You order iStill, like pretty much the rest of the world, and save 70% on energy expenditure … 🙂
Category Archives: The future of distillation
Blog posts about how iStill sees craft distiling, and the equipment used, evolve.
2,000 liter Rum Fermentation!
We are using the iStill Fermenter 2000 to make rum wine. The alcohol and flavor creation processes are controlled via iStill’s Central Distillery Management. This allows oversight and control of any iStill unit from another iStill … or remote access …
Turn your Visitors into Brand Ambassadors with the iStill Nano!
What is it?
The iStill Nano is a little potstill with a one liter gross capacity. We designed it to give our customers the tools to run their consumer oriented gin, rum, whisky and brandy schools professionally. Not with just any tools, but with iStill tools.
The unit is very easy to operate, and allows your visitors to make their own gin or rum, whisky or brandy at your distillery, swiftly, effectively, and safely. Put in 0.75 liters of wine or beer or vodka. Add herbs to your liking. Within the hour, the iStill Nano will help make a bottle of freshly distilled, personalized spirits.
Build to last a lifetime and more …
The iStill Nano is made out of high-grade stainless steel and is constructed to last! The boiler and column and cooler are made from 2 mm thick sheets, while the bottom is a whopping 4 millimeters.
The unit comes with an easy to bolt on, tri-clamp riser/lyne-arm/cooler with easy connects for cooling water in and out.
The iStill Nano comes with a dedicated 500 Watt hotplate and a power manager for 0 to 100% power regulation. In the smallest, incremental steps possible.
The iStill nameplate can be replaced by your nameplate or logo, at a small price increase.
Also included is the all-new Bluetooth thermometer probe. It measures your gas temperatures every second and relays the signal to the new iStill App.
The complete iStill Nano set-up …
Indeed. For your convenience we designed an App. What it does? Well, first of all, it tells you at what temperature you are distilling … and so much more!
- You can upload recipes for gin, whisky, rum, and brandy;
- You can perform your own run and save the recipe for later use;
- The app informs you when to cut for Heads, Hearts, and Tails;
- Temperatures and cut points are automatically adjusted for air pressure on a per second basis;
- Ensuring your customers can make the same high-quality drup over and over again!
The iStill App …
Dozens of our customers use the iStills Nano at their distillery. Hundreds of units see daily use and help craft distillers make a visit to their distilleries an even more fun and intense experience!
We sell the iStill Nano in packages of six. Each package contains six iStills Nano, with the thermometer probes, hotplates, water lines, quick connects, and power managers included.
A package of six costs EUR 6,500.-. Crating and shipment, via airplane and all over the world, are included.
If you want to order, please reach out to Veronika@iStillmail.com.
The iStills Nano make for an amazing visitor experience …
IWSR Drinks Market Analysis for the USA!
Here are the 2022 highlights of the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis for the USA:
- Tequila surpassed American Whiskey in value terms;
- Tequila is expected to pass Vodka in value terms in 2023 and take overall top position;
- Total spirits volume sales increased by 2%, with strong demand for premium-plus;
- Premium-plus products rose by 13% in volume;
- Wine and beer declined by 2%, cider dropped by 4%;
- RTD’s gained only 1% overall, but premium and premium-plus RTD’s gained 38%;
- 33% of Americans spent over USD 50 per bottle, up from 24% in 2021;
- Six in ten online shoppers say they spend more on alcohol online than in-store;
- 46% of Americans say they are likely to treat themselves to better quality drinks.
For more reading on the impact of the above premiumisation trends for craft distillers specifically, please see:
Nine New Master Distillers!
The iStill University delivered nine new master distillers to the craft distilling industry. From the UK, the USA, India, Nigeria, and the Netherlands!
Congrats Esther …
Congrats Autger …
Congrats Mayukh …
Congrats Tony …
Congrats Mike …
Congrats Dylan …
Congrats Brent …
Congrats Tobias …
Congrats Jay …
The whole team …
Do you want to become a certified master distiller? The iStill University trains 200 people per year. Students value our curriculum with a 9.8 out of 10. For more information, please contact Veronika@iStillmail.com.
Professionalizing the Award Industry!
Today, there are so many award and medal competitions for which the craft distiller can apply, that it becomes clearer by the year that the award industry is big business. A business with a great business model. The craft distiller pays to compete … and the craft distiller gets an award.
But does the award industry, as it turns into a bigger and bigger business, empower the craft distilling industry or not? Does revenue growth equal professionalization? Unfortunately, no, it doesn’t. So let’s investigate the problems the award industry faces, and the issues this creates for the craft distilling industry.
