I’ve taken a break from the blog to start a door hardware company, but wonderful papers keep rolling in and I’ve been hoarding quite a few notables that in the right hands can move the industry. I’m not ready to share them yet, but I will share a few others.
Rex recently brought up a paper that I have written about a few times but apparently never shared. DW Clutton has written some of the most interesting things about gin over the years and supposedly has a new one on the market I’m itching to try (can anyone arrange for Clutton to be interviewed on the Bostonapothecary?).
Rex was also kind enough to share up a great series of curiosities that has been on my list so long I forgot about it. In the early 1960’s, L.A. Warwicker wrote a three part (I, II, III) series about instability in potable spirits. This was the era before stainless steel and apparently before filter pads become more inert. This was also when Arroyo‘s teachings of how spirits can be broken by dilution were lost.
Do new American distilleries have instability issues? I’m just not in tuned any more. I do remember seeing lots of strange condensation in the exposed neck of filled bottles and hearing that it could be remedied by setting up a bottle washer that rinsed new bottles with the product to be filled.
I did also experiment with using common sand as a filtration media to remove excess terpenes from gin with a lot of success.
In the spring, I collected a lot of notes on rum. I’ll share the briefest ones, a favorite being a note on the moral superiority of rum (a must read).
This note from 1921 provides a time stamp on the idea that Trawlany was still churning out full flavored rum despite the serious industry slump.
Associated with Guadalupe, Rhums de fantasie according to this 1921 note were apparently fabricated rhum-like products which drove down the price of the genuine article. I did recently have a nip of one that was bottled in the 1970’s.
If we go way way back, we can invoke Patrick Neilson of Trelawny who describes the “dirty cistern”.
“what in fact first drew my attention to seeking out a flavour in rum was the running I first got from what is known here was the ‘dirty cistern,’ a receptacle for all the refuse, bottoms, etc., of the other vats; I was astonished for find at the can pit mouth as the rum came over, an exquisite flavour . . .”
Oh yes, and scoring big bostonapothecary points, there is a mention of the rum cane I’ve been talking up. “that is rotten or half eaten cane, which had been allowed to undergo a slow fermentation while lying in the field and yard.”
So, there is a first name, and a time stamp, and a reference to even more literature written by Patrick Neilson. Have at it.
The lost rums and early investigators really make a mockery of the new distilling scene in sophistication of inquiry. This note with a citation for Keyser’s original paper even looked at vat size and shape for optimizing aroma production from schizosaccharomyces pombe. I have more from Keyser elsewhere I should share up.
H.H. Cousins, who invented the high ester process, was optimistic that a generation of British WWI soldiers exposed to the comforts of Jamaican rum during the war would return to it as civilians. He was also hip to rotating bananas and sugar cane in the fields of St. Catherine.
At the same time that British soldiers were drinking a type of Jamaican rum, the German market for German rum was collapsing. In this note, distillers producing German rums actually change up their production to common clean. Its easy to gloss over this, but it implies that they knew how to shift gears and were not so worried about losing the ability to resume production of full flavored rum (coffin full of muck, mold on the walls). It also reinforces the idea that there were very different economies to producing each style.
[… the causation of the complaint. As an instance of this we may mention that in the rum from the several distilleries which are under the control of one of us, faultiness, which of late has been found on mark only, has been distinctly traced to the use, in this particular case, of packages made from comparatively new and uncured staves.
We may remind your readers that in certain wine-growing districts the wood intended for use in packages is tested by portions of it being soaked in brandy for some weeks, and samples causing in the spirits used, upon dilution with water, the turbidity which in rums is termed faultiness, are rejected.
We have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servants,
Frederic J. Scard.
Georgetown, British Guiana,
May 9th, 1900.
Meanwhile in Paraguay, at Empresa Azucarera, description of a lost rum of unique prodcution…
A superior quality of rum is distilled in Paraguay, being made from uncrushed cane. Small amounts of this spirit have been shipped to Germany and, it is said, obtained good prices.
Are we missing a few details? Is this carbonic maceration with whole canes fermenting within liquid juice, or something else? If anyone still did anything like this it would be a chachaca here and there at the beginning of the season.