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Odin on Gin

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Congrats!

Regards, Odin.

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Congrats! Four medals to our customer Pixel Spirits from Scotland for their amazing gins! Made in batches of 70 to 80 bottles at a time with the iStill 100!

https://www.obantimes.co.uk/2020/01/21/ballachulish-gin-distillery-scoops-four-gongs-at-the-world-gin-awards/?fbclid=IwAR3rDqEZioiQjbIHDvIwuOVb6fy1h2D_RnMNhBhwiZFlK8eLy7oJRvgGE10

Regards, Odin.

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Odin, do you recommend crushing or grinding our base of juniper and coriander prior to macerating? It seems like these elements aren't carrying over as strongly as they should even though they account for well over half of the botanical bill. What about orris root, its already in small chunks but does it need to be ground further? Everything we hear and read says you need to have orris root to help bind the botanicals together, but we don't see that happening. All the other botanicals come through as they should despite their small quantities, but its still not as "elegant" as we would like. As far as recipe dev goes we are basically following the proportions listed in the early days of this thread. Cheers!

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Juniper and coriander are 75% of my bill and mine isn't juniper forward..

I don't think anyone recommends grinding those.

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15 hours ago, Storm King Distilling Co. said:

Odin, do you recommend crushing or grinding our base of juniper and coriander prior to macerating? It seems like these elements aren't carrying over as strongly as they should even though they account for well over half of the botanical bill. What about orris root, its already in small chunks but does it need to be ground further? Everything we hear and read says you need to have orris root to help bind the botanicals together, but we don't see that happening. All the other botanicals come through as they should despite their small quantities, but its still not as "elegant" as we would like. As far as recipe dev goes we are basically following the proportions listed in the early days of this thread. Cheers!

Storm King, it is a lot of work to do so. Yes you get better extraction, if you grind the juniper berries and coriander, but I wouldn't do it. Coriander comes over a-plenty on its own. Especially with the nowadays often African (or non-European) origens that are much higher in oils. Juniper: soak 'm overnight at 60%, that should do the job. If you find your current result less than elegant: 1. What still are you running them through; 2. What power settings do you use; 3. What altitude are you at?

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7 hours ago, Odin said:

Storm King, it is a lot of work to do so. Yes you get better extraction, if you grind the juniper berries and coriander, but I wouldn't do it. Coriander comes over a-plenty on its own. Especially with the nowadays often African (or non-European) origens that are much higher in oils. Juniper: soak 'm overnight at 60%, that should do the job. If you find your current result less than elegant: 1. What still are you running them through; 2. What power settings do you use; 3. What altitude are you at?

So we started doing gin two years ago and the first batches were all vapor distilled. Last year we switched over and macerated all the botanicals. We did Juniper and Coriander at 60% overnight then cut down to 30% and added the rest. We run a still dragon 100gal, steam heated pot still. The last 4 batches we have bypassed the gin basket and simply done a pot still run. We typically heat up to around 140F at full steam then cut back to a trickle. We start getting spirit coming through when the kettle is around 165F-170F and the spirit is 80%. We run for 5-6 hours until the vapor temp is approximately 190 and the spirit is down to about 50%. We let it sit in stainless tanks for 7-8 weeks and slowly proof it down over that time. We are located at nearly 6000ft elevation.

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So, I don't know the SD set-up well enough, but please be sure to run it without plates. Gin is best when pot distilled. Also you altitude is very high. Low air pressure results in very high vapor speeds, which can easily result in pulling over tailsy flavors (too) early in the run. If you tell me what your column (potstill style) diameter is and what power settings you use, I can make a more educated guess.

Regards, Odin.

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Odin, here is our setup for our gin, vodka, and random other things (basically anything I don't want messing with our whiskey). We don't use the column for gin and the last two batches we made we macerated 100% of the botanicals. Prior to that we did vapor infusion using the gin basket in the middle of the setup. After the 6" diameter, 6" tall stainless "head" the still has 2" pipe that works up, around the column, and then across to the condenser. Would we improve things by having a 6" pipe replacing that first vertical section coming out of the kettle? As far as power input, since its steam all I can say is the boiler produces 7 psi during the run and we have the valve at the still completely open until its 140F then we turn the valves down to barely let a trickle of steam in. The pressure inside the steam jacket is barely enough to see a measurable reading, so always less than 1psi.

