Manifesto: We Want a Vibrant, Fun, and Competitive Industry!

Do you want to see how deep the rabbit hole really goes? Do you want to learn what disempowers the craft distilling industry to the extend that – combined – we only take 0.5% market share away from Big Alcohol? Instead of the 8% market share that craft brewers took away from Big Beer?

Odin does a deep dive on what holds our industry back, what is a good example to aspire to, and what is needed for the craft distilling industry to become as successful as the craft brewers already are. This manifesto is about the handcuffs that prevent us from 10x-ing our industry’s commercial potential. And it shows a way forward, where we free ourselves from them. Video underneath and the manifesto’s text under that.


Loyal followers of the iStill Blog surely have noticed my growing frustration with the environment in which new craft distillers have to operate. The craft distilling industry is mostly a domain that stifles innovation and hugely disempowers the businesses operating within it. It is time to change that toxic environment into one that empowers and inspires. It is time to flush out toxicity in order to empower business opportunity.

This manifesto supports to achieve that. To that end, this manifesto provides a positive example of what to aspire to, it analyses what currently holds the craft distilling industry back, and it lines out how a change for the better can be achieved. It is how I see the ultimate future of our industry. And you are invited to come along for the ride.

An example to aspire to

Comparing the craft distilling industry to the craft beer industry, as I have done in the past, helped me theorize that this lack of innovation and empowerment is the result of the high entry barriers to the distilling industry. Distilling equipment is more expensive and less sophisticated than brewing equipment and information is monopolized and monetized by a distilling industry-specific class of self-appointed “consultants”.

The craft beer scene is a much better place to be at. It is more competitive, takes the battle to Big Beer, and it is actually fun to be a craft brewer. If we want to follow their example and create an industry as vibrant as theirs, what do we need to do? First, let’s analyse what makes our industries different. Secondly, let us execute change to bridge those differences.

What craft distilling does different

Where craft brewers base their profession on huge amounts of hobby, amateur, and professional brewers that freely share what they learn (and that freely learn from what others share), the craft distillers are not so lucky. You need a “consultant” in order to be able to develop a recipe. And that “consultant”, willingly and “unbiased” (more on that later), gives his or her opinion on what you need.

The craft brewing industry heavily relies on science. Beer making isn’t about romance, but about the facts. Get the facts right and you get the beer right. Brewers discuss those facts intensely on open forums. And as most of them understand the fundamentals to brewing, they are all able to judge other craft beers. Not in terms of “I like it or not”, but in terms of what procedures are applied, if the taste profile is correct for the beer style at hand, and what could be done different to further improve that recipe.

The craft distilling industry enjoys no such advantages. “Consultants” convince you it is all about the romance, preferably with their “magic” replacing the facts. Listen to the consultant and all will be fine. But those “consultants” usually are neither distillers nor scientists. They have preferences but not facts. They like some spirits better than others but cannot explain why. They are opinionated, but not objective. You can hire them to win medals, because they are the medal judges, not because they have any scientific facts or proven methods to improve your drinks.

In the craft brewing industry the brewers and/or beer drinkers rate the beers. How’s that for democracy? In our industry, it’s the judges that hand out the medals. The judges that also work as the “consultants” and that you have to hire … if you want to win medals.

The reason the craft brewing industry hardly has any consultants, is because of the free flow of information and the high quality of that information. The lack of high quality and free flowing information in our industry is the reason why – for too large a part – the narrative is controlled by “consultants”.

How do they manage to obtain a position of such great influence in our industry? And why do they defend that position so vigorously? Let’s explore that a little bit.

First, distillers themselves come to the industry less prepared than brewers do. They have less experience and – because most of them haven’t been trained on the scientific facts – are unable to objectively test and rate other spirits. That lack of knowledge and experience has quickly been filled by spirit judges and other self-appointed industry “experts”. But these judges and “experts” were only better than you at one thing: at selling their services. Not at making great product themselves, because if they would have made great product, we’d know them as the craft distillers we look up to, instead of the medal movers that they actually are.

Secondly, why do those “consultants” not embrace the ever growing community, the associated free flow of information, and the scientific studies and models we have provided? The answer is pretty evident: the information monopoly they acquired serves them well.

The information monopoly

Marginalizing other available information keeps their monopoly in place. And it is this monopoly that makes the “consultants” a lot of money. “Don’t listen to the amateurs, listen to the professionals!” And by “professionals” they mean themselves, the consultants, not the producers and certainly not the scientists. It is not just the consultants. Traditional still manufacturers also benefit. As long as they hire the “consultants” to consult with their customers, these customers stand to win awards, even with mediocre product at best. And then there is a third group that benefits and strengthens the information monopoly even further: conventions and expo’s like ADI and the London Craft Distilling Expo.

Together they form an Unholy Trinity. The consultants facilitate the expo’s by providing topics visitors think they need to learn about at those expo’s. The expo’s, in return, facilitate the consultants by offering them a place to sell their services. The traditional manufacturers facilitate the consultants by providing them with customers that need a lot of help and training on their retarded stills. The consultants, in return, advise new distillers to choose for those traditional still builders that provide them with the most customers. Copper still manufacturers facilitate expo’s by sponsoring them. Expo’s, and the “consultants” that organize them, in return, facilitate those manufacturers with preferential treatment in exposure and awards.

Consultants, expo’s, and the traditional still manufacturers all cooperate to keep the information monopoly in place. Because, with this monopoly in place, you as a (starting) craft distiller have no other choice but to work with them and through them, if you want to gain access to the information you need (or think you need). This practice puts a neck choke around the industry. It is what stifles innovation and what disempowers the craft distilling industry. It is what prevents our industry from developing into the vibrant and innovative market place it should and could be.

iStill’s efforts to change the industry

But is it that bad, really? Is that all there is to it? Well, it is all there was, until I started iStill. With iStill hitting the market, about a decade ago, things started to change. We brought advanced distilling technologies and scientific knowledge to the industry.

I remember how amazing it felt to bring a suite of innovations to the craft distilling industry. Our goal was (and is) to make distilling easier. Technological innovations where followed with an amazing educational facility, the iStill University. And after education was properly set-up, we created an outstanding recipe development department. Everything was aimed at empowering the craft distilling industry via a broad set of innovations. The applaus we got from “consultants”, expo’s, the competing still manufacturers? Silence, disdain, and maltreatment.

In any healthy industry, topics like innovation, education, and higher quality products would have been welcomed and would have flourished, as they would have propelled that industry forward. In the craft distilling industry that has not been the case. We have been met with suspicion. We have been maltreated. We have been threatened. Mind you, not by you, not by the craft distillers. Our customers are the most loyal and successful bunch one could wish for. Nope, you can guess it: we have been met with suspicion, maltreated, and even threatened by the unholy trinity of expo’s, consultants, and the traditional still suppliers.

For over a decade my team and I have tried to change things. And, for a part, we have been successful. I mean, with over 1,100 customers that do not need expo’s, that do not need consultants, and that do not need outdated and overpriced stills, we have created our own environment. An environment where the participating craft distillers cooperate, innovate, and flourish.

But the environment we created, well, it doesn’t serve all. The old boys network of consultants, expo’s, and traditional still manufacturers, this Unholy Trinity that we discussed earlier, is still very much alive and causing harm on an industry level.

The resistance we faced and the results we achieved

For over a decade I have tried to change this, inside-out. About two years ago, I started to realize that this strategy wasn’t working perfectly, simply because the model I proposed was a direct threat to the existing consultants, their expo’s, and their associated traditional still manufacturers. I mean, imagine: whenever we educate a new distiller at the iStill University, he is forever lost for the consultants. This distiller now knows more about distillation science than them. Does he need more information? He is part of a network of professionals – makers, not fakers – that support him.

