We invented a way to purify your heads and tails!

Willem’s Miracle Powder

Making careful cuts for hearts, leaves you with heads and tails losses. Well, here is the good news: as of today they are losses no more! iStill’s chemist Willem has tested a powder and designed a purification protocol, that will help you clean up your heads and tails to the extend that they will become your purest vodka or GNS. Want to learn more? Yes, you do, so let’s dive in deeper!

The Goal

Heads and tails are full of flavors. Mostly off-flavors, and that’s why you cut them out. But a deeper analysis learns us that the vast majority of those heads and tails are actually … hearts. Good ethanol, contaminated by small fractions of actual lower and higher boiling point alcohols and their associated flavor molecules aka esters.

The goal of Willem’s Miracle Powder? To recover this ethanol, but to get rid of the bad alcohols and bad flavors. Now, redistilling heads and tails during a vodka program on the iStill does a great job at getting rid of the bad alcohols. But the compaction of heads and tails, leads to the associated bad flavors to leach into the ethanol recovery.

Again, the goal of Willem’s Miracle Powder and this new procedure? To destroy the esters found in your heads and tails factions.

The Thought Process

If you have followed the iStill University, you have learned all about esterification and how flavor molecules are formed. You remember Odin’s Esterification Formula? And how a low pH results in more flavor molecules or esters being created?

Guess what, the opposite is true as well! If you make your heads and tails factions very alkaline, instead of acidic, you can destroy the alcohol-carbon bonds that make up the ester molecule. Treating your heads and tails factions and then distilling it in vodka mode, breaks up the esters, recovers the ethanol, and helps you turn what was a loss into the purest vodka or GNS possible.

The Procedure

  1. Add your heads and tails faction to the iStill;
  2. Dilute the heads and tails faction to 30% ABV;
  3. Add sodium hydroxide (0.4 grams per liter of diluted heads and tails faction);
  4. “Sodium hydroxide” as in caustic soda, also used by breweries to clean their stainless steel brewing equipment;
  5. Mix the sodium hydroxide in (be careful, this is not the stuff you want to inhale or get in touch with!);
  6. Start the vodka program;
  7. Choose the heads stabilization program to be at least 60 minutes;
  8. Distill as per usual;
  9. Toss heads and tails, keep hearts – the most neutral and delicious vodka;
  10. Treat the boiler content with citric acid to bring pH back to 7;
  11. Drain your boiler and rinse the system with water.

The Results

The results of the above procedure are amazing. The worst heads and tails turn into a beautiful vodka or GNS. That’s not just our opinion, but a scientific fact. Do you want to see some of the proof?

A chromatographic overlay of a 1% ethyl acetate solution (a heads faction) in purple, a 0.1% ethyl acetate solution in yellow, an untreated heads sample in green, and the black line (look careful!), that signifies the heads sample after treatment with Willem’s Miracle Powder (aka sodium hydroxide):

The above chromatographic analysis proves that iStill’s Heads & Tails Purification Procedure successfully removes the associated headsy esters from a heads (the graph title mistakenly says “hearts”) sample.

But that is not all! How does the procedure do against other heads and tails flavors? Well, here is the outcome of further CG analysis. In purple you see the various esters available in an untreated heads and tails sample. The black, line that is significantly lower, represents the ester count after the purification procedure:

But that is not all! This procedure, since you basically use a cleaning agent, also makes your boiler shine as if it were new.

The Conclusion

iStill’s Heads & Tails Purification Protocol works a charm. It allows the craft distiller that possesses iStill equipment to process former heads and tails losses and turn them into the purest vodka or (reusable) GNS.

The iStill is not a still, it is a distillery!

“Good morning Odin! I just wanted to share this with you because having made the right choice makes me feel really good. I have been mashing-in corn and barley, fermenting, and distilling non-stop for 2 months now. I have been able to process 1.7 tons of grain per month (all this on my own). All this would not have been possible without my iStill along with the rest of my setup, and the experience to manage all that, of course!”

Aristides Distilling uses an iStill 2000 to mash, ferment, and distill (in one run) whisky and bourbon …


One Stop Shop!


iStill is a one stop shop. As a craft distiller, you develop, produce, and sell your own spirits. We help you with each and every step. Why? Acquiring equipment without knowing how to make a great gin, rum, or whiskey doesn’t make sense. Making great product without knowing how to sell it, doesn’t make much sense either. That’s the “why”. Now, let us dive into the “how”.


To be able to distill great spirits, you first need to become a great distiller. The iStill University offers an amazing theoretical course as well as a hands-on follow-up course. The iStill Mini is the perfect training still and the perfect recipe development still. Our courses aim to help you become a craft distiller. This means that you learn how to create recipes, how to distill these recipes into quality spirits, and how to sell them and take advantage of market opportunities. As a graduated student, you can apply to the iStill University Facebook group, where over 300 fellow iStillers help each other out, asking and answering questions.


Our distilling equipment is based on 21st century theory and technology. Not on romantic ideas stemming from the 1800’s. You are opening a business, after all, and not a museum, right? Okay, so here’s what we offer: modern equipment with unparalleled process control. It helps make distilling easier. More controlled spirits production processes, so improved reproducibility, resulting in higher quality products at lower production costs. Again, you are a craft distiller, not the night manager at the Smithsonian.

Recipe development

Do you want your recipes and spirits to be top notch? Of course you do. We offer recipe development services that help you perfect your spirits. Together, our training and equipment and recipe development services help you win medals. See: https://istill.com/halloffame/


Ki No Bi Gin from Kyoto, Japan!

Our customer, The Kyoto Distillery from Japan, is the proud producer of the amazing Ki No Bi Gin.

Do you want to learn more about their gin? Please check out the article in this link:


Do you want to see the awards they won with their approach? Please check out their website:


Backroads Spirits Co!

Hello Esther, 

We noticed your blog post asking to send your team our medals that we have won using iStill. Our company Backroads Spirits Co. only started distilling our debut product, Alibi Vodka, a few months ago before entering the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. At the competition we received a silver medal which we are extremely proud of for having only started recently.

We are proudly a family-owned and operated micro-distillery in Saskatchewan, Canada and proud to use iStill! If you need, our social media handle is @BackroadsSpirits for Facebook and Instagram. Attached you can find two photos of our product family with our medal and company logo. One photo has text with our branding while the other does not. I will let your team decide which one you prefer!

If you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to contact me with the information below.

Thank you and have a great day, 

Chase Shevernoha

Sales/Marketing Representative 
Backroads Spirits Co.


PS: Check out their website and see how they embrace modern technology!!!