We are expanding the functionality of the StillControl App. Currently, we are in the process of testing the addition of a temperature read-out. Testing will take another three weeks. After that we’ll push the increased functionality to all StillControl users for free.
The StillControl App will see a few amazing updates:
- Android version (both tablet and phone);
- Run logs = see old runs;
- Run naming = name runs;
- Run commenting = add notes and comments to runs;
- Improved Bluetooth connectivity = easier to switch between probes;
- Updated interface = clearer communication on functionality.
What the package offers? Temperature controlled cuts management. To put it differently: near perfect control over your distillation run for reproducible results, over and over again. The normal price is EUR 500,-. It is only EUR 350,- when you order before December 31st 2020!
If you want to order the StillControl Probe and App, please know we’ll have a link up and running on the website from Monday onwards.
iStill – a mission of innovation
Our mission is to help craft distillers compete with big alcohol producers. Our pay-off is “distilling made easy”. Combine one with the other, and you understand that innovating isn’t something we do on a project basis. No, instead, innovating is what we do on a continuous basis!
We are proud to inform you about our newest innovation. We believe it will make distilling easier and we are convinced it will arm craft distillers with the tools needed to take the battle to Big Alcohol. How? With StillControl.
StillControl – what is it?
StillControl is our newest innovation. It combines a Bluetooth thermometer probe with an app.
StillControl – what does it do?
The probe measures the temperature in your distillation column or riser and relays the signal to the StillControl app.
In the StillControl app you dial in your cut-points for heads, hearts, and tails. As the temperature rises during your distillation run, the app warns you when to cut.
StillControl – what does it achieve?
StillControl achieves control over your distillation run. It creates consistency and reproducibility.
StillControl – for whom is it?
First, StillControl will be released to iStill customers that run the R&D iStill Mini, or that run or order one of the manual iStills:
- iStill Mini
- iStill Manual Potstill 100, 200, and 500
- iStill Manual Plated Still 100 and 200
- iStill Manual Hybrid 100 and 200
New orders for our manual stills, from now onwards, come with StillControl included. On a later date, probably in about a year from now, we’ll release StillControl to the craft distilling industry at large, so that distilleries that do not run iStill equipment can also benefit.
StillControl – wanna see how easy it is to use?
Here is a short start-up movie of an actual test run that’s being performed as this iStill Blog post is released:
StillControl – pictures
StillControl app …
StillControl probe currently being tested on the iStill 100 Hybrid Manual …
In an earlier post, just a week ago, we explained how the iStill University courses, the iStill Mini recipe development still, and our support during your first mash, fermentation, and distillation, help make you a better craft distiller. But we do more to support your success. This post explains how we take support to the next level.
iStill University Network
Students, that attended iStill University, become members of the iStill University Network. The iStill University Network is a closed Facebook group, where members give peer advice to one another regarding the set-up of their distillery. Very practical topics like “what pump do I need?”, “what’s your bottle supplier?”, “what’s your preferred labeler?”, or “how do you make your whiskey?” are just a few examples out of many discussions and consultations that take place.
The iStill University Network is considered a great source of information on how to set-up your distillery. Imagine dozens of more experienced distillers (at least on the matter you are investigating) helping you out at solving your issues and challenges.
Please note: the iStill University Network is only open for students that participated at an iStill University Course.
iStill Recipe Development
We have a team of 3 colleagues that man the iStill Laboratory. Together, the team has helped develop 300 recipes for brandy, gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, liqueurs, and more. For whom? For our customers. For students that participated at the iStill University, worked on their initial recipes, took an iStill Mini home, and feel they need our help to nail it before they order bigger production size units. And for existing customers that want to expand their product portfolio by introducing new spirits.
We basically have three levels at which our Recipe Development Team can support you:
- Spirit Evaluation: you send in your drink and we evaluate and benchmark it, and give feedback on where and how to improve (EUR 1.250,-);
- Recipe Development 1: we help design a drink that is made via distillation or extraction, using neutral alcohol (EUR 5.000,-);
- Recipe Development 2: we help design a drink where the alcohol is made in-house (whiskey, rum) and optimize for mashing, fermenting, and distillation (EUR 10.000,-).
Please note: our Recipe Development Team only works for iStill customers.
If you want to discuss the purchase of iStills or learn more about recipe development, please reach out to Sales@iStillmail.com. If you want to participate at one of the iStill University Courses and/or become a member of the iStill University , then please contact us via Veronika@iStillmail.com.