Or another example: whenever we sell an iStill, well, that’s a still not sold by the traditional copper boys. Also, since the iStill comes with education, is intuitive, and has automated controls, there is no need for a consultant anymore.

Another example: whenever we teach a new distiller how he can develop his own recipes, he does no longer need any of the self-appointed “consultants”. Also, since he learned how to make the recipe in an iStill, the chances of the copper boys selling him a piece of overpriced antiques is now drastically limited.

With every still we sell, with every student we educate, and with each and every recipe we help develop, we eat away at the money the unholy trinity can make. We, our customers and us, are the antidote to Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. We are the antidote to consultants, their expo’s, and their outdated still suppliers, that try to keep the industry imprisoned in the Dark Ages.

With over a 1,100 students educated, we took potentially over a thousand projects away from the “consultants”. With over a 1,100 stills sold in a decade, that’s over a thousand less traditional stills on the market. Prices of a traditional 500 liter set-up have tanked over the last decade: from 250k to 120k. Let that serve as proof of our success in changing the industry. And as a cause why so many hate us (especially the ones that sell rusty machinery at half the price now).

Yeah, great results, yet 60 to 65% of new still sales are of the traditional type. And still half of the new entries to our industry hire a “consultant”. As stated above, things have moved and even progressed, with our inside-out strategy. But not enough. The consultants, the traditional still manufacturers, and their expo’s are still main stream. Let’s change that. Let’s change that right now. Let’s move towards an outside-in strategy, in order to change the industry. Let’s tear down those walls they put up!

Why more change is needed

If we cannot change the industry enough from the inside-out, let’s change it from the outside-in. Something has got to give, if our industry wants to become a real competitor to Big Alcohol. We need to remove the information monopoly and those that keep it in place – those that use the status-quo to suck you dry of your money and of a successful future.

If you still feel this isn’t needed, if you still think our industry is in good shape, please allow me to propose the following thought-experiment to you, via a few questions:

  • In which industry is it main stream to work with 150 year old technology?
  • In this day and age, which industry ignores a technology that saves over 70% on energy expenditure?
  • What industry does not wish to save on staffing?
  • What industry believes variability of outcome of goods produced is good?
  • What industry outsources product development to people who have never manufactured any product?

As 60 to 65% of new craft distillers is being convinced, by the so-called “consultants”, that they need to work with distillation technology from the 19th century, the answer to the first question must be “the craft distilling industry”. And it is. Do you know any other industry that has resisted new technology so much? Imagine us baking bread in wood-fired ovens, doing transport with horse and carriage, or manage our administrative affairs with sharpened feathers, ink, and paper, instead of software.

The environment is an issue. Energy costs are an issue. Read the news. Now, try to imagine an industry where the environment and energy costs are not an issue. You won’t come up with one. Even Formula One has an agenda that helps reach environmental goals and tries to make the sport energy neutral. Craft distilling? Oh no! For God’s sake, let’s convince new entries that they need to choose for a sloppy, outdated, and energy consuming technology. How many consultants have you seen supporting our alternative technology that saves 70 to 75% of energy? None? Only in the craft distilling industry …

In a time where it becomes more difficult by the day to find qualified staff, why not automate? Well, not in the craft distilling industry. Let’s start our business with a hiring spree. Let’s put the owner behind the still instead of behind sales. Only in the craft distilling industry. It’s like Henry Ford the Second looking at his father’s achievement and say: “Nah, we don’t need efficient production lines, let’s get rid of ‘m. We’ll go back to the way it was with coach building: one at a time!”

Whoa! Wait! Is there a new technology that saves 1 to 1.5 FTE on staffing per distilling machine? Again, only in the craft distilling industry do new entries get convinced by people who haven’t produced a drop in their lives that they should look the other way.

Variability of outcome in spirits production … I have heard craft distillers, with outdated stills, say that it is inevitable and a sign of how much their craft is, well, a craft. It isn’t! Craft beer brewers can actually replicate their recipes! Among brewers, recipe reproduction is a sign of quality, and rightfully so. But not in the craft distilling industry. At least not among those that listen to the old boys network of consultants, expo’s, and copper still manufacturers. “Good riddance!”, they must have thought, “As our consultancy and outdated technology cannot reproduce outcomes reliably … lets convince new craft distillers that variability of outcome is … something good! Something … something … wait, I have got it … “craft” instead of crap!”

To understand the idiocy of this claim, now please look at your new car’s pannel gaps. If they are too big and/or inconsistent, do you really go back to the dealer and thank him for providing such a well-crafted car? Right, I didn’t think so either. Crap is crap, but somehow not according to the “leaders” in our industry.

Another example. Take your best friend to that craft brewery, where you enjoyed that amazing imperial stout. Order two. One for him and one for you. And if you don’t recognize it, if you don’t like it this time, please congratulate the brewer on his success. The variability in outcome must mean it is “craft” instead of “crap”, right? He must be a master brewer instead of a messy brewer. If we are to believe the distilling consultant lingo, this brewer must be a true craft brewer instead of a crappy one. Again, really!?!

“Success is not handed, it is gained. Those that aren’t makers, are probably fakers!” Wise words from a fellow craft distiller. If you want to learn how to make the best wedding cakes, you need to teach yourself how to bake wedding cakes. Yes, you could hire an expert. Yes, you could follow classes. But with whom? With an established wedding cake baker? Or with a “consultant” that never ever baked an actual cake, but – rumor has it – has part of a secret recipe, an amazing recipe, that is written down somewhere and might just be hidden in one of his pockets? For sure you will hire the baker. For sure you will enlist for a course with an actual wedding cake baker, to learn from the man or woman that already does it. To be trained by someone who is already successfully producing and selling cakes, instead of being fooled by an idiot with an idea of how to make himself money, but without any practical experience to add to yours…

But not in our industry. In the craft distilling industry we are all fooled (well, 65% of us) into believing there is a a magic brotherhood of “spirits whisperers”, just waiting to help you out. Here’s an eye opener: if they never had a successful distillery, they aren’t makers and probably fakers. Leeches that are after your money. The only growth they support is on their bank account, at the expense of yours.

Now, imagine iStill trying to change that from the inside-out, like we have been doing. Why were we only partially successful? Remember how I described how “consultants”, expo’s, and traditional manufacturers all facilitate each other? See us operate in that field and it is easy to conclude why we never fully could (yet) achieve our goals:

  • We don’t facilitate “consultants” with customers, so they don’t advise new distillers to purchase our stills;
  • We are not allowed to facilitate expo’s with our knowledge, because that hurts the self-promoting of the “consultants”;
  • We are outside and “unfair” competition for the copper still manufacturers, because we tank ALL of their business models;
  • We actively fight the information monopoly, of which the Unholy Trinity feeds, via this Blog and the iStill University.

A manifesto to permanently change our industry for the better

Do you start to see, like us, that we cannot win this fight from the inside-out? We need to step outside of the existing structures (something we have been doing and preparing for some time already) and create a new one. If it is better, this new industry structure, that we want to promote, will win. But it needs to be outside of the existing model, as monopolies are not changed from within.

Outside-in, how does that look like? How do we create a thriving environment for the craft distilling industry? What is needed to provide the craft distilling industry with an alternative universe? An environment where innovation serves to empower you and the community of fellow distillers that you are a part of?

