Important Snippets from Joseph Merory’s Food Flavorings

Merory’s out of print texts have escalated in value and become increasingly hard to find so I thought I would type up a few important recipes to help someone out.

A few things about Merory to note. Firstly, I only have the first edition of the book and there were a few more editions years after so who knows if any liqueurs recipes were added or changed. Secondly, Merory sometimes engages in what I think is armchair speculation and sometimes wrote about ideas he pondered but never actually tried. So who knows if he actually tried these recipes. I’ve seen this behavior in other major texts about spirits especially in the context of chemical analysis procedures.

I typed up this first orange essence recipe because it was all in oil measures. I thought it would be useful as a starting point to give people an idea of the ratios of aromatic adjuncts like nutmeg and coriander as well as an idea of how much terpene is removed.

Orange-Curacao (Triple Sec) Essence MF 229

(a) Mix the following oils:
91.5000 gm. bitter orange
17.5000 gm. orange, cold pressed
04.2500 gm. lemon, cold pressed
00.1250 gm. nutmeg
00.0625 gm. neroli
00.0625 gm. coriander
—————————-
Total
113.5000 gm. or 4 fl. ozs.

(b)
Mixture of:
04.0 fl oz. mixture of (a)
12.0 fl oz. alcohol, 95 per cent
18.0 fl oz. water
————
34.0 fl. oz.
mix well, and let stand in a terpene separator (Fig. 14) for 24 hours for separation of terpenes;
-3.5 fl. oz. separated terpenes
30.5 fl. oz. taken from below; then add:
+1.5 fl. oz. alcohol, 95 per cent
————-
Total
32.0 fl. oz. finished curacao (triple sec) essence, filter if necessary.

Besides the very significant amount of aromatic adjuncts, notice how this Grand Marnier knockoff uses a combination of infusion and distillation to create the final product. This is a very different idea than the clear Grand M’s on the market now.

Grand “M” Type Flavor MF 257 (Continental Formula)

(a) Extract the following comminuted botanical ingredients:
4750 gm. orange peels, bitter
2500 gm. peppermint herb
2250 gm. orange peels, sweet
1750 gm. lemon peels
1500 gm. coriander seed
1500 gm. ginger
1500 gm. orange blossoms
0875 gm. cinnamon
1075 gm. cloves
0875 gm. angelica seed
0250 gm. cardamom
0100 gm. tonka beans
0110 gm. saffron
—————-
20525 gm.
with menstruum consisting of:
72 li. alcohol 95 per cent.
50 li. water
Extract for four days.
Then take off:
5 kg. extract
(b) Add to remaining botanical ingredients and menstruum:
50 li. water,
and distill slowly at atmospheric pressure to obtain:
90 li. flavor distillate
(c) Finished flavor mixture:
90 li. distillate (b)
5 kg. extract (a)
5 li. wine distillate
———
Yield
100 li. Grand “M” type flavor

Full Aromatic Liqueurs.–Full aromatic liqueurs are made entirely from flavor distillates. The procedure of the full aromatic flavor distillation yields a product with sufficient alcoholic content to make the addition of alcohol to the required proof strength for liqueur unnecessary. The alcoholic content of the finished liqueur is thus made up entirely from the alcohol contained in the flavor distillate. The full aromatic flavor distillation requires that the quantities of botanical ingredients, alcohol, and water be exactly determined to yield the quantity of alcoholic flavor distillate which is necessary both for flavor and alcohol content in the manufacture of the intended volume of liqueur.

The distillation procedure is performed at atmospheric pressure under the same conditions as described in the flavor distillation of botanical ingredients. Comprehensive knowledge of aromatic yield assists in determining the quantity of botanical ingredients from which to obtain the required flavor by distillation [emphasis mine!]. Experience in distillation and fractionation make it easy to calculate the necessary quantities of alcohol and water which are needed in the menstruum to yield a flavor distillate.

A liqueur made from the flavor distillate alone, containing sufficient alcohol content for its required strength, is a full aromatic product of unsurpassed quality. Formula MF 262 is the best example of full aromatic cordial production.