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Would you mind sharing the contact for the bottles that you used for the No. 8 Dry Gin?

 

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Storm King, what power do you run in kW, when making the gin, and what is the diameter of the riser?

101, that would be a gin from the Earp Brothers out of Australia.

Regards, Odin.

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9 hours ago, Odin said:

Storm King, what power do you run in kW, when making the gin, and what is the diameter of the riser?

101, that would be a gin from the Earp Brothers out of Australia.

Regards, Odin.

So I have been searching for a way to convert our steam input to Kw and can't seem to find the math for that. The boiler maintains 7 psi of steam during the run and we keep the pressure inside the steam jacket at about 1 PSI during the run. There is an 8" diameter reducer that runs 8" to a 2" pipe which then runs 60" up. Here is a chart of temps and proof during our last macerated (no gin basket) run. Keep in mind the proofs are rounded and the temp for the vapor is taken at the top of the condenser, which is 110" of 2" pipe horizontally from the top of the column/riser (ideally we'd have temp at the top of the riser). Does this give a better indication of what might be the issue as far as developing a more "elegant" gin. I should say that we have been consistently receiving silver medals and our patrons all love our gin...I just know it can be better.

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So, quite honestly, there is not enough information for me to go on. But guessing my way forward, here is what could happen. Some calculations first, then a conclusion and maybe some advice that could help you manufacture a solution. 100 gallon system = 400 liters. I work / think in metric, hence the conversion. Not sure if that is gross or net capacity, but as most manufacturers advertise gross boiler content, I am going to estimate 300 liters net capacity. Now, I will bring up the numbers of the iStill 500. Why? Because it is most comparable in size and optimized for perfect vapor speed management (more on why that is important later). With us, 500 means 500 liters net. So your system is smaller and matches up to 60%. Looking at your run times, well, there seems nothing wrong there. Depending on the gin we run, 8 hours could be what we'd do with the i500 as well. So that's good for comparison.

My design is directly fired and insulated and around 90% energy efficient. I estimate an uninsulated indirect design to be around 50% efficient. So my guess is that you are probably throwing the same kind of power (gross) at your unit as we do with ours. Your boiler content size is smaller than the i500, but your set-up being less efficient sorta compensates for that. Efficiency answering the question of how much of the gross energy input is actually used to distill (vs. heating up your distillery). Why the above line of thinking (and its outcome) are important? Because it tells me that the amount of vapors produced in your unit (for instance in liters or gallons per second or minute) are relatively equal to my set-up. So that part is fine. Relatively meaning that your 60% net boiler size is matched by overall lower net power input that seems to be at around 60% of what I would run.

Your gross power input might be the same as on my system. Your net power usage for vapor production is in line with your unit holding net 300 liters vs. mine holding 500 liters. Your set-up probably creates 60% of the vapors when compared to my design.

Time to move on from power and boiler and overall system efficiency to the column. The iStill 500 that I choose as a comparison has a 5 inch column. That's 12.5 cms (again, I am metric). So the radius is 5.5 cms. Compensating downwards from 6.25 because of the thickness of the column wall and the fact that the iStill 500 column is packed, which eats away 10%. Now, what is the surface area in my column, were we to cut it in half and look down into it? It is 95 square cms or about 16 square inches. Your riser is 2 inch in diameter. Let's say 1.8 net. This means the surface area in your riser is only 2.55 square inch. That's only 16% of my (optimized) design. Why is that important? Here we go:

With some assumptions, and based on limited information, I concluded, in the first paragraph, that your set-up produces roughly 60% of the amount of gas (liters per minute or in gallons per minute, that does not matter) than my design does. Expecting you to have adequate cooling in place to knock all gasses back down to liquid phase via your product cooler, this merits the following assessment: the vapors in your set-up move WAY too fast. Say that given a certain time interval an optimized gin still creates 100 liters or 100 gallons of gas vs. your set-up producing 60 liters or 60 gallons in that same time interval. Comparing the i500 to your set-up here. If we divide 100 by 16 the outcome is a relative speed inside my column of 6.25. When we divide 60 by 2.55 square inch, the vapor speed in your column is 23.5. That is 3.7 times faster. The gasses in your set-up travel way too fast. Why is that important?

