Skip to main content

Will the kitchen revolution change the spirit industry?

I hope you know sous vide. The process of cooking things in a vacuumed plastic bag in an exact temperature controlled water bath. Delicious, delicious and perfect food (with very little chance of mistakes) is the result.
We can also use sous vide in mixology, infusing spirits in mere hours instead of days, weeks and months, yet the fresh aromas of fruits and herbs are still retained instead of tasting cooked (for the moment my favorite way of infusing).

But I haven't seen this technology invading not the distilling business. This is rather surprising. Distillers using quite often new ways of distilling - for example vacuum distillation (which is surprising, as this method is amazing, but has a lot of limitations: the equipment is extremely expensive and delicate, and cannot easily scaled up... That means that investment is high and the output is very limited).

Now I don't mean that distillers will use vacuum pouches and cook there spirits n a water bath. But I mean using exactly controlled temperatures - and the method would be proprietary for pot distilled beverages. 

If you understand distillation, you will know, that distillation is all about temperature. It is the fractioning of a solution of different compounds by there different boiling points.
Water has a boiling point of 100°C. For ethanol it is 78.1°C. Methanol is boiling at 64.7°C. The fuselage alcohols have a higher temperature than ethanol... Most in the 90's.

There is one more thing, which would be important for this method of distillation: reflux. Casually explained it means, to make it hard for the evaporated molecules to stay gaseous. Very high swan necks can increase reflux, or things like an onion shaped attachment on the pot, which alternate the diameter, or metal plates (which tend to stay colder) within the "evaporation flow", or simply letting run cold water from the swan necks. 
But why is this necessary? Reflux results a cleaner spirit. The specific boiling points result in a more rapid evaporation of a compound - but the compound starts to evaporate already much earlier... As example you could think of a bad tub. The boiling point of water is 100°C - but if you filling up you tub to take a bath, it will be much cooler - maybe around 50°C yet your bathroom is quite "steamy" and water is condensing on the mirror.  
But as distillation depends on the boiling points, you really want to "concentrate" the compounds which are evaporating on their specific boiling points. As the molecules of compounds with a higher boiling point (one can describe them also as heavier molecules) need more energy then the lighter ones, they will be much more prone to condensate. That means a higher reflux results into a much more linear-cascading distillation, which results into a much cleaner end product (if the distiller understand his craft).

Now if one think about a pot still which will be exactly temperature controlled and has a high reflux, the distiller could "dial" 70°C and hold it for a rather long time. That means almost all of the methanol will evaporate. Due to the increased reflux, all other compounds would stay behind (or would evaporate but then again condensate and drop back"). Then the distiller could "dial" 78.5°C and the desired ethanol would evaporate and could be harvested. Again fusel alcohols like butanol and propanol as well as the water would more or less stay behind.

Off course this distillation would have a major impact in the flavor as well. On one hand the still would stay cooler (and will have a much more consistent temperature), which would in a different aromatic (no caramelization anywhere). But some of the aromas  will also prematurely evaporate, before you come to your desired ethanol compound. But then one could also distill only once instead of twice, meeting the same (or higher chemical quality of the distillate bot with one less processing step,which again would increase character.

Obviously this all his grey theory. But I don't see a point, why it should not work as advertised...
Again, the aromatic character could be completely different.

Somebody tell me, if it works and what's the outcome, if he/she is trying it out.

This method combined with vacuum distillation... this would be something like the holy grail of distilling. But this would even happen much less likely- as the setup and expenses would be a nightmare.

I have to get my well-sponsored lab sometime...


Popular posts from this blog

How to use citric acid - and why you might not want to use it anyway!

To be honest, I shied away of this topic, because I think, people can misinterpret this - big time.

I don't want to be part of the problem - I want to be part of the solution! But when Chris, over at A Bar Above discussed this subject- I literally could not resist to join into "the discussion".

Here is the video:

I - however take a bit slower approach than Chris.
What is citric acid?
Chemical Compound
Citric acid is a weak organic acid with the formula C6H8O7. It is a natural preservative/conservative and is also used to add an acidic or sour taste to foods and drinks.
Wikipedia Formula: C6H8O7
Molar Mass: 192.124 g/mol
Melting Point: 153C
Density: 1.66 g/cm3
Boiling point: 175C
Soluble in: Water
Why is it controversial?
In my "mixology world" it is controversial, as citric acid is the stuff, which makes the nightmarish sour mix [preferably in powder form] sour. Yeah - citric acid is the main ingredient in one of the most controversial [and in the modern craft bartending wor…

The Best Alcohol-free Drink - Ipanema

Usually I call them [out of laziness] mocktails - but really I never liked this denomination.
As "mocktails" are usually long drinks, it is even twice wrong, to connect them to a cocktail [which is technically a short drink with alcohol]. 
Apart of this, I am not a big believer in mocktails. Sodas can be fantastic [home made grapefruit soda is fantastic, or homemade ginger ale, ginger beer or any other odd ingredient sodas]. Juices - fine. Lemonades - yes, refreshing and good. And iced teas - can be absolutely amazing. Hence you don't need sickly sweet syrupy juice mixtures.
But yes - there are few good ones.
Most of them a mimicking drinks with alcohol. You can make a pretty good alcohol-free Planters Punch, Hurricane or Mojito, if you are using Caribbean Syrup. Or you can use a juniper syrup for some alcohol-free gin drinks.
A drink which I got to know long time ago, very early in my career, is a bit a different beast [well - you cannot call an alcohol-free drink a bea…

Top 10 Mojito sins

I am often really annoyed when I see people, making cocktails (blogging about cocktails, etc.).

Look, I love cocktail culture - I believe, that it is worth to be preserved. And I believe, that there has to be respect - because otherwise there won’t be anything to be preserved.

The Mojito is one drink, which gets molested all the time. And people don’t get it: there are drinks, which were consumed in a civilized environment (bars) - by more or less civilized people (at least they are civilized in the setting). And there are peasant drinks. A peasant drink can be great - I don’t judge, which drink is better - but latter is far more adaptable to changes.
Comparing the Mojito versus the Caipirinha is pretty obvious: the Mojito is a bar drink. Very soon after its creation, it has been consumed in Cuba’s most recognized bars - probably by the most famous people at its time.
Against that, the Caipirinha has been a drink of farmers and workers in Brazil.

The difference is a pretty big deal - …