Full Aromatic Triple Sec Cordial Flavor MF 262 (Original French Recipe)
(Made from the peels of Curacao Oranges and sweet oranges)
First production:
(a) Put the following ingredients into a 200 gal. still with a perforated stainless steel plate above the edge of the steam jacket:
125.0 lbs coarsely ground peels of ripe sweet oranges
425.0 gm. orris root pulverized
170.0 gm. orange blossoms; add the menstruum of about 60 per cent alcohol content, consisting of:
249.0 lbs. or 30 gal. water
353.6 lbs. or 52 gal. alcohol 95 per cent.
(b) Procedure: After 24 hours extraction, distill at atmospheric pressure, slowly, without dephlegmation up to 78 per cent alcohol content of the condensate, then turn on dephlegmation to retain a high proof alcohol content of the distillate. The yield of the first fraction is:
40.0 gal. flavor distillate, of about 82 per cent alcohol content. It is used in (d)
(c) Procedure: The distillation of procedure (b) continues until all the alcohol is recovered. It yields a second fraction of approximately:
30.00 gal. distillate of about 45 per cent alcohol content. It is used in (f).
(d) Procedure: The 40 gal. flavor distillate first fraction of (b) is mixed with 40 gal. water. It is allowed to stand a few hours for separation of terpenes which are removed by decantation and the aqueous solution is then filtered. The terpene-free flavor is redistilled at atmospheric pressure, slowly, and in the same manner as in procedure (b), to obtain a first fraction:
20.00 gal. flavor distillate of about 80-84 per cetn alcohol content. It is then used in (m).
(e) The distillation of the terpene-free flavor of (d) continues unchanged, slowly, with dephlegmation, to recover all the alcohol and to yield a second fraction of approximately:
30.0 gal. distillate of about 50 per cent alcohol content. It is used in (f).
(f) Procedure: mixture and distillation of:
30. gal. second fraction distillate, 45 per cent alcohol content, of (c) and:
30. gal. second fraction distillate, 50 per cent alcohol content, of (e) and:
40. gal. water, to yield total of:
———-
100.0 gal. mixture of about 28.5 per cent alcohol content. The mixture is left to stand a few hours for separation of terpenes. After the separation of terpenes it is filtered and then redistilled at atmospheric pressure, slowly, with dephlegmation applied to retain a high proof alcohol content in the distillate and yields approximately:
40.0 gal. distillate of about 64 per cent alcohol content. It is used in the second production batch and distillation of curacao peels of procedure (g) of second production.

Second Production:
(g) Put into 200 gal. still with perforated stainless steel plate above heat line, the following ingredients:
125.0 lbs. curacao peels, expulpated or coarsely ground
425.0 gm. mace, pulverized. Add to it a menstruum of 64 per cent alcohol content, consisting of:
141.1 lbs. or 17.0 gal. water, and
238.0 lbs. or 35.0 gal. alcohol, 95 per cent, and
40.0 gal. distillate, 64 per cent alcohol content, of (f).
(h) Procedure: After 24 hours extraction, distill at atmospheric pressure, slowly, without dephlegmation, up to 78 per cent alcohol content of the condensate, then turn on dephlegmation to retain a high proof alcohol content in the distillate. The yield of the first fraction is approximately:
60.0 gal. flavor distillate, of about 80 per cent alcohol content. It is used in (j)
(i) Procedure: The distillation of (h) continues until all the alcohol is recovered and yields a second fraction of approximately:
30.0 gal. distillate of about 30 percent alcohol content; it is used in (l).
(j) 60.0 gal. Flavor distillate of the first fraction of (h), of 80 per cent alcohol content, is mixed with:
60.0 gal. water, and left to stand a few hours for separation of terpenes. The terpene-free flavor is then filtered and redistilled at atmospheric pressure, slowly, and with dephlegmation turn on, to obtain a yield of approximately:
30 gal. flavor distillate (first fraction) of about 80-84 per cent alcohol content; it is then used in (m).
(k) The distillation of the flavor distillate of (j) procedure continues to recover all the alcohol and to yield a second fraction:
40.0 gal. distillate of about 50 per cent alcohol content. It is used in (l).
(l) Mix and distill
40.0 gal. distillate (second fraction), of 50 per cent alcohol content, of (k) procedure, and
30.0 gal. distillate (second fraction), of 30 per cent alcohol content, of (i) procedure, and
30.0 gal. water, to yield a total of:
———
100.0 gal. mixture of about 29 per cent alcohol content; the mixture is allowed to stand a few hours to separate terpenes. It is then filtered and redistilled at atmospheric pressure, slowly, and dephlegmation is applied to yield approximately:
40.0 gal. distillate of 64 per cent alcohol content. It is used in the next production batch of orange peels.
(m) finished flavor mixture consisting of:
20.0 gal. flavor distillate of 80-84 per cent of (d) procedure, first fraction, and
30.0 gal. flavor distillate of 80-84 per cent of (j) procedure, first fraction. Total:
———
50.0 gal. full aromatic flavor distillate, of about 80-84 per cent alcohol content.
Remarks:–If the entire quantity of the flavor mixture of (m) is used in the manufacture of 100 gal. Triple Sec cordial it yields a beverage of finest quality.

