Firmware V5.0

The easy peach brandy recipe I worked on … sucked. I don’t know where it went wrong, but it does not taste well at all. Hot, harsh, oily. Mr. Hermes did the same experiment, used the same iStill settings, and tells me his drink tastes just fine. Well, this must mean I screwed something up during fermentation. More info on that later.

Currently, we are testing the new firmware for the iStills 50, VISION and 250. V5.0 has the ability to dial down the Fores cut to as low as 60 degrees C. Important for customers that live high up in the mountains, because they very much wanted to be able to choose a lower temperature Fores cut. Why? Because high up in the mountains air pressure is less and boiling points drop. The iStills, during production, will automatically adapt to this, but a stabilization time is needed for the iStill to be able to establish a new boiling point of pure ethanol. And Fores are taken prior to that stabilization …

The aim for the Fores cut? Dial the temperature in so it gets you around 0.1 liters for the 50 models and around 0.4 liters for the 250 models. Save that temperature and from there onwards, you will be fine. Rule of thumb: find out at what temperature pure ethanol boils, if you live in the mountains. Dial the Fores cut in at the first 0.5 degrees above that. And if you can’t find the boiling point, please remember, the iStill will tell you during the production phase, when you do a Pure run.

Procedure to decide on temperature setting for the iStill’s Fores Cut high up in the mountains is as follows:

  1. Charge the boiler with a mash or low wines;
  2. Dial, via the menu, the Fores Cut down to the lowest temperature setting;
  3. All other settings stay at factory default;
  4. Choose the Pure Mode;
  5. Do a run;
  6. When production starts, the iStill calculates the temperature of boiling alcohol (T_da);
  7. Let’s say that, due to altitude, pure ethanol boils at 72.3 instead of 78.3 C;
  8. Now push “menu” and choose option 1 “Fores Cut”;
  9. Dial the Fores Cut temperature in for the 0.5 degree point just above the boiling point of pure ethanol;
  10. In this example: dial in 72.5 C as your Fores Cut temperature;
  11. Press “OK”, then press “Escape”;
  12. You are now back in the full information screen, where you can see how the run progresses. And you have dialed in the Fores Cut you can use for now and in the future.

What’s more? Well, you can now choose to either look at the limited information screen or, by pushing +, to have the full information screen in front of you. The full information screen will not automatically go back to the limited information screen. Just push + if you want to change one screen for the other.

The advantage of this new functionality? Most distillers love to look at the maximum information screen. After a few runs, it gives them instant oversight and insight in what’s going on, where they are during a run. They can now have that oversight and insight continuously, without having to push the + button every 90 seconds.

Those of you that perform potstill or stripping runs on a regular basis, must have noticed that, on the full information screen, the opening reads “0”. This was a minor omission. In potstill or stripping mode, the needle-valve is off course completely open and not closed. Potstilling is about power management, not about managing reflux, right? So, even though the older firmware read “0”, the needle-valve, while potdistilling, was always completely open. In Firmware V5.0 we changed the way the opening of the needle-valve is represented. It now reads: “Opening: max”. “Max” for “maximum”, that makes more sense.

Functionality wise, the biggest addition to V5.0 is Automated Tails Collection. Just as you already could dial in whether you just wanted a Fores cut or rather a more extensive Fores & Heads cut, you can now play with the Tails cut.

This is how it works:

  • In the menu you can dial in the End Tempearture. Business as usual. End Temp is when the run (including Automated Tails Collection) is stopped;
  • Because we added Automated Tails Collection, you can now use the End Temperature setting not to end your Hearts cut, but to end your Tails cut. Tails that you may re-use in a next rum, whiskey, or brandy run.
  • Let’s say – as an example – you are doing a whiskey finishing run on a 30% low wines charge. You could dial in an End Temperature setting of 97 degrees C. This means the total run will end, when the temperature of gasses entering the column is 97 degrees C. It is now also the temperature at which you stop Automated Tails Collection;
  • Now start to dial in the run. Choose Potstill Mode, choose either Fores or Fores & Heads Collection, decide on if you want to use the filter (probably not on a whiskey), and – hey! – the next screen is new: you are asked if you want Automated Tails Collection or not. Choose Automated Tails Collection please;
  • The next screen allow you to dial in the temperature setting for the Hearts to Tails cut. The beginning of the Tails Cut. Or the end of the Hearts Cut. Say you dial in 95.5 C and start the run.

This is what will now happen:

  1. The iStill will heat-up and will take Fores and Heads;
  2. When, during the production process, the computer sees that the temperature of the gasses that enter the column is 95.5 degrees C, the iStill will automatically switch to Tails Collection via the Fores, Heads, (and now) Tails Tap;
  3. It will stop with the collection of Tails, when T_in reaches 97.0 degrees C.

One tip: if you are going to automatically collect Tails, use a longer line/hose and a bigger Tails Collection Vessel. Just a cup, as for Heads Collection, won’t be enough.

Long story, but we hope you like the extra versatility V5.0 gives you. And I may make a short movie about it. Pictures say more than a thousand words.


New Firmware for the iStill Fermenter

We just finished updating the firmware to the iStill Fermenter! What’s new? Well, originally we had the maximum temperature of the fermenter’s charge set at 50 degrees C. Since no normal ferment ever takes place above 37 degrees C, that made sense.

But … if you have read the two previous posts, you might have found out you can use the iStill Fermenters, together with the all new iStill Water Cooker, for mashing.

We now took the next step. We upped the maximum temperature of the iStill Fermenters to 75 degrees Centigrade, so you can now maintain enzyme conversion temperatures (and mash-out temps as well), when you use the iStill Fermenter for mashing.


