Follow iStill on Instagram!

One year after Robert started managing iStill’s Instagram account, we have reached over 1,000 followers. Robert works at iStill’s Finance Department. Accounting is his profession. Photography is his hobby and it shows! Do you want to follow us on Instagram? Here’s the link: @istill.ig/com

Robert …

And some of his Instagram pictures …

http://www.iStill.com

Building the Heidell Brand – One Cocktail at a Time!

An interview by the London Spirits Competition. For more reading also see:

https://londondrinksguide.com/en/blog/features-106/brands-108/whiff-the-finnish-sea-with-heidell-gin-270.htm?fbclid=IwAR12Y0szYXuGooQBiREYK7wTaJQNfF0k4tWq8aZlT892OZOtTBNeLmwsVdU

From making sure their distributors know their story, to creating some great cocktails, here’s how Heidell Distillery honors the Finnish land.

The Heidell Distillery Company, owned by retired Navy Officer Timo Heidell (owner and Master Distiller) and his daughter Erika (owner), began its journey of award-winning spirits in 2019. The brand was built on Timo’s lifelong dream of creating spirits that honor his family’s culture and lifestyle, and his love for the Finnish land and sea.

The London Spirits Competition 2021 awarded the Heidell Gin with a silver medal. The gin, being the brand’s flagship, opens with a nose of coriander seeds and spearmint. Taste follows through with these flavor profiles and closes on a long finish with hints of black pepper.

We spoke to Erika Heidell, who shared with us the Heidell journey, gave us a glimpse of what is yet to come, and shared insights on how they work with restaurants, bars, and distributors.

Every aspect of the Heidell Distillery Company reflects Finland in one way or another. “Our product labels are inspired by the flag of Finland and the Finnish yacht club ensign,” says Erika. “Thus, the maritime atmosphere of the Finnish archipelago conveys strongly through our products.”

The town of Naantali, also known as the sunniest city in Finland, has influenced the Hiedell brand immensely through its beautiful views and history as being one of the oldest towns in the Finnish archipelago.

According to you, what makes a great spirit?

Our initial answer is quite simple: pure water. All spirits are a mix of alcohol and water, water being the main ingredient in quantity, so the taste of any spirit is highly dependent on the quality of water. Luckily for us, water in Finland is among the cleanest and highest quality in the world. Then comes the delicately formulated recipes and carefully selected ingredients and botanicals. Preferring and favoring local and domestic producers is important. Furthermore, the latest distillation technology and processes guarantee the high quality of handcrafted small-batch spirits. A great spirit is made with passion and dedication and has a balanced but distinctive and soulful taste.

What would be your typical day at work?

Our typical workday at the distillery consists of distilling, bottling, sales, deliveries, product development, and emails. We love our work because every day is different, there is no day that is the same.

How often are you firing up the stills and how long does a batch take?

We fire up our hyper-modern still, iStill Hybrid 500, once a week, and distilling a batch takes approximately 10 hours.

Erika with Heidell Gin

What excites you the most about your brand?

The most exciting part of our brand is our love for creativity, craftsmanship, and, most importantly, good taste. Our brand essentially reflects us – the people behind Heidell Distillery Company. Hence, we want our products to portray our values and ideology and, when it comes to our brand, we believe in quality, integrity, and transparency. 

It is a privilege to handcraft premium quality spirits that not only tell our story but also honor our culture and homeland. We consider our products to be a nocturne for the Finnish Archipelago Sea and its maritime atmosphere. Every sip is a voyage of enjoyment.

Tell us a bit about Heidell Gin. What makes it your flagship spirit?

Heidell Gin is our flagship spirit for two reasons. Firstly, figuratively speaking, Heidell Gin is Heidell Distillery Company in a bottle. It is a true handcrafted gin combining traditional taste with the aroma of sea breeze. Secondly, Heidell Gin was the first product that we launched in January 2021 and is our best-seller, opening the spirits market and industry for our distillery. Heidell Navy Strength Gin, on the other hand, is the big brother of Heidell Gin, a true handcrafted gin combining traditional taste with the aroma of a stormy sea.

Erika and Timo Heidell

Are you working on something new right now?

We are always working on something new because we strongly believe that innovation is one of the most important factors of success. At the moment, we are working on a new product (or two) but what type of spirit, that is a secret for now. 

What are some of the things you do to make sure your distributor has everything they need?

Ah, yes, this is important. For us, close cooperation and open communication matter a lot. They are the main aspects we focus on to ensure that our distributors have everything they need. We do our best to fulfill the needs of our distributors, and continuously strive to be a flexible and reliable partner. 

How do you work with restaurants, bars, and retailers to increase sales?

We work closely together with many restaurants and bars in Finland which sell our products. We value and care about our customers and always give our best efforts to help them to thrive and, as a result, increase sales. This means, for example, planning and designing together cocktails, menus and experiences as well as providing complementary products and leaflets. Social media also plays a significant part in supporting restaurants, bars, and retailers; we continuously promote our customers (restaurants/bars we work with) on our social media accounts.

What do you expect from restaurants and bars when it comes to increasing sales?

We sell handcrafted small-batch spirits of premium quality and, therefore, we believe that making and serving high-quality cocktails is the right way to do justice for our products. Cocktails are a craft that consumers appreciate and are willing to pay for; the sales will certainly increase when restaurants and bars invest in their cocktail craftsmanship.

How much of a role does social media play in your marketing?

