A recent conversation on social media between renowned spirits writers Fred Minnick (Bourbon Women, Bourbon Curious, Rum Curious) and Matthew Rowley (Rowley’s Whiskey Forge) brought up an interesting comment from Mathew Rowley about a document titled “The Blue Flame”.
“The Blue Flame” is a pamphlet that was apparently an in-house document issued by Brittish oil giant Aramco in the 70’s and given to British ex-Pats living in the company owned compounds in Saudi Arabia before the Saudi Royal Family took ownership of the oil reserves. Saudi Arabia has strict laws against drinking, production, or ownership of alcohol that the company knew would not set well with their hard-drinking British employees who would live in walled compounds with all the amenities of a working upper end middle class neighborhood, all but alcohol that is.
I have spent some time studying the history of this document and these clandestine still builders and distillers, there are many message boards and stories out there for those willing to look. I have seen multiple accounts as to the wide availability of this document as well as to the availability of stills to workers who wanted them, the addition of block re enforced rooms off of company built houses which feature only a door from the outside, an air conditioner and water hookup (so as to spare the neighborhood should someone blow up a still), and the availability of large amounts of sugar, grape juice, yeast, and all the materials necessary for spirits production at the commissaries in the compounds. One fellow even remarked that probably half of the people he knew at the compound were distilling.
The document has no copyright nor claim of ownership although it clearly reads as though it were written by someone with a good, clear, and sophisticated understanding of chemistry and distillation and I think it does likely trace it’s roots back to the company itself, although at the time obviously given the illegality of alcohol they would never have laid claim to it. It is easy to read and fairly sound in its methodology. It is not catered to those interested in making traditional pot distilled whiskey and brandies as the theory behind the document is to explain the simplest possible methods of fermentation and distillation that will yield acceptable and nearly neutral alcohol for flavoring which also would allow these working men to more readily avoid hangovers from the congeners (flavor) produced during distillation (however the recipes for finishing spirits call ubiquitously for sugar which is notorious for its effects on a hangover). All of the cuts are made simply by observing the temperature of the distillation on a simple pot still and the protocol calls for four distillations which the book claims will produce 180 proof or better alcohol of a neutral character. The base wine is essentially just a refined sugar wash so the flavor (short of that from yeast) would be minimal at best and a quadruple distillation would easily drop any leftover congeners. My only dispute (short of the ascertation that Bourbon distillers were doctoring their drinks at this time which is flat wrong) is in the proof of the finished spirits being as high as 180-190, a pot still simply cannot produce a spirit with that high of a proof without the addition of a reflux condenser.
I am republishing the document below, it is a good primer for those interested in distillation, although for those who want true involvement in what they do this is simply a “foot in the door”. I can not and will not encourage illicit distillation, but I will say that had I known of the existence of this document when I first started distilling then it would have been my “starting point”.
- INTRODUCTION AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
- PROPERTIES OF ALCOHOL
- EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON MAN
- U.S. PROOF SPIRIT AND HYDROMETER MEASUREMENT
- FERMENTATION OF ETHYL ALCOHOL
- DISTILLATION OF ETHYL ALCOHOL AND STILL DESIGN
- SAFETY FACTORS DURING DISTILLATION
- FLAVORING AND MAKING LIQUORS
- Appendix A: Alcoholic Beverage Chart
- Appendix B: Strength and Source of Fermented Alcoholic beverages
- Appendix C: Strength and Source of Distilled Alcoholic Beverages
- Appendix D: Strength and Source of Compounded Alcoholic Beverages
- Appendix E: Recipes
1 – INTRODUCTION AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Those of us who have spent time in Saudi Arabia discovered that there is a generous quantity and wide variety of alcohol available even though it is absolutely forbidden to possess, sell, carry, drink or manufacture. Moreover, we have discovered, it is of excellent quality, nearly hangover-proof, and every ounce manufactured in almost any household kitchen! The preparation of such alcohol, Sadiki Juice, as we call it, is a respected secret, yet always eagerly shared with good friends.
Historically, alcoholic distillation began with the Arabs who, however, did not invent, but greatly improved the cumbersome methods used by the Greeks in distilling turpentine from rosin. The Arabs were the first to distill wine, and our wood alcohol is plainly Arabic in origin. The present prohibitions in Saudi Arabia is sternly enforced; especially by adherents of the Islam (Moslem) religion; hence, take care of this booklet and remember discreet handling is mandatory, particularly in Saudi Arabia.
These pages are a condensation of material written by countless investigators. We take little credit for them, other than providing you with this copy. All credit for the technical data and methodology outlined herein belongs to some gracious hosts “on the hill” and to the authors of the Encyclopedia Britannica published by William Benton, 1959; Colliers Encyclopedia published by P.F. Collier and Son, 1955; and Grossman’s Guide to Wine, Spirits and Beer by Harold J. Grossman.
2 – PROPERTIES OF ALCOHOL
Liquor includes all alcoholic beverages made by distillation, as distinguished from those made by fermentation such as beer and wine but even distilled liquors begin with a fermented alcoholic solution.
Any carbohydrate source, such as sugar, properly fermented and distilled, can produce a potable spirit, i.e. ETHYL ALCOHOL, more or less diluted with water and carrying volatile essences which give it a characteristic flavor.
If distillation is done efficiently and the distillate re-distilled, the final product is colorless, flavorless, pure ethyl alcohol and no testing analysis can reveal whether its source was wine, beets, potatoes, fruit, grain, or sugar. It is chemically the same, no matter what its source. Pure ETHYL ALCOHOL is a colorless liquid having a mild agreeable odor and a burning taste. It very easily mixes with water, thereby reducing its strength, and will absorb moisture from the air.
