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Distilled and Blended Liquors

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Spirits are beverages that contain purified ethanol—purified potable ethanol. They are made from fermented purees of grains, fruits or vegetables. Such beverages are low in sugar and have an alcohol content of at least 35%. Examples of distilled spirits include brandy, gin, tequila, vodka, and whiskey. There are many terms for this type of beverage, including distilled beverages, liquor, spirits, mixed beverages, and alcoholic beverages. Distilled beverages do not include wine or beer.

All forms of alcoholic beverages—beer, wine, and spirits—are based on fermentation, the breakdown of carbohydrates into alcohol. Yeast is the catalyst for this process. Liquor production involves an additional distillation step. Distillation involves boiling alcohol vapor from fermented mash at high temperature and collecting it as a condensed liquid. Alcoholic beverages are made from carbohydrates, which are essentially sugars. The most common sugars used in distilling wine come from grapes, sugar cane, molasses, corn, rye, barley, wheat and potatoes. Various additional products are used in the distillation process to flavor the final alcoholic beverage.

Distillation requires a still. The distiller consists of three parts: a container in which the substance to be distilled is heated; a condenser, in which the steam is liquefied; and a receiver, in which the product is collected. DEGONG uses copper or stainless steel distiller with copper inside. Copper removes sulfur-based compounds from the liquid. Copper pipes also reduce the copper content of wastewater by-products, which are often used in animal feed in large breweries. Copper is also used in distiller because it is an excellent heat conductor and corrosion resistance. Nevertheless, some corrosion is unavoidable, and stills are usually repaired every eight years.

Commercial breweries usually use column distiller, commonly referred to as continuous distiller. The column distiller has two columns or chambers. The column is designed with a series of graded levels through which the liquid passes when heated. Steam rises at all levels and becomes more concentrated as they advance upward. Cooling starts from the higher level in the second column.

The column distiller is a more efficient production method than the tank distiller. The pot distiller is a single-chamber distiller in which the pot is directly heated. The boiling point of alcohol is 173 degrees Fahrenheit, and the boiling point of water below the boiling point is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, when the liquid is heated, the alcohol part will evaporate in the form of vapor and separate from the original liquid. The vapor is transported through the condensing coil, where it is cooled and becomes liquid again. The first distillation will produce a liquid with an alcohol concentration of 25% to 35% (volume). Then the alcoholic liquid is further concentrated in the second distillation to bring the alcohol content to about 70%. The volume measurement of alcohol should not be confused with another measure of alcohol content used for spirits: proof. Alcohol is a measurement of the alcohol content in a beverage. The alcohol level of each grade is equal to 0.5% alcohol, so a beverage marked with 100 alcohol contains 50% alcohol by volume.

The alcohol content of distilled spirits is much higher than that of beer or wine. Beer has an average alcohol content of 2% to 8%, while wine has an average alcohol content of 8% to 14%. The alcohol content in beer and wine must not exceed 15% (by volume). Exceeding this content will adversely affect the yeast and cannot be fermented. Since the distillation process concentrates the alcohol and separates it from the original liquid, the alcohol volume percentage of liquor is higher.

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Copper alcohol distillation equipment


Manufacturing process

The production of alcoholic beverages is complicated. Put grains or vegetables with high carbohydrate content in an automatic mashing bucket. The barrel is equipped with a stirrer to decompose the fiber of the raw material. The mash is heated to boiling point to eliminate the growth of harmful bacteria. Then pour the mash into a stainless steel bucket. Add yeast and start the fermentation process. The sugar in the mash is converted to ethanol.

In this process, the liquid called scrubbing is transferred to the column distiller. The washing liquid is heated in the analytical column. The washing liquid enters the top of the analytical column, and steam is injected from the bottom of the column. The steam passes through many perforated plates and then through the barrels connecting the two towers. The second column is called the rectification column and it is equipped with a condenser. This is where the liquid cools and condenses. The liquid is distilled a second time. There are many factors that affect the final alcohol content of distilled spirits: temperature, water and any flavoring substances added, also known as cogeneration. If the alcohol content of the liquid exceeds 95%, it will be tasteless because the cogeneration has been boiled.

The production process differs depending on the distiller and the wine produced. Some stills use column distillation columns, while others use pot stills. Some ingredients require additional production steps. For example, Scotch whisky is produced from barley, which must undergo a germination process for several weeks before the fermentation process can begin. This makes the starch in barley more soluble. Most whiskeys are distilled twice, but single malt whiskies are distilled only once. Some vodka is distilled as many as six times. The wood of the barrels where the wine is stored affects the color and taste of the product. The country of origin also affects the taste, and the malt whiskey produced near the coast has a salty taste. The length of the aging process is another factor that affects the production of different spirits.

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Stainless steel fermentation tank


Bourbon

Bourbon is an American form of whiskey named for Bourbon County, Kentucky. Most bourbon is distilled there, but bourbon may be manufactured anywhere in the United States where it is legal to do so. Elijah Craig, a Baptist minister, is credited with inventing bourbon. Fifty-one percent of the grains used in bourbon production must be corn, although most distillers use 70 percent corn. Bourbon must also be distilled to no more than 160 proof, and aged in new charred oak barrels for at least two years. After aging, it is diluted with water and bottled. Bourbon must be put into the barrels at no more than 125 proof. Bottling proof for whiskey must be at least 80 proof.


