2017 Bostonapothecary Retrospective

What a head wrecker 2017 has been. Apart from producing fine, funky, stately door hardware in my shop, what else did I do?

I always think I get nothing done then find out I did quite a bit. So much of it feels like years ago. To keep myself sane, the year started with four posts on economics that were well read.

Optimism is your weapon!, Inherently Good, and the Public Good
What is water? Swimming in the Public Good
A New Institution of the Public Good: Mandatory Civil Service
Ideology and the Supernormal Stimuli
Our Social Contract, Taxes and Charity

Supernormal Stimuli is an concept I’ve covered a lot, and a look at its ideational purely symbolic form is probably one of the smartest things I’ve ever written. It was retweeted around the world. It is a helpful way to frame the new attentional warfare we are seeing.

[the male Australian beetle mates with the beer bottle because it is bigger, more orange, and more dimpled than its mate. Unsuccessful and unable to turn away, it runs out of energy and dies. #supernormalstimuli]

I then wrote some manuals for my specialty bottling equipment.

RTFM: Big & Small Bottle Bottlers, Counter Pressure Bottle Fillers
RTFM: Keg to Champagne Bottle Manifold, Bottler, Bottle Filler

Somebody recently wrote to me that they bottled 100 gallons of sparkling wine with the Big Bottle Bottler. Many bar programs use the Small Bottle Bottler every single day. The Champagne Bottle Manifold is quite powerful and the new versions have elevated it from mere tool to exquisite instrument.

I then migrated to something that was nagging me a bit: Arroyo’s Oidium. The Mold actually turned out to be reclassified as an alt yeast and I found some researchers across the globe that were working on it unaware of Arroyo’s work. It adds to the multitude of dimensions symbiotic fermentations in rum can take.

Another idea in economics was nagging me as I finished John Ralston Saul’s The Collapse of Globalism. It is: The Evaporation of Wealth. We’ve created a global economy that moves money to where it has declining utility and basically puts money into storage to not be used. There is no trickle down economics, there is only the evaporation of wealth.

Whiskey Verdigris inspired friends to share up photos of theirs:

Australian Rum Oil and reisling TDN? was very significant and excited a few people. Carotenoids (think saffron) were explained as a key component of rum oil when previously I had thought that only glycocide derivatives were (think vanilla bean). This raises many questions, but creates a lot of new avenues for exploration.

David Wondrich’s writing on the daiquiri inspired me to take a break and write about The Mazaruni Scorpion.

In July, I coughed up the paper in my collection I was most secretive about and, believe it or not, nobody cared. I thought people were into whiskey? The paper has the intimate production parameters of every important American whiskey in the golden era, late 1960’s. If you’re about to produce your own whiskey, you should know about it, but it actually led to a entire series where I found a new relationship for the IRS to the industry and basically fell out of love with American whiskey. It appears they were initially built as a value proposition to be bought out and stripped down. I trace the era from practical distillers to the science guys to the noble phase of guided traditional practices.

American Whiskey by the Numbers – An Unprecedented Look
Bulletin Relative to Production of Distilled Spirits
That Crazy (or not so Crazy) Koji Corn Whisky
Father, Forgive Them; For They Know Not What They Are Doing
Who is Dante and Who is Virgil and the Value Proposition of Bourbon

July turned up this paper that will excite the rum geeks: F. I Scard, The Chemistry of Rum

After much work, I was able to explore Hubert Von Olbrich, Über rum completeist \m/(-.-)\m/, and a dear blog friend is currently translating from German the most important Olbrich related contribution. Olbrich inspired much of the work that I’d eventually spend the rest of the year on.

Annoyed by an article floating around in popular culinary, I wrote: This Cocktail Kills Fascists (and Culture Consolidation). It had some legs and put some minds at ease for those of us that have spent the last decade making drinks.

I kept seeing all these new propaganda addicted sacrificial personalities popping up everywhere using inflammatory language divorced from responsibility as attentional weapons. These figures are also driven by extreme compulsion and probably have little conviction about their views. This reminded me of the unique, compulsive, toiling mind that rebuilt the image of the California wine industry after prohibition. It was that of self proclaimed propaganda addict Leon Adams: The Playbook That built American Wine Builds The Alt-right

I eventually had to explain to people why I was not freely sharing Arroyo’s Bulletin No. 5, yet I’ve put it in the hands of quite a few people and quite a few more after this post: Research Bulletin No. 5 and the Republic of Rum Letters. Many new thinkers joined the Republic.

I need to spend more time with this, but we all need to explore positive versions of nationalism centered around inclusion. What we commonly call nationalism is merely the negative version which desperately needs to be displaced. At their best, restaurants and bars, which are centered on hospitality and creating belonging (by/for both patrons and employees!), are microcosms and models of positive nationalism. An independent Thai, Indian, or perhaps sit down Italian restaurant (loving all, serving all, employing all) is about the most American thing there is. That idea needs deeper exploration.