The goal of this iStill Blog post? To help professionalize the award industry to the extend that it empowers, rather than stifles, the craft distilling industry. But first, let’s explain the business model the award industry uses.
The award industry’s business model
Craft distillers want to compete at medal competitions, because winning a medal is good for marketing and sales. To enter a medal competition, the distiller pays and sends samples. The spirit judges, that the specific competition hires or employs, try out all the entries and hand out awards. The award industry’s business model is easy to figure out: the more distillers participate at a certain competition, the more money they make.
The associated flaws
There are four major flaws with how the award industry performs:
- Competition between multiple organizers of medal competitions results in award inflation and medal fatigue
- The spirit judges side-hustle as consultants for the craft distillers that participate at the medal competitions
- The judgements are based on subjective preference instead of any objective science
- No feedback is given to the craft distiller, other than the color of his medal.
Award inflation and medal fatique
As more competitions enter the market, how do you keep on making money, as a medal competition? By handing out more medals. If everybody wins, for sure they’ll be back next year, right?
In the past, a specific spirit category had one bronze, one silver, and one gold medal. Just like in sports. But nowadays every category has multiple awards. Ten to twenty bronze medals for one and the same category? It is the rule instead of the exception. And the same holds true for silver and gold.
Does a specific competition still not have enough medals to satisfy all participants? They have two other modus operandi at their disposal, to make sure everybody wins and comes back to pay for more. First, they invent double gold, platinum, and diamond medals. Secondly, they’ll cut up categories into smaller sub-categories. If there are too many participants in the gin category, they’ll simply cut that category up in “London Dry Style Gin”, “Contemporary Gin”, “Dutch Gin”, or “Plymouth Gin”. How about “Contemporary Barrel aged West Coast Gins”. I am not kidding you, but it certainly feels like the organizers of award competitions are!
What the combination of “everybody wins” and “more medals” results in? In award inflation. Winning a gold medal used to mean something. You were the only one. You were the top pick in a category. What it means today? That you are not only sharing that gold medal with a dozen others, but that you do so knowing that there are still a dozen competitors above you, that are granted the double gold, platinum, and diamond awards. In a category that’s probably only a fifth the size it used to be!
Award inflation results in medal fatigue with consumers. As it becomes more and more difficult for a consumer to find a craft distilled spirit without a medal, what does the medal tell about the quality of the product he is about to buy? Less and less. There you have it: award competitions want to increase their customer base in order to grow their income, at the expense of the value the awards have, both for the participating distillery and the consumer.
Side-hustling judges and organizations destroy objectivity and credibility
Judges side-hustle and organizations like ADI side-hustle. Often, expo’s favor customers of sponsors, so there is a huge bias in who will win the top awards. Most judges also work as consultants for craft distillers, which – again – creates a huge bias towards the customers that work with consultants winning most of the top awards.
With objectivity out of the window, what’s the real value of award competitions? Is it to fool craft distillers out of their hard-earned money? Or do many craft distillers take part in this scam at the expense of the naivety of consumers? Whatever it is, both models are neither ethical, nor sustainable.
The scientific model for spirit judgement is not used
The judges have preferences but no formal training in the science of distillation. They have not been certified by the iStill University. They do not understand or apply Odin’s Holy Trinity of Distillation. As a result the outcomes they generate are arbitrary at best and biased – towards their own customers or sponsors – at worst (see above).
Lack of feedback
The lack of professionally trained judges results in a fourth important flaw in the way the award industry operates: lack of feedback to craft distillers. Craft distillers should learn how to improve their drinks from feedback they get by participating at award competitions. No such feedback is given, though.
The value proposition of the award industry
The value the award industry currently brings to the craft distilling industry is negative. Participating costs money. The value of the medals suffers from award inflation and medal fatigue. The medal ranking is arbitrary at best, but probably a setup or a barney. The people that call the awards have not had any scientific training, so their opinion holds little to no value. And as they do not understand how spirits are made, they cannot give you – the craft distiller – any feedback of any value.
Professionalizing the award industry
For the award industry to become a power for good in the craft distilling industry, quite a few things need to change:
- One unified model of award evaluation replaces the current medal sprawl
- Award competitions need to become either non-profit or at least open about their earnings and sponsors
- Judges are no longer allowed to consult and consultants are no longer allowed to judge
- Judges are only allowed to judge after receiving scientific certification
How we’ll help achieve that? Subscribe to the iStill Blog, stay tuned, because more information about the solutions is to be released soon!
Today We Honor Aris!
Aris has, over the last decade and more, helped out numerous distillers. He freely shares his experience and his time to help craft distillers around the world make better decisions.