Becoming a better distiller with iStill …
This post dives into how we support you at being a successful distiller and iStill user. Of course, you, as the craft distiller, are responsible for the actual mashing, fermenting, and distilling that you perform. And, in order to do so correctly, you are also responsible for obtaining the right amount of training and learning, via your own research and reading, via traineeships, with the help of forums or consultants, or via peer advice. We chime in and help you out along your path. Here’s how.
iStill University Course
We offer a 4-day course, where we bring you up to date on the latest science regarding mashing, fermenting, distilling, and aging. It is a great way to learn about distilling, to learn how to develop a recipe, and to experience how the iStills work. With a score of 9.8 on a 10-point scale, it is considered the best course in the craft distilling industry and that’s a great way to get started and find out if craft distilling is meant for you.
Did you fall in love with distilling in general, and our amazing theories and technology specifically? Then it may be time to take the next step and purchase the iStill Mini. Our product development still helps you finalize recipe formulation, while you gain hands-on distilling experience.
Buying a production size iStill (like the iStill 100, 500, 2000, or 5000) automatically gives you access to four hours of consultancy. Use it to bridge the time, size, and experience gap between the course and the reality of you opening up, between the small-size semi-manual iStill Mini and the big size automated production unit!
- Use one hour of support to have us help check your assembly of the iStill, to upload the latest software, and to talk to you about cleaning protocols.
- Use the second hour to inform us about the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) you want to use for your mashing. Let us check it, before you use it.
- Use the third hour to inform us about the SOP you want to use for fermenting. Again, let us check it. Four eyes see more than two.
- Use the fourth hour to share your distillation SOP. Use our experience to help make sure your first distillation run is going to be the success you deserve!
- After you assembled your iStill, send an email to Support@iStillmail.com and name it “Assembly done”. Our support employee will give you a date and time slot for the check to take place, to update you to the latest software, and to instruct you on cleaning protocols.
- When you want to start mashing in the foreseeable future, send an email to Support@iStillmail.com, name it “First Mash Support”, and include your SOP. As before, our support employee will give you a date and time slot for feedback.
- When you are planning to start your first fermentation, send an email to Support@iStillmail.com, name it “First Fermentation Support”, and include the fermentation Standard Operating Procedure. Our employee will contact you.
- Almost ready to distill? As before, send an email and name it “First Distillation Support”, and include your SOP. Our support employee will propose a time and date to help check and give his feedback.
The runs are your responsibility. Mashing, fermenting, and distilling, even with automated equipment, can be challenging, so make sure that you know what you are doing. The machines we produce have no brain, so you better learn how to use yours! It is among your tasks to make sure you are equipped with the required knowledge and experience to do your runs professionally and safely. Using iStill Support does not take anything away from that responsibility.
Create more control with iStill Support …
We are making single malt whisky at iStill HQ! And with all the new innovations we released over the last few months, we can now distill new make spirit in one go. No longer any need for separate (and time and energy consuming) stripping runs. With iStill you can create any taste rich spirit in a single distillation run, where the unit brings the beer to barrel strength (62% in this example) automatically and maintains that ABV during the whole run.
Preparing the barrels …
The iStill 500 is producing single malt whisky …
The new program for single pass whisky distillation …
Today, we bottled 4,000 bottles. Where? At the Amsterdam iStill Center. We make stills, we educate the craft distilling industry, we help design spirits, and we are available for contract distilling. Here are a few pictures about us bottling …
PS: We also shipped three more iStills to the USA today. One iStill 500 and two iStills 2000.
Here’s a new iStill innovation. Yes, one that makes distilling easier again! What it is? It’s a new module we designed. A WiFi module.
With this new technology added to the iStill PLC, you can now remotely access, monitor, and operate the unit without an ethernet cable connection. You can run your iStill via your computer and even your phone with maximum ease.
The new WiFi module can be added when you order a new iStill. The costs are EUR 500,-. Or you can upgrade your existing iStill to full WiFi capability. In that case we ship you the module, instruct you how to replace the old ethernet cable unit, we update your iStill remotely, and you ship the old module back to us. The retrofit package costs EUR 800,-.
For more info, please reach out to William@iStillmail.com. If you want to place the order, please contact Finance@iStillmail.com.
