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...