Difficult questions? Not really, actually. The current model, the one we have been trying to change from the inside-out, offers all the answers. If our industry can be stifled by a monopoly of information, which is held in place by self-proclaimed “consultants”, their expo’s, and the manufacturers of outdated equipment, that should have gone out of business long ago, don’t we simply need the exact opposite? It is the exact mirror of the current situation, that is needed to create the alternative environment, that I strongly feel our industry deserves:

  • New technology that’s more affordable, more efficient, less hands-on, and produces better quality spirits in a reproducible manner;
  • A new type of consultancy that’s provided by peers, by the colleagues that you look up to, by makers instead of fakers;
  • Symposiums by craft distillers for craft distillers;
  • Free access to all information, experimental and scientific, so that craft distillers, in stead of “consultants”, call the shots.

New technology? Check! iStill is here and it ticks all the boxes. There you have it: the first condition for creating a vibrant, innovative, and successful future for craft distillers is already in place. Now that’s a relief! Onwards to the next condition …

The iStill University Facebook group has – over the last few years – experimented with peer-to-peer consultancy. Not a paid service, mind you! Distillers helping each other out under the condition that those that help can expect help themselves, when they ask for it. Does it work? Like a charm. It can serve as a blueprint for how our entire industry could collaborate and make the current “consultants” and their semi-magical services redundant. A network that helps boost our quality to the extend that we really can take the battle to Big Alcohol. Just like craft brewers have brought the battle to Big Beer over two decades ago.

We don’t need expo’s that serve “consultants”. What the industry needs are symposiums by distillers for distillers. The symposiums should address the future of the industry and should provide practical information, that makes entering the industry easier. A brighter future combined with lower entry barriers. The symposium shouldn’t have sponsors, it shouldn’t be for profit, it shouldn’t have exhibitors, and it definitely does not need “consultants”.

Most importantly, it is the current monopoly on information that needs to be addressed. Let’s open up all the information, so that the biggest entry barrier to our industry is brought down. Let us create that level playing field, where distillers can be in charge of their futures, because they have access to all the information they need. Instead of them being dependent on those consultants that only look after themselves and that take advantage of, and prey on, your insecurities.

Decisions by the iStill Management Team

To help realize the alternative environment, that a successful and vibrant craft distilling industry so desperately needs, the iStill Management Team has decided to:

  1. Make all factual distilling information available, online and free, to help end the current monopoly on information;
  2. Allow all distillers, that assimilate this information, access to our peer-to-peer network, to further empower the industry;
  3. Help organize the first “Future of Craft” Symposium, for distillers by distillers, in Q3 or Q4 2023.

We expect that, with our science-based knowledge freely available, nobody needs a “consultant” anymore. We believe that if you still feel you need answers and support, it is best given by your colleagues, as they have already walked the path in front of you. We think that a “Future of Craft” Symposium benefits the individual craft distiller and the industry as a whole, as long as craft distillers (both visitors and contributors) call the shots.

Yes ..

Perfect Storm equals Perfect Opportunity!


A perfect storm is a situation where multiple unfavorable circumstances converge. Imagine big waves, hard winds, a cold front, and the darkness of night all conversing on that one ship, in the middle of the ocean. The craft distilling industry is facing its own perfect storm. But with perfect storm comes perfect opportunity. Let’s investigate what is going on!

Unfavorable circumstances

Energy and grain prices are at all-time highs. This puts a strain on craft distillers’ input costs. In plain English: the costs of goods produced rise significantly. In even plainer English: it costs more to produce a bottle of spirit at the expense of profit.

Labor is hard to get by. This results in rising staffing costs, that – again – make the costs of goods produced rise significantly. Or, if the owner is both the sales person and the distiller, it results in less attention and focus on sales and marketing, hurting revenue streams.

Inflation, interest rates, and uncertainty are on the rise. This makes it harder to come up with a business plan that shows a profit. New entries to the market may postpone their plans, existing distillers may decide to hold-off on further investments.

Components are in short supply. This makes setting up a distillery take longer, because the parts and tools you need might take longer to acquire. With shortages come higher prices. More people fighting over the same limited resource? That results in this resource becoming more expensive.

Favorable perspective

Consumers are looking for adventure, for a story rather than a one-liner. And local beats global each and every time. The trend of localization – as a counter-weight to seven decades of globalization – is here to stay.

So there you have it: looking at our industry, there is both an amazing perspective as well as four major threats. What do we need to do, to turn that perspective into the prefect opportunity? Here’s what we need to do: we need to simply take counter-measures for the threats of input costs, labor shortages, uncertainty, and component shortages. Each and every threat needs to be dealt with.

Curiously enough, that is exactly what we have been doing at iStill. Curiously enough, iStill has been preparing the exact counter-measures you need in order to turn this perfect storm into a perfect opportunity.

Creating a perfect opportunity

iStill unfortunately cannot help with lower grain prices, but we do offer a solution for the energy part of the peaking input costs. iStills use 70 to 75% less energy. The savings you make on energy will offset the rising energy costs and most of the higher substrate costs as well.

iStills are designed to take care of the repetitive tasks associated with distilling. As a result, they help save 1,0 to 1,5 FTE on the work floor. Investing in an iStill basically makes your additional staffing costs, as far as production is concerned, go to zero.

Starting a distillery comes with many uncertainties. Spirit quality and equipment longevity can be added to the list discussed above. Can I make great enough spirits, drinks that make a difference, have an impact? Does my production equipment support the products I want to make? iStills are the most versatile machines on the market. One unit can make any spirit. Our controls ensure the highest spirit quality. Longevity? How about our 10 year warranty!

Do you want to hit the market sooner rather than later, tapping into the huge commercial potential offered by local drinks production? A less component-dense still at a more affordable price-point supports this move. The all-new iStill “Essential”-series is designed to achieve just that: lower priced units that can be delivered quickly, yet still take the guessing out of distilling.

Prediction and conclusion

The only craft distillers that can turn today’s perfect storm into a perfect opportunity are the ones choosing for our amazing technology. Sorry for the copper fetishists, sorry for the romantics and nostalgics, but 1870’s technology no longer cuts it. Not in the 21st Century.

Outsail the storm with iStill …

Buyer Beware on Julia Nourney!


I have known Julia for quite some years now. She is a self-proclaimed spirits consultant from Germany, that – quite frankly – never impressed me. Not in the meetings I had with her. Not in the forums we sat on together. Sure, her consultancy was unimpressive, but that’s not the reason I put a Buyer Beware out on her.

The reasons I do? In the last few months multiple customers have told me that Julia badmouths iStill. And I have just been informed that she was arrested upon trying to enter the USA.

It is a sad story, that does cry “karma”. It is more consultancy-induced shit that hits the fan and that needs to be exposed to the wider industry. Why? Because there are huge legal and financial liabilities for those that hired her services or are in the process of doing so.

Badmouthing iStill

Multiple customers have informed me that Julia talks bad about iStill. Now, she is a consultant, so maybe she has bad experiences with iStills? No, she hasn’t. In fact, she (unsuccessfully) applied to work for us a few years ago, wanting to learn more about the iStills, and becoming a consultant for our customers.

If one hires a consultant, one should be able to trust him or her. The advise the consultant gives should be trustworthy. How come Julia speaks negatively about iStill, even though she hasn’t worked with us, and hasn’t had any training or experience with our machines? Because she works for Mueller.

From personal experience, talking to two iStill customers that hired Julia for recipe development, I can corroborate this. The customers reached out to me, afterwards, and told me that Julia really wanted them to buy a Mueller. Mind you: not a traditional copper still, but specifically a Mueller. And when the customer didn’t, because they were invested in iStill, she’d talk negatively about us.