The new WiFi module that we designed for the iStills …
Doing a whisky finishing run via my iPhone 7S (screenshot) …
Every unit we build is tested to the max. And since our units are automated and robotized, every run creates more data. Data that we can use to further optimize the automated programs we offer our customers via firmware updates. Here’s an iStill Blog post that shows how we test and what the parameters are that we get over.
Today’s test run
Currently, we are testing a 500 liter iStill. The unit is filled with 450 liters of 30% low wines and we are doing both potstill run tests and pure run test. The first category teaches us how fast the unit can strip and/or finish taste rich product. We do these tests at 50% power settings, to simulate finishing, and at 100% power setting to simulate stripping. The second category – testing pure mode – tells us what the maximum ABV is that the unit can produce and at what rates it does so.
Strip run test in potstill mode
The iStill 500 produces 51 liters per hour at robot opening 750 and 100% power. This means the unit strips at over 50 liters per hour. The column cooler settles at 33C. Well below the maximum cooling temperature of 50C. Great result for the column and cooling!
Finishing run test in potstill mode
The iStill 500 produces 25 liters per hour at robot opening 500 and 50% power. That’s mimicking a slow finishing run, with relatively low vapor speeds. The cooler temperature drops to below 27C. Again, a great result for both column and cooler.
Pure run test
We are currently finishing the pure run, where we make vodka and GNS. With a power setting of 80%, a robot tolerance of 0.3C, and a first opening of 200, the unit easily reaches > 96.5%. The amount produced is 21.5 liters per hour. In plain English? The iStil 500 reaches maximum purity levels (azeotrope) and produces 21.5 liters of it per hour. Another world record for iStill! Here are some pictures:
iStill 500 NextGen going through its test cycles …
Touch screen computer showing the pure run tests …
Alcohol strength above 96.5% …
Potstill run at 100% power: influence of robot setting …
What’s in a name? Well, if its fine, nothing much. But what if names are confusing? In that case we’d better change them. And that is where this post is about. New names for some of the processes the iStills support. Old wine in a new bottle? Maybe. Probably. But we want to inform you anyhow!
Old Menu Set-up
The iStill supports pretty much all functions a Craft Distiller needs:
- Mashing (to turn starches into sugars);
- Fermenting (to turn sugars into alcohol);
- Distilling (to turn distillers beers and wines into spirits);
- Extracting (to extract ultimate taste profiles from fruits, herbs, berries, and nuts);
- Accelerated Aging (under the Heating Program).
Some confusion arose among our customers about how we named the two distillation programs. Or how they should interpret them.
We had “Robot Distilling”. That was easy enough: programs one can use for robotized distillation runs. And we had “Manual Distilling”. In this program the robot just opens and delivers a (more or less controlled) potstill run. The robot does not do much, but the automation takes care of the whole run. And that’s where the confusion started, because … if the whole run is automated, why call it “Manual”?
We did give it that name to distinguish this run for the run where the robot actively intervened and we felt that “Automated” wasn’t a good name either, because in that case our customers for sure would have thought that the robotized runs weren’t automated. And runs where the robot is actively involved are actually also fully automated.
New Menu Names
To lift the confusion, we decided to rename “Manual Distilling” and “Robot Distilling”. The focus now lays on where the Craft Distiller actually uses the two programs, for most of the time.
The program formerly known as “Manual Distilling” is mostly used for pot distilled products like gin and whiskey and rum. Even with a one or 1.5 distillation approach. So we decided to call it “Potstill Run”.
The program formerly known as “Robot Distilling” is mostly used for vodka and GNS production. We therefore now call it “Pure Run”.
For existing iStill customers: the functionality of the two programs does not change! It’s just the names that are different.
To add to the confusion
Just to add a little confusion back in, please know that you can use “Potstill Run” and still manipulate the setting of the robot. Indeed, manually. This means you have perfect control over cuts and purity. It allows you to make a rum, whiskey, or brandy in one run. Just close the robot a little bit. Or you can stay with the more traditional two or 1.5 distillation approach. Only vodka making will be quite a challenge, because it asks for a lot of manual intervention.
But luckily the “Pure Run” will do that for you. Robotized and automated. And the fun thing is, that we can also manipulate the robot through predefined programs, so that even in “Pure Run” mode you can make taste rich products, in such a way that Heads and Tails smearing is even more controlled than in potstill mode.
Versatility is great. Making any product on the iStills is great. We have changed the technology in distilling industry, and moved things forward by a century and a half, but names and procedures use old, traditional names. Sometimes that’s the way it is …