Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Best Method of Distilling Rye

Take four gallons boiling, and two gallons cold water—put it into a hogshead, then stir in one and a half bushels chopped rye, let it stand five minutes, then add two gallons cold water, and one gallon malt, stir it effectually—let it stand till your still boils, then add sixteen gallons boiling water, stirring it well, or until you break all the lumps—then put into each hogshead, so prepared, one pint coarse salt, and one shovel full of hot coals out of your furnace. (The coals and salt have a tendency to absorb all sourness and bad smell, that may be in the hogshead or grain;) if there be a small quantity of hot ashes in the coals, it is an improvement—stir your hogsheads effectually every fifteen minutes, keeping them close covered until you perceive the grain scalded enough—when you may uncover, if the above sixteen gallons boiling water did not scald it sufficiently, water must be added until scalded enough—as some water will scald quicker than others—it is necessary to mark this attentively, and in mashing two or three times, it may be correctly ascertained what quantity of the kind of water used will scald effectually—after taking off the covers, they must be stirred effectually, every fifteen minutes, till you cool off—for which operation, see "Cooling off."

To those who distill all rye, I recommend this method, as I have found it to answer every kind of water, with one or two exceptions.

Distillers will doubtless make experiments of the various modes recommended and use that which may prove most advantageous and convenient.

How to Mash Rye

Take four gallons cold water to each hogshead, add one gallon malt, stir it well with your mashing stick, until the malt is thoroughly wet—when your still boils, put in about sixteen gallons boiling water, then put in one and an half bushels of chopped rye, stirring it effectually, until there is no lumps in it, then cover it close until the still boils, then put in each hogshead, three buckets or twelve gallons boiling water, stirring it well at the same time—cover it close—stir it at intervals until you perceive your rye is scalded enough, which you will know by putting in your mashing stick, and lifting thereon some of the scalded rye, you will perceive the heart or seed of the rye, like a grain of timothy seed sticking to the stick, and no appearance of mush, when I presume it will be sufficiently scalded—it must then be stirred until the water is cold enough to cool off, or you may add one bucket or four gallons of cold water to each hogshead, to stop the scalding.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Basic Fermentation

"Fermentation is a spontaneous and intestine motion, which takes place amongst the principles of organic substance deprived of life, the maximum of which always tends to change the nature of bodies, and gives rise to the formation of new productions."

-- Bouillon la Grange.—Manual of a Course of Chymistry.

Fermentation has long since been divided into spirituous, acid, and putrid.

It is incontestable that spirits are produced by the saccharine substance (sugar). Grains, however, supply it, although they are not sensibly sweet. This has made me suspect that the fermentation is at first saccharine, which produces the sweet substance that is necessary for the formation of spirit. It is thus that, by a series of internal motions, the fermentation causes the formation of the spirit to be preceded by a slight production of acid; that it transforms the vinous liquor into vinegar, which the same fermentation changes in time into an animal substance, destroyed in its turn by the putrid fermentation. Such are the progressive changes operated by this all-disorganizing phenomenon, and the unerring march of nature to bring back all substances to their respective elements.

The necessary conditions for the formation of vinous fermentation, are—

1st. The presence of the saccharine substance.
2dly. That of a vegeto-animal substance, commonly called ferment, and soluble in water.
3dly. A certain quantity of water.
4thly. A temperature of 70° to 75°.
5thly. A sufficient mass.

When these are obtained, in a short time the liquor becomes turbid; it bubbles, from the disengaging of the carbonic acid gas, and the heat increases considerably. After some days, these impetuous motions subside; the fermentation ceases by degrees; the liquor clears up; then it emits a vinous smell and taste. As soon as it ferments no more, it must be distilled. However, some distillers have asserted that a greater quantity of spirit is obtained when the liquor has acquired a certain degree of acidity. Others are of opinion that it must be distilled as soon as it is calm. I am of this opinion, because the acid can only be formed at the expense of a little of the spirit, which is one of the principles of the acetous acid. Besides, the longer the liquor remains in a mass, the more spirit is wasted by evaporation.

Distilling Whiskey

Whiskey is made either with rye, barley, or Indian corn. One, or all those kinds of grains is used, as they are more or less abundant in the country. I do not know how far they are mixed in Kentucky; but Indian corn is here in general the basis of whiskey, and more often employed alone.

