The Quality Of The Java-Arrak. by H. C. Prinsen Geerligs (1905)

No. 82.

As you know, there is a big difference in quality between the brands of arraks produced in Java. This expression finds an extraordinary difference in the price paid for those examples. Often one pays three times as much for Batavia-arak as for coastal arraks, so that it appears that the former undoubtedly possesses properties that are very well-liked for consumption above the other examples.

The purpose of the next investigation was to check what are the differences between the various brands, which parts are attributable to them and whether there is also the possibility of producing such a rack on the coast as at Batavia?

Vorderman (1) gave a description about arak fabrication in Batavia, to which I will come back later, on the accompanying micro-organisms, Eykman (2) published a study, while Went (3) also wrote about the yeasts investigated, but there was nothing else to find about this subject in the literature.

The various analyzes that I found about arrak, not only the specific gravity and the alcoholic strength and caramel or tannic acid derived therefrom, but also the content of volatile acids and esters and which can thus be very specified, as shown in example (4) below:

[Notice the five big firms. Four are Batavia then there is Cheribon.]

This applies equally to rum: in every manual or article, which deals with the composition of rum, a content of free acid and esters, especially that of butyric acid presented as characteristic of rum and even quality judged by the degree of volatile fatty acids and their esters, which occur in them. In the trials of Herzfeld (1) from beetroot juice, in order to produce molasses rum-like products, only the free acid and esters content in the distillate, the outcome of the various tests, were assessed.

(1) Zeitschr. f. d. Rfibenzuekerind. 1890, 645.

It speaks for itself, that in all the types of rum, arrak, etc. the alcohol is the main ingredient and that the characteristic substances, which give it the desired taste and smell, and thus actually cause the price differences, are found in quantitatively very subordinate proportions in the distillates. Trapped by all previous researchers, who unanimously ascribe the quality of the arraks and rums to the acids and the esters, I tried for years to guide the fermentations so that a distillate rich in acids and esters was obtained. Judging by the fact that the arrak from the insatiable Chinese distilleries is much better than that of the clean European distillers and in the opinion that it is that perhaps a butyric acid fermentation helps to obtain a fragrant distillate, I also first have the molasses undergo a butyric fermentation or even, when this did not succeed, butyric acid added to the fermenting molasses, but everything without result. I did obtain an alcohol, which contained more volatile fatty acid and compound ester than usual, but a real aromatic taste was not to be discovered.

[Notice the way he discusses adding a butyric fermentation like my chronometer complications metaphor.]

It became more and more clear to me, then, that the real smell could not be ascribed to the aforementioned materials, for otherwise the addition of such a relatively small amount of acetic acid, butyric acid and their ethylene-esters would already be a smell of aromas to a 50% alcohol and taste, which is not the case. Whatever I tried, which combination of ethyl, propyl. butyl, isobutyl and amyl and even allyl alcohol I also made with ants [formic], vinegar, propion, butter and valeric acid. I always got the result that when the quantity was so small as was found in the rack, the taste was almost imperceptible. while a higher dose of those compounds gave an aroma to the alcohol, which, however, had more of lemonade or candy than of arrak. Assuming that the esters take time to turn into one another or to become oxygenated, I kept the mixtures for a number of years, either in full, closed bottles or in half-filled, sometimes without any addition, then with oak chips or, in order to promote oxidation, with charcoal powder and with platinum sponge, but all in vain: the smell and taste of arrak remained. Add to this the consideration that the various essences that occur in commerce, which must serve to give the character of rum or arrak to ordinary spirits, are relatively poor in esters or in acids, then we must come to the conclusion, Which although arrak therefore contains esters and volatile fatty acids, they do not produce in any part the aromatic flavor and their quantity in no way serves as a criterion for the value of the animal as a commodity.

[this is reinforcing my idea that esters are subordinate to the divine stuff, the rum oil…]

So I had to start looking for everything with a well-defined characteristic, from which I could derive the value of the arrak completely objectively.

[Arroyo credits the bi-rectifier with being able to do this.]

[below: Traube’s rule mother fuckers! Long carbon chains change surface tension!]

As I was assured, the arrak in Europe is judged by the beads, which show themselves when pouring into a glass and the so-called adherence to the glass, but this is of course mainly caused by the alcohol content and not by the additional substances present. Furthermore, the taste is a main characteristic, but that could not help me either, as I do not have an experienced taste in this and I did not get much confidence in it when I was testing a shipment to a European expert for testing. I sent a few arrak-types, good and badly noted brands and also prepared on the coast of Batavia, to an expert in Amsterdam with a request to taste and approve of course, without giving up the brands. Among other things, the samples obtained by myself from the distillery were said to have been mixed with spirit, which was maintained after I had mentioned the facts of the matter, so that I could not use this method of appreciation for my investigations either. All tests and reactions mentioned in the literature were tested by me; reactions to aldehvde, to furfurol etc. and even a reaction to crystals, which after some manipulations would not appear in real, but in counterfeit arraks, but all tests sometimes went wrong again and there was no firmness. My attention was also drawn to the possibility that the Chinese would have tinned their small devices from the inside, while the devices of the Europeans, being made from outer tinned red copper, give a copper-containing distillate, which perhaps tastes uncomfortable because of its copper content. Reason was given that a first distillate from a device that has been idle for a long time is already very unpleasant to use. Actually I found copper-traces in a few samples, but I found them in the best brand Batavia-arak as well, and furthermore a copper content of distilled spirits is by no means a hindrance for its consumption, as Tsirch (1) in his monograph on the occurrence of copper in foods, which contains gin, copper, cognac is relatively rich and even a copper content of kirschwasser is regarded as a characteristic of its authenticity. In none of these cases, however, such a copper content is detected by taste, so even in our case a copper content can not cause the deviating taste.