It is important because higher vapor speeds suck up higher boiling point associated rooty, nutty, earthy flavors, earlier in the run. Basically, via the small diameter riser, you over-harvest back-end flavors. And that while making gin, which is mostly a forward cut product (flowers, fruity). Your problem increases because of your high altitude. Low air pressure results in higher vapor speeds. Given where you are at, another boost of around 40%. In my system, we measure air pressure and automatically adapt cut points and/or power settings. Lowering the power setting on your set-up would not work, because it would result in higher total run times, with more potential of over-cooking the botanicals, creating more of the back-end flavors you are looking to get rid of. What I would do if I found myself in your situation is easy, and I am pretty sure SD can help you out here: get rid of the reducer and install a riser (and bridge and cooler) that are much wider in diameter. 4 inch or 5 inch would cut it.

Then do another run, taste as you go along. The back-end/tails-associated flavors will come over much later. You'll know by tasting. If you taste what comes out and it is as if all of a sudden the music has stopped, that's the moment where - again - tails-associated flavors come over, and where you need to stop.

A long post, but I hope you like the effort of me helping you solve your issues.

Regards, Odin.

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Odin, had I found you before we invested in this still for gin and vodka we would probably have an iStill. We have a local stainless steel fabricator that does work for the brewing industry. I will see what they can mock up and see if we can run some tests. Gin is easily our third focus as far as products go and we haven't given it the attention it deserves. Better late then never. I sincerely appreciate your time. Do you have any iStill customers in Colorado?

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Are these stills approved for a class 1 div 2 (USA distillery standard) environment?

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Various classes / certifications are available. For more info, reach out directly via Sales@iStillmail.com, LeClerc.

Storm King, I think reaching out to or visiting 52eighty distilling near Denver, Co, would be great.

Regards, Odin.

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We are hosting another iStill University Course. Four days of learning, distilling, and fun at our HQ in the Netherlands. We have 17 people that participate. From the USA to the UK, from the Netherlands to Japan. Yesterday the students were taught how to make gin. That was the morning program. In the afternoon they used the iStill Mini's for extractions. Here are two pics ...

Regards, Odin.

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On 2/13/2020 at 5:33 PM, Odin said:

We are hosting another iStill University Course. Four days of learning, distilling, and fun at our HQ in the Netherlands. We have 17 people that participate. From the USA to the UK, from the Netherlands to Japan. Yesterday the students were taught how to make gin. That was the morning program. In the afternoon they used the iStill Mini's for extractions. Here are two pics ...

Regards, Odin.

Hi Odin, Your development of the extractor is really on-the-money. We've been experimenting on glass and hope to upgrade to your device in the future - which seems really well done. You mentioned a while back that it may be available for non-iStill owners, but can't see that option on your site yet?

In any case... maximizing extraction (which ties into the use of a concentrate multi-shot method) seem to be an important way for a small distiller (who doesn't mind short-cuts) best ways to build-in capacity (ramp-up output) with less capital investment. I wonder about the early results of your work with the extractor for gin... 
* Have you extracted cracked juniper and placed the filtered liquid extract (the berries should have little to offer at that point) directly into the iStill? 
* How does the resulting (from extract) distillate compare to a batch with no maceration time, or your usual 24 hrs at 60%? 2x 4x 8x the flavor?
* Any new/good/bad flavors/aromas associated with this "thorough" or "over-extraction"?
* Any need to make a larger forshots cut to account for additional oils etc?
* Another curiosity is, if the extractions are done with 98% spirit, as is common with this technique, vs your usual 60% (overnight in the pot), does the lack of water make any difference to the process or flavor extraction? There are some who say water is necessary to fully extract, and I wonder if you've put that to the test (with juniper at least)?
Many thanks for all of your contributions. 

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Thanks for the questions, Spiritzzz. I'll dive into answering your questions right away.

