Lesson 6 Distilling : How Spirits are made. The complex alcohol beverage which delivers intense fruit and plant flavours. Lesson 6: Distilling: How Spirits are made Lesson Overview. 6.1 Introduction 6.2 Raw materials and base ingredients of distilled spirits
The complex alcohol beverage which delivers intense fruit and plant flavours.
On completion of this lesson the learner will be expected to
be able to;
Historical Background of Distilled Spirits
Evolution and development of distillation;
Raw materials of Distilled Spirits:
Methods of alcohol Separation:
Two distinctively different methods to separate alcohol: Congelation method (freeze distillation) and the boiling method or (heat distillation)
which is commonly referred to as the distillation method.
Congelation (cold extraction): separation by freezing below zero degrees Celsius or 31F degrees;
Distillation (heat extraction): separation by vaporization of the fermentable liquid at 78.5 degrees Celsius or 172
Degrees Fahrenheit to create alcohol’.
Pot Still: (alembic or alambic)
The Still man:separates the poisonous parts (methanol, propandl, butanol), from the required spirit (ethanol). The still
man identifies all these separations and parts by (a) tell by nose and (b) the rising hydrometer, the first and the last parts
will not be included in the final spirit as they contain toxic compounds.
Continuous still: (referred to as the Patent, Column or Coffey Still): invented by Robert Stein in 1820, developed by
Aeneas Coffey.Consists of two tall columns, each about sixty feet in height, called the analyzer and the rectifier.The
alcoholic wash is broken down into its constituent vapours, or analysed, in the analyzer, and the vapours are selectively
condensed, or rectified, in the rectifier.
Large coffey still (exterior view). Coffey still diagram. Small coffey still (interior view)
Pure alcohol is impossible to obtain as alcohol has a great affinity for water
Ancient Methods, Proof, Proven spirit:Proof or a proven spirit as an indicator of alcoholic strength derives from the early use of
gunpowderin testing spirits. Spirits were mixed with gunpowder and set alight.
Sykes Hydrometer system (1816-1980), Sykes proof law:
Invented by an English Customs Official named Sykes proof law, based on a very simple law the law of flotation. This states that a floating body
displaces its own weight of liquid. Pure alcohol is lighter than water. he took advantage of the difference in the specific gravity of water and alcohol.
He fixed his standard weight at twelve thirteenths of the weight of an equal quantity of distilled water. After calculating it out, by an involved
process of mathematics, this means that 100 proof is equal to 57% abv or 175 proof is equal to 100% abv.
Gay Lussac system:Gay-Lussac perfected a new alcoholometer easy to use and which gave directly, due to its calibration, the alcoholic
rate at a given temperature. Gay Lussac (GL) also expresses percentage volume but measures it by hydrometer at 15 degrees Celsius giving a
reading slightly higher than the OIML
Percentage of pure alcohol by volume (ABV): On the 1st January 1990 the Sykes hydrometer system was abolished under the EEC
Directive 76/766 and ABV was introduced by the Organisation Internationale de Metrologie Legale (OIML) system measures this by hydrometer
at 20C degrees. Original Skyes Hydrometer system set
The barrel: most common vessel used for maturing spirits, usually 500-litre size (although smaller sizes can also be used
which restricts the oxygen intake and changes the character of the final spirit) wooden barrel help the chemical reactions,
extraction of taste, extraction of bouquet and extraction of colour.
Evaporation loss of spirit (like angels share contains dangerous fusel oils this vaporises first.
In summary the wooden barrel helps the spirit to;
Wood finishes: More and more, some distilleries are producing whisky with various finishes, achieved by the last 6 months
to 2 years of maturation being in ex-Sherry, ex-Port, ex-Madeira,
Maturation periods: can differ (a minimum of 3 years before it can be legally called Irish or Scotch whiskey).
Used Bourbon cask. French oak cask. New American white oak.
Distilled Spirits Tasting techniques
Keep it fun, the more you taste the more you trust your olfactory senses, the nose is important (35,000 smells), it can detect
aromas diluted one part in a million. Taste (sweet, salty, sour, bitter). Spirit tasters use their nose more than taste.
Further information: (Chapter 6 – pp. 178-180)