Innovation: New iStill 5000!


iStill is all about introducing new technology that will make your life as a craft distiller easier. “Distilling made easy” is not just our tagline, it is the compass by which we navigate. And today we are proud to introduce the all new iStill 5000. Distilling made easier, bigger, and faster …

In this Blog post let’s first look at what distillation is al about. Then, as a next step, we can draw up specifications on what constitutes a well-designed still. Last, let’s take a closer look at what the all new iStill 5000 has to offer.

The iStill coffee mug on top of the iStill 5000 cooler and CIP …


What is distilling all about?

Mashing is about turning starch into fermentable sugars. Fermentation, the next step in the spirits production process, is about yeast consuming those sugars and turning them into alcohol and flavors. So … what’s distilling all about? Distilling is about concentrating and harvesting the right alcohols and the best flavors.

For more reading on mashing, please see: If you want to learn more about fermenting, please check out: Here, in this iStill Blog post, let’s dive deeper into the noble science of distilling.

Odin in front of the iStill 5000 …


Distillation as alcohol and flavor concentration process

The distiller’s wine or beer, made during fermentation, has a relatively low alcohol content. Maybe 8 or 9%. Distillation helps concentrate the alcohol and make it stronger.

Given the fact that alcohol boils off with more ease than water, it’s the alcohol molecules that that are overrepresented in the gases created during distillation. When we cool those alcohol rich gases back to liquid, that liquid will be richer in alcohol. Say, for example, that we distill 2000 liters of 8% beer and we distill until we collect 1/3rd of the original boiler charge, we may expect the resulting 650 liters to be around 24, maybe 25%. Stronger than the original charge, but not yet strong enough for bottling (usually at 40%) or barreling (usually at 60%).

The above example shows that a single distillation is not enough to create liquor. That’s why usually a second distillation run is needed, where the 25% low wines are redistilled. The result of the second run? Again, a stronger alcohol concentration. Usually, depending on spirit category and still, somewhere between 60 and 80% for taste rich drinks and 95 to 96% for vodka and GNS.

As explained, distillation is about alcohol concentration. And it is also about flavor concentration. Most flavors, created during fermentation, get concentrated in low wines or final liquor we make during the first and second distillation run. As a general rule of thumb, flavor intensity follows alcohol concentration. Turning an 8% beer into a 25% low wines, concentrates the original wine or beer flavors with a factor 3. Concentrate the 25% low wines into a 75% strong Heart’s cut, and the flavor is again concentrated by a factor 3. Dilution works the same way. If you dilute a 75% Heart’s cut to 50%, using water, you loose 1/3rd of the total flavor intensity.

Assembling the iStill 5000 column …


Distillation as an alcohol and flavor selection process

Not all alcohols are created equal. Some alcohols, like acetones, boil at very low temperatures. Others, like furfural, boil at very high temperatures. Just as with alcohol in general, which has a lower boiling temperature than water, it’s the light alcohols that come over during the first part of the distillation run, while the heavier ones come over during the later part of the run (when the low and medium boiling point alcohols are depleted).

This distinction between factions is very important and is also referred to as Heads (lower boiling point infected alcohol), Hearts (the good stuff), and Tails (high boiling point infected alcohol). During distillation we want to cut out Heads and Tails, while keeping the Hearts. The reason for that? Lower and higher boiling point alcohols like acetone and furfural are not healthy. Cutting them out results in a healthier end result.

Now, let’s continue with the flavor selection part of distillation. Basically, we can group the flavors in three factions:

  1. Base substrate flavors (e.g. grainy flavors in whiskey, molasse flavors in rum);
  2. Fruity flavors;
  3. Root-like and nutty flavors.

Base substrate flavors are highlighted by the Hearts faction. Fruity flavors come over during the first part of the run. Root-like flavors are expressed near the end of the run.

Every drink has a specific flavor profile, with an emphasis on taste intensity, fruity flavors, and more root-like, nutty flavors. Fruit brandy, for instance, has a strong emphasis on fruity flavors. Single malt whisky and pot distilled rum have an emphasis on root-like and nutty flavors. Do you start to see why distillation is so important? Distillation, supported by a well-designed still, helps you concentrate and harvest the right alcohols AND the correct flavors, given the spirits category you want to make!

