Advanced Emotional Content Basics (liqueurs!)

Follow @b_apothecary

Advanced motional content basics (liqueurs!)

I apologize for this chart rendering so poorly in the browser.

Type & brand alcohol specific gravity alcohol influence on specific gravity adjusted gravity sugar in g/l
carlshamns flag punsch 26 1.082 0.03022 1.11222 293
suze 20 1.031 0.02404 1.05504 143
amer picon 21 1.031 0.02504 1.05604 145
amerpicon (beer?) 21 1.066 0.02504 1.09104 237
cynar 16.5 1.081 0.02054 1.10154 265
stock sweet vermouth 16 1.044 0.02002 1.06402 167
stock dry vermouth 18 0.02206
cointreau 40 1.036 0.04822 1.08422 219
brizard apry 20.5 1.121 0.02454 1.14554 381
maracuja do ezequiel 26 1.098 0.03022 1.12822 336
china martini 31 1.104 0.03582 1.13982 366
villardi jabuticaba 25 1.105 0.02916 1.13416 351
constelacao licor cafe 27 1.139 0.03130 1.17030 457
j. monteiro mint licor 22 1.171 0.02605 1.19705 520
carpano antica vermouth 16.5 1.057 0.02054 1.07754 201
campari 24 1.066 0.02811 1.09411 245
citronge 40 1.073 0.04822 1.12122 317
disarono amaretto 28 1.084 0.03240 1.11640 304
marolo chamomile grappa 35 1.025 0.04092 1.06592 171
punt y mes 16 1.073 0.02002 1.09302 242
matilde poire 18 1.115 0.02206 1.13706 358
lemoncello “torna sorrento” 30 1.059 0.03466 1.09366 245
senior curacao of curacao 31 1.044 0.03582 1.07982 208
marie brizard curacao orange 30 1.090 0.03466 1.12466 325
nocino maurizio russo 30 1.039 0.03466 1.07366 191

One of the most significant contributions to the emotional content of a flavor experience is the sugar content. An understanding of sugar content can be useful in creating commonly accepted harmony. Harmony in this case is a function of sugar content relative to numerous contrasting planes like acidity and alcohol. Unfortunately there isn’t much reliable data out there on sugar contents yet, but I constantly see search referrals looking for them (calorie counters or inquisitive artists?). This table (it will grow) represents an attempt.

(Gary Regan has an excellent table and maybe I can have him send me alcohol contents for products at the time he made measurements (because brands do change their metrics) and then I can crunch the numbers and we can see how products have evolved (if we are confident in our methods!))

Within a liqueur, two significant forces (there are others) effect the density which we can use to get a really close approximation of the sugar content (feel free to challenge my methodology). Alcohol decreases density and luckily its a known variable because its printed on the label (but allowed to have a fairly large margin of error). Sugar increases density and its the unknown variable we are looking to reveal.

If we compensate for alcohol’s effect on the specific gravity using one of many available tables, we can create an adjusted specific gravity that can be used to isolate the sugar content’s effect. To find various alcohol contents’ influence on the specific gravity, I recommend the chart in the back of Irving Hirsch’s “Manufacture of Whiskey, Brandy & Cordials” (1937 reprint). Hirsch’s chart (courtesy the Bureau of Standards) is the best I’ve found. Many others do not feature the low alcohol contents with any accuracy that are needed for examining aromatized wines.

The adjusted specific gravity can be converted to a grams per liter of sucrose using “circular C440” from the same Bureau of Standards. This circular used to be easy to track down in PDF but all my links are broken and I’m too low tech to host it. I can email the PDF to anybody that needs it.

Of course I should be paying attention to temperature which influences gravity, but most of these measurements were taken on the run in adverse circumstances that didn’t allow a temperature consideration (the free minutes in between restaurant service here and there).

This data has a variety of uses. For starters we can compare these numbers to many of Joseph Koenig’s from 1879 and make some anthropological hypothesis as to why things have changed. Tastes have changed of course, but in the beginning did liqueur sugar contents ever match popular tastes in the first place? Recipes were dynamic as opposed to the modern static attempt, but was that because liqueurs didn’t always bring the desired emotional content to allow harmonic recipes using our modern simple ratios (2:1:1)?

We as artists can use this data as a tool to increase empathy. Selecting bottlings based on sugar content can help control and focus the emotional content of a drink. Aroma aside, a change from Brizard’s curacao to Senior’s curacao will result in significantly different emotional content in a 2:1:1 margarita.

Then of course this data can be used to produce house made products for a bar program. Why reinvent the wheel when you can simply emulate success? Most house made products I’ve tasted could benefit from a little more consistency and refinement.

Feedback please.

Follow @b_apothecary

7 thoughts on “Advanced Emotional Content Basics (liqueurs!)

  1. just did the wray & nephews version of pimento dram (allspice liqueur)

    specific gravity 1.31, alcohol 30%

    that puts the sugar in the 300 g/l range, but the aroma and piquancy seems to contrast a significant portion of itself. they also seem to use an aromatic sugar source, but it doesn’t seem as dark as many of the browns people use in the states.

  2. fernet doesn’t have very much sugar. the specific gravity might actually be below 1. and i didn’t have any hydrometers that could reliably measure it.

    alcohol removed fernet (diluted to original volume) has a specific gravity of 1.012 which translates to an alcohol content of approx 35 g/l.

    the alcohol removed fernet (which is also aroma removed) seems must more bitter than the undisturbed original. the presence of bitterness means that fernet is definitely the product of infusions and is not distilled like the chartreuses.

    aroma in the case of fernet becomes a curious distraction form the sharp gustatory bitterness; quite the emotional roller coaster!

  3. byrrh 1.044 specific gravity. 18% alc. so probably 175 g/l sugar.

    in Amerine’s technology of wine making there is a table that compares byrrh to dubonnet with dubonnet being more extracted, significantly higher in bitter alkaloids and only somewhat higher in tannins (tannins indicating more cinnamon?).

  4. yellow chartreuse 1.054 specific gravity. 40% alc. 267g/L as sucrose (yellow chartreuse is fortified with honey.

  5. plymouth slow gin:

    specific gravity 1.072
    alc. 26%

    so approx 265 g/L

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close