It should be noted that when alcohol is mixed with water, heat is evolved and a slight contraction of volume results. Thus, if a volume of 100 per cent alcohol were mixed with an equal volume of pure water the result would not be exactly 50 per cent alcohol but about 43 per cent alcohol by volume.
Many names are applied to ETHYL ALCOHOL, such as grain alcohol, ethanol, spirit-of-wine, or cologne spirits.
Pure ethyl alcohol boils at 172.9 deg. F. (78.3degC) It readily burns in air with an almost colourless, smokeless flame producing water and carbon dioxide at a heat a little over half as hot as burning gasoline.
Alcohol vapours form explosive mixtures with air when the concentration of alcohol vapour is greater than 4.3 per cent, but less than 19.0 per cent by volume. The flash point of 190 proof alcohol is 63 deg. F. (17.2degC); bourbon or 90 proof alcohol is 78 deg. F. (25.6degC) A liquid alcohol at above these temperatures is highly flammable.
3 – EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON MAN
Alcohol is toxic to man because it is absorbed rapidly within the body directly into the blood stream but is converted only slowly to carbon dioxide and water. The reported rates of conversion vary from 3.5 to 15 cc/hour. If alcohol is absorbed at a faster rate than the rate at which it is metabolised (converted), the alcohol content of the body fluids builds up and acts as a depressant on the central nervous system. The effect is relaxing rather than stimulating.
A concentration of about 0.2 per cent results in moderate (high) intoxication; 0.3 per cent results in severe (stoned) intoxication; and 0.4 per cent in deep anaesthesia which may be fatal.
Theoretically, a large man can drink more than a small man because the effects of alcohol are directly proportional to the per cent of alcohol present in the body. The key is the metabolic rate of each person, not entirely his weight or size. If your body can convert alcohol to harmless carbon dioxide and water faster than the next man, you can “hold” more alcohol. However, emotional and physical factors tend to change the metabolic rate from day to day and even from hour to hour so that “no one” can say with any certainty that it takes a specific number of drinks to make him drunk.
Alcohol is the most efficient and practical relaxer of the driving force in the brain. We do not advocate that anyone ever drink for the KICK – drinking should only be done for pleasure, relaxation and the release to which the beverage contributes; it should be made a part of the good life.
Just as prohibition is bad, so is excess, and in no case is this truer than in the use of alcoholic beverages. There is no better word of advice on this point than that which Lord Chesterfield gave to his son, in the letter dated London, March 27, 1747.
“Were I to begin the world again with the experience I now have of it , I would lead a life of real, not imaginary pleasures. I would enjoy the pleasures of the table, and of wine; but stop short of the pains inseparably annexed to an excess of either.”
4 – U.S. PROOF SPIRIT AND HYDROMETER MEASUREMENT
The usual commercial liquor contains 95 per cent ethyl alcohol by volume and is called 190 U.S. proof spirit. U.S. proof is two times the per cent alcohol by volume at 60 deg. F. For example, 100 proof alcohol is 50 per cent alcohol by volume (British proof spirit is 57.1 per cent alcohol by volume).
Specially designated hydrometers are used to determine the alcoholic strength of watery solutions. They are graduated to indicate “0” for no alcohol, “100” for 50 per cent alcohol, and “200” for absolute or 100 per cent alcohol by volume at the standard temperature of 60 deg. F.
When you have distilled a volume of high proof alcohol, it is necessary to dilute (cut) it to the desired commercial strength. Do this simply by adding pure, clean water. If you want to exclude the flavour peculiar to some tap waters, then use distilled water. Distil your own water by running ordinary tap water through your still at a temperature in excess of 212 deg. F, (100degC) which is the boiling temperature of water.
To accurately cut the alcohol to a specific proof number, you need a thermometer, as well as a hydrometer. Slowly add water at 60 deg. F. to the alcohol, also at 60 deg. F., and check the proof number with the hydrometer as you proceed.
5 – FERMENTATION OF ETHYL ALCOHOL
When yeast, a living fungi, grows in sugary solutions in the virtual absence of air, most of the sugar is converted into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. The alcohol and carbon dioxide formed almost equals, in total weight and in quantity of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, the sugar consumed.
Common baker’s yeast is a mass of tiny plants akin to bacteria that reproduce by budding. The living bodies of the yeast produce enzymes (sucrose and zymase) which, in turn, break up sugar (or starch) into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The chemical reaction is expressed as:
|C12H22O11 + H2O||——–>
|C6H12O6 + C6H12O6|
|Sucrose or Table Sugar
|Glucose and frucrose
or simple sugars
|2 C2H5CH + 2 CO2|
|Glucose or Frucrose||——–>
Carbon Dioxide gas
The formation of ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide uses up almost 95 per cent of the sugar present and are the chief products of fermentation. However, the remaining 5 per cent of the sugar contributes to a simultaneous formation of several by-products (impurities) in very small proportions, such as glycerol, volatile acids, fusel oils or higher alcohol ethers, aldehydes and esters. It is these substances that give ethyl alcohol with its many peculiar flavours, colour and the seemingly ever-present “hangover”. More about this quality under the heading of distillation.
Incidentally, poisonous methyl alcohol is not produced by the fermentation of pure sugar. It is manufactured by the destructive distillation of wood or cellulose, hence it is called ‘wood alcohol’. The addition of fruit juices and fruit itself, which contain some starch, into the fermentation of pure sugar, as in home wine making, may yield some methyl alcohol but only in trace amounts. The pectin or starch compounds contained in fruits are generally insufficient to yield methyl alcohol of significant quantities, but from the view of eliminating hangover effect, any methyl alcohol is undesirable. Among the commercial liquors, brandy has the highest per cent of methyl alcohol.
The several general conditions required for efficient fermentation of a satisfactory alcoholic yield are a favourable temperature, specific proportions of sugar, water and yeast, food for the yeast, inhibition of vinegar formation and sufficient time. However sugar, water and yeast will produce an adequate yield of alcohol.
