Making Sloe Gin … iStill Style!


This post deals with what it is, how it is made, and how iStill helps you produce better sloe gin in a more economical manner.

What is sloe gin?

Sloe gin is a traditional English liqueur, made from – you guessed it – gin and sloes. It is traditionally consumed at and around Christmas. And is integral to the UK hunting scene, where it is the drink of choice. Sloe gin is usually 25 to 35% strong, sweetened, and bright red in color.

Now that looks delicious …


How is sloe gin made?

For around 150 liters of sloe gin, this is the traditional way to go:

  1. Pick 50 kilo’s of ripe sloes;
  2. Wash them with water;
  3. Puncture them with a fork or tooth pick;
  4. Throw them into your maceration tank;
  5. Add 25 kilo’s of sugar;
  6. Add 100 liters of gin;
  7. Macerate for 8 – 10 weeks;
  8. Strain the berries out of the liquid;
  9. Bottle the sloe gin.

Fresh sloe berries …


Making sloe gin … iStill style!

The amazing extractor technology, that iStill designed, makes sloe gin production very easy. Here is the procedure:

  1. Pick 5 kilo’s of ripe sloes;
  2. Wash them with water;
  3. Puncture them with a fork or tooth pick;
  4. Throw them into the iStill Extractor;
  5. Add 100 liters of gin to your iStill;
  6. Choose the Extraction Program and let it run for 8 hours;
  7. Add the sugar and mix it in;
  8. Bottle the sloe gin directly from your iStill.

iStill Extractor …



Instead of making sloe gin via maceration, we propose to use our Extractor technology. Basically you load your iStill with gin. That gin is then used to extract flavors and color from the sloe berries, that sit in the Extractor. When the extraction is done, you have created a sour slow gin in the boiler of your iStill. Add the sugar and mix it in. You can now directly syphon the ready to bottle sloe gin from the iStill’s boiler.

This example is for around 150 liters of sloe gin. Using different sized iStills and Extractors, please know the recipe is perfectly scalable. Depending on the size of your iStill and Extractor, you can now make anything from 100 to 5000 liters of sloe gin per day!


There are two major benefits to the iStill style of sloe gin production. First, you only need 10% of the berries to get to the same flavor and color levels as maceration does. This means you can save 90% on your most essential substrate: the sloe berries (and the ordeal of picking them). Put differently – if the amount of sloe berries is your bottle-neck – you can now produce 10 times more sloe gin, when using a similar amount to the traditional maceration approach!

The second big benefit of using iStill’s technology, when making sloe gin, has to do with time. Maceration, the traditional way of how to produce a sloe gin, takes up to 10 weeks. Sloe gin production iStill style takes a day. This means that if people, tank size, and throughput time are essential to your production schedule, the iStill approach saves you up to 90% of time, energy, and money invested.

iStill Automated Sloe Gin Extraction Program …


Two Tall Distillers from Madison!

Nick Hanson and Dave Farnia met at age 19 when they were assigned lab partners in a UW-Madison engineering class. Nearly 20 years later, they’re still friends — and working together again in a different kind of lab.

In September 2016, the pair opened Two Tall Distilling at 5353 Maly Road in Sun Prairie. Their spouses, Amy Hanson and Stephanie Farnia, are co-owners in the venture. It’s a small facility at the end of a country road — 1,800 square feet with a tasting room and three stills producing gin, vodka, whiskey and specialty liqueur. “We thought maybe we had to apologize a bit about that,” Stephanie Farnia says of the facility’s modest size. “But we’re finding that the small scale is letting us experiment.”

The Two Tall Distilling Team …


While working their day engineering jobs, Nick and Dave got interested in collecting and tasting Scotch and other types of whiskey. They began taking distillery tours around the Minneapolis area, where both were living at the time. They asked questions about the distillation process and recipe development. “A lot of what we heard was that [distilling] is an art,” Nick says. “Our basic idea was that we could do this, and we could do it a lot better if we apply what we learned as engineers to the process.”

A commercial distillery permit in Minnesota costs about $10,000, which was too expensive for the hobbyists. But when both happened to move back to Madison at similar times about two years ago, they found that in Wisconsin a distilling permit Wisconsin a distilling permit only costs $1,000 every two years.

From talking to others in the industry, they learned that many craft distillers struggle with consistency. Nick says an automated system solves the problem. “There’s definitely an art in terms of the taste and being creative,” he says. “But we want to figure out, once that art produces something, how to turn it into the scientific part.”

