Saturday, January 21, 2012
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.
Friday, January 20, 2012
-- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The most usual drink in the United States, is whiskey; other spirituous liquors, such as peach and apple brandy, are only secondary, and from their high price and their scarcity, they are not sufficient for the wants of an already immense and increasing population. As to wine, in spite of all the efforts and repeated trials made to propagate the grape-vine, there is as yet no hopes, that it may in time become the principal drink of the Americans.
To turn our enquiries towards the means of bringing the art of making whiskey to greater perfection, is therefore, to contribute to the welfare of the United States, and even to the health of the Americans, and to the prosperity of the distiller, as I will prove in the sequel.
The arts and sciences have made great progress; my aim is to diffuse new light on every thing that relates to the formation of spirituous liquors that may be obtained from grains. Most arts and trades are practised without principles, perhaps from the want of the means of information. For the advantage of the distillers of whiskey, I will collect and offer them the means of obtaining from a given quantity of grain, the greatest possible quantity of spirit, purer and cheaper than by the usual methods. I shall then proceed to indicate the methods of converting whiskey into gin, according to the process of the Holland Distillers, without heightening its price.
If the principles hereafter developed are followed, the trade of distiller will acquire great advantages, that will spread their influence on agriculture, and consequently on commerce in general.
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