Temperature: High temperature kills the yeast plants whereas low temperatures decrease their rate of activity. The higher the temperature, the faster the rate of fermentation, but the lower the alcoholic yield. The optimum temperature is 78 deg. F. (25.6) Never exceed 90 deg. F. (32.2degC)
Sugar and water: The optimum ratio of sugar to water is 2 pounds to 1 gallon.
Yeast and time: The usual proportion of yeast is 1 cup to 5 gallons of water. At this ratio, other conditions being optimum the yeast will, in plus or minus 14 days, have manufactured enough ethyl alcohol to kill themselves and stop fermentation. Since the yeast will reproduce rapidly in sweet solution, using less than one cup of yeast is satisfactory; however, active fermentation will take a little longer to get going. Nevertheless, in plus or minus 14 days as the presence of alcohol increases, fermentation will stop. Let experience be your guide.
Yeast Food: Small amounts of inorganic salts, such as nitrogen, phosphate and potassium may be added to promote vigorous growth of the yeast plants. Household “Calgon Water Softener” is a safe and readily available food; or, use ammonium phosphate dibasic. The proportion is 1 level teaspoon of Calgon to 5 gallons of water.
Vinegar Inhibition: The solution of mash or wine upon exposure to oxygen will tend to promote the growth of another fungi which will manufacture vinegar. The addition of sulphuric acid to increase acidity of the solution to a pH of 4 or 5, or simply preventing prolonged exposure to oxygen (air) will prevent its growth. Cap your fermenter during fermentation and after. Caution: Carbon dioxide gas pressure will develop during fermentation, so you must provide for its constant release.
When fermentation is complete, the mash or wine will be turbid and must be allowed to settle. The sediment contains precipitated organic matter, yeast bodies and potassium tartarate. The settling may take several days or a week; or even months in the case of wine. Chilling the fermented mash and/or filtering will shorten the time it requires to sell. Siphon or decant the clear solution and discard the sediment. Try not to aerate the mash or wine unnecessarily thereby encouraging the formation of vinegar.
The resulting mash or wine now will be no more than 16 per cent and not usually less than 8 per cent ethyl alcohol by volume. Thus, it is a very dilute alcohol solution akin to most wines which must be concentrated by distillation if you are to have a high proof spirit. See Appendix E for the basic mash recipe.
6 – DISTILLATION OF ETHYL ALCOHOL AND STILL DESIGN
Distillation is simply boiling a mixture to separate the more volatile (having the lowest boiling point) from the less volatile liquid, and then cooling and condensing the resulting vapour to produce a more nearly pure liquid. The non-volatile impurities will remain in the residue, which in this case is discarded.
To illustrate, if you had a mixture of water and glycerine, the water will begin to turn to steam (vaporise) long before the glycerine gets hot enough to vaporise appreciably. By keeping the temperature high enough to vaporise the water, but not high enough to appreciably vaporise the glycerine, you can collect and condense the water vapour, leaving most of the glycerine behind.
Direct distillation for alcohol can yield at best only the constant boiling mixture of alcohol and water (172.7 deg. F.) (78.2degC) containing 97.2 per cent alcohol by volume (194.4 proof) because this mixture boils 0.18 deg. F. LOWER than pure alcohol (172.9 deg. F.) (78.3degC); hence, do not expect more than 190 proof alcohol from your home still.
If ethyl alcohol is redistilled several times to 170 proof or better it will be a neutral spirit and all but free of any hangover producing components, such as the volatile acids, fusel oils, ethers, aldehydes and esters mentioned under the heading of fermentation. Commercial whiskey, i.e., is distilled out at a much lower proof specifically to retain these components pulled from the grain of which it was made to impart a desired flavour to the liquor. It is because of these components by-products (impurities) that you get a hangover; and, those of us who have tried both commercial liquor and ‘Sadiki Juice’ can swear to the veracity of this statement. The ethyl alcohol produced as described in this booklet and flavoured to make or duplicate the liquor you want is the best you will ever drink.
The simplest distillation apparatus, often used in High School chemistry laboratories, and employing Justin von Liebig’s single surface condenser, consists of five basic parts as does any still; first, a heat source; second, a boiler to heat the mash; third, a thermometer to observe the vapour temperature; fourth, a condenser to cool and condense the vapor; and fifth, a receiver to collect the distillate.
The thermometer bulb should be mounted just below or in front of the outlet to the condenser to most accurately check the temperature. However it will work if located in the pot but care should be taken to prevent hot liquid from coming into contact with the bulb.
The usual home “pot” still is just a variation of ;the glass apparatus described above, but far safer. The pot should be made of stainless steel throughout to prevent corrosion by the hot acids produced during distillation. All fittings must be vapour tight to prevent leakage of alcohol or its vapours and possible explosion and fire. The tubing extending from the pot can be of almost any metal, but copper is the most practical. The condenser should be made of metal and not glass. It is a cylindrical metal box with copper tubing coiled up inside.
The best heat source is an electric stove. A gas stove or an open flame of any type are quite dangerous due to the ever present alcohol vapour. Immersion heaters are satisfactory, but they court disaster if through corrosion they become exposed and ignite the alcohol or its vapours.
The simple pot still requires three or four consecutive time-consuming distillations (runs) to produce a wholly pure, hangover proof distillate.
Home Pot Stills
Other Pot Stills
Design and make your own stainless steel pot of 5 to 10 gallons capacity with large machined or screw tops for easy cleaning. Be sure to install handles for easy handling.
There is infinite variety in design and materials in pot stills, in the alcoholic content of mashes, in thermometers, in heat sources, and in condensing apparatus; hence you must expect variation in the initial boiling temperatures. The following is a guide. As you gain experience, you will learn to judge your own temperature ranges depending upon the equipment you have.