I boldened Merory’s remarks relating to oil yield analysis but nowhere in the text does he explain any methods for determining yield. It would also probably be really helpful to rewrite this recipe in the style of an infographic so the movements of the fraction recycling are much clearer.

The Flavour Components of Whiskey in Three Acts

Flavour Components of Whiskey. I. Distribution and Recovery of Compounds by Fractional Vacuum Distillation

Flavour Components of Whiskey. II. Aging Changes in the High-Volatility Fraction

Flavour Components of Whiskey. III. Aging Changes in the Low-Volatility Fraction

This novel experiment explores how different components of a whiskey change over time in a barrel. The novel part is how they track the components which relates to experiments I have done in the past and my own fake aging technique.

The first part of the paper details how a whiskey can be separated into different segments via fractional vacuum distillation. What they perform is quite complex to execute and certainly beyond me, but actually possible with off the shelf components as they prove. They cut a whiskey into five distinct fractions while in my own greatly simplified experiments, I cut whiskeys only in half.

What is cool about this set of papers is that it validates my intuition that the bottom half, the least volatile fraction, represents a significant portion of what barrel aging contributes. I had taken this aqueous fraction in the past and added it to other high proof spirits to synthesize aging which can be just plain fun to explore or possibly a predictive tool for a distiller. I had also cut spirits in half down the lines of volatility, manipulated the fractions independently then rejoined the two fractions which this paper somewhat validates as representative with their own organoleptic experimentation though they did control for far more variables than I did.

The second paper, which looks at the most volatile fraction is a good read which I don’t have the time to completely detail. The most notable part of it for me, which I need to learn significantly more about, is this tidbit:

In the case of wine, acetates are considered more important than ethyl esters of fatty acids for intensity and quality of aroma (van der Merwe & van Wyk, 1981). The same is likely for whiskey because of the low sensory odour threshold values of these compounds (Salo, 1970).

I can’t speak in any real depth about acetates, but I think they form through more complicated aging reactions rather than relatively easier to understand processes like acid catalyzed esterification of ethyl esters in the still.

Part three is particularly cool because to some degree you can play along easily since they are concerned with aroma compounds in the aqueous solution. They isolate their aqueous solution with a complicated fractional vacuum distillation procedure but ball park approximations can be gotten by simply putting a whiskey in a food dehydrator until the alcohol is removed.

The paper starts to get really complex and starts offering new ideas for authenticating spirits based on ratios of congeners. Page 5 of part III has some major errors in the scanning that removes part of the page but its in a section that is very technical. Eventually they isolate a few congeners (phenolic esters) they believe are crucial to mature character and then syntheticaly add them to younger spirits to organoleptically test with a tasting panel whether they increase the perception of maturity. The relationship of their contribution is not straight forward but eventually, at high concentrations, they do increase the perception of maturity.

One of the big takeaways here is how we might design educational tasting experiences for spirit tasting rooms and educational seminars. These papers validate my idea that spirits can be cut into pieces along the lines of volatility and then reconstituted in various ways. The fractions can also participate in mash-ups and when abstracted in different ways, teach us new things about perceptual thresholds which I’ve only explored in the past at the lowest level.

Also, check out the bibliographies. This team references older material I’ve never seen, possibly because they own unique collections. One of their books is a rare gem I’m now trying to acquire, bet you can’t spot it!