The reason why you shouldn’t hire Julia is not because I find her consultancy unimpressive. You shouldn’t hire her because she performs the worst kind of hypocrisy. She pretends to be objective and on your payroll so on your side, but in fact she is in close cooperation with a specific still manufacturer. You pay her, but you are not the only one. Julia has it both ways and hasn’t been honest about it. You cannot have it both ways, something has to give. And something just did. Dishonesty just caught up with her.

Being arrested

Today I learned that Julia got arrested, when she tried to enter the USA, just over a week ago. Why? Because of undeclared income and for not having a work permit. She apparently has been entering the USA on a tourist visa for many years now, while working for her American customers and earning money illegally. That’s fraud. In fact, it is a crime, as one is not allowed to work in the USA without a work permit.

But there is more. Not only wasn’t she not allowed to work in the USA, she also hasn’t paid taxes on the money she earned. Now that’s an offense everywhere. She conducted business, as we have been informed, without having an actual business. No company means she didn’t have to pay company taxes. Until she got caught.

Two crimes, there you have it, that resulted in her being detained for a day. And after that, she had her visa revoked, and was returned to Germany. She is no longer welcome to the USA. She is now an undesirable alien, as I have been told.


Julia’s consultancy comes with risks. She is not just on your payroll, so not really on your side. She is not objective. She is not open about her affiliations. She performed consultancy in an illegal manner, as I understand it, in more countries than just the USA. Our initial research adds the UK, Canada, Australia, and India to the mix. We fear she also illegally worked on the Faroe Islands. And all of those countries, as well as her home country, still have a tax claim on her.

Her fraudulent behavior may have grave consequences for the distilleries she consulted with. Distilleries that host illegal workers face huge fines. Simply put: each and every distillery, that employed her services, is at risk. And every distillery that ever worked with her and deducted her costs on the company accounts, owes their government additional taxes, because her costs aren’t tax deductible.

Julia is not a consultant to your company. She is a liability to your company and to the industry at large. To everyone that worked with her: please consider taking legal council. You want to play this pro-actively, not defensively. Especially, now that you have been informed about what I have learned.

Redemption, Julia?

Everybody deserves a second chance. What is needed for me to withdraw this Buyer Beware on you, Julia Nourney? What do you need to do for redemption? For your second chance, if you feel you deserve one? Not sure it is just up to me to establish that. I mean, we got dealt the rotten end of your wrath on multiple occasions, but I am much more worried about the legal and financial damages that you caused to craft distillers by working for them illegally and without paying proper taxes on what you earned. Here is what I think is needed, but others may chime in later with additional demands.

The first thing that is needed, Julia, is an understanding of your affiliations. How did that work? We all need to know how and how much you benefited, as it is a measure of how much you cheated on the distilleries that actually thought they hired your services to the fullest extend.

Secondly, a list is needed of all the distilleries that you worked for illegally. That way, these distilleries can prepare their legal defenses.

Thirdly, please give an update on how you expect to deal with the outstanding tax bills. If the governments that you still owe money to are satisfied by how you handled your financial obligations to them, there is less risk of your customers having to face the bill.

Fourth, you need to personally apologize to each and everyone of those distilleries, where you take full responsibility for your actions, to alleviate the legal and financial consequences your customers face.

The fifth thing that is needed is a list of all the distillers where you badmouthed us, so that we can establish damages, execute repairs, and prepare our own legal case against you.

Sixth, a personal apology to iStill and to our customers, for the badmouthing that you did. An acceptance of damages inflicted is the least we expect, to our customers and to us.

Finally, a written declaration by you, where you define your future work ethics to be:

  • Open and free of any affiliations
  • Fully in the service of those that acquired your services
  • Objectively and professionally
  • With a quantified yearly measure of education followed by you to further hone your consultancy skills

Guerrilla Solution to High Energy Prices!

Here’s Jon. In true British style he found a way to deal with the high energy prices Europe is currently facing. What he does? He has an iStillery and re-uses the energy from his cooling water to heat-up his bar and restaurant (120 seats).

Please meet Jon …

And his warm bar and restaurant …


“Really really proud of myself today. They said it can’t be done or not worth doing. Today my prototype is blowing hot air in the restaurant all from waste energy from our bigger still “Becket”. Whilst distilling #Canterbury #Gin . I reckon it will run two more 1/2 meter fans.”


“Jon, can you explain what you did here?”


“Still a work in progress but basically connected the hot water out hose from the condenser and attached to a large coil fan heater. So warm water goes in the coil and the fan blows the heat into restaurant. I ran the top temp probe at about 35C . Because we start distilling at 7 and the restaurant opens at 12, we are nice and warm. The coil heater take 120C so looking at pumping the waste wash through as well. Using brewery hoses and pump.”

Craft Distillers React to “Odin Deflates”!


A few weeks ago, I wrote an analysis about what’s wrong in our industry and how the London Craft Distilling Expo is dying. Since then, I have received over a dozen emails, letters, and messages, from distillers around the world, congratulating me with the analysis, and applauding my iStill Blog post on this matter. Many distillers, as it turns out, have been harmed by the very consultants I speak about.

Thank you all for your feedback and support! It is important for me to know I am not fighting the fight alone, and that the efforts we make and the industry directions that we support, are sincerely appreciated by those who should be at the center: the craft distillers.

Underneath, I have collected three examples that sorta summarize the overall nature of the messages you have been sending me. I think it is important to share, as it will create more awareness for the shenanigans that our industry is plagued by.

Oh, and here’s the original article:

Feedback 1

Excellent analysis and thank you for swimming against the current! Today’s craft distilling industry is not the same as 14 years ago when I started out. Our industry today consists of makers and fakers, so if someone has not put in the time, motivation, money, and energy to become a maker, chances are that they are faking it. Success is not handed – it is gained.


Feedback 2

Hi Odin,

I read with the utmost understanding your recent “Odin Deflates” blog. There wasn’t a single paragraph where I said to myself “I don’t Agree with that”.

An absolutely brilliant, truthful summary of what I have been saying for too long and the only time I ever learnt anything useful was at iStill and from your exceptional team. For example, I paid consultants for label designs and they were crap, rehash of other work that they had done for previous gullible clients. Eventually, I designed my own out of frustration.

The one area where we have struggled is with the financing of growth and we realise that we should have borrowed first off to buy iStill. But life shouldn’t be about regrets should it, but a series of learned events.

All the best

Kindest regards,


Feedback 3

Hi Odin, you are running an innovative company, with an own environment. An iStill environment. In the end things will probably end like this. First, they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they hate you and fight you. And then you win.

The period of ignorance is clearly over. Others have to move now, but innovation is an iStill monopoly at this period of time. So keep going!

Regards, Derek.

Since most consultants aim to thrive on you, your business does not thrive on consultants …

iStill Laboratory!


We are starting a new service. We are starting the iStill Laboratory! The goal? To further empower the craft distilling industry. How and why? Let’s dive in deeper!

What’s craft distilling’s main USP?

Well, that’s easy. It is quality. Spirits quality. As craft distillers offer a story, an adventure to the consumer, it has to be a better story and a better adventure than Big Alcohol can serve. And that story or adventure always starts with the quality of the spirit served and the pride of the craft distiller that talks about his products.

Price? Not an issue. I mean, yes, it is a big issue, but it is out of the craft distiller’s control for a big part. In the competition with store bought products from Big Alcohol, craft distillers can never compete on price levels. Not even when using iStills. Big Alcohol simply has too much economy of scale behind its business model.

That’s why craft distillers need to focus on quality. If your products are going to be costlier to make than those of Big Alcohol, the only way to carve out a niche for yourself is via quality.