First Run: (Start collecting at 170 to 180 through 205 deg. F. (77 to 82 through to 96degC) then stop.)
Gradually heat the 5 gallons (or more) of clear mash in the pot and expect the first condensate to begin collecting in the receiver at about 170 to 180 deg. F (77 to 82degC) . Collect all that comes over in this first run. About 2 hours later when 205 deg. F (96degC) is reached, stop collecting. You should have about 1.25 gallons of distillate which will be about 40 to 60 per cent water and by-products. Throw away the residue in the pot, rinse it out and flush out any solids that may have boiled over into your tubing.
Caution: Too high heat will cause the mash to foam or to boil over through the tubing, clouding the distillate and possibly clogging the tubing. The more slowly you heat, the less impurities will go over and the better your product will be. However, this is not too important in batch distillation.
Second Run: (Start collecting at 170 to 180 through 204 deg. F. (77 to 82 through to 95.5degC) then stop.)
Gradually heat the first run distillate in the pot and begin collecting the condensate in the receiver between 170 and 180 deg. F. In about an hour when 204 deg. F. is reached, stop collecting. You should have about 3/4 gallon of 70 per cent alcohol plus by-products. Discard the residue from the pot as before.
Caution: Your 70 per cent alcohol is 140 proof and has a flash point of 70 deg. F. The product is now very flammable!
Third Run: (Start collecting at 170 to 172 through 184 deg. F (76 to 77 through to 84.5degC), then stop.)
Gradually heat the second run stock in the pot. Action is fast. The temperature moves rapidly to about 170 deg. F. Discard whatever distillate comes over before 170 deg. F. or that which comes over before the trickle steadies into a solid stream. Stop collecting at about 184 deg. F. in about 45 minutes. You should have about 1/2 gallon of about 85 per cent alcohol. Throw away any residue in the pot.
Caution: Your distillate is about 170 proof and extremely flammable. If you make one more run, purifying the product even more, you will have hangover -proof alcohol.
Fourth Run: (Start collecting at 170 through 174 deg. F. (76.7 through to 78.9degC) then stop)
Gradually heat third run stock in the pot. The temperature will rise to 170 deg. F. very rapidly and settle down at about 172 deg. F. As before, discard what comes over before 170 deg. F. and keep what comes over between 172 and 174 deg. F. It should take about 1/2 hour and you will have about 1/2 gallon of 90 – 95 per cent almost pure, ethyl alcohol.
The Reflux or Fractional Distillation Still is a refinement of the preceding “pot” still but is more efficient and more complex in design; therefore, it produces in one run what the above stills may require three runs to do. A tubular metal reflux column packed with glass marbles, stainless steel wool, or a system of baffles and sieves is attached just above the pot. The olumn or tower should be combined with a top temperature control reflux condenser at its top.
Reflux or Fractional Distillation Still
The Reflux Still is nearly identical to the preceding Pot Stills, except a reflux tower is attached on top of the pot in place of the simple tube.
Use neoprene tubing in all water connections and from the condenser to the receiver. You can see the flow of water and alcohol; and neoprene will not impart any flavour to the alcohol as rubber tubing might do.
Leave the water flow valve wide open until the temperature builds up to about 140 deg. F. (60degC) Then begin closing the valve. Maintain the temperature at 172 deg. F. (77.8degC) As the run nears the end the temperature will begin to rise. Stop running between 176 and 178 deg. F. (80 and 81.1degC)
Note: The water drain tubing in this set-up must be about half again larger than the water input tubing.
Blow-up of Reflux Tower
Note: Using a packed column without the Reflux Condenser or a column alone without either packing or Reflux Condenser will yield a higher proof first run than the simple pot still
In fractional distillation the point is to achieve the closest possible contact between rising vapour and descending condensed liquid within the reflux column, and thus permit only the most volatile vapour to continue through to the after condenser while returning the less volatile vapour as a liquid toward the pot. The purification of the more volatile vapour by such counter-current streams of vapour and liquid is known as rectification and the descending liquid is known as reflux; hence the name reflux column. This system may yield a first run of about 170 to 180 proof, double that of the first run of the simple pot still.
The efficiency of the reflux system depends upon the length and diameter of the reflux column. A column of about 6″ high and 3″ across may require two runs; whereas a column 18″ high and 4″ across may require only one run to produce 170 to 180 proof alcohol. Heat control is accurate because of the controlled water flow through the reflux condenser in the top of the column. Also, you can control the temperature by raising or reducing the heat source, as in the simple pot still, but it is not so critical.
Keep the top temperature of the column between 172 and 176 deg. F. (77.2 – 80degC) for optimum results. One run should be sufficient, and yield pure spirits, but if yeast flavour or odour is present, run the distillate a second time at the same temperature range. Two runs are advisable unless you have a very efficient reflux column.
The Sneaky Home Still, invented out of necessity, is a compact system which yields an acceptable product in one run, is mechanically simple, and can be stored in a dresser drawer. A 550 watt soldering iron is fitted with copper tubing of various lengths and diameters and during a constant flow process may produce between 90 and 115 proof alcohol depending on the temperature at which it is operated. The adjustment of flow rate is most important in this system because it regulates the operating temperature. An operating temperature of 195 deg. F. (90degC) appears optimum and should yield about 4 quarts of 100 proof alcohol from 5 gallons of mash. The running time varies between 4 to 6 hours. A lower temperature of 193 deg. F. will yield less alcohol but at a higher proof, about 115, and consequently more pure. After the unit is initially filled so overflow begins, pinch off the flow until an initial rise in temperature is indicated, then begin adjustment of flow rate. Overflow is a slow drip.
Apply electricity after unit is filled and remove prior to breaking siphon.
