The GEA Group came to the aid of craft whisky distiller Agitator Whiskymakare AB, Arboga, Sweden, when it decided to challenge standard whisky production methods by taking a more avant-garde approach. Agitator, which produces 250,000 high-quality whiskies a year for the Scandinavian market, is distilling under a vacuum, it says. It also is using a range of raw materials, including oats, wheat, barley and rye, and is perfecting its process with mash house equipment from GEA to increase yield from the raw materials and shorten turnaround times. The GEA MILLSTAR system wets the grain as it is milled and conditions the husk to make it elastic preventing breakage. This allows the endosperm of the grain to be gently squeezed from the husk, crushed and mashed, aiding sugar extraction, minimizing oxygen pick-up and preserving flavors, the company says. The GEA LAUTERSTAR works in concert with the MILLISTAR as it maximizes the extraction yield and wort strength, shortens turn-around ties of brewing cycles, minimizes operating costs and keeps the total cost of ownership low. Both were developed under the GEA Huppmann umbrella, which encompasses nearly 150 years of brewery and engineering expertise, it says.