Grow Roots and use Positive Nationalism to Displace False Populism

I dropped more practical secrets of beverage compounding that just aren’t in the books: Specific Gravity and You. All the new vermouth and bitters producers, coming from diverse backgrounds, somehow never advanced blending by specific gravity.

I had long known Louis Fahrasmane was likely the foremost living rum authority, but that also just isn’t true. As a micro biologist, it turns out, Fahrasmane simply knows rum’s deepest darkest hardest to reach fermentation secrets. Fahrasmane and his contemporaries provided insights into the inner workings of full flavored rum fermentations, but they never really tackled the entirety of the process like Arroyo did. The work done in Martinique and Guadalupe, however, will be the absolute cornerstone of the rum production renaissance. I had read all of their few English works many years ago, but the French language works were inaccessible, until I started translating them. This bibliography is the center of that: Thirty Years of Rum Technology at INRA

Notice, there is no talk of literal or figurative soleras, there is no sugar content misunderstandings, there is no short sighted talk of categories to protect coddled consumers from producers making an agricultural product often at subsistence before layers of sales beaurocracy robs any significant profits.

Presence Of Acrolein Derivatives In A Rum Of Abnormal Taste
Fermentation Properties of Rhumerie Yeasts
Problems Posed by the use of Schizosaccharomyces Pombe in the Making of Rums
Role of Corynebacteria in the Production of Acrolein (2 propenal) in Rums
Technology and Typical Elements of French Antilles Rums
Traditional Fermentations of Molasses and Cane Juice in the French Antilles
Ethyl Esters Of Higher Fatty Acids Of Rhums
Glycerol in the alcoholic fermentation of molasses and sugar cane juice
The Formic Acid Component of the Volatile Acidity of Rums
Contribution to the bacteriology of manufacturing waters of Guadeloupe distilleries.
Introduction of a yeast with rum aptitude in fermentation of sugar cane derivatives
Study of the volatile acidity of French Antilles rums
Conduct of the Alcoholic Fermentation Workshops of Molasses and Beet Molasses Products

This last one probably has the most significant idea which is that of Δ acidity. Understanding and applying it will likely lead to the biggest quality gains by new distillers.

I transposed two papers I was holding onto related to Harris Eastman Sawyer who I had already covered as the forgotten architect of modern New England rum.

New England Rum, Briefly Too Fine To Drink
Harris Eastman Sawyer, Frederick Felton, and the Free Alcohol Law

I took a break to write again about economics: Guaranteed Dividends on Public Capital, and It Takes a Village. A week later@MattBruenig wrote about it in the NyTimes, filled in details and is taking the idea further than I imagined. The idea is an extension of the anti-trust movement.

Spending more time with Hubert Von Olbrich (translated by an amazing blog reader!) turned up the Pineapple disease phenomenon and I assembled a little primer based on information I could collect: Pineapple Disease & Rum

I translated a Spanish language Arroyo paper I had been putting off: Arroyo’s Invitation: The Problem of the Ripening of Crude Rum

I’m researching an analysis idea that will be the cornerstone of my distillery lab so I shared up a lost paper I had been holding onto for quite a while. It is safe to say this paper was lost. Everyone seemed to know where the idea came from, but no one referenced Micko directly in their bibliographies.

Karl Micko’s Quantum Leap

I collect references to lost rums and this one, courtesy Olbrich, came across my desk: Lost rum of the Japanese Bonin islands. 1908

Only last month did I formally recognize Operation Rum Babelfish which strives to reach deep into the foreign language, particularly German, literature. On day one it dredged up a pretty startling paper about Batavia Arrak that turned out to be revelatory, and from a future Nobel Laureate no less!: Operation Rum Babelfish, A bibliography

I translated a few German papers that weren’t too significant, but I’ve got a few more on request.

Fincke E. About the distinction between Jamaikarum and Kunstrum. 1913
Jonscher A. For the knowledge and evaluation of rum, Rumverschnitten and Kunstrum. 1914

There is a lot more to come next year. We’ve still got to cover Seagram’s botanical assay protocols which are very practical and well suited for new small distilleries. I’ve also got to acquire a fully automated “spinning band” micro distillation column set up for eight fraction collection. I’m then going to go through all the classic spirits metrics using a new generation of high productivity tools like automatic titration. There will be a Bostonapothecary pledge drive and hopefully you all can kick a few bucks my way.

1 thought on “2017 Bostonapothecary Retrospective

  1. Thanks for the recap of your efforts recapping all of these great efforts by engineers and chemists – love reading your work and the source material. I continue to hunt the 1960s whiskey cistern room paper with little luck.

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