Fruit Brandy Distillate and Brandy Flavor Essence

This is a small excerpt from a book I bought years ago that has become impossibly rare and expensive. Joseph Merory’s Food Flavorings (1960).

I was hoping to draw attention to the technique of making a fruit brandy by distilling first and fermenting second which might come across to some as kind of crazy.  To me, the idea of distilling unfermented fruit should be widely known as a tool for the amateur home distiller.  Often people have backyard fruit trees but not the time or space or expertise to ferment the fruit.  Passable brandies can still be made in short amounts of time by pulping the fruit then fortifying it with a non-neutral spirit such as rum or whiskey before distillation to collect the wonderful aroma.  A non-neutral spirit should be used as opposed to vodka because it will contain valuable, almost requisite congeners that end up missing by skipping fermentation.

[edited eventually to add: I suspect Merory wrote about techniques he never really practiced or never widely explored.  Some seem like arm chair ideas.  From what I’ve learned lately if I tried to capture the aroma of unfermented fruit pulp I wouldn’t do it with vodka but rather a “living” spirit that has has all the necessary generic congeners to support the fruit aroma; ethyl acetate and acetaldehyde.  Robert Leaute called these congeners “aroma fixatives”.  Without fermentation the fruit probably wouldn’t have enough of these.  The best place to get them is probably a cheaper rhum agricole.]

p. 298

Property of Fruit Brandies

Fruit brandies take their names from the fruit from which they are manufactured. They are reduced in alcoholic strength by the addition of water after distillation to make them drinkable.

Any fruit may be used for the production of fruit brandies. There are four ways in which to produce fruit brandies.

Crush the fruits, allow the pulp to ferment, and then distill the fermented mash.

Crush the fruits, allow the pulp to ferment, express the juice, continuing fermentation, and then proceed with fractional distillation of the cleared juice.  The middle fraction of the distillation can be used to fortify fruit flavors.

In this method the fermented and cleared juice of the second procedure is concentrated by freezing and centrifuging to an alcohol content of 30 per cent and then distilled.  The middle fraction of the distillation yields the finest fruit flavor essence.  It is useful as a natural fortifier of dessert wine, champagne, fruit flavored brandies, and fruit flavors.

[Merory doesn’t spell it out but freeze concentration here increases total acidity which catalyzes esterification which is a process of aroma creation in the still.]

In full flavor brandy, the evolution of carbon dioxide during fermentation tends to volatilize some of the aromatic, volatile flavor constituents.  In order to produce a full flavored brandy the aromatic fraction may be removed by distillation before fermentation and is then added to the distilled brandy.  To obtain the best possible yield, fruit should be subjected to slow fermentation.

[I bet this is one of Merory’s arm chair ideas but it seems like a fun things to try and possibly valuable to beginning distillers who are new to fermentation.  If the fermentation gets botched whatever alcohol and simple congeners would have been produced can be replaced in the next batch by a substitute like rhum agricole. I still have yet to try it]


p. 24
cherry and benzaldehyde flavor
wild cherry bark.
“… the chief constituent of the bark is d-mandelonitrile glucoside or prunasin, which has properties similar to the amygdalin of the almond seed.  the other constituents are benzoic, trimethylgallic, and p-coumaric acids, tannin, and volatile oil.  if ground or pulvergized wild cherry bark is treated with warm water of about 131F, enzyme emulsin will hydrolyze prunasin to benzaldehyde, glucose, and hydrocyanic acid.  the latter is removed chemically or is lost during the distillation.  distillation yields a flavor similar to kirschwasser…” [I suspect the use of the bark might be how Hiram Walker can make such a fun Kirschwasser so affordably.]
bitter almond
“… after removal of the fixed oil, the cake of the bitter almonds is mixed with warm water (131F) allowed to hydrolize and is then subjected to steam distillation.  the distilled oil contains more than 80 per cent benzaldehyde, party in free state but mainly in combination in a small amount of hydrocyanic acid.  the latter is removed chemically by heating the distilled oil with a sulfite, or a slaked lime and an iron salt, and then the mass is redistilled.  oil of bitter almond is heavier than water.”
“oil of bitter almond is also derived from the seeds of the apricot.  the oil derived from the seeds of the almond tree is imported mainly from southern france, spain, and italy.  it is obtainable in two varieties; of containing hydrocyanic acid besides benzaldehyde, the other being free from Prussic (hydrocyanic) acid, often labeled in abbreviated form– FFPA.”
“kirschwasser.–Kirschwasser is made by fractional distillation of a fermented mash of cherries and crushed seeds.  the increased temperature of the mash during the fermentation hydrolyzes the amygdalin of the seeds to benzaldehyde.  a 50 to 55 per cent alcohol content of the distillate yields the best aroma of kirschwasser.”

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