the total investment of 200k with the savings of 1000k, results in a turn-around time on investment of less than 3 months! The total savings in the first year of operation will be around EUR 800.000,- or USD 900.000,-. Over a period of 5 years, the total savings will be EUR 4.800.000,- or around USD 5.500.000,-. Over a period of 10 years, the savings will be close to EUR 10.000.000,- or USD 11.500.000,-.

Proof of Concept

We have built the first iStill 2000 Industrial for a North American plant, that belongs to a global manufacturing company. The iStill is currently being built-in into the automated factory of our first industrial customer. It is expected to start operations by the end of this year.

iStill’s unique benefits

  1. The business case is to the moon and beyond!
  2. Did we already say that the business case is compelling? Because it truly is a huge money saver.
  3. Given the alcohol recovery, and iStill’s efficiency, there are huge environmental impact benefits to be reaped.
  4. iStill can (re)produce the cleaning alcohol at any desired strength, generating flexibility as well as savings.
  5. It does so in an automated plant setting. Staff is not placed at risk. Established SOP’s are supported.
  6. iStill Industrial integrates with your plant’s software for ease of use, maximum control, and oversight.
  7. iStills come with explosion proof certification, so your safety protocols and policies aren’t compromised.
  8. We also support smaller (500 and 1000 liter batch sizes) and bigger operations (5000 liter batch size).

Do you want to start making a difference and save money at your manufacturing plant? Reach out to me directly via Odin@iStillmail.com to discuss how iStill can be of further assistance to your business.

Cleaning with alcohol is integral to manufacturing …

http://www.iStill.com

Less is More and More is Less!

Introduction

More distillations for more purity, less distillations for less purity. How come? How does it work, and what are the pro’s and cons of adding more or less distillation cycles to your standard operating procedure? Let’s dive in deeper!

What a distillation cycle does

If you distill a beer or wine, there are basically three components in the boiler:

  1. Water;
  2. Alcohol;
  3. Flavors.

Since alcohol comes over at lower boiling points than water, as a general rule, a distillation run concentrates the alcohol. Most of the water remains in the boiler. Alcohol consists of a family of different molecules. Some have lower boiling points, some have higher boiling points. Ethanol, the most famous alcohol, sits in the middle, with a boiling point of 78,3 degrees Celsius. Many of the flavors come over with the alcohols, so a distillation run concentrates both alcohol and flavor, while water and some other flavors stay behind.

What multiple distillation cycles do

Multiple distillation runs translate into alcohol and flavor being concentrated even more. More water and more flavor stays behind.

It is important to note that certain flavors come over with certain alcohols. Fruity flavors come over with the low boiling point alcohols that come over during the first part of a distillation run. Rooty and nutty and earthy flavors come over with the high boiling point alcohols, at the end of the run.

The more distillation cycles are performed, the better alcohol and water are separated. Also, the more distillation cycles one does, the better the various families of alcohols separate. Ergo: more distillation cycles lead to less smearing of flavors and to more localized flavor concentrations. Fruity flavors in the headsy parts of the run, rooty, earthy flavors in the tails part of the run.

The influence on flavor

More distillation cycles lead to less flavor, via two processes:

  1. The boiler remains have flavors that are discarded after the run, and don’t come over in the spirit;
  2. Better separation leads to less smearing leads to less intense or less complex flavors in the hearts cut.

The more often the craft distiller distills, the more flavor he or she looses via the boiler remains, that will be discarded. The more often the craft distiller distills, the more the flavors will be localized in the heads and tails factions of the run. Instead of in the hearts faction that, well, makes the cut.

This information leads to one conclusion and one conclusion only: less is more and more is less. Less distillation cycles lead to more flavorful spirits. More distillation cycles lead to less flavorful spirits.

Spirit archetypes and the number of distillation runs

Vodka is distilled many times. Often more than 14 times, in order to reach the desired ABV. At the same time, the multiple distillation cycles lead not just to a high proof base spirit (95% and more), but also to a relatively neutral spirit. Perfect separation of heads and tails and their associated flavors. Water soluble flavors, that reside in the boiler, are perfectly separated out.

Bourbon, an American style whiskey, is often distilled around four times or more. On a plated still or on a continuous still. The result is a lighter style whiskey. Irish whiskey is most often triple distilled. It has a lighter flavor than Scottish single malt whisky, which is double distilled.

Most fruit brandies are made on plated stills and are usually quadruple distilled (yes, just like Bourbon is). Cognac is made on more traditional set-ups (Alambics Charantais – basically a potstill that uses the next batch as coolant) and is double distilled. Cognacs have a heavier flavor profile than fruit brandies.