What is quality?

A difficult, yet not impossible question to answer. Those that studied at the iStill University might find it easier to answer than others, because of the models we teach. So, for craft distillers not yet versed in Odin’s Holy Trinity of Distillation, here’s the gist: a high-quality spirit matches the taste profile of the category it belongs to, while maximizing associated flavor and minimizing toxicity.

Example 1

An example? A whisky is a three-dimensional drink. It needs to hit the front, center, and back of mouth and tongue and throat and the flavor needs to last well over 20 seconds. A whisky where the front has gone (usually through oxidation while in the barrel) has lost a dimension and is no longer a three-dimensional drink, so not a high-quality spirit anymore. And if we compare two whiskies that are both three-dimensional, the one with more flavor offers the better and longer experience, as long as we off-set it with toxicity. If the flavors are “off” or bad, they don’t count. At least not in a positive manner.

A three-dimensional whisky is made according to its category, where a two-dimensional one isn’t. A whisky with a higher ester (taste molecule) count is a better whisky than one with a lower ester count, as long as we deduct for potential impurities and toxins. Impurities and toxins can add flavor, but these are both bad and unhealthy, and not markers of a high-quality spirit.

Example 2

Another example to help clarify quality. Let’s compare two gins. Gins are two- to two-and-a-half-dimensional drinks. The ones with a front and a middle are great for G&T’s. The tonic will provide the back-end flavor. The gins that also have a bit of back-end from themselves, a taste count of 10 to maybe 12 seconds, are great sippers. To be enjoyed by themselves. Or to be mixed with more carefully selected small-batch tonics that “sit” where the gin still leaves a flavor gap.

A two-dimensional gin that has only a middle and an end is not a good gin. In fact, it is normally hardly identifiable as a gin. It is not a high-quality spirit. A gin with a front and middle is good, where a gin with a front, a middle, and a bit of back-end is high-quality indeed.

But there is more. How about flavor intensity? How many esters are there, when we compare two gins that both follow the category’s flavor profile. And how many impurities do we detect? The gin with more esters and a lower level of toxicity is better.

How is quality made?

If quality can be defined, how can it be achieved? Via the right mashing, fermentation, distillation, and aging techniques, mostly. And by using quality ingredients and tools, of course. Manipulating the right ingredients in the right way with the right tools results in high-quality spirits. Want to learn more? Reach out to and register for the iStill University, please. We teach 200 students per year how to make better spirits. And y’all should know by now: craft distilling is all about making better, tastier spirits.

How does the iStill Laboratory help?

How do you know if you have created a high-quality spirit? To measure it is to know it! And that’s where the iStill Laboratory comes in. The iStill Laboratory scientifically analyses your spirit, gives objective feedback on the results, and even provides advise on how to improve.

The iStill Laboratory offers two levels of support to help you improve (or at least monitor) your spirit quality:

  1. SET Analysis (Smearing, Esterification & Toxicity Analysis);
  2. SOP Advise (Standard Operating Procedure).

Smearing, Esterification & Impurity Analysis

Your spirit is judged on the amount of heads and tails smearing that made it into the hearts cut of your spirit. The outcomes are compared to the specific product category and compared to category benchmarks.

Your sample will also be tested for total and specific ester count. Specific ester count relates particular esters to the front, middle, and back-end flavor sensations. Both total and specific ester count are compared to industry standard products from Big Alcohol. An analysis is made, where you get feedback on how your spirit scores relative to the category definition and Big Alcohol benchmarks.

The iStill Laboratory also establishes the amount of impurities. What’s the total level of impurities and what are the specific scores for the most important ones? Think sulfuric compounds, methanol, carcinogens, and copper particle contamination. Again, your spirit will be rated against Big Alcohol benchmarks.

Standard Operating Procedure Advise

If your spirit follows the category’s flavor profile and you outperform the Big Alcohol benchmarks, all is fine. You can use the Smearing, Esterification & Impurity Analysis to show your distributors and/or customers that you make better quality spirits, that are worth paying for. But if you feel you lag behind or didn’t completely hit all the boxes, well, you might want to dive in deeper. That’s where SOP Advise comes in.

SOP Advise goes a step deeper. The iStill Laboratory asks you for your current standard operating procedure (SOP) and confronts it with the findings from the SET Analysis. Based on the available chemical and practical distillation knowledge, an advisory report will be drawn up that helps you change your SOP to the effect that it will improve your spirits.


The SET Analysis can currently be ordered for EUR 1.495,-. The SOP Advise also costs EUR 1.495,-. These are introduction prices for the first ten customers. After that, prices will rise to a commercial level still to be established.


If you want to order the iStill Laboratory’s analysis or advise, please reach out to He will send you an invoice so that you can pay. After payment is made, ship us two bottles of the spirit you want the iStill Laboratory to test. The tests have a throughput time of 1 month. Outcomes and SOP’s are considered confidential. You can use the outcomes as you like, but we can not. Not unless we have your explicit consent.


How to use the services the iStill Laboratory offers? Here you go:

  • Test your spirit against Big Alcohol benchmarks;
  • Test your spirit against a specific competitor;
  • Spirit improvement;
  • SOP improvement;
  • Substrate assessment (how does a new ingredient affect taste);
  • Chemical spirit signature (does my spirit still have the same flavors as before);
  • GNS-testing (how pure is my GNS and which one should I buy).

Our chemist Willem performing inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy …

Odin Deflates!


(and the harmful ongoings in our industry)


This year was the last year we sponsored the London Craft Distilling Expo. Is that important news for craft distillers? Yes it is. On multiple levels. Not just because the expo is in sharp decline and because we won’t be part of it any more, but because the reasons behind the decline directly reflect on something that’s wrong, very wrong in our industry. So, let’s dive in deeper. Let’s examine how sharp the decline of the expo is, what the causes are, and how these causes bring to light something that’s been holding our industry back. Something is rotten in the proverbial Kingdom of Denmark. And before it can be dealt with, it needs to be exposed. A long post? Yes. Worth your time? I sincerely think so. Let’s start with the numbers.

The numbers

The previous time the London Craft Distilling Expo was organized, it had 300 to 400 visitors. This time only about 100 people visited. We counted 60 to 65 on the first day and the second day was significantly quieter, we heard. Of those visitors, about 40% was either an iStill customer, that specifically came by to see us, or people interested to see an iStill pre purchase.

The previous times the expo was organized, it hosted 30 to 35 exhibitors. This time only 17 companies made the effort to display their products and services.

So there you have it: the number of visitors more than halved, and so did the number of exhibitors. And since iStill withdraws its sponsorship for future events, we expect the expo’s income for next year (if there even will be a new event at all) to halve again. Given our absence, from now onwards, we expect the visitor numbers to drop even further in the coming years. Apart from our future absence, what causes this dramatic downfall?


Discussing the causes of the low interest with expo management taught us that they thought it was being caused by Corona. Interesting, but not true. After two years of not being able to meet, many distillers were yearning to see each other again. The many (relatively many) iStill customers that did visit us in London may serve as proof of that. We had more iStill customers at our booth than we saw new and future distillers, though. Quite contrary to the last event, a few years ago. Yet, based on our numbers, the show should have drawn twice as many visitors instead of only a third.


We argued that Brexit played a big role. With the UK having left the European Union, the event is no longer European, with a continental reach, but British, with only national significance. Proof for this statement? In the past, half of the visitors came from outside the UK. This time we met one Swede and three Irishmen. The rest of the audience, visitors that is, was all British.