An earlier version of this booklet suggested 170 through 180 deg. F. (76.7 – 82.2degC) for this run.
NOTE: Here are the formulae to convert Fahrenheit and Centigrade temperatures:
Fahrenheit = Centigrade x 9/5 + 32
Centigrade = Fahrenheit – 32 x 5/9
Cleaning the Still
Immediately after each distillation, while the metal is yet warm, thoroughly rinse, and with a cloth wipe out your still. Flush out all tubing with clear water. If washing is indicated, use a weak detergent solution but NOT soap. Soap may impart an undesirable odour.
In addition, an occasional rinse and flushing with a salt and vinegar solution will keep the still clean and “sweet” (dissolve 1/2 cup of salt with 16 ounces of vinegar – rinse thoroughly with water).
You are cautioned against storing 15% or better alcohol, even temporarily, in plastic containers. There are many types of plastic and unfortunately some of them will dissolve in alcohol.
7 – SAFETY FACTORS DURING DISTILLATION
Recognize the fact that when distilling alcohol we might just as well be distilling gasoline! From a fire and explosion hazard point of view, alcohol is almost as dangerous as gasoline and what nut would cook gasoline on his stove? The mash is not flammable; however, the first and successive run distillates certainly are. The flash points or the temperatures above, which alcohols will ignite and below which they will not ignite, are:
51 deg. F. for 100% or 200 proof ethyl alcohol (pure)
57 deg. F. for 95% or 190 proof ethyl alcohol (uncut)
78 deg. F. for 45% or 90 proof ethyl alcohol (Bourbon)
When you are distilling the temperatures of the alcohol will be well above these flash point temperatures, so be careful! Memorise the following Common Sense rules:
- Do not smoke while running a still.
- Do not use an open flame if you can avoid it.
- Ensure excellent ventilation. Alcohol vapour diffuses readily in air and will explode very easily with a spark or a flame.
- Avoid using glass containers. Use metal or plastic only.
- Never fill a pot while it is on the stove or near any heat source. Alcohol spilled on an electric stove burner may explode.
- Never leave a still unattended. Hose lines may fail or the receiver may overflow spreading dangerous vapours.
- Keep the receiver and its vapours low, on the floor, away from the heat source. Use a small neck receiver; for, if a fire starts it will burn at the small neck opening, which is easily extinguished. A damp cloth wrapped loosely around the tubing where it enters the receiver will help keep the vapours in the receiver.
- Never store uncut alcohol unless it is in the refrigerator. It is a potential bomb at room temperature!
- Be sure all fittings are tight thus avoiding vapour leaks in your still. If a leak develops, stop all sources of heat, then fix it.
- Have a CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) fire extinguisher on hand and know how to use it.
8 – FLAVORING AND MAKING LIQUORS
If you have the opportunity to study the commercial methods of flavoring and coloring liquors, you will be startled at the simplicity of the process and the similarity to what you will do to make your own. Any desired fruit, herb, wood, seed, or its extracted essence is steeped or added to the fermenting mash, or to the alcohol after distillation. Not only flavor, but especially color is created with various additives.
Aging whiskey in wood barrels, for example, imparts the characteristic golden brown color as well as improving the character of the liquor. Rum derives its golden hues from the addition of caramel. Creme de Menthe is green because vegetable coloring has been added.
When spirits are distilled out at 170 proof or better, it would be hard for any but the experienced distillers to differentiate among the distillates of grain, fruit, or can; it is said the alcohol is without “character”. As we stated before, when the spirit is distilled out at a lower proof, 160 or less, it contains more by-products, and has more “character”. Such a spirit, upon ageing in wood, undergoes changes which develop its flavour and character. Once it is placed in glass and sealed against the air, no more change will take place. But as long as it is in wood, there is constant change, brought about by the oxidizing effect of the air on the alcohol through the pores of the wood. However, it stands to reason that alcohol in a partly filled bottle is in contact with air and evaporation and oxidation will continue there, as well as in wood. The oxidation causes the esters and acids to increase materially, the aldehydes slowly, the fusel oils to remain the same, and a certain loss of alcohol to take place. The spirit will absorb some tannin and other coloring material from the wood, and become less harsh, and in a sense, a bit sweeter than it was originally.
You can do the same thing by adding an amount of selected wood chips to your own spirits and letting it age in a partly filled bottle.
The recipes listed in Appendix E are practical and proven. With imagination and experimentation you will discover how to make any liquor you wish. Remember, proof strength is as much a part of certain liquor as is its color and flavor, hence check the proof of the real liquor and check appendices B, C, and D on strength of alcoholic beverages when you make your own.
Probably the best source to buy supplies to prepare liquors is from your local grocery store. Most sophisticated items, such as specific flavorings, barrels, wood chips, recipes, etc., can be obtained by writing to:
- Fioretti & Co. 1470 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10028
APPENDIX A: – ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CHART
COMPOUNDED LIQUEURS AND CORDIALS
|Fruit steeped in Brandy (infusion)|
|Fruit Mash (distilled)|
|Fruit extracts, and Vegetable coloring|
APPENDIX B: – STRENGTH AND SOURCE OF FERMENTED ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Wines (fermented juices of various fruits, notable grapes) 14% or less
Natural Wines (still)
Clarets (Bordeaux), red or white, table, sweet or dry
Graves, white, table, dry
Sauternes, white, table, desert, sweet
Burgandies, red or white, table, dry
Moselles, white, table, dry
Rhones, red or white, table, dry
Alsatian (Rhine), white, table, dry
Riesling, white, table, dry
Tokay, white, table, dry
Chianti, red, table, dry
Sparkling Wines (Effervescent) 14% or less
Champagne, white, table or desert, dry or sweet
Sparkling Burgandy, red or white, table, med. sweet
Sparkling Asti Spumante, white, table, sweet
Sparkling Moselle, white, table, sweet
Fortified Wines (Brandy added) 16% to 23%
Sherry, amber, appetizer, dry or sweet
Port, golden or red, desert, sweet
Madeira, golden, desert, dry or sweet
Marsala, brown, desert, sweet
Muscatel, golden, desert, sweet
Tokay, red, desert, sweet
Aromatized Wines (Brandy added) 15% to 20%
Italian Vermouth, brown, appetizer, sweet or dry
French Vermouth, white, appetizer, dry
Dubonnet, red, appetizer, sweet
Montilla, straw, appetizer, dry
Quinquina, red or white, appetizer, sweet-bitter
Other Wines 2% to 8%
Cider (Sidra), sparkling, apple wine, straw, sweet
Perry, sparkling pear wine, straw, sweet
Blackberry, Peach, Apricot, Cherry, Strawberry Wine, etc.
