News on the iStill 100 NextGen!

Introduction

The iStill 100 NextGen has been a huge success. And since the iStill Team firmly believes that you should always change a winning team … here’s the new iStill 100 NextGen!

What’s the same

The boiler and the insulation stay the same. So does the cleaning in place system (CIP).

What has changed

The iStill 100 NextGen now has:

  • New PLC and new programming, now the same as the i500, i2000, and i5000;
  • Including an Extractor program;
  • Internet connectivity;
  • New robot, again the same as the i500, i2000, and i5000 already had;
  • Automated Cuts Selector for Heads, Hearts, and Tails;
  • A bigger, stronger, and longer heating element at 7.5 kW and 400 volts;
  • An additional thermometer probe in the column;
  • The improved iStill Collection Head with blind plate for robot assembly;
  • A bigger column cooler that allows the unit to run at higher power settings;
  • Oversized iStill 500 after cooler to bring produced spirits back to room temp.

The unit is now a perfect little copy of its bigger siblings!

Production and Orders

We have stopped producing the outgoing model. We are starting up production of the new units next week. Orders can be placed from now onwards. Please be aware that the online iStill Design Center still shows the old unit. We hope to amend that before the end of September.

Pricing

The price of the iStill 100 NextGen is now EUR 15.000,-.

Picture

Building up the new iStill 100 NextGen in the iStill University …

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How to Make Peachcello Liqueur!

Introduction

Last few weeks I have played around with the new iStill Extractor Column a lot. One of the most interesting recipes I produced is a drink made with peaches. It’s not exactly a liqueur (because the recipe only uses 100 grams of sugar per liter), and it is not really a “cello” either, since it is made with the fruit flesh and not with the fruit skins. But it is good. Darn good!

Here is an instruction, with pictures, on how to make it, using the iStill 100 and the new Extractor Column. Same procedure holds for the iStill 500, iStill 2000, and iStill 5000 with their related – and bigger – Extractor Columns. Ingredients, preparation, GNS production, fruit handling, extraction and bottling, it’s all there …

Ingredients

What you need is:

  • Lots of sugar, water, and turbo yeast (to make the GNS – if you are not buying it in);
  • 25 kilo’s of peaches (to extract taste from).

Preparation

Buy an iStill 100 with Extractor Column …

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GNS Production

Use the Turbo Yeast, water, and sugar …

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To whip up 240 liters of ferment …

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After 3 to 4 days use the i100 to strip and then finish the ferment into 96% Hearts …

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Fruit Handling

Buy 25 kilo’s of peaches …

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Peel them, cut them in quarts, and remove the stone …

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Toss the skins and stones …

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Extracting

Put the iStill Extractor Column in place …

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Dilute 50 liters of GNS to 38% and add it to the boiler …

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Put the peaches in bags …

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And put the bags in the Extractor Column, all 25 kilo’s …

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Run four extractor cycles and you now have 54 liters of 36% Peach Essence …

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Bottling

Add sugar, bottle, and end up with the world’s most amazing Peachcello Liqueur …

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http://www.iStill.eu

iStill in North Carolina!

Last week Skylar and Scott visited us. They are from North Carolina, where Scott and his partners will be opening a distillery soon. Prior to receiving their iStill 2000 NextGen, they flew over to the Amsterdam iStill Center for some training.

How we organize a dedicated training like this pretty much depends on the wishes our customers have. In this case, Scott wanted to be trained on how to assemble the iStill 2000 NextGen, on how to run it, and on how to make gin and whiskey with it.

We had a great day, doing all that … and more. How about tasting some gins, having lunch, and then tasting some genevers? Here are a few pictures that’ll help get the message across that we had a great time together!

Scott starts to assemble his iStill 2000 NextGen:

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Scott hugging his iStill 2000 NextGen after he assembled it:

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The best way to learn about gin … is by drinking it (fltr: Scott, Vic, Skylar):

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Lunch in the city’s former arsenal, now restaurant and hotel:

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And here’s Scott and Skylar tasting genevers:

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http://www.iStill.eu

We now offer you taste control!