To celebrate and honor his contributions, Aris has been appointed as Member of the Watchkeeper Charter – a unique fellowship of people with one unique quality in common: their actions empower the craft distilling industry.
Aris with his Charter and the iStill Watch that goes with it …
Aris wearing the iStill Watch …
The Real Reason Brewers Should Start Distilling!
There is actually really just one reason why all craft brewers should add craft distilling to their portfolio. Just one. Here it is:
- The revenue and profit on selling one bottle of spirit is 10x that of selling one bottle of beer!
Are you a craft brewer that wants to learn how easy distilling really is? Reach out to me personally via Odin@iStillmail.com, so I can help you move forward.
10x your revenue and profit with iStill …
What we wanted to achieve
The iStill Watch is a project that we have put quite some time in, over the last year and a half. As admirers of the craftsmanship, the detailing, and the precision engineering of beautiful timepieces, as well as stills, it has been our desire to design a watch that does justice to our brand and to the people that will wear one.
For whom we designed it
For whom did we design the iStill Watch? For those that positively impact our industry and help make it a more vibrant, competitive, and empowered market place. Either by helping out the industry or individual distillers directly, or by helping us make a difference.
Wearing an iStill Watch makes you a Watchkeeper. iStill’s timepiece, in other words, comes with both acknowledgement and responsibility. The acknowledgement of having made a significant contribution to the craft distilling industry. And the responsibility to keep watch over our industry: to call out and amend what’s wrong, and to help individual craft distillers – and the industry at large – move forward.
We have designed and built 25 iStill Watches. Seventeen watches have been reserved to celebrate those that have already made a difference. Eight watches are held in stock for future jubilees.
Movement: Swiss Automatic, 26 jewels, pearlage decorated, Glucydur balance wheel, Cotes de Geneve finished rotor
Movement (continuation): Nivaflex mainspring, Incabloc shock protection
Calibre: 28,800vph, 4Hz, smooth sweep
Power reserve: 44 hours
Waterproof: 10 ATM, 100 meters or 330 feet, double O-ring sealing
Accuracy: 0 to +5 seconds/day
Case: 41 mm, 316L Stainless Steel
Dial: Black, with illuminated silver dots
Bezel: 316L Stainless Steel, polished
Hands: Silver, illuminated
Caseback: 316L Stainless Steel screw-cap, with sapphire glass window
Crown: Wide model
Bracelet: 22 mm, Stainless Steel, 3-link, mat/shine combo, black PVD coat
Buckle: Concealed double butterfly folding clasp
Individual watch test report: strength & pressure testing passed (well above and beyond specifications)
The iStill Watch …
Happy 2023: The Golden Age of iStillers Starts!
On behalf of the iStill Team, I wish you a Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true. In good health. Achieve your personal and business goals, as well as your good intentions.
Here’s my take on the state of our industry. What challenges face us? How do we translate threats into opportunities? Why do I expect the Golden Age to start and what will iStill’s role be? Let us dive in deeper, as 2023 might well become a truly amazing year …
Inflation is high, so consumers have less money to spend. Interest rates are high, making investments in new business opportunities more costly. Energy and grain prices are up significantly, impacting production costs and profit potential.
The distilling industry, craft as well as Big Alcohol, is affected particularly hard by the above challenges. Lower demand plus higher investment costs plus rising production costs do not sound like a Golden Age is eminent. But it is. At least for iStillers.
Understanding the difference between commodity, luxury, and premium products
To make opportunities out of challenges, it is important to understand the difference between commodities, luxury items, and premium products. Commodities are goods needed for a basic level of existence or survival. Bread, meat, electricity, gas, vegetables, and housing are all examples of commodities. Commodity goods are relatively price-inelastic. We need them, so we’ll continue buying them with the money we have left, even at higher prices.
Luxury goods are products or services we want but don’t really need. They make life nicer, but they are not essential to our survival. In a downward economy, where people have less money to spend, most will spend more money on the now higher priced commodities at the expense of luxury goods. Luxury is about faith and, as the overall sentiment in the market is becoming more negative, trust in the state of the economy negatively affects luxury goods disproportionately. Put differently, luxury goods are very price-elastic. With less money around, much less luxuries will be sold.
Premium goods offer better quality, or materials, or services, or a combination thereof. Premium products are called “premium”, because people want to pay a premium price for those higher-quality products. Especially in times of economic contraction, premium products flourish, because if someone can spend their money only once, well, then it better counts. Premium goods make life easier – and that’s appreciated at times when life is becoming harder. In economic terms, premium goods have a reverse price-elasticity: the more expensive money becomes, the more the focus will be on purchasing “premiums” at the expense of “luxuries”.
