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Matt S

Distillation Part

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I am curious, as I have read on various sites about what % of alcohol needs to be present before distilling, when macerating the herbs.

I read that the herbs are NORMALLY macerated in alcohol at about 80% and then sometimes more water is added a few hours before distilling.

Is there an importance in the alcohol being a certain level when macerating? I am quite intrigued in how the whole process works, to make a quality drink.

 

Cheers and thanks

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The best place to learn about the process is at the Wormwood Society website in the Historical Documents section. In particular, the Duplais and DeBreveans books are wonderful. :cheers:

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The amount of essential oils that are extracted from the herbs into the alcohol changes according to the changes in several variables: proof of the alcohol/water mix used for the maceration, lenght of maceration and temperature. A mechanical stirring also slightly increases the extraction with months-long macerations, but in the case of absinthe where distillers rarely go above 24h I'd say this is irrelevant.

To answer your question, yes the alcohol % when macerating is important because it's one of the variables that determine the amount of essential oils in the solution before the distillation, and yes it's usually (as described in the books Joe mentioned) around 85%.

 

The amount of water that is usually added right before heating up the alambic for the distillation is also very important, and of course has to be adjusted according to the alcohol % in the maceration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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