Tales from the Workfloor: Making Money while Cleaning!

03 March 2022

We don't like to waste alcohol here at Loki Distillery. We actually don't like to waste anything. That's why we try to be as sustainable as possible. We reuse cooling water for heating up the next batch and our spent botanicals from gin runs are turned into biofuel. But what we are really proud of is the way we are treat our tails.

Tails are quite interesting to observe. We collect about a 100 liters of tails on every gin run and we just leave it in the same 1000 liter IBC until it's full. During a tails run you can already see the heavy oils getting out of solution. At winter, when we let the temperature in the distillery drop to around 10 degrees Celsius at night, the oils become almost solid and float on top of the IBC.

Whenever we have 1000 liters collected, it's time for a cleaning run. We call it this because we are cleaning up the tails, but also the still! Thanks to the inventions at the iStill Lab we add a little bit of sodium hydroxide to the tails and then top of it off with fresh water until we have filled the boiler. We then run our special program in column mode, with a very long stabilization time. The robot and the sodium hydroxide work their magic and after 22 hours we are left with almost no heads cut, around 150 liters of pure alcohol at 96% ABV and a very small tails cut. There's no residual taste to the alcohol and it can easily be reused as base for gins or liqueurs.

But as I said, it's a double cleaning. Because inside the boiler we are left with an almost milky liquid. All the oils from the tails have been left behind and all we need to do is pump it out. It's quite acidic, so you need to do this as soon as it has cooled down. But, it's not that acidic that is dangerous to the environment. We can even just put it back into the Dutch water collection system, as we collect rainwater and sewage water separately. The water is then filtered through large sand dunes near the coast and used again as drinking water. Not a drop wasted. And the best thing of all? The boiler is squeaky clean after a cleaning run. Any residue from calcium on the inside, any discoloring on the stainless steel; all is washed away by the cleaning run. But then again, we are a 21st century distillery.


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