The iStill 5000 is fully automated …


What’s important in a still?

Given the above, what does the (informed) craft distiller look for in a still? Well, the following five qualities are important, when investigating what still to purchase:

  1. Versatility;
  2. Flavor;
  3. Control;
  4. Ease of use;
  5. Efficiency;
  6. Longevity.

Distillation is a process that often entails (at least) two distillation runs. A stripping run first, and then a finishing run. Versatility means that you invest in a still that can do both stripping runs and finishing runs. Or look for even more versatility: how about a still that can finish in one run and saves you the trouble of doing two runs? (For more reading on versatility, please see:

Okay, strip runs, finishing runs or a one-run-distillation approach helps versatility, helps you play into market developments and changes. But how about flavor? Most flavor is made during fermentation, but if you choose a directly fired still, you can actually gain up to 25% additional flavor due to the Maillard Reaction. If the still can handle on the grain or pulp distillation, there’s another 20% of flavor to be gained. So maybe you are looking for a still that is directly fired and can handle grain and pulp distillation? (For more information, read:

When fermentations aren’t managed well enough, distillers beer and wine can develop sulfur infections. Part of the flavor (correction) process may be that a copper catalyst is needed to help polish your drink. For more reading, please see:

Selecting the right flavors is all about control. Heads and Tails smearing may be needed – depending on the spirit you are making. Heads and Tails cuts are decided by temperatures in the still’s column or riser (in combination with air pressure, air resistance and vapor speeds). More control translates to an enhanced capability to create the exact liquor you wanna make over and over again.

Control has a secondary benefit and that’s ease of use. Knowing what’s going on lets you know what needs to be done. And automation can help make distilling even easier, since computers are great at doing dull tasks like monitoring. You shouldn’t have to take care of your still. Instead, since your time is precious, your still should take care of you. And of making the best possible liquors in the world, while you are busy selling them, telling your story.

Efficiency is important too. Distillation is about heating up a wine or beer, and bringing it to a boil. That’ asks for a lot of energy. The more efficient your still is, the lower your price point will be. Lower costs allow for higher profits and a more sustainable business model. Here’s an interesting read, if you want to learn more on variable costs:

Longevity, last but not least, is another quality where stills should score high. If you buy a cheap, low quality still, it may well run you out of business. Down-time can eat away at your liquidity at a tremendous rate. A well-designed, well-build still is a tool that should help you make money instead of it causing you downtime, expenses and nightmares.

iStill Whisky Distillery …


What still technology is currently available?

Looking around at what’s available is disappointing. Most still technology available to craft distillers is based in the Classical Era (pot stills) or the 1800’s (plated stills and continuous stills)  Let’s share our findings:

  1. Most stills out there score low on versatility. In general, pot stills are either strippers or finishers but seldom both. A one-distillation-approach is theoretically possible with a plated still, but comes at a cost: root-like and nutty end of run flavors hardly come over, creating a less interesting, 2-dimensional rum or whisky;
  2. Most stills are indirectly fired (via a steam boiler and/or jacket), meaning they don’t give you the Maillard Reaction. Some stills (especially the smaller ones) have direct submersible heaters. They could help create the Maillard Reaction, but cannot distill on the grain or pulp, limiting flavor gains;
  3. Existing still technology, at a craft distilling level, offers only manual control. This results in the distiller’s subjective taste deciding on flavor composition. Optimized cuts and repeatable spirits production become impossible to realize;
  4. Ease of use is essential for day-to-day operations as well as brand development. The craft distiller needs to be out there telling his story and selling his drinks. If he (or she) is locked-up behind the still, those two essential roles cannot be fulfilled. And remember: making drinks costs money. It’s selling drinks that keeps the lights on! Unfortunately, since manual control is the standard, most (if not all) stills need constant supervision and human control, taking the distiller out of the branding and marketing operation;
  5. Efficiency. Most units are not insulated, use non-integrated heating systems, and are not designed to optimize for energy consumption;
  6. Longevity. Our research shows that most stills are designed to last. The exceptions are some Chinese and Central/Eastern European still builders. The complaints we heard about some Chinese manufacture, is that it can be made from lower quality stainless steel or that coolers do not work efficiently enough. We haven’t witnessed this ourselves though. The complaints towards a specific Central European still builder is that sheeting is too thin, that they use (corrosive!) iron instead of (promised) stainless steel, and that electronics and agitators fail. Unfortunately, we have proof (pictures and customer testimonials) that these complaints are real.

