Meet Hal 9000!


HAL 9000 is the advanced computer from Arthur C Clarke’s movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. In that movie, the computer, integral part of the space ship Discovery, becomes self-aware and sentient. You can imagine that things get pretty interesting and intense after that event takes place.

iStill is upgrading its advanced computer systems, in order to make running your distillery easier again. Don’t worry, our new computer won’t become self-aware or sentient any time soon, but it does have some clever and helpful tricks up it’s sleeve!

HAL 9000 in “2001: A Space Odyssey” …


Distilling as a process

Distilling usually is a process, involving mashing (converting starch to fermentable sugars), fermentation (turning sugars to alcohol while creating flavors), and distillation. And since a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, making sure that all process steps are performed to perfection is adamant.

Distilling is a process …

distillation process whisky.png

The iStills (when properly specced) can mash, ferment, and distill. One computer helps check and regulate what goes on during each step of the alcohol and flavor production process. We also produce stand-alone and specialized mashers and fermenters. Again, one computer regulates the mashing procedure or fermentation.

So … what does iStill’s HAL 9000 bring to the market? Basically this: Central Distillery Management.

Central Distillery Management

iStill’s HAL 9000 is a new option, that allows you to centrally manage your distillery. By adding HAL 9000 to your iStill 2000 or iStill 5000, you can now use that unit to manage up to five additional iStills Mashers and/or Fermenters.

The additional equipment can be run centrally from the unit equipped with HAL 9000. Or remotely, from your computer or tablet, via WiFi or an ethernet cable. Remote as in away from the distillery.

The HAL 9000 option can be added to the iStills 2000 and 5000. It comes as an extra module in the PLC box at the rear of the unit. Included is a bigger (wider) and more advanced full-color touch screen, and a new user interface.


HAL 9000 gives you:

  • Central Distillery Management for up to six units total;
  • Insight in and management of all of your iStills from one central location;
  • In the distillery or remote;
  • For additional iStill Mashers and Fermenters;
  • A bigger touch screen pannel with an updated user interface.

Central Distillery Management …



The HAL 9000 option adds EUR 10.000,- to your investment. It can be ordered immediately. We are currently uploading this option to the online iStill Design Center. It will be online in just a few days. If you can’t wait, please just send us an email.

Example of HAL 9000’s new screen and user interface …



Tell your noisy still to shut up!


There is virtue in silence. Personally and professionally. On a personal level, I hate loud noises. As a still designer and manufacturer, I don’t like noise either. This iStill Blog post is about what I think of noisy stills and why I don’t like them.

Distillery engineering

From an engineering perspective, noise is not a good thing. Unless you are a sound engineer, probably.

In general, when we compare two equal-purposed machines, it is the one making the most noise, while performing its major functions, that is less well put together. Whether it is the original design specifications, the fabrication, assembly, or all these combined, a machine creating increased noise levels indicates something is amiss. This is so, because noise production, in a machine, is the result of either friction or bumping. And both friction and bumping are the result of the constituent parts of that machine touching, meeting or cooperating badly instead of perfectly.

Noise levels, therefore, are a great indicator of the accuracy and precision with which a machine is designed and put together. If design and manufacturing precision is low, more bumping and friction takes place. Bumping and friction leads to enlarged wear & tear as well as to increased noise levels. A noisier machine indicates higher wear & tear, just as that higher wear & tear is the result of sub-optimal design and fabrication processes, of that machine. Like this:

Sub-optimal build => more bumping & friction => high wear & tear => higher noise levels

The opposite is also true. The better a machine is designed, and the more precisely and accurately it is manufactured, the smaller the tolerances. Small tolerances lead to less bumping and friction, resulting in lower wear & tear, and lower associated noise levels. Like this:

Precision build => less bumping & friction => lower wear & tear => lower noise levels

iStill and others

Given the above, noise levels matter. Low noise level stills have limited bumping and friction, resulting in lower wear & tear. A low noise level still can be defined as a precision-build tool. High noise level stills indicate higher levels of bumping and friction, inevitably resulting in higher wear & tear.