Rums that are pot distilled, like Jamaican rums, are very heavy flavored. Rums that are distilled on a continuous column, including multiple distillation cycles, like Bacardi, are much lighter in flavor.

Distilling 1.5

Less than a decade ago, iStill’s CEO invented “Distilling 1.5” as a technique to lower the number of distillation cycles in order to give craft distillers a competitive advantage over traditional Big Alcohol producers. In the Distilling 1.5 procedure, a first distillation creates low wines. The low wines are added back into the boiler. To further fill the boiler, fresh wash is added. This mixture of low wines and fresh beer or wine now sees a finishing run.

Since the resulting new make spirit is now distilled 1.5 times instead of twice, more flavor is retained. First of all, less flavor is lost to the boiler remains. Secondly, the lower ABV end product needs less water (neutral!) for dilution to barreling or bottling strength.

Distilling 1.0 with iStill’s ABV Control

Over the last few years, iStill has innovated further on this idea that less is more. We have designed and perfected ABV Control, where the iStills can now bring your alcohol up to any desired percentage in one go. One Single Distillation Run! This is the ultimate “less is more” technique, where the craft distiller creates the most flavorful rums, brandies, and whiskies!

ABV Control ON!

http://www.iStill.com

Designing an iStill Malter?

Introduction

Producing spirits from grains involves several steps. First, the grain is malted. Malting helps the grain kernels develop the right enzymes. As a second step, the grain is mashed. Mashing involves cracking the grain and adding warm water so that the enzymes can convert the grain starch into fermentable sugars. Thirdly, yeast is added and the fermentation phase begins. During fermentation most of the flavors and all of the alcohol is formed. The fourth step is the distillation phase, where alcohols and flavors are concentrated and selected.

Contemplation

iStill makes mashers, fermenters, and stills. We don’t make malting systems. There have been two main reasons holding us back designing malters. Firstly, most (if not all) craft distillers purchase pre-malted grains. The malting, in other words, is done by the grain supplier, not by the craft distiller. Secondly, malting is such a different process, that it cannot be integrated in the single vessel iStill distillery approach that we have developed over the last decade.

We are still not sure if we should design and manufacture an iStill Malter. The market is limited and our investments will be pretty high. On the other hand … craft distilling is all about creating interesting flavor profiles and malting (especially roasting) has a huge impact on flavor. Also, with an iStill Malter in place, we could become the one-stop-shop for farmers that wish to turn their barley into whisky or vodka.

Feasibility study

To ensure that the right decisions are made, we have started a feasibility study. The study will focus on answering two questions:

  1. Is there a market for an iStill Malter? Do craft distillers want to (partially) malt in-house?
  2. Can we design a technically compelling malting system?

For the first question, we need your help. Please let us know if you are interested in an iStill Malter, were we to design, produce, and release it. To answer the second question, we have set-up an initial project group to investigate the technical side of things. We are very happy and proud to do so in close cooperation with Aristides Distilling, a distillery that has extensive experience in malting its own, locally sourced, grains.

Malting

Malting consists of three basic steps. First, the grain is wetted. Then the grain starts to germinate. it grows the beginning of a root system, and the microstructure of the cell walls, proteins, and starch start to change as enzymes are formed. As a last step the now germinated grain kernels are being dried or “kilned”. The more heat is applied, during this last kilning phase, the more Maillard Reaction will take place in the grain, adding flavor to the future whisky to be. All steps take place in a barrel-like shape that’s rotated to introduce the humidity, air, and heat to the grain, as it is malted.

Initial design specifications

An iStill Malter therefore needs a rotating barrel, to which grain, water, and hot air can be added. The malt system must be automated and should control humidity, temperature, rotation speed, and time. The software should allow for a step by step operation, where the craft distiller decides on how long steeping, germination, drying, and roasting should take, and how fast the system should rotate. The user interface should be intuitive. Remote control needs to be supported. Dimensions, power, and batch sizes will be established later.

Follow-up

Of course we hope that you are excited about this feasibility study. We’ll keep you posted on our progress as we move forward!

iStill Malter Rotation Control System (beta) …

http://www.iStill.com

An Update on Chip Shortages, Screens, Demand, and Lead Times!

Okay, yeah, we know: it isn’t the sexiest topic to address, but we need to address it anyhow. Global chip shortages, screens, demand, and lead times. It’s good news, so let’s dive in deeper!

Due to both chip shortages and a continuing rise in demand for our distilleries, a few months ago we had to inform you that our lead times increased to 6 months. Ever since, we have been working very hard to both enlarge our production capacity, here at iStill HQ, and to get access to more chips for our screens / user interfaces.

We are proud to inform you that we succeeded on both accounts! Lead times for our standard units are back to four months now.

Shipping more iStills around the world at a faster pace …

http://www.iStill.com