Two Tall Distilling’s iStill 500 …


The foursome has enjoyed creating and testing recipes that use such local ingredients as chokeberries from a farm in Oregon, sorghum syrup from Lodi, and honey from Door County. They’ve put out a barrel-aged gin, a London dry gin and a vodka made from corn, barley and rye. Whiskey is currently aging and will be available later this year. But the sleeper hit has been their coffee liqueur, which is made with French pressed coffee from Just Coffee Cooperative.

“That’s the one people seem really excited about,” Stephanie says.

Two Tall Distilling’s Coffee Liqueur …


Two Tall sells spirits from its tasting room, which is open some Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. (check the website,, for updated hours) and is available for private events. The spirits are available in local stores, and they’ve also partnered with The Lone Girl Brewing Company in Waunakee to develop signature drinks for the bar. All four co-owners are still working day jobs, but Nick is hopeful that might change as the company grows. When asked how the Two Tall Distilling lab compares to others he’s worked in, he laughs and says: “This is a lot more fun.”

Single Malt Whisky Review!


Here is a review by Mark Dermul, whisky connaisseur. Mark is a whisky lover in general, and an Auchentoshan collector in particular (google Toshan Man)!

He has has is own Whiskyblog (in Flemish) at, where he posts daily whisky news and tasting notes. Mark also has a You Tube channel under the same name, where Whisky Video Ramblings are posted in English.

Mark is also co-owner of MMM Mark & Manny’s Malts. Check out, where you’ll find their single cask releases.

His favourite whiskies are Auchentoshan, BenRiach, Port Ellen, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Greenore, Caol Ila, and Caperdonich. His latest review? Bart Joosten’s Eaglesburn Single Malt Whisky. Yes, made on an iStill.


Dark & Sweet & Smoky

I had mentioned the Dutch Eaglesburn from Bart Joosten before, when he launched his gin and rum, but also his cask aged spirit and the 1 years old Xenna. I then wrote that I was eagerly awaiting the first single malt release and… here it is! Distilled on the 8th October 2015 and bottled on the 10th October 2018, so finally there is a new Dutch whisky. This one is produced from a peated spirit, that matured in a combination of Virgin Oak and 1st Fill Bourbon barrels. As it is a single cask and his first release, Bart decided to release it in small 20cl bottles.

Let me start with some good advice. Pour the whisky (don’t be thrifty, even though it is only a small bottle) and leave it to breath for four to five minutes. You’ll thank me later. The nose is a prelude to a flavor bomb and I’m sure the virgin oak has a lot to do with that. Citrus fruit (mostly sugared orange peel, in fact), plums, vanilla ice cream and apfelstrüdel, grainy wood and cinnamon. It has a candy-like quality that I quite fancy. And let’s not forget the peat. This translates to a light, but pleasant smokiness on the nose.

The body is creamy and mouth coating, the ABV perfectly quaffable. It is even a touch piquant. Pepper, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg. At first, the spices take the lead, but then the other aromas burst on the palate. Plums, oranges, mandarins in syrup, tinned pineapple. A spicy fruit salad with a bitter edge from the wood and a surprisingly salty edge. All of this is wrapped in a lovely blanket of soft peat.

The finish is the trump card of this young malt. Dark and sweet and smoky and it lasts forever. Impressive!

Do not expect an Islay whisky (that is not what Bart is trying to do either), but be ready for a flavor bomb. And this after only three years? Very, very tasty! The retail price of 32.50 EUR is anything but cheap (because that would make it 114 EUR for a 70cl bottle), but it is a craft whisky and then some. I for one did not hesitate. Recommended!

“Het Arsenaal”, in Doesburg, where Eaglesburn Distillery is situated …


Tight Fit in Tasmania!

We are helping Sarah Gunn open our first iStill Distillery on Tasmania! The Summerleas Distillery. Underneath are a few pictures. Also, please know we still have a few places available for the iStill 4-day workshop that we’ll be organizing at the Summerleas Distillery from October 31st till November 3rd. For more information, please reach out to

Nope, with the crate it does not fit …


Yes, now it does …


New iStill Assembly Hall!

Due to the growing worldwide demand for iStills, we are expanding. As of today, we added another assembly hall to our facilities. It offers 300 m2 of floor space and is 9 meters high. That’s over 3,200 feet square and 27 feet high. The hall will be refurbished a bit in the coming week and a half (water, heating, electricity), and will then serve to help build more iStills. Here are a few pictures:

Big in Japan!

Here are a few pictures of our latest Japanese customers. They bought an iStill 2000 and will produce whisky, brandy, and gin.

Kohei in front of the University’s iStill 500 NextGen, mashing whisky …


Making brandy … do you see the heads to hearts smearing take place?


iStill in Japanese … ?