Even though there are no specific industry definitions on what noise levels are bad, mediocre, or good, it is possible to investigate and compare how different stills perform. And that is exactly what we will do in the remainder of this paragraph:

  • The iStill 2000 measures a bit above 50 DB. That’s with the agitator at its normal power setting and the heaters on full power. For comparison, a quiet room is 50 DB, while a quiet street is around 60 DB.
  • A 300 liter Mueller measures around 62 DB. For comparison, a quiet street is around 60 DB, while a conversation is around 70 DB.
  • A 2000 liter Holstein distillery system creates around 80 DB. This can be compared to loud singing.

The iStill 2000 is the quietest still on the market …


Translating decibels into loudness

So it becomes clear: the iStill is the quietest quality still out there. But how does 51 DB compare to 62 DB or 80 DB? Let’s translate decibels into loudness:

  1. The iStill is very silent;
  2. The Mueller’s extra 10 DB makes it twice as loud as the iStill is;
  3. The Holstein’s additional 30 DB make it up to eight times louder than the iStill.

From decibels to loudness …



iStills are the most silent stills on the market. A testimony of how well-designed, well-engineered, and well-manufactured they are.

Two other esteemed and well-established still manufacturers score significantly higher on noise production than iStill does.

By their precision-engineering iStills not only limit wear & tear, they also create a safe and sound (pun intended) working environment for you and your staff.


Halewood Wines & Spirits!

We are proud to have Halewood Wines & Spirits as one of our customers. The Liverpool-based company makes a wide range of spirits, own over 25 brands, and are present in 50 countries, worldwide. Over it’s 190 year history, Halewood has become the largest independent producer and distributor of alcoholic products by volume in the UK.  Here is a picture of one of Halewood’s main distilling halls:

One i500, one i2000, and three iStills 5000 …


Our Brands

All work and no play makes Odin a dull man!

Odin a dull man? Let’s prevent that from happening, please! All work, and no play? C’mon Odin, if you don’t play, at least realize your kids do!

Regina van Eijk, Odin’s second daughter, and her Ajax Women’s Football Team, became champions of the Netherlands today. After a 90 minute play the scoreboard measured a 2-2 draw. A shoot-out followed and Ajax won 7-6.

Ajax Women’s Team is the new Netherlands Champion …


Odin with two of his beautiful daughters …


pH-Controlled Fermentation!


In our quest to make distilling easier, we turned our attention to fermenting. Where the actual distillation steps in the spirits production business are about concentrating and selecting the right alcohols and flavors, fermentation is its precursor. Fermentation is where the actual alcohol and (most of) the flavors are created.

Current craft distilling take on fermentation

If fermentation is that important, why does it take the back seat with most (almost all) distillers? It certainly doesn’t for wine and beer makers, but for distillers it somehow does. Weird. I guess it has to do with the focus (to much so) on the nice and shiny stills. And with an (incorrect) understanding as fermentation being an alcohol rather than flavor production process. A shame, since craft distillers should compete with Big Alcohol on flavor, ’cause they never can on economies of scale.

Future craft distilling paradigm on fermentation 

Anyhow, we try and change that perception. One day of our 4-day iStill Certified University workshops deals with fermentation, and how you can manipulate it to create the alcohols and esters you – as a craft distiller – are looking for. Instead of seeing fermentation as a passive process, mostly the bottle-neck of your distillery, I propose a change: see it as the heart of your distillery. It is – after all – where your flavors are made, where you lay the foundation of what will become your rum, brandy, vodka or whiskey.

Fermentation control

If you place fermentation center stage, the next thing that becomes obvious is that you want to control this most important step. Control grants you influence on flavor development. Control allows you to reproduce your drink – at its highest quality level – time and again.

Just as fermentation is key to top shelf beverage production, so is control key to a quality ferment. Hence, when we (at iStill) think about helping you distill better products, we think about how we can provide you that control.

iStill’s solution

The result of that thinking? The iStill Fermenters, available in sizes of 2000 and 5000 liters, come with SG and pH and temperature control. And they are made out of 4 and 5 mm thick stainless steel. If fermentation is key to successful craft distilling, only the best is good enough.

Calibration of the pH probe is done at iStill HQ …


Testing the iStill pH probe in a pH 7.0 solution …


Testing the iStill pH probe in a low pH sugar ferment …


The iStill pH probe …