Introduction

Yes, this is another Tuesday Techtalk. About taste this time. And how iStill helps you gain taste while distilling.

Is that possible? Creating taste, rather than “just” harvesting tastes, while distilling? Yes it is, if you choose direct heating. Direct heating triggers the Maillard Reaction. A taste cascade that will intensify the taste of your taste-rich drinks.

We now offer a way to MANAGE the Maillard Reaction. That’s a big deal. Let’s dive in and elaborate.

What got my thinking going

When I compared direct fired iStills with the indirectly fired units we once made, I found out that direct fire creates more taste. A browning reaction takes place in the boiler, comparable to what happens when you BBQ a steak (rather than frying it) or bake potatoes (instead of cooking them). Direct fired stills create temperature differences in the boiler that trigger the Maillard Reaction.

The Maillard Reaction

The Maillard Reaction is a taste cascade, triggered by temperature differences in the boiler. That’s why only directly fired stills create the Maillard Reaction. As a result taste is developed, while distilling. Your drink gets more taste, your stillage becomes darker in color. Using this to our advantage, it can help create 20% more taste, and that’s a huge benefit. It is one of the reasons why all of our stills are directly fired. It’s more efficient and gives you better tasting product. Whiskey, brandy, rum and also gin (with the botanicals in the boiler!) benefit from direct fire and Maillard.

iStills can now manage the Maillard Reaction!

In non-agitated, directly fired stills the Maillard Reaction is there. The direct heating creates around 2 degrees Centigrade differences. More than enough to start Maillardization. That’s on distilling a rather clear beer or wine or molasses wash, or on doing a finishing run on low wines.

How we help you to get 40% more taste

Because of iStill’s Jet Propulsion Agitator System (JPAS), you can use our units to distill with grains present. Grains or other organic particles, like berries or herb or fruit skins.

More organics potentially translate to more Maillardization. In a thicker wash, you get temperature differences of around 4 degrees Celsius maximum. If you maximize agitation, you will see the temperature difference dwindle to 0 degrees C, minimizing Maillardization.If you  set the agitator to lower revs, the heaters get a little less cooling, particle distribution inside the boiler will be less than perfect, and you can now create more taste. Go for a 3 degree C temperature difference maximum, and you’ll get up to 30% more taste. If you like where this is going, try the next run at maybe 3.5 to 4 degrees temperature difference for even more taste formation. Please be advised that 4 degrees C is the maximum temperature difference I want you to play with.

Mr. Maillard …

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http://www.iStill.eu

 

NextGen Firmware (1)!

Introduction

This is the first in a short series of iStill Blog posts on the firmware to our new NextGens. As you know, with the iStills NextGen, we invested heavily in upgrading the computerization, automation, and robotization. Twenty years of warrantee and thirty years of guaranteed spare parts delivery … how is that for beefing things up? But how does the interface look? And how do you run your NextGen? In this post I will dive in deeper.

Functionality

The NextGen units are extremely versatile. Depending on what configuration you choose, the unit can help you heat-up, mash, ferment, and distill. For now, let’s zoom in on heating and pot distillation! The starting screen for someone that ordered the iStill NextGen with heating and pot distillation functionality looks like this:

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Heating-up

Heating-up helps you to get water, mashes, or washes to strike temperature. You can use the clock based timer to dial in when you want heating-up to start. Say, for example, that you did a distillation run, and it’s done. Say, it’s nearly the end of the day and you want to prepare tomorrow’s run, you just fill the boiler with fresh wash and use the timer functionality to let the unit heat-up to (for example) 75 degrees C prior to you starting your next working day. You can dial in target temperature, heat-up power, and agitator speed. Like this:

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And if you want to use the timer just push “Timer”, you can dial in when you want the heat-up process to start. This is the screen you get:

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The heat-up program is used to heat-up or boil (mash) water, or to pre-heat a wash in order to limit the total run time of a distillation.

