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.