I have ascertained, in the different distilleries which I have visited in the United States—

1stly. That, in general, the grain is not sprouted. I have, however, seen some distillers who put 10lbs. of malt into a hogshead of fermentation containing 100 gallons, which reduces it to almost nothing.

2dly. That they put two bushels of ground grain into a hogshead of fermentation containing 100 gallons, filled up with water.

3dly. They had a ferment to determine the fermentation, which, when finished, yields two gallons of whiskey per bushel of grain, and sometimes ten quarts, but very seldom. I do not know whether those results are exact; but, supposing them to be so, they must be subject to great variations, according to the quality of the grain, the season, the degree of heat, of the atmosphere, and the manner of conducting the fermentation. From my analyzing the different sorts of grains, I know that Indian corn must yield the most spirit.

From the above proportions, it results, that 100 gallons of the vinous liquor of distillers yield only 4 gallons of whiskey, and very seldom 5; that is, from a 25th to a 20th. It is easy to conceive how weak a mixture, 25 parts of water to one of whiskey, must be; thus the produce of the first distillation is only at 11° or 12° by the areometer, the water being at 10°. It is only by several subsequent distillations, that the necessary concentration is obtained, to make sale-able whiskey. These repeated operations are attended with an increased expense of fuel, labor, and time.

Such are the usual methods of the whiskey distillers. Before we compare them with those of the brewer, let us examine the nature of fermentation, and what are the elements the most proper to form a good vinous liquor: thence we shall judge with certainty, of those two ways of operating.

On the Art of Brewing

The art of brewing consists:

1st. In the sprouting of a proportion of grain, chiefly barley. This operation converts into a saccharine matter, the elements of that same substance already existing in grains.

2dly. In preparing the wort. For that operation, the grain, having been previously ground, is put into a vat, which is half filled up with water; the rest is filled up at three different times with hot water—the first at 100°, the second at 150°, and the third at 212°, which is boiling water. The mixture is strongly stirred each time that it is immersed. By this infusion, the water lays hold of the sweet principles contained in the grain.

3dly. The wort thus prepared, the liquor is filtrated, in order to separate it from the grain, and then boiled until reduced to one half, in order to concentrate it to the degree of strength desired. In that state, 40 gallons of wort contain the saccharine principles of 200 wt. of grain.

4thly. The wort, thus concentrated, is drawn off in barrels, which are kept in a temperature of 80° or 85°. The yeast is thrown into it to establish the fermentation, and in a short time beer is made, more or less strong, according to the degree of concentration, and more or less bitter, according to the greater or lesser proportion of hops put into it.

Obtaining Spirits from Grains: Distilling and Brewing

The formation of liquor is founded upon a faculty peculiar to grains, which the learned French chemist, Fourcroy, has called saccharine fermentation. Sugar itself does not exist in gramineous substances; they only contain its elements, or first principles, which produce it. The saccharine fermentation converts those elements into sugar, or at least into a saccharine matter; and when this is developed, it yields the eminent principle of fermentation, without which there exists no wine, and consequently no spirit.

Grains yield two kinds of vinous liquors, of which the distiller makes spirit, and the brewer a sort of wine, called beer. From a comparison of the processes employed to obtain these two results, it will be found that the brewer's art has attained a higher degree of perfection than that of the distiller. They both have for their object to obtain a vinous liquor; but that of the brewer is, in reality, a sort of wine to which he gives, at pleasure, different degrees of strength; while that of the distiller is scarcely vinous, and cannot be made richer.

Spiritous Liquors

Spirituous liquors are the produce of vinous ones, obtained by the distillation of these last. The art of making wine is of the remotest antiquity, since it is attributed to Noah; but that of distilling it, so as to extract its most spirituous part, dates only from the year 1300. Arnand de Villeneuve was the inventor of it, and the produce of his Still appeared so marvelous, that it was named Aqua-Vitæ, or Water of Life, and has ever since continued under that denomination in France; Voltaire and reason say that it might, with far more propriety, be called Aqua-Mortis, or Water of Death.

This liquor, called in English, Brandy, received from the learned the name of Spirit of Wine; time improved the art of making it still stronger by concentration, and in that state it is called Alcohol.

All spirit is the distilled result of a wine, either of grapes, other fruits, or grains; it is therefore necessary to have either wine, or any vinous liquor, in order to obtain spirits.