Pot distillation

If you order your iStill NextGen with a potstill column, you still get loads of automation. Automated cuts for Heads, Hearts, and Tails, for instance. Automated process shutdown at the end of the run is also part of the deal, as is automated start of cooling water to prevent excessive water usage. This is the pot distillation start screen:

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As you can see, there is currently no distillation process running. That makes sense. Prior to starting the run (just push “Start”), you want to check the settings:

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Here, you dial in at what power you want to heat-up (if you haven’t done that via the heating-up program already), at what power and agitation speeds you want to take Heads, Hearts, and Tails. Done? Now press “Start”. Here is a picture of an iStill 2000 NextGen taking Hearts:

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You can see a quite a few things on the picture above:

  • Cooling water is flowing (blue dot on the upper left lights up);
  • Agitator is running (agitator motor on the boiler lights up green);
  • The heaters are on (the inside of the boiler is red);
  • The Hearts Valve is opened (green dot to the right of the boiler);
  • Temperatures inside the boiler, the column, and the column cooler are depicted;
  • It also says: “Hearts” and tells you until what temperature it is collecting Hearts.

Safety features

We design our distilleries in the safest possible way. Still, people can make mistakes. To prevent human mistakes to cause potential damage or harm, we have build in quite a few safety features. Here, I want to zoom in on two of them:

  1. Dry cooking;
  2. Lack of cooling water.

Say, by mistake, the distiller running the iStill NextGen didn’t fill the boiler adequately. He now runs the risk  of dry cooking the unit. Dry cooking is the situation where the boiler has so little liquid left, that the heating elements get exposed. Exposure of the heaters to air instead of water, a mash, or a wash, means they don’t get cooled and – potentially – overheat. Not at iStill! Our heaters are equipped with thermometers. When certain temperature limits are breached, the iStill NextGen shuts down automatically, while giving you a warning. Like this:

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Another human mistake we check is cooling water. Okay, the iStill NextGen automatically opens a valve to let cooling water in, but what if there is no cooling water to start with? What if someone shut down the tap? In that case the craft distiller runs the risk of venting alcohol rich vapors in the air. Not with the iStill NextGen though. If the temperature at the top of the column, where the column cooler is situated, becomes too high, the unit shuts down automatically. This is the warning you will get:

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What to do? Make sure there’s cooling water, press “Reset”, then push “Start”, and the rig will take-off where it stopped.

Regards, Odin & Team

Tuesday Tech Talk!

Introduction

This Tech post is about heating-up and efficient iStill usage. About power requirements and control on (especially) our electrically fired units.

The X Factor

No, not a talent show in this case. For us, Factor X stands for an important value I use to design our iStills. It’s the value that expresses the Wattage needed to heat up one liter (for USA folk: that’s about a quart) in one hour.

Yeah, like that’s important, right?

Yes it is, because this value expresses unit efficiency. And if we know that value, we can both use it to design the correct heat-up power as well as check if a newly designed unit lives up to its expected efficiency rating. A self-imposed rating, and a very severe rating, but that’s us: our pay-off is “Distilling made easy” and to be able to do so maximizing efficiency is tremendously important.

So … what is it?

It’s 1.03. That simple. 1.03. Remember the number. I’ll explain it via an example.

An example

The iStill 500 NextGen heats up in 2 hours. During that heat-up period it uses 18 kW all the time. And since it is the iStill 500 NextGen … it of course is charged with 500 liters. Here we go:

  1. During the 2 hours the temperature changes by around 70 degrees Celsius;
  2. That takes 2 hours times 18000 Watts is a total of 36000 Watts or 36 kWh;
  3. So for 500 liters to heat up with 70 degrees Celsius, we need 36000 Watts ;
  4. If we divide 36000 by 500 liters, it turns out that heating up one liter with 70 degrees C takes just 72 Watts;
  5. One liter heats up with 70 degrees by adding 72 Watts of energy input;
  6. So if we want to heat-up 1 liter by 1 degree Celsius we need to divide 72 Watts by 70 degrees;
  7. Voila: 1,0285714;
  8. That’s close enough to 1.03 for me!