Talking to the visitors from outside the UK taught us that nobody wants to come, simply because no one wants to do business with the UK anymore. “Our colleagues from Ireland would have liked to come, but why should they? We don’t want to buy labelling machines, bottles, bottling machines or stills from the UK! It’s a pain, close to impossible, to buy anything here and then have it exported to the European Union!”

Most exhibitors said the same. “Why should we come back as no one comes anymore since they don’t want to buy UK stuff? What’s the sense of having a UK tradeshow if nobody shows up?” It is a conclusion that saddens me, since we have so many lovely British customers, and I strongly feel they deserve better opportunities.

But with the expo’s continental aspirations falling away, it is now a UK-based, national show. And that’s why the visitor numbers didn’t double, as they should have. And there’s more, of course, when we shift from the political to an economical perspective.

Both grain and gas prices have gone through the roof, lately, making it hard for any new distillery to come up with a business plan that shows a profit. But is postponing the opening of your business a reason not to visit an expo? Especially an expo with seminars and speeches, which are supposed to help you come to terms with today’s realities? So where were the hundreds of established and future UK distillers? Why didn’t they show up?

The value proposition

A transaction between two parties should be mutually beneficial. I sell you a still because I make money on the sale. You purchase the still because you can now make spirits that you can sell for a profit.

As a visitor, you go to an expo because you want to learn new info. You want to get answers to important questions like “How do we – as British distillers – deal with Brexit?”, or “What’s the long term perspective on the rising energy and grain prices?”, or “Given rising input costs, what can we do to save costs in other places?” Important, if not existential questions, that you, as a visitor and distiller, need to get answers to. Especially if you pay over 200 pound Sterling to be allowed to enter the expo.

You pay the organization and they value your money. In return you expect to get value added back as well. But did you? Did any of the important questions mentioned above get answered? No. No, instead it was more of the same. “Find faults in these drinks”, “Nose these drinks and be surprised”, “What to do when starting a distillery”, “How to make gin or rum”, oh, and a presentation on solutions to save the climate and environment, that did not mention our technology, even though our innovations, on themselves, reduce energy expenditure in the distillery with a whopping 70 to 75%!

The workshop “Nose these drinks and be surprised” was attended by seven people. Seven people only. Seven people that paid an additional 45 pound Sterling to have the privilege to nose and be surprised. That’s seven times 45 equals 315 pounds. Did the consultant that gave the workshop fly over all the way from Germany for that little money? We don’t think so.

But it gets worse. Two of the seven participants, customers of ours, were asked to simply join the class for free, so it wouldn’t look so empty. So “Germany” didn’t fly over for 315 pounds, but for only 225 pounds? I ask the question, since we now might conclude that the returned value of – let us say – 100 visitors paying a 200 pound entry fee, is repaid via a “workshop” that had a value of just 225 pounds. That’s 20,000 pounds of entry fee vs. 225 pounds of added value. How’s that for a value proposition? Easy and harsh conclusion: it sucks!

Okay, but there is another group of people that engaged in a transaction with the expo, and that would have loved to create value, right? The exhibitors! They also pay and expect something in return. What they expect in return? Well, at least satisfied visitors, preferably many of them, and most with a mindset of wanting to buy stuff. Did that happen? No, it didn’t.

First of all, 100 visitors is like only 25 to 33% of the 300 to 400 visitors from the expo’s previous edition. And – as stated above – most of these visitors were existing distilleries looking to reconnect. New distillers or distillers that were expanding, and needed new stuff, were the minority. We – as always – had the busiest stand. We always do. But even our booth was empty 50% of the time. When we looked around, to see how other exhibitors were faring, well, you could only see the staff that manned their stands, and occasionally, very occasionally, like maybe once every two hours, a visitor would show up.

Let’s do some math. I expect that the exhibitors paid about 40 to 45k to the expo, of which 15,000 pounds was paid by us. If the show had 100 visitors, of which 2/3rd showed up to reconnect and only 1/3rd was interested in purchasing new equipment … that means that the potential lead count – from the exhibitor’s perspective – was just 33. That’s 33 leads divided by 17 exhibitors, or less than 2 potential leads per booth.

And that number still needs to be compensated downwards, simply because those coming with purchasing power, didn’t come to purchase bottles AND stills AND labelers AND steam generators. Most come with a limited list of equipment needed. And of those, for example, interested in stills, well, these weren’t interested in iStill AND Mueller, mostly. Shall we conclude that this leaves less than one lead per booth available? An optimistic one. Too optimistic, because 40% of the visitors came for us. This means that 13 of the 33 leads, that we originally calculated, were there because they want to buy an iStill, leaving only 20 leads for the remaining 16 exhibitors.

Why? Why was there so little value provided to the most important group, the visitors? Why was so little value provided to the sponsors? I think I figured it out. In fact, I am pretty sure that I figured it out! But let us first see how the expo not only underdelivered on value creation, but how they even resorted to value destruction. I mean, how else would you call loosing your main sponsor for many years? Yeah, let’s dive into that topic first. We must drain the poisoned chalice first, if we want to get to the bottom of it all.

How to loose your main sponsor

This is how an expo looses its main sponsor:

  • The expo fails to put up the iStill banners that had always been part of our sponsorship package;
  • And stating “we didn’t have enough money” doesn’t make sense, with us paying 40% of sponsor fees;
  • The expo only puts our story and sponsorship and pictures up on their website the week before the event takes place;
  • So none of the expo’s website visitors, in the months previous to the event, got iStill exposure;
  • The expo didn’t put me on the “How to start a distillery” pannel, even though I have been participating for years;
  • The expo single-handedly and without consultation changed the name of my presentation, making it less disruptive and more “go with the flow”;
  • “Maximize your flavors with the extractor” got renamed to “A varied approach to botanical distillation” – REALLY!?!;
  • The expo changed words in our online and magazine story. Instead of the industry’s leading technology innovator, we became “a leading still manufacturer” – again, REALLY!?!;
  • Yes, really. They changed titles and texts without consultation – and not in a favorable way. Oh, and they didn’t inform us on the dwindling number of visitors either;
  • I mean, 15k should have bought us at least some expectation management, right? I think it should have;
  • Finally, you don’t add people to your expo staff that we kicked out because of scamming and breach of contract. Not if you want us to stay on board.

Why this matters? Well, it shows how little the expo cares for value creation for its paying partners and visitors. And our personal recount above shows that – in the case of our sponsorship – we are not just talking about limited value creation, but rather value destruction.

Why? Why no focus was given on adding value to those that pay? Why was a lot of value we tried to deliver basically destroyed? Doesn’t make sense, right? He who pays the piper calls the tune, so to say. In the case of the London Distilling Expo, however, the visitors and manufacturers paid the piper, but the tune was nothing like they wanted or cared for. So who called the tune?

The tune of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

The expo is run by consultants. And since there is no binding and unified theory of distillation, other than Odin’s Holy Trinity, well, consultants are like that one-eyed man that’s king in the land of the blind. They don’t KNOW. They do not have an objective measurement to fall back on. They just know a little bit more than most starting distillers. And how do they sell their services, at least most of them? Via Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. They want to scare you, they will embrace any opportunity that makes you fear the road ahead, and they will not stop filling your head with doubt to the extend that … well, you need a consultant to help you out and that holds your hand now, right?

There are a few good ones (more on that later), but most consultants, at least in the craft distilling industry, sell their services through Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. How does that help empower the craft distilling industry? It doesn’t. Instead, it helps them sell consultancy services to you. Consultancy services that are questionable at best, and that are not founded in any real science. Services that are self-serving to the consultant at your expense.