Firmware 5.0: Automated Tails Collection

As of next week we upgrade the computers to the iStills 50, VISION, and 250 to Firmware Version 5.0.

What’s new? Automated Tails Collection!

In rum making as well as in whiskey making, Tails Collection is important. There’s lots of taste in the tails, and many Master Distillers collect them and add them to the next strip run.

So far, the iStills had the possibility to set an end temperature. You could use that menu option to define the Hearts to Tails Cut. But if you wanted to collect Tails after Hearts were taken, you had to restart the iStill, dial in a new, higher end temperature (for instance 99 degrees instead of 95 degrees Centigrade) in order to collect the tails.

With Firmware Version 5.0 we make things easier.

The will now provides you with two end temperature settings:

  • 2a: this is the end of total run temperature;
  • 2b: this is the end of the Hearts Cut.

If you choose Pot Distillation, you will get an additional screen, where you can decide to either finish the run at the pre-set end temperature (for instance: 2a at 95 degrees Centigrade) or you can decide to have Automated Tails Collection after that.

If, for instance, you set end temperature 2a at 99 degrees C, and you dial in end temperature 2b at 95 degrees C, the iStill will now collect Hearts until t=95. When t=95, the iStill will automatically change output to the Fores/Heads/Tails tap to receive the Tails cut as long as the temperature of gasses entering the column is between 95 and 99 degrees C. Do make sure you have a long hose attached to the FHT-tap! And make it drain into a large enough collection Tails Collection vessel.

In short? Automated Tails Collection does just what it says: it allows you to dial in your Tails Cut, and to collect the Tails seperately and automatically!

Customers that want this upgrade can ship their computer back. The upgrade, together with transport costs, is available for € 100,-.


Firmware 4.03

As of today, we will upgrade the firmware for our iStills 50, VISION, and 250 from 4.02 to 4.03. What changes? Well, we changed the way in which you can dial in the initial Fores Cut.

Up until now, you could manually adjust the Fores Cut to as low as 76 degrees Centigrade. We found out that’s not low enough.

Some of our clients live high up in the mountains. Think “Rocky Mountains” and elevations of 2,500 meters. At those altitudes water, ethanol, or any mixture of both of them, boil at lower temperatures. Sometimes even a low temperature Fores Cut at 76 degrees Centigrade just wasn’t low enough. The result? Too large a Fores Cut.

With our new Firmware, version 4.03, we fixed that. iStill customers can now dial in the initial Fores Cut down to as low as 60 degrees Centigrade. That way anyone can adjust this initial cut, depending on altitude.

Did we also adjust for Heads Cut? No, there was no need for that. The Heads Cut is taken automatically and the iStills autocorrect for altitude variations.

Anyone out there living above 2,000 meters? Just let us know. If you ship back your computer, we will upgrade you for free. You only need to pay for shipping costs …


Firmware Version 4.0

We upgraded our Firmware again. Not much new functionality to share. But there is an essential difference. We replotted the software in a kind of matrix structure.

The iStill 50, 250, and VISION all have Potstill and Pure Mode. And Fores and Heads removal programs, etc. But each model has its own specifications, since each model differs: bigger diameter columns or smaller diameter columns, 18 KW (iStill 250) or 4 KW max. Those kind of things.

In short? Up until now, we needed one computer with a special program. A program specially fitted to the computer for that specific iStill. Each computer ran one program for one type of iStill.

What’s new? Firmware version 4.0 is multi functional. With one computer you can now run any type of iStill. Okay, the computer you get is dialed in for the specific type you buy, but if need be, and with our help, you can now use a computer for a 50 model and put it on a 250 and vice versa.

More flexibility for the same amount of money. An example? Say you ordered an iStill 50 without Power Management Module (PMM) and you want to buy the new PMM. Up until now, you also needed a new computer. As of now, the new computer with Firmware 4.0, will serve you in both cases. If you have that new PMM installed, you now just make a Skype call to the iStill Support Team and they will guide you through the steps it takes to “add” the PMM to the computer programming.


Firmware Version 3.26

We fixed the bug on v3.25! Just testing it, and everything goes according to plan. Select Pure Mode, select Carbon Filtration … it will maintain 96% all the time. As it should.

So here’s a question. Do you run v3.25? If so, please let me know via and we will ship you a new computer ASAP. A new computer with the new firmware in place. Under the understanding you will sent back the old computer containing v3.25.

“Okay,” you may say, “but I don’t use the carbon filter, so why change the computer?”

If you don’t use the filter, disconnect the tube that leads to the filter … and use it as your hearts collection tube to create a different take-off path for heads as compared to hearts …

Darn, we need to get that tablet functionality in place, so we can sent you new programming digitaly instead of physicaly!


Computer Bug in Firmware Version 3.25

We found a computer bug in v3.25. In Pure Mode, when Carbon Filtration is chosen, the programming won’t maintain pure, 96% abv. Instead, it will change its course to a normal pot distillation.

The quick fix it to not use the Carbon Filtration option, when distilling in Pure Mode.

Over here, we are ammending the problem. Timeline is that we expect this bug to be fixed today.

If you have Firmware Version 3.25 and use the Carbon Filtration option, please let us know, so we can ship you a new computer!


Retrofitting the new iStill 50 Power Management Module

Since we get quite a lot of emails, I feel an update is in order. Yes, if you run an iStill 50 with the “old” PMM and you want to upgrade to the new one, that’s perfectly possible. If you promise to sent back the old PMM once the new one is in, costs are limited to € 100,-. Add maybe € 20,- for transport. Installing the new PMM is a piece of cake. Just as installing the old one was.