Alcohol Distillation and the Sense of Taste

Alcohol distillation and the sense of taste

Alcohol distillation is where flavors are created and separated. A fermented liquid known as wash contains mostly water and alcohol (ethanol), while the remaining 25% comprises organic chemical compounds like aldehydes, esters and acids; collectively known as congeners which contribute both positive and negative flavor notes to alcohol beverages.

Distillation involves heating liquid to turn it into gas, which is then passed along to a condenser to be condensed back into liquid form. As it passes through this process, its ratio of components A to components B in its vapor changes as more flavor compounds emerge; early stages see mostly heads (lower boiling point, highly volatile) and tails (higher boiling point, less volatile), either discarded or collected depending on what spirit being made.

As the vapor continues to move down the column, it becomes concentrated into hearts as more low-boiling alcohols collect at its center. This heart is responsible for creating that unique fruity or floral taste you find when sipping on spirits such as gin or whiskey.

As hearts continue to collect more fusel alcohols, unpleasant aromas and flavors will develop in them; therefore, distillers will make cuts and divert that vapor flow to another container – often times, this results in tails which you might find in rum, but depending on what spirit is being produced it might benefit from early heads in their heart cuts or late tails in its hearts.

Alcohol Distillation and Its Impact on Global Cultures

Alcohol distillation and its impact on global cultures

Alcohol distillation has had a lasting impact on global cultures since its origin. While grain distillation remains most widely associated with civilizations worldwide, beverages produced through various raw materials. Spirit production often starts by creating a “mash,” such as milling grains or crushing fruit or mashing root vegetables to expose sugars from base materials for alcohol-producing yeast to ferment and create alcohol and volatile molecules in liquid form.

Congeners, which give spirits their flavor, must be carefully managed by distillers in order to achieve desired spirits profiles. Distillation distributes these congeners throughout a spirit’s vapor stream in various concentrations; one such part, called the heads, contains more ethyl alcohol while also containing toxic compounds like methanol and acetone that smell like nail polish remover. These toxic components need to be separated out and redistributed into subsequent batches in order to be redistilled again.

After the heads, distillation proceeds through hearts that contain mostly ethanol as well as some of its original flavor from raw ingredients, with volatile molecules still predominantly comprised of ethanol in tails; depending on their still type, distillers may use hearts, tails or any combination thereof to craft spirits.