The London Distilling Expo actually brings value. It brings value to the consultants that organize it. It offers them a platform to sell their services. Mind you: these consultants didn’t pay. You paid, we paid. We didn’t get much (if any) value. But the consultants that organize the event did get value without paying, so basically: at our expense.

Allow me to elaborate how bad most of the consultancy was, that I have seen over there. Allow me to share a few worst practices. Examples that make the hair om my back stand up. It is important that I share my stories, because these practices hurt you. And they hurt the industry on a fundamental level. Damage assessment precedes damage repair. Here we go.

Worst practices

How to make gin?

On a “How to make gin” workshop a student asked if the pannel (consisting of two consultants) could elaborate on the benefits or negatives of going for a single-shot vs. a multi-shot approach to gin making. In plain English: do I distill each batch of gin separately or do I distill a stronger gin essence that I now dilute with more neutral alcohol, in order to create more booze?

Curious to the answer she got? Here’s the answer she got. Mind you, it is a bit short. The answer the consultants provided her with was this: “It depends.”

And that was it. WHAT it depended on wasn’t discussed or revealed. Just this: “It depends.” Good luck with that answer! The student didn’t walk away with an answer, but with an even bigger question: “On WHAT does it depend?” I am pretty sure she felt her goal to start designing, producing and marketing her own gin slip away just there. Or maybe, just maybe … she could hire the consultants, because at least they knew, right? She needed an answer on an important question. The “it depends”-answer increased here uncertainty and doubt. I imagine she thought right there: “Fuck, I really need a consultant to pull this of!”

How to do your branding?

So I am in the pannel of “How to start a distillery” (yeah, had to ask for it) and the question came up like how should one do their branding. A fair question. I am no expert here, but I’d say bottles and labels and to have a bar or not, are important topics. But, hey, I am not an expert on branding, and there are other pannel members that might have worthy insights to share.

A German consultant, that apparently not only knows “all” about nosing but also about branding, picks up the mike and gives this answer (imagine a fat German accent): “Well, in relation to branding, well, the most important thing is … the most important thing is … that you fill your whole hall … your whole distilling hall … in fact your whole distillery … with YOUR passion!”

Like, WTF? Say what? That’s not advise, that’s a platitude. You are serving people that paid 200 pounds to get in … a platitude? Unbelievable to the point of it being unacceptable. What can any distiller do with this “advise”?

The couple that asked the question were between flabbergasted and mesmerized. I saw fear creep into their eyes. I saw doubt spread between them. I could see them look at each other in a manner that expressed that they were more lost now than they had been before asking their question. But luckily, there is always consultancy hours you can pay for to relief you of your fear. There is always a consultant willing to relief you of your money for that very service.

The medal judges are in high spirits!

On a forum discussion, I found myself seated next to a clownesk figure. I wanted to know what he did and why he was on the panel. He told me that he had come up with a great business idea, so that now he was a figure that looked like a clown with actually, for the first time in his life, a sound business idea. Really. His words. No lack of seeing through his own image, at least. All that was missing was a big, red nose.

So I asked the obvious follow-up question, since he still hadn’t answered my original one. I mean, clowns with sound business ideas … what’s their place on a forum intended to inform distillers? I asked: “What is your idea?” And he answered: “I am a spirit judge at IWSC and I am now gathering all judges, also outside IWSC, together in a company. The company helps distillers win medals. They approach us … or we approach them. And we say “do you want to win medals?” Well, and then they pay us and we give advise and they start winning medals.”

This is SO wrong on every level! A spirit judge should be independent. If he wants to make a business out of his art or craft, at least let him resign from IWSC or whatever other organization he judges for. Because that is how you keep things objective. And that’s how you prevent blemishing the reputation of a – so far – highly praised medal competition, that should be able to make their own sound decisions like if this is ethical, or at least if it is what they want! I mean, how is this going to work out, other than that the distiller that pays the most, will win the biggest awards?

How do you start a distillery?

“Well, that is an easy to answer question,” another consultant says. “You don’t. What you want to do instead is contract distilling. No need to start your own distillery. Big investment, risks … and I have a distillery in Cornwall and we do contract distilling and that’s what you need to do as well, because now you have no investments and I can even help you make a recipe!”

Wow! I mean, yes, contract distilling can be an answer to many questions related to starting a craft distillery. But is that the answer that stops all questions? Why is that even okay? Does expo management think this practice of blowing your own horn is acceptable? It does think that is okay, actually.

The expo is organized by consultants and the charming gentleman from Cornwall, that offers contract distilling services, is the newest addition to their team. Of course he gets a platform. Of course he gets to pitch his services to you. The methodology of “back and forth”, pro’s and con’s, of visitors learning via various, often contradicting answers and opinions, doesn’t help the consultants at selling their services. And as it doesn’t serve their cause, why make life difficult? The expo is not there to empower you. It is there to empower the consultants.

Psst … wanna do business?

The bad consultants that plague our industry always need a “ride”. They need, in other words, a “vehicle” that makes them money. If nobody outside of your country is interested in fruit brandy, you present yourself as being an expert in gin as well. Or rum. It just depends on what sells and where you think you can find customers for your “services”.

A preferred ride, that those bad consultants want to hitch, is cooperation with a still manufacturer. The idea is that the still manufacturer sells a still and the consultant can then help with recipe development and/or training. The consultant makes money and the still manufacturer might be happy because his stills come with the broader, wider solutions his clients are looking for.

We don’t cooperate with consultants, because, well, most suck. We don’t need a broader, wider package of solutions. iStill is the only still manufacturer with a science department, with a laboratory, with its own university, and with its own recipe development team. We provide the biggest source of distillation information in the world for free (yes, the iStill Blog) and we support a Facebook group, where many hundreds of craft distillers communicate and empower each other.

So, a consultant that used to work for a German manufacturer approaches us. Kinda stealthy? The other still manufacturer wasn’t supposed to know … but, but, she’d love to work for us, to consult with our customers. Makes sense. With a global market share of 35 to 40% on new still sales in the craft distilling industry, we are the biggest source of potential new customers for her.

She proposes she visits iStill HQ and we explain how the iStills work. I propose that she does the iStill University courses first, so that she knows what she talks about and so she can appreciate the level of understanding that our customers have (which in most cases is higher than hers, I am afraid). I thought that a good starting point for her. But she said: “Odin, I am already a well-known recipe developer! I do not need extra training!” Upon which I answered: “You do, but if you feel you don’t, please do not make the effort to visit us at iStill HQ. We do not need consultants. Our customers probably don’t need consultants. And I am pretty sure they don’t need consultants that are unwilling to do their due-diligence.” She’s probably still with Mueller, I guess.

Best practice

Not all is bad. Some consultants offer more than others. How you can distinguish one from the other? A lack of FUD and an eagerness to learn. Okay, that doesn’t mean they know all the answers, but an open mindset at least allows this consultant to grow and be – over time – of more importance to you. And I met an example (one example) of just that happening at the last London Expo!

A man approaches me at our booth. He asks: “Odin, I have been working in the alcohol industry for 24 years, of which the last five years as an independent consultant. How come I have never consulted with one of your customers?”

I told him that I could tell him, but that he might not like the answer. He answered that my answer was all the more reason for him to want to hear the answer. So I told him that we don’t do Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. I tell him that our goal is to empower craft distillers by teaching them how things really work. And once they learn that, well, they usually don’t need a consultant anymore. Most of our customers know more about the science of distilling than most consultants do.

Instead of being offended, he thought that marvelous! He is going to enlist for the iStill University. Even though he understands that it is not a way into “doing consultancy for iStill customers”, he is intrigued to learn more as it allows him to further hone his skills. He – in short – will become a better consultant.