So, understanding what makes for a successful still made looking at what’s available in the market place quite disappointing. Its either good build quality and poor control (USA, Germany, UK) or some control and bad build quality (Central/Eastern Europe). Time for the next question: what does the iStill 5000 have to offer? Or any iStill, for that matter.

Cheap Polish still breaks down on its maiden run …

IMG_0321 2.jpg

The all new iStill 5000

And here’s what makes our new iStill 5000 unique. Using the same coatrack applied when judging the still technology currently available, we can differentiate between versatility, flavor, control, ease of operation, efficiency, and longevity.

The iStill is the most versatile stills on the market. You can use them to make taste rich product as well as vodka or GNS. Without replacing any parts! The iStill 5000 can strip and finish, or do a one or one-and-a-half distillation approach. Heck, equipped with the agitator and boiler radiator, the unit can even mash and ferment.

The iStill can help you create more flavor than any other still, because it is both directly fired AND can handle on the grain and pulp distillations. Additionally, the copper catalyst can take care of any sulfur infected washes.

The iStill 5000 offers automation and robotization. It basically comes with a digital master distiller to help you out. Here at iStill we are so anal about helping you make the best cuts, about harvesting the best tasting drinks, that we have 0,1 degrees control on our thermometer probes. The robot has a resolution of 0,01 mm. We measure air pressure with an accuracy of 0,1 hPa. Why? Because it helps you make better product consistently.

The iStill 5000 is very easy to operate. On the one hand you can just select your recipe and expect the unit to do the run for you. On the other hand, you can dial in or change any parameter you want to create your own recipes.

As a rule of thumb any iStill can process 7,5 to 8 liters (2 gallons) of wash per kWh. Most other stills score below one liter per kWh spent! This means the iStill is the most efficient unit on the market.

Longevity? Every iStill is designed to run 24/7 and to do so for decades instead of years. We use the highest grades stainless steel, and sheet thickness on the iStill 5000 is an unprecedented 5 mm.

Our digital master distiller is at your service via the iStill Spirits Library …


iStill 5000 specifications

  • 5,000 liter net capacity;
  • Insulated flush square boiler design;
  • Newly designed 12 inch diameter column;
  • Gin hooks;
  • Weight: 1350 kilo;
  • Sizes: 250x255x450/600 (wide, deep, high, in centimeters, potstill/column);
  • Power: 90 kW;
  • Stripping, gin distilling: 200 liters per hour at 30%;
  • Finishing brandy, rum, and whisky: 120 liters per hour at 60%;
  • Finishing vodka: 75 liters per hour at 95%;
  • Run time: 8 – 12 hours (stripping, finishing taste rich, finishing vodka);
  • iStill Boiler Radiator for direct (instead of indirect) cooling;
  • Manholes: 40/60 cm diameter, one at top, one near bottom;
  • Supports on the grain, potato or pulp distillation;
  • Patented indirect heater system;
  • PLC system and touch screen computer, with:
  • Automated distillation programs;
  • Cuts, time, temperature, agitator, power management and air pressure control;
  • Internet connectivity, smartphone & computer management and control;
  • Optional: WiFi, pot still column, glass column sections, extractor, etc.

iStill 5000: the complete package …


Pricing, availability and delivery

We have build the first series of three all new iStills 5000. Two got sold to Australia, the third one will go to Scotland in a few weeks.

New orders or requests for information can be placed via  Or go to Current lead time is 3 to 4 months. Prices start at EUR 70.000,-.

Assembling the iStill 5000 …


Example: iStill Gin Distillery!