Pulque, Agave Cactus wine, resembling sour milk
Beers 1.2% to16%
Beer (lager), pale, dry 4%
Ale, pale to dark, bittersweet 6%
Stout, a dark ale, strong malt flavor, bitter 6%
Porter, like stout but not as strong, dark, bitter 6%
Sake, rice beer, white, dry, still 1 to 16%
APPENDIX C: – STRENGTH AND SOURCE OF DISTILLED ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Whiskies2 (distilled at 160 proof from fermented 80 to 110 (40 to 55) mash of various cereal grains)
Rye (made from nlt 51% rye grain)
Bourbon or Corn (from nlt 51% corn grain)
Wheat (from 51% wheat grain)
Malt (from nlt 51% malted barley or rye)
Blended Whiskies (Any straight whiskey 50% blended with neutral spirits; or blended with another straight whiskey)
Scotch, a blend of straight Scotch whiskies from peat-smoked malted barley
Irish, a blend of straight Irish whiskies from barley, oats, wheat, and rye
Canadian, a blend of straight Canadian whiskies from rye grain
Vodkas (distilled at 150º proof from fermented 90º to 115º (45% to 57%) mash or wheat and a little malt, it is not flavored, nor aged; white, dry)
Subrovka, a vodka flavored with Zubrovka
Grass, slightly bitter, dry
Gins (distilled at 190º proof from cereal grains, 86º (43%) mostly corn, sweetened or not, flavored with juniper berries, almonds, cardamom, coriander or licorice; never aged)
London Dry, white, dry
Old Tom, white, medium sweet
Hollands, white, dry, distilled out at 98º proof
Fruit Gins, flavored with fruit extracts
2Note: ‘Bottled in Bond’ is not a type of whiskey or a guarantee of quality. It is a tax device to allow a distiller to bottle straight whiskey (provided it is 4 years old) without paying Federal Tax. He must pay the Federal Tax immediately upon removing the whiskey from the bonded warehouse for sale.
APPENDIX D: – STRENGTH AND SOURCE OF COMPOUNDED ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Rums (distilled at 160 proof from fermented sugar 86º to 158º (43% to 79%) cane molasses, colored with caramel, flavored with cognac and fruit)
Cuban, light or dark, dry or sweet
Demerera, dark, sweet
Jamaica, gold, sweet
Batavia Arak, dry, brandy-like
Tequila (distilled from pulque, an agave cactus wine, pale, dry)
Aquavitae (distilled at 190 proof from grain potatoes, 90º (45%) flavored with caraway seed and other herbs; it is not aged, white)
Brandies (Distilled at 140º proof from wine or 96º to 108º (48% to 54%) fermented mash of fruit juices)
Cognac, brown, dry 84º (42%)
Armagnac, brown, dry
Spanish Brandy, brown, medium dry
American Brandy, light gold, oak flavor
Greek Brandy, dark, sweet, resinous flavor
Calvados (Apple Jack), brown, dry 100º (50%)
Kirsch (Cherry Brandy), white, dry, bitter 96º (48%) almond flavor
Slivovitz (Plum Brandy), brown, dry
Quetsch (Plum Brandy, brown, dry
Liqueurs and Cordials (various fruits steeped in 36º to 110º (18% to 55%) brandy [infusion] which may or may not be redistilled; or neutral spirits, sweetened, then flavored with extracts of fruits, herbs, or spices, artificially colored)
Benedictine, secret blend of herbs, plants, peels, 60º (30%) etc., golden, spicy, sweet
Chartreuse, secret blend, yellow green, spicy, 86º (43%) sweet
Cherry Heering 110º (55%)
Cordial Medoc, blend of brandy, curacao, cacao
Cointreau, a brand of Triple Sec
Drambuie, a secret blend of Scotch Whiskey and honey, golden, spicy sweet
Kummel, caraway and cumin seed 60º to 80º (30% to 40%)
Forbidden Fruit, Shaidock grapefruit and brandy, orange color, sweet
Liqueur d’Or, lemon peel, herbs, plants 86º (43%)
Van der Hum, tangerines (mandarins) 70º (35%)
Anisette, aniseed, white 54º (27%)
Apricot Liqueur 60º (30%)
Arrack Punsch, simple syrup, herbs and Matava Arak
Blackberry Liqueur, dark red, sweet 86º (43%)
Cherry Liqueur, black cherry, red, sweet 60º (30%)
Creme de Ananas, pineapple 60º (30%)
Creme de Cacao, chocolate, vanilla 60º (30%)
Creme de Cassis, blackcurrants, red 36º (18%)
Creme de Fraises, strawberries 60º (30%)
Creme de Menthe, peppermint 60º (30%)
Creme de Noyaus, bitter almond
Curacao, green orange peel 60º (30%)
Sloe Gin, wild plum, red, sweet
Triple Sec, a white Curacao, sweet 60º (30%)
Peach Liqueur 60º (30%)
Maraschino, wild cherry, white 60º (30%)
Creme de Cafe (Kahlua), coffee
Absinshe, aromatic plants and brandy, yellow-green; licorice 136º (68%)
Bitters (neutral spirits infused or redistilled with plants, seeds, barks, roots, and fruits) 80º (40%) or less
Angostura, dark, bitter
Abbott’s Aged Bitters, dark, bitter
Orange Bitters, dried Seville orange peel
APPENDIX E: – RECIPES
Units of Measure
1 ounce = 2 tablespoons
1.5 ounces = 3 table spoons = 1 jigger
8 ounces = 1 cup
16 ounces = 2 cups = 1 pint
32 ounces = 2 pints = 1 quart
8 pints = 4 quarts = 1 gallon
25 ounces = 3 1/4 cups = 1 fifth (4/5 of a quart)
Basic Mash (for distilling neutral spirits)
In 5 gallons of ordinary tap water dissolve 10 pounds of granulated cane sugar. Add 1 cup of bakers yeast softened in a cup of lukewarm water and 1 level teaspoon of fertilizer such as Calgon.