The role of social media in the marketing of our distillery is of utmost importance. It is a great channel for us to tell our story, build our brand further, and spread awareness of our distillery and products. However, we believe in quality over quantity in social media – every post and picture must be well-thought-out and meaningful. Our social media following has and will continue to grow naturally because of the quality and realness of our content. Hence, transparency is very important for us; customers and consumers of our spirits are entitled to know the faces behind our company and the production methods of our products. You can find us on Facebook (Heidell Distillery Company) and Instagram (@heidelldistillery).

What advice would you give to fellow distillers looking to get their spirits into bars/restaurants?

For us, contacting restaurants and bars directly and building a relationship with the owners and personnel have worked the best. There are amazing professionals and individuals behind each restaurant and bar – the same way as with distilleries – that value the personal touch more than you can imagine.

What are some of the spirits you have on your personal shelf?

Of course, all Heidell Distillery Company spirits can be found from our master distiller Timo’s shelf, with the Heidell Barrel Aged Gin right at the front. But, in addition to our own products, there are also many excellent gins from other Finnish distilleries.

Have you incorporated any new technology in distillation recently?

We consider Heidell Distillery Company to be a modern distillery because we use the latest distillation technology and processes to ensure the highest possible quality of our products. Our hyper-modern still, iStill Hybrid 500, guarantees precision, consistency, and replicability in creating the best quality craft spirits. We have been very pleased with our still, it has been working like a dream.

What are some upcoming drinks trends, according to you?

Gin, whiskey, and tequila have been booming the last few years, which is great, but we would like to see more buzz about vodka due to its versatility and mixability. Also, we believe that the appreciation of craftsmanship and quality over price will increase in the future.

Lastly, what are you drinking right now?

Right now, we are (unfortunately) drinking coffee but, after work, a sauna and a Heidell Gin & Tonic is the perfect plan.

Designing an iStill Malter?

Introduction

Producing spirits from grains involves several steps. First, the grain is malted. Malting helps the grain kernels develop the right enzymes. As a second step, the grain is mashed. Mashing involves cracking the grain and adding warm water so that the enzymes can convert the grain starch into fermentable sugars. Thirdly, yeast is added and the fermentation phase begins. During fermentation most of the flavors and all of the alcohol is formed. The fourth step is the distillation phase, where alcohols and flavors are concentrated and selected.

Contemplation

iStill makes mashers, fermenters, and stills. We don’t make malting systems. There have been two main reasons holding us back designing malters. Firstly, most (if not all) craft distillers purchase pre-malted grains. The malting, in other words, is done by the grain supplier, not by the craft distiller. Secondly, malting is such a different process, that it cannot be integrated in the single vessel iStill distillery approach that we have developed over the last decade.

We are still not sure if we should design and manufacture an iStill Malter. The market is limited and our investments will be pretty high. On the other hand … craft distilling is all about creating interesting flavor profiles and malting (especially roasting) has a huge impact on flavor. Also, with an iStill Malter in place, we could become the one-stop-shop for farmers that wish to turn their barley into whisky or vodka.

Feasibility study

To ensure that the right decisions are made, we have started a feasibility study. The study will focus on answering two questions:

  1. Is there a market for an iStill Malter? Do craft distillers want to (partially) malt in-house?
  2. Can we design a technically compelling malting system?

For the first question, we need your help. Please let us know if you are interested in an iStill Malter, were we to design, produce, and release it. To answer the second question, we have set-up an initial project group to investigate the technical side of things. We are very happy and proud to do so in close cooperation with Aristides Distilling, a distillery that has extensive experience in malting its own, locally sourced, grains.

Malting

Malting consists of three basic steps. First, the grain is wetted. Then the grain starts to germinate. it grows the beginning of a root system, and the microstructure of the cell walls, proteins, and starch start to change as enzymes are formed. As a last step the now germinated grain kernels are being dried or “kilned”. The more heat is applied, during this last kilning phase, the more Maillard Reaction will take place in the grain, adding flavor to the future whisky to be. All steps take place in a barrel-like shape that’s rotated to introduce the humidity, air, and heat to the grain, as it is malted.

Initial design specifications

An iStill Malter therefore needs a rotating barrel, to which grain, water, and hot air can be added. The malt system must be automated and should control humidity, temperature, rotation speed, and time. The software should allow for a step by step operation, where the craft distiller decides on how long steeping, germination, drying, and roasting should take, and how fast the system should rotate. The user interface should be intuitive. Remote control needs to be supported. Dimensions, power, and batch sizes will be established later.

Follow-up

Of course we hope that you are excited about this feasibility study. We’ll keep you posted on our progress as we move forward!

iStill Malter Rotation Control System (beta) …

http://www.iStill.com

An Update on Chip Shortages, Screens, Demand, and Lead Times!

Okay, yeah, we know: it isn’t the sexiest topic to address, but we need to address it anyhow. Global chip shortages, screens, demand, and lead times. It’s good news, so let’s dive in deeper!

Due to both chip shortages and a continuing rise in demand for our distilleries, a few months ago we had to inform you that our lead times increased to 6 months. Ever since, we have been working very hard to both enlarge our production capacity, here at iStill HQ, and to get access to more chips for our screens / user interfaces.

We are proud to inform you that we succeeded on both accounts! Lead times for our standard units are back to four months now.

Shipping more iStills around the world at a faster pace …

http://www.iStill.com