Wrapping things up

I thought it important to share what I learned with you. What’s rotten in the Kingdom of Denmark? The many bad consultants that sell you their services through Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. They do not empower the industry, they hold it back.

Do you start to see why – and I am not even sure it was a deliberate or organized attempt – they destroyed the value we tried to add to the expo? We inform you that you can walk this walk alone, yet provide you with a network of fellow distillers. We teach you to empower you. We innovate to make your road ahead, as a craft distiller, steep and challenging though it may be, easier.

Empowered craft distillers are no longer triggered by FUD, and that’s pretty bad for business, if you are a consultant. iStill is the antidote to Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt and this makes us an existential threat to those that want to take advantage of your insecurities.

Having consultants organize an expo, is the beginning of the end. They feast at your expense and at our expense. But no more. It’s done. Let’s close this book, once and for all, and put a lock on it. The idiots in the room will be sent to the asylum and are no longer allowed to take advantage of craft distillers. Not on my watch. I unsupport the London Craft Distilling Expo.

It’s the vultures that CREATE the carcass …

Harpers Wine & Spirits Article, August 2022!

“Romanticisation of copper stills needs to go!”

Joff Curtoys, founder and creative director of Sloemotion Distillery, explains why copper
stills are the spirit industry’s dirty little climate secret.

“Copper stills are everywhere these days. It’s no surprise. They look great plastered across Instagram and marketing materials. But if we’re ever going to make meaningful change in the drinks industry, we need to take a long hard look at how damaging this approach is for the environment.

A recent report by C&C Group provides a snapshot on how energy intensive the drinks industry is – and how lacking when it comes to leading on sustainability initiatives. Alcohol manufacturers in the US for example, release the annual equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions as 1.9 million US households. As concerns around the impact the food and drink industry on the planet grows, there needs to be more scrutiny on brands to ensure their sustainability claims are authentic.

This brings us to the distilling industry. Spirit making is entrenched in tradition. The fervour for using 19 th century copper stills is still raging, while distillers continue to believe that using huge, heat-pumping copper stills attached to a web of copper pipes is somehow keeping our history alive, while turning a blind eye to the damage they are causing. The truth is we can’t offset our way out of this unsustainable and old-fashioned approach.

I founded Sloemotion Distillery in 2002, long before the issue of sustainability was trendy. Moving from a job where I was lobbying for the RSPB in Westminster & Brussels, to setting up a food processing business on a farm in North Yorkshire, this path unknowingly led me to pioneer environmental actions into what has become a bestselling and award-winning product. I quickly learned that traditional copper still distilleries are unbearably hot; and they are hot because copper stills conduct and lose massive amounts of heat. I don’t claim to be an expert in distilling. I’m an environmentalist who stumbled upon a business opportunity in the distillery industry. But I have been able to apply my environmental instincts; and when it came to distilling, I knew it had to be done right.

The ultra-modern iStill for example, which we now use, is made by a company based in the Netherlands since 2015. The founder and CEO, Odin van Eijk, launched the business with the ambition to drive the transition to a more modern distillery industry. iStill cleverly produce the same quality of liquid as a copper still, but by using significantly less energy. iStills use 25% of energy of a traditional system through insulation, direct heat sourcing and computer control. Adopting an iStill has helped us to maximise the efficiency, controllability and repeatability of our distilling process, therefore making the quality in fact, better. For small craft alcohol producers like ourselves, quality is essential; reproducibility is a precursor to making quality products. The iStill has also helped us to cut running costs by about 90% when compared to a traditional copper still.

Copper stills do look beautiful and no doubt add a string to an eye-catching marketing strategy. But this choice is morally reprehensible in today’s climate.

Our choice allows us to create the same quality of liquid with less energy used. This is a massive achievement for us. We also have to wear a lot of jumpers whilst we work. That’s fine. We’re happy to do it, because it means we don’t waste energy.

Of course, as a business owner, I recognise that there are financial implications involved. It can be difficult to adopt new technologies whilst still being invested in a current system. Copper stills are expensive and for those operating with them, it might feel impossible to change paths. But our industry cannot continue to accept this way of doing things. If we continue to live and breathe inside an echo chamber which tells us one way is the only way, then there is no hope for building a spirits industry which puts the planet first.”

The article …

More about Sloemotion …

Joff Curtoys …

We Just Made the iStill Mini Bigger … A Lot Bigger!

An essential question

The iStill Mini is a huge success. With its 10 liter boiler it is the perfect training and recipe development still. And with the additional 50 liter boiler, it can even be used for initial, small-size production runs.

Everybody loves distilling with the iStill Mini! The success and your feedback and requests have raised an essential question: why limit the iStill Mini to 10 and 50 liter boiler sizes? If everybody loves their iStill Mini, there are 400 in operation around the globe, why not follow up on requests for bigger sizes? When the iStill Mini offers all what’s essential in a still, to so many distillers, why not offer larger versions?

There you have it: we just made the iStill Mini bigger … a lot bigger! It did mean that we had to change the name, though …

What is in a name?

Well, we can’t call bigger iStills Mini a “mini”, now can we? Doesn’t make sense. So we opt for a new name: “Essential”. Why “essential”? Because that’s exactly what the iStill Mini offers in terms of functionality. It is loved because it offers exactly what you look for in a still. It is versatile, indestructible, and affordable. It is the design that essentially got you going, so let’s keep that momentum and push it forward into bigger, more production-oriented still sizes!

Size & Price!

What sizes the new Mini, sorry, the new “Essential”-series comes at? 100, 250, 500, 1000, 2000, and 5000 liters. Right. You start to get why “essential” is a better name here, don’t you? And the 10 and 50 liter versions will remain as well, of course. We’ll keep on calling ‘m “Mini’s”.

That’s size, but what about price? Here you go:

  • iStill 100 “Essential”: EUR 15.000;
  • iStill 250 “Essential”: EUR 25.000;
  • iStill 500 “Essential”: EUR 35.000;
  • iStill 1000 “Essential”: EUR 45.000;
  • iStill 2000 “Essential”: EUR 60.000;
  • iStill 5000 “Essential”: EUR 90.000.


All new iStills “Essential”, including the small “mini” varieties, come equipped with an app where you can set cut points and be reminded of them. In the future, the app will also support saving and retrieving your recipes.

All new iStills “Essential”, including the small “minis”, come equipped with our newly developed POM-system. The POM-system allows the distiller to do single, double, triple, and vodka distillations.

Choose POM-1, and the iStill “Essential” will perform a single distillation. This is the option you want for gin and liqueur making, and for potstill runs.

Choose POM-2, and you’ll get a double distillation in one run. POM-2 is what you insert in the still if you want to make a big and bold flavored whisky or rum.

If you choose POM-3 the iStill “Essential” will perform three distillation cycles in one run. POM-3 is great for lighter style rums and whiskies, and for fruit brandy.

If you select to use POM-14, your iStill “Essential” will give you 14 distillation cycles in one run. Ideal for vodka and GNS production, and for heads and tails recovery.

The POM-system is a new innovation. It is “fire & forget”, or “set it up & let it run”. No need for interventions or continuous still management. Just select the right POM for your spirit, and you’ll get to the intended purity and ABV levels automatically. Distilling made easy? Betcha!


Lead times? Three months. We help with crating, transport, and transport insurance. Want to learn more? Want to order your essential still, your next big, maybe really big iStill Mini? Please reach out to for an initial interview.

iStill 500 “Essential” prototype: versatile, indestructible, and affordable (35k) …

And it comes with a parrot …