Introduction: start the new year with a gin & tonic!

Here’s the third iStill Blog post in a series of four, where we dive into how our equipment helps you out starting your distillery. Today’s topic? Gin distilling. What equipment do you need to make gin and how does investing in an iStill translate to production numbers? Yes, we are primarily focussing on iStill equipment. Not on pumps, labelers and bottle-filling machines.

iStill 500

Basically all you need to start producing gin is an iStill 500. You buy in grain neutral spirit (GNS), fill the boiler with 150 liters of it, add 300 liters of water, and add the herbs.

The iStill 500 allows you to boiler infuse or vapor infuse, or any combination of both. It performs your gin runs, and if there are heads and tails left, you can use the vodka programs to clean those up into re-usable GNS.

The base model will do the job. We’d advice you add Dynamic Cuts Management for even more control over cuts.

Total investment? EUR 27.000,-. Or EUR 574,- (est.) per month for 5 years if you want to go for the rent-to-own programs we support in the US and UK.

iStill 500 …


Production numbers

With the iStill 500, you can basically do one gin run per day. The run will take 8 to 9 hours and yields up to 400 bottles. If you want to run your iStill 500 for 5 days per week, you can easily produce 2,000 bottles in that time frame. On a 50 week per year production roster, an iStill 500 based gin distillery can make up to 100,000 bottles per year! Pretty impressive, isn’t it? Energy input costs? A ground breaking 0,5 kWh per bottle.

Design your own iStill Distillery online!

Do you want to design your own distillery? Gin or otherwise? Please check out:

The iStill 500 is your perfect gin distillery …


New World Distillery / iStill One for sale!


Chris and Ashley, how did you end up being craft distillers?

In short, we turned a hobby in to an occupation.  After more than two decades in military service (Chris) and public education (Ashley), we needed a change.  We were young enough to take risks and seek out a new adventure, and old enough to have the wisdom to make smart decisions regarding equipment that gives us the ability to create craft spirits with precision control and replicability.

We wanted our customers to have visual access to our production floor so we built our building to highlight our process and our equipment and that enables us to speak in great detail about how we do things differently using iStill fermenters and stills.

There is still a great deal of mystery and misunderstanding surrounding the spirits world in the United States and we pride ourselves in embracing a strong educational component in our interactions with our customers. As Chris says, we are trying to create an army of “spirits geeks” one customer at a time.

Can you tell us a bit more about your distillery and what products you make?

Chris has been chasing tequila most of his life, and I have been a gin drinker since before I was even of legal age to consume alcohol. So we knew that both spirits would define our introduction into the craft distilling world. We worked on our gin R&D recipe for over a year and opened New World Distillery with Oomaw Gin as our launch product. To date, Oomaw is a multiple-award-winning gin, both internationally and domestically and is fast becoming the top selling craft gin in the state of Utah.

We are the only distillery in the state of Utah making Agave Spirits and we released our Rabbit and Grass Blanco on Earth Day of 2017 and our Reposado on the Summer Solstice in 2018.  Our Ogden Valley VODKA is a popular item and is one of only two vodkas in the entire country distilled from agave. Vodka, is quite frankly, difficult to make well at a craft scale, and this is why we opened with two stills instead of one, with the iStill allowing us to make vodka that is simply better than others. This is a pure, 100% neutral vodka for martini drinkers.

We have a line of spirits designated as the Uncharted Series for smaller batch productions and limited releases. We have released a unique, single-barrel agave spirit aged in Hungarian oak on this line, as well as a barrel-rested gin and most recently, an Apple Eau de Vie in which we source apples from a local farm nearby. Another farm-to-glass product we make is our Wasatch Blossom Tart Cherry Liqueur.  We site-distill the base spirit for this unique liqueur, source local Montmorency Tart Cherries and sweeten only with organic agave nectar. We put our first batches of Bourbon in casks in September.

How is it being located in Utah, a state not known for its liberal alcohol laws?

It sucks ass.

How did you find out about iStill and how is it to work with them?

