When PicoBrew announced its PicoStill, a $249 distilling add-on to its Pico C brewing system, I was nonplussed. How could you produce good whiskey or gin in a compact system? Well you can. Since then I’ve tried PicoBrew’s beer system and was very impressed — and now, after a solid taste of the PicoStill’s gin, I’m a convert.
The $549 PicoBrew is a Keurig for beer. You purchase a self-contained pod of ingredients that fits inside the PicoBrew’s brewing belly. Then you fill another tank with distilled water and the PicoBrew boils, brews and flavors your beer. I made a few beers and both were very nice. The PicoStill adds another wrinkle to the process by pulling out the alcohol using a low heat distillation system.
Interestingly, the PicoStill can separate out the heads and tails of the distillation process automatically, ensuring you get only the tastiest part of the distillation. This also means the PicoStill keeps you safe and headache free, as many of the problems with home distilling involve capturing the wrong chemicals like acetone, acetate and acetaldehyde. A separate chamber drains off the nastier parts of the brew.
“By developing technology that automatically separates the methanol from the heads, we have significantly reduced the dangers inherent in distilling spirits,” said CEO Dr. Bill Mitchell. “The PicoStill provides commercial distillers a versatile, safe, and easy to use small batch distilling solution.”
So how does it taste? Two of our intrepid reporters tried a gin made with the still and pronounced it tasty and drinkable. Our own Matt Burns called it “delightful” and smooth with gentle floral notes reminiscent of Bombay Sapphire. While it won’t have all the polish of a bottled spirit, you can definitely have fun turning wine, beer and other mashes into a tasty tipple or oil essences and, in the end, that’s all that matters.