Gin

Gin is believed to have been first produced in Holland in the early seventeenth century. The first step in gin manufacturing is to distill the neutral spirit alcohol. Gin makers seldom make their own neutral spirit. They typically purchase it from a distiller who manufactures neutral spirits for a variety of uses. The second step involves distilling the spirit again, this time adding various botanicals for flavorings. Gin usually requires juniper berries, but other flavorings may be added, such as citrus peel, ginger, or caraway seeds. Distilled water is added to bring the alcohol content to 80 to 95 proof. Dry gin is the most popular type of gin. It is produced in a column still. Dutch gin, however, is produced in a pot still. Other types of gin include Plymouth Gin, Old Tom gin, and Golden gin. Contrary to popular belief, sloe gin (flavored with fresh sloe berries) is actually a liqueur, not a gin.

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Liqueurs

Distilled beverages with added flavorings and a relatively high sugar content.They are flavored with fruits, herbs, spices, flowers, seeds, roots, plants, and barks. They appeared by the thirteenth century and may have been invented by the Dutch. As with wine and other liquor, monks were the major distillers of such beverages in Europe. In fact, some types of liqueurs still carry names that originated with the monks who once distilled them.


Rum

Rum is produced from fermented molasses or sugar cane. Most countries within the Caribbean get their molasses from Brazil. There are three main categories of rum: Cuban, Jamaican, and Dutch East Indian. There are also various grades of rum: light rum, gold rum, spiced rum, dark rum, flavored rum, overproof rum, and premium rum. There is no preferred distillation method for making rum. Some producers use pot stills while others use column stills, but most rum is aged in bourbon flasks. Because of the warm climate of the Caribbean region, rum ages more quickly than scotch or cognac, which are made in cooler climates.

Spanish speaking countries such as Cuba and Panama typically produce light rums with a clean taste. English speaking countries produce darker rums with heavier tastes. Jamaica is considered by many to be the best maker of rum. French speaking countries such as Haiti and Martinique produce their rum from sugarcane as opposed to molasses and they typically grow their own sugarcane.


Tequila

Tequila is made by fermenting and distilling the sweet sap of the agave plant. It may be colorless or be a pale gold color. Tequila is made in and around the small town of Tequila, in Mexico's Jalisco province. In order to be classified as tequila, the liquor must be produced from blue agave plants grown in a precisely delineated area covering five Mexican states: Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Mayarit, and Tamaulipas. Mexican law states that tequila must be made with at least 51 percent blue agave; the remaining 49 percent of the input material is usually sugarcane. Tequilas labeled 100 percent Blue Agave are considered the best. Tequila has 40 to 50 percent alcohol by weight.


Vodka

Vodka is both odorless and colorless. Its exact origins are unknown, but it likely had its start in Poland or Russia. The word vodka comes from the Slavic word voda (or woda), meaning water. The drink was first made from distilled potatoes and then from corn. However, most vodkas are made from cereal grain products such as wheat. Distillers may own fields and produce the grain themselves or purchase it from suppliers.

Vodka has a particularly high alcohol content. Vodka can have a proof as high as 145, but water is added to bring the proof down to a range between 80 and 100. Vodka is often mixed with other beverages and is a main ingredient in such popular drinks as Screwdrivers and Bloody Marys.


Whiskey

This liquor, which is spelled either whiskey or whisky, is a shortened form of usquebaugh, a word the English took from the Irish Gaelic language meaning water of life: uisge means water; baugh, or beada, means of life. Whiskey is a broad category of distilled spirits, covering a number of types of spirit. Each type has a unique production method that varies by amount of water used, ingredients, type of oak cask in which the whiskey is stored, and the manner of distillation. These methods have an effect on color and flavor.

Straight whiskey includes bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, and rye whiskey. It is made from at least 51 percent of a particular grain, must not exceed 160 proof (80 percent alcohol), and must be aged in oak barrels for 2 years. Blended whiskey is a combination of two or more 100 proof straight whiskeys blended with neutral spirits, grain spirits, or light whiskeys. The malt in malt whiskey is allowed to germinate to a certain extent and then distilled two to three times. Light whiskey has been distilled to a high alcohol level, typically more than 160 proof, and then diluted with water to a greater extent than harder whiskeys. It gets its distinctive character from being stored in charred oak containers. Such whiskies are generally used for blending. Single-malt whiskey is made only from malted barley and from a single distillation.

In order for a whiskey to be considered Scotch whisky it must conform to standards laid out under Scottish law. It must be produced with Scottish water and barley. Its alcohol strength must not exceed 94.8 percent by volume; a higher level would compromise its flavor. It must be aged for at least three years in Scotland, although most are aged 5 to 10 years. After aging, Scotch whisky may be bottled elsewhere.

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If you are interested in more brewing equipment and brewing knowledge, please contact us.Contact Kate and my email: kate@degonget.com


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