We were pretty far down the copper brandy still path when we happened upon iStill. So glad we did! Now we have equipment that allows us to make our quite diverse array of products, and at a quality level we demand. It has been a great relationship, from training in the Netherlands to continued support of our new equipment.

What’s your current set-up? What equipment do you use?

Currently we have 2x 2000L Fermenters, and an older iStill 500 Pro and the newest of the new iStill 2000. We ordered our new iStill 2000 to replace the 1200L iStill One we have. The bigger size helps to keep up with demand. It also allows us to increase our fermentation capacity with another 2000L, since the new unit can distill as well as ferment.

Okay, so you have an iStill One for sale! Can you tell us what you ask for it?

Yes, with the new iStill 2000 now being operational, we have an iStill One for sale. She has a name, actually: Jane. And we are asking $12,500 USD. For more information, please contact

Ashley and Chris on top of their iStill One …


Example: iStill Whiskey Distillery!

Introduction: whiskey to keep you warm

Here’s the second iStill Blog post in a series of three, where we dive into how our equipment helps you out starting your distillery. Today’s topic? Whiskey distilling! What equipment do you need to make whiskey and how does an investment in iStill equipment translate to production numbers? Yes, iStill as your one-stop-shop for all of your craft distilling equipment!

iStill Masher 5000, iStill Fermenter 5000 and iStill 5000

Basically, what you need to start producing top shelf whiskey in big quantities is one 5000 liter iMasher, five 5000 liter iFermenters, and an iStill 5000. You buy in grains and mash them in the iStill Masher 5000. Then transfer the mash into one of the fermenters and add the yeast. When the fermentation is done, use the iStill 5000 to do a single pass finish and turn your distiller’s beer in an amazing whiskey.

The masher gives you full control over the saccharification process. The iStill Fermenters help you optimize both flavor and alcohol production. The automated programs give you full control over cuts and flavor profiles. The iStill 5000 will help you – like no other still out there – at concentrating the alcohol and harvesting the best flavors.

If you want to learn more about the iStill Masher, please read:

Wanna know more about the iStill Fermenter? Then check this link:


The iStill Masher 5000 costs EUR 50.000,-. The 5000 liter fermenters are EUR 25.000,-. The all new iStill 5000 with Jet Propulsion Agitator System, indirect heaters, and Dynamic Cuts Management? EUR 89.500,-. Total investment in your craft distillery adds up to EUR 265.500,-. If you are from the USA or UK and interested in rent-to-own, the monthly costs, on a five year scheme, would be EUR 5.650,-.

Production numbers

On a four to five day fermentation schedule,  the iStill whiskey distillery outputs up to 35,000 liters of 8% whiskey beer weekly. Via distillation in the iStill 5000, this translates to around 5,800 bottles worth of New Make. Mind you: the angels’ share is not incorporated.

If you produce 50 weeks every year, your iStill whiskey distillery yields up to 290,000 bottles per year. Energy costs of mashing, fermenting, and distilling? Less than 1 kWh per bottle.

The iStill whiskey distillery …


Example: iStill Rum Distillery!


Here’s the first iStill Blog post in a series of four, where we dive into how our total product-line helps you at starting your distillery. Today’s topic? Rum distilling! What equipment do you need to make rum and how does investing in iStill equipment translate to production numbers? Yes, we are primarily focussing on the primary production process. Not on pumps, labelers and bottle-fillers.

iStill Fermenter 5000 and iStill 2000

Basically, all you need to start producing rum in sizable quantities is a 5000 liter iStill Fermenter and an iStill 2000. You buy in molasses. Put it in the iFermenter. Add water and yeast. With the iStill Fermenter, you will be able to ferment to around 5000 liter of 10% rum wines in two to three days. That’s 10,000 liters of ready to distill ferment per week.

For more reading on the amazing flavor development tools, the iStill Fermenter gives you, please see:

Now use the iStill 2000 to create any type of rum you like. Light, medium, heavy, its all there, in the automation and software. For you to select, for you to control. Or decide to delegate control to your iStill and spend your time where on other craft distilling tasks. However you choose to do things, please know that the iStill 2000 can finish your 10,000 liters of rum wines in 5 runs. That’s one run a day, five days per week.