Allow the mash to ferment at about 78 deg. F. for fourteen days or until the fermentation stops. Provide for the release of CO2 gas and keep air out. Let the mash stand until clear of sediment and siphon or decant. It is now ready for distillation. Yield: 1/2 to 3/4 gallon of 190 proof alcohol.
Wine yeast may be used in place of common bakers yeast. When you make your own wine, decant the fluid just before fermentation stops and save the sediment; however, strain any course fruit, etc. Store the sediment or ‘wine yeast’ in the refrigerator. When you make your basic mash use this sediment in lieu of the bakers yeast.
Wine yeast has developed a greater tolerance for alcohol than the common bakers yeast it was. As wine yeast reproduces during fermentation in your basic mash, it will yield as much as 50% more alcohol content than the common bakers yeast could have.
Bring to a boil 3 cups of sugar dissolved in 2 cups of water; cool.
Any Grain Alcohol (using Fioretti Flavors)
1 pint 190 proof alcohol
1 pint water
21 drops any flavor, such as Bourbon, Cognac, Rum, etc. (except 3 drops Gin Flavor)
Dissolve flavoring in alcohol, add water and shake well. One teaspoon of chemically pure glycerine may be added to one quart of prepared beverage producing a smoother liquor.
Pour 110 proof alcohol into Vodka bottle.
Add 1 pound of dried apples to 2 quarts of 100 proof; let stand 2 days then strain.
Yield: About 2 quarts.
To age beverages like Brandy, Rum and all Whiskies, add about a tablespoon of toasted oak chips. Let stand for 10 or more days and then filter.
Any Cordial or Liqueur (using Fioretti Flavors)
3/4 pound (12 oz.) sugar
12 ounces water (boiled or distilled)
3/4 pint (12 oz.) 190 proof
1/8 ounce (1 dram) any flavor, such as Apricot, Blackberry, etc. (except 7 drops Anisette flavor)
Dissolve sugar in warm water. Cool. Add alcohol in which you have dissolved the desired flavoring. Shake well and let stand for several days or longer.
Pour a quart of 180 proof in a wide mouth jar. Suspend a well colored orange from a string about 1/4 inch above the alcohol and cap tightly. Let it stand quietly, unopened for 14 days. Oils from the orange peel will drip into the alcohol, flavoring and turning it yellow. Mix 12 ounces of sugar in 16 ounces of water. Slowly boil this solution until the syrup will almost thread when poured from a spoon and not splash. Pour this hot syrup slowly into the orange treated alcohol and stir slowly until thoroughly ;mixed. Pour your finished Cointreau into an appropriate bottle.
Yield: About 1 1/3 quarts.
Dissolve 3 cups of sugar in 2 cups of water and mix well in 1 quart of 150 proof. Add the outermost peelings of 2 well colored oranges and 1/2 lemon and a little pulp of both. Allow to set two weeks. Shake every other day. Strain the Cointreau into an appropriate bottle.
Yield: About 1 1/2 quarts.
Creme de Menthe
Dissolve 2 cups of sugar in 2 cups of water; add 2 tablespoons of white caro syrup and boil for 10 minutes. When cool add 2/3 quart of 100 proof, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of peppermint flavoring and green vegetable coloring to suit.
ield: About 1 2/3 quart.
Creme de Cacao
Thoroughly mix 1 pint of chocolate syrup, 1 pint of caro syrup, 1 quart of 120 proof, and 1 ounce of vanilla extract.
Yield: About 2 quarts.
Creme de Cafe (Kahlua)
Boil 1 pound of drip grind coffee in 1 1/4 quarts of water and simmer for 40 minutes. Strain liquid (for grounds through cheesecloth. Dissolve 3 pounds sugar in 1/2 quart water and boil for 5 minutes; add coffee concentrate and cool. Add 1 1/4 quarts of 180 proof and 2 ounces vanilla extract.
Yield: About 2 1/2 quarts.
To one pint of simple syrup add 4 ounces of Caro syrup and 25 drops of Scotch Essence. Bring to a boil and cool. Add to one pint of 180 proof and let stand 1 week.
Yield: About 1 1/4 quarts.
Add 1 1/4 ounces of Anise Flavoring to 2 quarts of 84 proof (The drink will turn milky white when served with water).
Red Wine, Dry or Sweet
To 12 quarts of tap water at room temperature dissolve10 cups cane sugar (about 5 pounds) . 11 cups or more will make a sweeter wine; nine cups or less will make a drier wine. Add 1 envelope active dry yeast (1 cake) softened in some lukewarm water; add 3 quarts of frozen concentrate unsweetened Concord Grape Juice thawed to room temperature; add 15 ounces (1 box) of seedless raisins.