This example shows that our Factor X is 1.03. That it takes the iStill 500 NextGen 1.03 Watt to heat up one liter of wash by one degree Celsius.

Water Heater Functionality

For one of our UK customers we have build a Water Heater. An iStill 2000 NextGen that will serve them as a Water Heater, yes, that way. They will get two units actually. One iStill 2000 NextGen they will use to distill single malt whisky. The other (on the pictures underneath) will be used to collect the warm cooling water, that comes of the still, heat it up overnight, so the next day mashing a new batch can start early.

Let’s do the math!

Will you do the math with me? Because we have all night, very fast heat-up times are not needed. We have all night, right? Also, we work with a maximum of 2000 liters, since this is a 2000 liter unit. In fact, 1600 liters is more to the point, since that is the approximate amount of water needed to mash a total of 2000 liters of water and grain.

Okay, we need to heat-up 1600 liters (415 gallon) and we have got all night, so at least 12 hours. Say the cooling water is 35 degrees,  and let’s assume that we need the water to be taken 80 degrees Celsius.

Do you remember that it takes 1.03 Watt to heat up one liter by one degree. We want to heat-up 1600 liters, so it takes around 1700 Watt to heat-up 1600 liters by one degree Celsius. We don’t want to raise the temperature by 1 degree, though, but by 45 degrees. This means we actually need 45 times 1700 is 76.500 Watt or 76.5 kW.

Normally, the iStill 2000 NextGen, when fired electrically, is mounted with a 36 kW heating system. But that would be – given it’s current use as a water heater – overkill. To save costs we opted for an 18 kW power system. If we divide 76.5 kW by 18 kW, it turns out that this configuration can hit target temperature in 4 hours and 15 minutes.

More functionality

In case the UK Craft Distiller wants to heat-up at a slower pace, we offer more functionality. He can dial in different power settings. Even though the maximum power input to the water heater configuration is 18 kW, he can tune that down to 9 kW. Heat-up will now go more gentle and will take 8 hours and 30 minutes.

But what if the craft distiller stops distilling at 6 pm and only wants to start mashing at 8 am the next day? That’s a 14 hour in between time. There are two options we offer:

  1. Tune down the power input even more, for instance to 6 kW;
  2. Set the timer.

Our timer functionality is clock time based. If the craft distiller wants the water to be at strike temperature at 8 am the next day, he can also leave the unit at maximum power setting and tell it to start heating up at 3:45 am. The water will be 80 degrees Celsius at 8 o’clock. Of course, any other combination of power input and timer setting is also possible. This timer functionality is also available in our mashing, fermenting, and distilling software.

And more versatility!

We designed the iStill NextGen line-up to be ultimately versatile. The above set-up is a fine example of that: one iStill 2000 NextGen is used as a still, the other as the distillery’s main water heater. But there is more, much more versatility to be found.

Imagine this craft distiller deciding to use his water heater for distillation purposes in the future. All he has to do is order an upgraded heating system and a column …

And the same holds through for the unit that works as a still. It has an agitator, so if the craft distiller wants to use it as a masher, all he needs to do is order the boiler radiator for mash cooling …

Pictures

Here are some pictures of us testing the water heater iStill 2000 NextGen unit. The program is self learning, so if we let it run a few times, it will perform better and better. The first run, it may overshoot the dialed in strike temperature by 0.6 degrees, the second run it will use new parameters and minimize overshooting to 0.4 degrees. From the third run onwards, it will easily stay within 0.3 degrees Celsius of the dialed in strik temperature.

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http://www.iStill.eu