The iStill Fermenter 5000 costs EUR 25.000,-. We advice you to equip the iStill 2000 with Dynamic Cuts Management. An additional manhole on the still is always nice. The iFermenters have one as standard, but for the iStills it’s a choice.

Thus equipped, the iStill 2000 will cost you EUR 43.250,-. Total investment in your rum distillery? EUR 68.250,-. If you are from the USA or UK and interested in rent-to-own, the monthly costs, on a five year scheme, would be EUR 1.453,-.

Production numbers

Two ferments per week add up to 10,000 liters of 10% rum wine. Via distillation in the iStill 2000, this amount translates to around 2,000 bottles of finished rum per week. If you produce during 50 weeks every year, your iStill rum distillery yields up to 100,000 bottles per year. Energy costs? It will do so at an energy input of less than 0,75 kWh per bottle.

Design your own iStill Distillery online!

Do you want to design your own distillery? Rum or otherwise? Please check out:

The iFermenter 5000 and the iStill 2000 for your perfect rum distillery …


Innovation: New iStill Mini!


With the first batches of iStills Mini sold out in only weeks after its introduction, it was time to learn from the feedback we got. Time to make our all new product development still even more awesome. Here is an iStill Blog post on what we changed … and how you benefit.

3D rendering of the new iStill Mini (boiler & lid) is part of the design process …


iStill Mini, what is it?

The iStill Mini is our 6 liter (net) capacity product development still. We want our customers to be able to design their spirits in an affordable, yet fully scalable way. The iStill 100 was too big for many for recipe development, so that’s where the 6 liter iStill Mini chimes in. And – contrary to product development on air stills, glass ware or small copper alembics – the recipe designed on the Mini can be scaled up to any of the bigger iStills. In fact, if you do a run on the iStill Mini and cut for Heads, Hearts, and Tails, you can one-on-one translate the temperatures to the run settings on the bigger production stills.

The iStill Mini comes with a reflux valve for you to manage purity vs taste. And it is equipped with a power manager for perfect control over vapor speeds and run times. It also has digital Wifi thermometer probes that communicate to an app that you can run from your smartphone or tablet.

So … what’s new?

Let’s start with the boiler. The boiler now has a drain. You guessed it: for easier draining after the run!

iStill Mini boiler (not yet insulated) with drain …


The lid, that sits on top of the boiler, is now of a 3D design, allowing for more strength and delivers a fully horizontal plateau to mount the column on. This 3D design also allows the lid (with or without the column) to be taken of the boiler and stand on its own. In the previous version, this was – due to the protruding gin hook and the 2D lid design impossible. The better stability is definitely an advantage. The 3D design also allows us to have our name, iStill, jump out much more.

The new design (pre-acid bath cleaning) compared to the old lid …


The column now consists of three parts instead of two. Column, collection plates, and column cooler. This makes packing your column much easier.

The packing itself, we upgraded as well. Instead of using SPP, the new iStill Mini comes with our in-house designed Helicon Column Packing, for more versatility and a more stable run. An expensive upgrade, but it is what we use in the bigger stills and we want you to have the best. Please see the picture underneath.

From left to right: traditional SPP vs iStill HCP …


Not only is the column now packed with iStill HCP, it now also comes with ferules and tri-clamps. This makes it easier to assemble or disassemble the column.

The extractor has a wider opening, for easier access, and a bigger syphon. The extractor can be added via tri-clamps instead of thread.

The new iStill Mini Extractor …


Finally, the product cooler will now hang vertically. Like on the bigger machines.


The new iStill Mini is available for EUR 3.000,-.

Trolley …



We have finished building another batch of 50 iStills Mini. The metal work is done. Insulation and assembly starts in January 2019. Delivery will take place from the end of January onwards. If you want to order the all new iStill Mini, please contact:

  • For the UK:
  • For the Americas:
  • For Australia, South-East Asia, and New Zealand:
  • For India:
  • For Europe (and the rest of the world):

The first of the new series (pre-insulation and final assembly) …