Note: About 5 quarts of canned unsweetened Concord Grape Juice and only 7 quarts of water may be substituted if frozen grape juice is not available; however, the frozen concentrate will produce a wine with more body.
Mix all items thoroughly in a large 5 gallon glass jug or similar container of ceramic or plastic. Cap neck of jug.
Let stand 10 to 14 days in subdued light, or until fermentation stops. Fermentation will be recognized by bubbling or effervescence as in a carbonated drink. Usual room temperature (78 deg. F.) is recommended. Stir or shake once or twice during fermentation.
After bubbling stops, siphon off most of the liquid, preferably through a cloth, and discard the residue of raisons, etc. Now let the liquid stand quietly so that the fine sediment in suspension may settle out. chilling will hasten the settling time. Pour off the clear liquid, carefully and without agitation, and discard the sediment.
Repeat this process several times if you want a clear wine. There may be an unpleasant odour to the liquid, but it will gradually disappear during the settling or aging period. Three or four days after siphoning you may drink this wine, which will be very satisfying; however, several more days, weeks or months of aging will continue to reduce the acidity or rawness of the wine, enhancing flavour every passing day.
General Instructions for Wine
- If there is difficulty in obtaining wine casks, the wine can age in bottles or stone jars; but the flavour is improved by aging in wooden casks.
- Never add yeast to a hot mash.
- When bottling wine, see that bottles are clean, sweet and dry; fill so that the wine comes into contact with the corks when they have been driven in; use only new corks (old corks may sour new wine).
- Should there be a shortage in a bottle when filling, add white Spanish wine.
- All new-made wines should be kept in a cool, dark cellar or cupboards.
- It is not essential to add brandy to any new wine, but it helps to keep it, and makes it stronger. Add 4 ounces of brandy or gin to every gallon of wine before bottling.
- For white wines, follow the instructions as for the red wines.
In the following recipes, all given quantities can be reduced or increased in proportion.
6 pounds mangoes
1 gallon water
3 pounds sugar
2 oranges, halved
1 lemon, halved
1 envelope yeast
Boil the mangoes in the water until tender; strain, cool and add the other items. Follow instructions as for the red wine.
4 pounds sugar to gallon of juice
6 pounds apples, sliced but not peeled
1 gallon water
1 envelope yeast
Add apples to water and let stand 2 weeks; stir every day. Strain and add sugar and let stand another 4 – 5 weeks to ferment. Let age for 3 – 4 months before bottling.
Orange Wine #1
5 gallons water
20 pounds sugar
50 Seville oranges with half the peel removed
2 ounces yeast
Boil the sugar and water briefly. Cool and add other items. Follow instructions as for red wine.
Orange Wine #2
4 gallons boiling water
4 1/2 dozen thin skinned juicy oranges
4 pounds sugar to each one gallon juice
1 envelope yeast
Pour hot water over cut-up peeled oranges and peelings. Do not use the white peel. Let stand 1 week, stir every day. Then strain and add sugar and yeast. Follow instructions as for red wine.
1 quart boiling water
1-2 pounds sugar to each gallon juice
1 gallon berries (when berries are ripe use the lesser amount of sugar)
Pour hot water over berries and mash them. Let stand 4 days, then strain and add sugar and yeast. Follow instructions as for red wine.
A little cinnamon stick may be added after fermentation has begun.
Age for 6 to 12 months.
36 pounds of unripe cherries, remove stems
2 tablespoons yeast for each 2 gallons of pulp
4 pounds sugar for each 2 gallons of pulp and juice
Mash the cherries and let stand 24 hours; then rub them through a sieve. Discard stones and skins. Add yeast and sugar.
Follow instructions for red wine.
1 quart water to 1 quart any grapes
1 pound sugar to each quart juice
Pinch of yeast
Partially mash the grapes and add the water; let stand for 1 week. Then strain and add the sugar and yeast
Follow the instructions as for red wine.
Raspberry or Strawberry
1 gallon boiling water
1 gallon of fruit
4 pounds sugar
Pinch of yeast
Pour hot water on fruit and let stand for 10 days. Strain and add sugar and yeast.
Follow instructions as for red wine.
1 gallon berries
3 pounds sugar to each gallon juice
Pinch of yeast
Mash the fruit well and strain through a sieve into 1 gallon cooled boiled water then add the sugar and yeast.
Follow instructions as for red wine.
Dry White Wine
5 quarts water
2 pounds sugar
1 envelope yeast
2 pounds raisins
2 pounds rice
12 quarts water
2 cups sugar
1 envelope yeast
4 pounds raisons
2 cups rice
26 of March
12 liters of “Vic”
80 ounces of “Welch’s”
5 liters of water
9 cups of sugar
1 yeast nutrient tablet
1 package of wine yeast
16 liters of “Vic”
2 liters water
3 cups of sugar
25 drops pectin
2 Campden tablets
1 packet wine yeast
20 cans frozen grape juice
10 cups sugar
7 lemons juice
5 Campden tablets
1 teaspoon pectin
1/2 teaspoon tannic acid
5 yeast nutrient tablets
1 packet wine yeast
Heat 6 gallons of water to the boiling point; in it dissolve first 3/4 can of liquid hop flavored malt and then 4 1/2 pounds of sugar. Cool (to at least room temperature) and add 1 envelope of yeast pre-softened in a cup of water. Place mash in a large bottle or crock, cover with a cloth and let stand for 72 hours at about 76 deg. F. For flavour cut up 2 or 3 raw potatoes and add the yeast.
To bottle: Put 1/4 teaspoon of cane sugar in appropriate beer bottle then fill to 1 1/2 inch from top; cap bottle. Let stand for ten days in a cool (not cold) place.
Yield: About 36 bottles.