April 21, 2021

GEA technology optimises whiskey production

Whisky producer Agitator Whiskymakare AB  relies on GEA machines to optimise yield from the raw material and shorten the brewing cycle. Agitator located in Arboga, Sweden, decided to challenge standard whisky production methods by taking a more avant-garde approach and has chosen key GEA technologies for its new mash house, namely the GEA MILLSTAR® and GEA LAUTERSTAR®.

Not just different, but better

In what appears to be a world’s first by a commercial whisky maker, Agitator is distilling under vacuum. It is also using ‘green’ energy to power its business, which produces high-quality whiskies from a range of raw materials, including oats, wheat, barley and rye. And all of this is made possible with efficient and highly respected mash house equipment from GEA. Distilling under vacuum reduces the heat required to achieve distillation given the boiling point is achieved at around 30 degrees Celsius below normal atmospheric pressure boiling point. In addition to energy savings, this method mitigates the production of heat-induced off flavours, resulting in a smoother, cleaner spirit. The Agitator plant uses renewable energy from a local authority that is generated via a wood pellet boiler which creates super-heated water for the surrounding community. Agitator uses the little it requires, returning residual energy back to the network.

Oskar Bruno, Agitator’s Distillery Manager, says “The goal was to build a distillery that could produce a high-quality product, in an efficient way. The distillery is built upon the belief that tradition is conservative, and new technologies can unlock the full potential of whisky. Our choice of equipment, location, raw materials and ways of running the process reflect this.”

GEA technology at the heart of innovation

“The initial flavour of a whisky is determined during brewing, and if you compromise on quality, it will show in the final product. We liked the wet-conditioned milling system that the GEA MILLSTAR® offers, combined with the flexibility of the GEA LAUTERSTAR®; we knew that this was the equipment for us.” says Bruno. The GEA MILLSTAR® system wets the grain as it is milled, conditioning the husk to make it elastic and preventing breakage. This allows the endosperm of the grain to be gently squeezed from the husk, crushed and mashed, aiding sugar extraction, minimising oxygen pick-up and preserving flavours. The GEA LAUTERSTAR® maximises the extraction yield and wort strength while minimising operating costs and keeping the total cost of ownership low. Both were developed under the GEA Huppmann umbrella which encompasses nearly 150 years of brewery know-how and engineering expertise.

The power to be creative

From the outset, Agitator has used its creativity to make exciting whiskies from a range of raw materials – in diverse volumes, ingredient mash bills and mashing cycles. “This has proven to be a key differentiator for us. We’ve created whiskies from oats, wheat, barley and rye and achieved really good results. We’re open to many ideas, but we will never compromise on quality.” explains Bruno. GEA’s support with fine tuning the instrumentation has further increased Agitator’s yields, provided additional flexibility and process control.

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