Effects on Big Alcohol
Big alcohol produces bulk spirits at low prices. Their products are as close to a commodity as alcohol can come. I therefore expect Big Alcohol to be relatively okay. There are challenges, yes, but the economies of scale and associated low production costs make their spirits the “go-to” place for everyone that needs a drink.
Traditional craft distillers
Traditional craft distillers produce small-batches of expensive spirits. The quality struggles to reach the level of Big Alcohol, while the production and marketing costs are about double. Traditional craft distilled spirits are luxury goods. The goodwill factor of the consumer is what drives most of their sales (“this is locally made, so let’s give it a try”). With faith in the economy taking a down-turn, the traditional craft distillers will face hard times in 2023 and beyond. I expect a substantial amount of them to be pruned away.
iStillers have the ability to produce high-quality, premium spirits, at a lower cost price than traditional craft distillers. Premium always sells, since people – with money being more expensive – want quality products and services rather than mere luxuries. I therefore expect iStillers, that focus on delivering premium products to customers, to do well. Especially as there will be less competition from traditional craft distillers, which opens up marketshare, and because iStillers can establish a bigger value-gap to the spirits made by Big Alcohol than traditional craft distillers can, allowing for a higher selling price per bottle.
More than any other supplier to the industry iStill has been able to deliver premium products, materials, and services to the market. We are the only one to sell automated equipment, that is able to produce high-quality spirits reliably and repeatably. Our mashers, fermenters, and stills come with 10 year warranty. We don’t just sell a product, but also educate our customers and help them develop award winning spirits. Where the Corona Crisis grew our market share from 15 to 35% globally in just two years, the oncoming recession will only see more distillers choose for iStill. You simply cannot beat our numbers: 70% lower costs on energy and staffing, and 100x more control over flavor consistency and quality. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see iStill become the new norm in distillation technology in the coming few years, replacing most of the copper pot and plated still technology that is currently being purchased by 60 to 65% of the starting distillers.
Towards a Golden Age
The challenges, that the industry faces, provide us with this simple yet massive opportunity: as the luxury products of traditional craft distillers get pruned away and Big Alcohol spirits are mostly considered commodities, we can finally create a craft distilling industry that delivers on premium spirits. If you have an iStill and a focus on bringing premium products, services, and experiences to your customers, you – as an iStiller – can grow your marketshare, your turnover, and your profits. Not in face of the recession, but because of the recession. Why? As mentioned before: premium goods sell at a premium, especially in times when there is less money to spend and people want to spend it wiser and better.
Our support to your success
Of course, in 2023 we’ll keep on innovating on our disruptive distilling technology. We have some amazing developments coming up. Even more good news: our prices will remain the same for this year. Also, we are dedicated to further broaden the services we offer via the iStill University, iStill Laboratory, and our Recipe Development Department.
We’ll keep on fighting the fear, uncertainty and doubt which is spread by the so-called “consultants”, that restrain our industry. We’ll keep on calling out the BS propagated by too many self-proclaimed “industry experts”, that look to make a living at your expense via the spread of non-sensical information. We no longer support the tradeshows they organize to promote their services.
The new year of 2023 will also see us break the monopoly on information, which the “consultants” and “experts” and their tradeshows have put in place. How? Via more research in the iStill Laboratory. Via more posts on the iStill Blog. And via the release of more videos on iStill TV.
Any other good intentions, Odin? Anything else iStill wants to disrupt in the new year? Yes, on an industry level, I expect us to disrupt both the old boys network, mentioned above, and the award industry. Here’s how and why:
We’ll introduce a charter of industry watchkeepers; people who make our industry a more vibrant and empowered market place. Being appointed a Watchkeeper is both an acknowledgement of your positive impact in the past, and a responsibility to help distillers in the future. To call out what’s wrong and help amend it. The Watchkeepers Charter aims to develop practical peer-to-peer consultancy and expertise. An alternative to the current industry-wide infestation of self-serving consultancy, provided by clowns that never produced a drop in their lives.
Secondly, we are working on a scientific measurement and scale for award recognition. The current medal competitions are profit centers. Arbitrariness at best, and money spend on the “right” consultant at worst, decide on who wins medals. Medals you pay for! We find that unacceptable, both ethically and from a professionalization perspective. Awards should be given based on objective criteria. Awards should be accompanied by feedback that helps the craft distiller improve his spirits. The alternative we are working on aims to address both issues.
In summary? In summary I feel confident that we can wish you an amazing new year. You are iStillers. You are the future of our industry. And we are here to help make distilling easier. For 2023 and beyond!
At your service,
Dr. H.E.J. (Odin) van Eijk, MScBA, etc.
Founder, owner, and CEO of iStill – Distilling made easy