Hypothetically Speaking

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Hypothetically if you could operate a still what would you put through it? Were you ever interested in learning anything about distillation through maybe some sample distillations?

So what distills?

Solids don’t. Colored stuff doesn’t but sometimes you get a louche so what is that?

Do acids distill? Do spirits have an acidity that we should be paying attention to? How does distilled vinegar work?

What happens when you distill a vermouth? does it turn into what we would call a gin? How many grams of botanicals per liter are in a typical gin? What else would taste good in a gin? can you re-concentrate the botanical strength and alcohol of gins?

How does framboise eaux-de-vie differ from pears? does one have fermented fruit and the other simply have macerated distilled fruit?

What else would you want to know about the distilled things you drink?


So I re-distilled my African Rye Whiskey infusion. All of the rooisbos flavor was really in the tales of the distillation. The previously aged overholt rye whiskey is now clear again and some of the barrique flavor seems to be left behind. The stuff left in the still after the alcohol and volatiles were stripped was darkly colored and barely flavored. I would love to learn more about the short term maturing of distilled spirits because it seems to taste radically different 24 hours later. It is less harsh like the water is more integrated and you can perceive more of the rooibos identity.


So I had a pound of quinine powder that was sitting in a couple liters of cognac. I let it sit for a couple weeks or so and racked it off to make a quinine tincture via infusion. It is gorgeous. Ebony colored, aromatic, sickeningly bitter. What more could you want? Well the solids, saturated with probably a liter left of the cognac, sat for many months in a 3 liter mason jar. I just decided to re-distill it. What I was wondering was if my distillate would taste bitter? I distilled it at a very high reflux rate until I was sure I was into the tails but the product never became massively bitter. I didn’t bring it up to 212F but I expected to get a lot of flavor without having to. It is very aromatic and flavorful like you would expect quinine to be but not bitter at all.

If I re-distill campari what will I get?

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3 thoughts on “Hypothetically Speaking

  1. Just wanted to say that I’ve found your site very informative and impressive! What kind of still are you using?

  2. There are often great flavors left in the pot after the distillation is finished. A couple of times I’ve used this for tea or proofing with botanicals distillations to intensify the flavors in the spirit.

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