There can be few crafts more traditional than the art of making whisky. But for Swedish whisky producer Agitator Whiskymakare AB in Arboga, tradition is being challenged: it’s just the whisky that matters.
Right from the beginning, in February 2018, when the first newmake spirit emerged from the stills, this distiller has looked at the whole process in terms of what can be done better, not how things were done in the past.
Being different – being better
Agitator Whiskymakare AB is different from other distillers in many ways. It is probably the world’s first malt whisky producer to distil under vacuum in a commercial scale; it uses ‘green’ energy; it makes excellent whiskies from a range of raw materials including oats, wheat, barley and rye; and to do so it uses the finest mash house equipment from GEA, making it super-efficient.
Distillation under vacuum reduces the heat needed to distil as the boiling point is reached at some 30°C below normal atmospheric pressure boiling point. Apart from energy savings, this helps prevent heat-induced off flavors and creates a smoother, cleaner spirit. The plant uses renewable energy from the local authority created in a wood pellet boiler that develops super-heated water for the surrounding community. Agitator uses the little it needs and returns the residual energy to the network.
Oskar Bruno, Distillery Manager, said that 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,” he explained. “Our choice in equipment, location, raw materials and ways of running the process reflects this.” These methods are matched by a devotee’s obsession with his craft through which he is continually asking ’how do you create the most exciting whisky?’
GEA technology at the heart of innovation
The mash house was built using the GEA MILLSTAR® and GEA LAUTERSTAR® to help increase the yield from the raw material as well as shortening the turn-around time in the brewing cycle. GEA’s global experience was a crucial part of the decision-making process for Agitator. “The initial flavor of the whisky is determined in the brewing, and if you compromise on quality, it will show in the final product,” said Oskar.
We liked the wet-conditioned milling system that the MILLSTAR® offered and together with the flexibility of the LAUTERSTAR®, we knew that this was the equipment for us.”– Oskar Bruno, Distillery Manager at Agitator Whiskymakare AB
The GEA MILLSTAR® system wets the grain as it is milled, conditioning the husk to make it elastic and prevent breakage. This allows the endosperm of the grain to be gently squeezed from the husk, crushed and mashed to help with sugar extraction, minimize oxygen pick-up and preserve the flavors. The GEA LAUTERSTAR® maximizes the extraction yield and wort strength while minimizing operating costs and keeping the total cost of ownership low. Both have been developed with GEA's unique brand of brewing know-how and engineering expertise.
The power to be creative
Agitator wanted to be creative, to make exciting whiskies from a range of materials, in different volumes, ingredient mash bills and mashing cycles. “This has proven to be one of the key features for us,” said Oskar. “We have created whiskies from oats, wheat, barley and rye; everything with a really good result.” GEA was able to help with the fitting of instrumentation to further increase yields and give additional flexibility and control of the process.
Agitator’s core values are a willingness to experiment, a healthy skepticism towards convention and a total focus on creating the most exciting whisky. “We will never compromise on quality,” said Oskar.
Our relationship with GEA has been excellent; and it shows in the flavor of our whisky.”– Oskar Bruno, Distillery Manager at Agitator Whiskymakare AB