Alcohol Distillation and Its Impact on Social Health

Alcohol distillation is an integral component of creating spirits such as whiskey, rum and vodka. Distillation separates these beverages from nondistilled ones like beer, hard cider and mead.

Distillation is a process by which fermented mash or liquid alcohol products are separated into their component parts by cooling, which allows water to condense out of the vapors and condense back onto their original liquid state. Once separated, this concentrate of alcohol then must be further refined until reaching desired proof levels.

Distillation begins by heating a mash to a low temperature, which vaporizes alcohol at its lower boiling point than water – meaning its vapor evaporates on its own and is easily collected – as its concentration grows, so too does its concentration of alcohol; after multiple steps are complete, the product can then be cooled off before being packaged at minimum proof level for bottling and sale.

Before the advent of distilled alcohol, people drank fermented beverages with relatively low alcohol contents such as mead, ale, and wine. Distillation knowledge first spread from Italy to northern Europe during the early 17th century and by its end was widely available, revolutionizing social health as much as water purification had done over 10,000 years prior. Dysentery, cholera, and typhoid were major killers then and continue today due to poor water quality.