Extractors for non-iStill customers. The tricky part is that with the iStill and combining it with our Extractor we get perfect systems integration. Size, dimensions, power. With another still serving as a feeder to the extraction process, we'd really need to know size and dimensions. Or the customer should. Basic points are a boiler size of 4 to 5 times the extractor size and a product (liquid) outlet above the top level of the Extractor and a return lower than the bottom of the Extractor Chamber from which syphoning back to the boiler could take place. In short, it would mean a lot of one-off component development, something that does not fit our model. On the other hand, we could make a stand-alone unit ... Let me think about it.

Yes. There is a challenge with vast single juniper berries extractions. The oils come out of solution and can make cleaning out your boiler a PITA. Hot transfer / immediate processing may help. Or do integrated gin extractions with all herbs present.

Flavor intensity: It depends a bit on ingredients, but as a general rule extraction gives more flavor (times 2 or more). So - in general - the extraction gives more (to much more) flavor.

No such thing as over extraction with our systems. Only that if you do it too long, you waste energy. The fun is that the organics are not cooked, so no risk of overcooking the ingredients. Especially with our stand-alone models, because they do not receive indirect heating from the still, since they are isolated from it. In general I find flavors nice, rich and (most importantly) very well defined.

In our experience no cuts are needed (given you work with GNS).

In our gin extractions, we still distill with 30% in the boiler, so around 70% in the Extractor. If you go single ingredient, you'll find some flavors extract in alcohol, others in water.

Regards, Odin.

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... or we could just ship the integrated 26 liter design that works really well with 100 - 150 liter stills. We'd keep it as it is and the buyer can have a connecting piece to bolt it onto his still via a triclamp. The connecting piece could be a reducer or enlarger (or whatever its name is) to bring it from boiler size to Extractor size.

Let me know if that helps.

Odin.

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So cold distillate washes over the material being targeted repeatedly - end result is extracted solution in the boiler.

Then say in the terms of a gin with a fruit profile, not a liqueur... let's say orange, you put orange, either fresh, dried, dehydrated in the extractor - NGS in the boiler. Once extraction is completed do you then start with this orange NGS and continue your normal pot still gin production?

I am interested in the end to end process.. can you share a typical protocol?

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There are various ways, N. One is to have all your gin herbs in the Extractor. Fill the iStill with 30% GNS and start the process. You end up with depleted herbs in the Extractor, and Extract in the boiler. You can then do a potstill run to turn the Extract into a Gin Essence that can be blended over a lot of GNS. Results are very high yield per pound of herbs and a very crisp, well-defined gin, and a boost in overall gin production.

Another way is to do single ingredient. You can store these as Extracts (with color, around 30%) or as Essences (potdistilled, around 60%, clear). Both hold their own. Extracts can be used in flavored/colored vodka's for instance. We use our iStill Mini with its Extractor to make many different Extracts and Essences that help us with product development.

The Extractor is also often used to help a distillery deal with seasonal products. Say a certain fruit (sloes for sloe gin for example) is only in season in September. Now if you want to sell that product all year long, how to deal with it? Well, with the Extractor you can make an Extract and/or Essence that helps preserve/alcoholize the fruit flavors and colors. The sloes are a real example. We work (amongst others) together with Sloemotion. We achieved getting the seasonality out of their sloe supply. And the Extraction worked like 10 times better than the maceration they did before. Literrally "times 10". In half a day, instead of 6 weeks, we could Extract the sloe flavors factor 10. Resulting in them needing only 10% of the sloes that were originally needed. And since the "alcoholization" kept the sloe colors and flavors fresh, they could make much more at lower cost points.

Here is a link to their website: https://shop.sloemotion.com/

And underneath you'll find pics of a few of their products as well as an iStill 500 with Extractor. The iStill 2000 sits in the background.

Regards, Odin.

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thanks Odin - that helps a lot! certainly a new way of thinking for me.

I attend a few events a year along with Sloemotion and know that product a little too well 😉 it's a beautiful product for sure.

I will ping sales an email about the 26l version as I already have a 100l still.

 

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Jonathan and Sarah Nelson, congrats on winning best English London Dry Style Gin at the 2020 Gin Masters!

Their story? Here you go:

https://rivertestdistillery.co.uk/our-story

For the jury's verdict and more pics:

https://istillblog.com/2020/03/03/congrats-jonathan-and-sarah/

Regards, Odin.

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