(1) Das Kupfer vom Standpunkte der Geriehtliehen Chemie, Toxieologie und Hygiene, pag. 5.

[The crystal mentioned above that be detection of added citric acid that crystalizes after dehydration sort of like sensitive crystalizations made from wine. Citric acid would be an additive. Copper mainly enters spirits when they do not have adequately low temp condensing water and when the still is raw and un patina-ed.]

A big drawback of my job was that I could not very easily find a sufficient quantity of material for comparison, since the real Batavia arrak is exclusively destined for export and is not available in the country itself. Occasionally I received a sample once, but I could not get a somewhat large amount of money, because the Chinese stokers are bound by contracts to their customers in Amsterdam and do not want to hand over arrak. On my visit to Amsterdam, however, I succeeded in taking a quantity of Batavia arrak of unquestionable authenticity and could now begin a full investigation.

[This was very much the case in Jamaica during my 2002 visit and all the great distilleries are export only. You could not find them at the fanciest hotel bar nor the airport.]

I mainly followed the metbodes in use at the Municipal Laboratory in Paris, as mentioned in the handbook of Girard and Cuniasse “Manuel pratique de Panalys des alcools et des spiritueux”. and determined the alcohol content, the content of free acid, esters, aldehvd. to furfurol and to higher alcohols. The acid was determined by titration of the completely distilled off spirits and restored alcohol to the original volume with 1/5-normal alcoholic potash and was calculated as acetic acid. In this same liquid the amount of ester was determined by allowing it to boil gently for two hours with rising cooler on the water bath, adding an excess of alcoholic 1/5-normal potassium and, after cooling, to titrate again with 1/5-normal sulfuric acid . The difference between the c.M3 [milli liters]. lye and acid is the measure of the potash required for saponification of the esters and the amount of ester can be converted as ethyl acetate. When the amount of lye was not too much in excess, there was no danger of agitation of aldehyde, which could therefore show too high an ester content, which could be an intentional test with arrak to which aldehyde was added. The aldehyde content was determined by being adjusted to 50% alcohol for 4 hours at 50°C. in a closed leaf, together with an alcoholic solution of sulfurous acid of a known content, and after all this time the unbound sulfuric acid with 1/20-normal iodine can be titrated back. The difference between the sulfuric acid content of a test where only pure alcohol of 50% was taken and the distilled arrak was brought to 50% indicated the measure of the amount of aldehyde which was calculated as ethylaldehyde [acetaldehyde?]. The furfurol was determined in the few samples containing this substance by colorimetric comparison of the hue, that is 10 c.M3. of the distilled samples taken at 50% alcoholic strength, fifteen minutes after the addition of 10 drops of distilled and thus colorless xylidine and 1 c.M3. glacial acetic acid. As a standard, some solutions of freshly corrected furfurol in alcohol of 50% contained known amounts of furfurol. The determination of the higher alcohols is nowadays usually carried out according to the method of Röse, from the volume increase of a certain amount of chloroform, which in a wholly-constructed shaker at a certain temperature with the alcohol to be tested, which has previously been brought to an accurate alcohol content is shaken. The temperature and the alcohol content must be exactly the same as for which the lists have been made, otherwise, the provisions are entirely incorrect and there the temperature is 15°C and I can not get it settled here, nor keep it during the time that the test lasts, I could not use the tables and I had no desire to set up new tables myself, so that after a few preliminary tests Röse left and the method followed, which is strongly recommended by Girard, but which at first sight did not inspire me much confidence. First, the alcohol is freed of aldehydes, furfurol etc. by boiling it for one hour with reflux condenser with an excess of metadiamidobenzol chlorohydrate on a water bath for one hour and then distilling it as far as possible after turning on the cooler. When one is of 100 c.M3. of the alcohol, which at first had just been put at 50% strength, went out and of it 75 c.M3. distillate then all the alcohols are obtained in a volume of 75 c.M3. with a 66.7% strength. 10 c.M3. of that alcohol with 10 c.M3. pure sulfuric acid is placed in a flask, in such a way that the alcohol floats above the acid; thereafter, the mixture is rapidly mixed and the mixture is heated in a 120°C-temperature chlorine bath for one hour. After that period, the temperature is allowed to cool and the intensity of the color is compared with that of alcoholic solutions of 66.7% of known isobutyl alcohol content, which Girard takes as the standard. Since dyes with strong sulfuric acid occur frequently, I did not particularly trust the method in the beginning, but the successive purifications take away all the other coloring solids and thus I could determine the amount of higher alcohols, expressed as percent isobutyl alcohol. This is not entirely correct, since the arrak also contains amyl alcohol, which is not so strongly colored by sulfuric acid and thus indicates a lower figure than there is actually higher alcohol present, but there is nothing to do about that. To be sure, I also sent a number of samples, which were first examined by me, to the laboratory of Sir Girard in Paris, with the request to determine the content of higher alcohols, which provisions quite well with the agreements made by me.

Before I go over to describe the different investigated samples, I want to discuss the production of the arrak on Java.

According to Vorderman’s description (1), in the Batavia distilleries, first the yeast is cooked by boiling and cooling rice with powder from “raggi” (2), and after a few hours they are placed in a tub with a pierced bottom. The diastatic action of the fungi present in the raggi is saccharified and part of the starch is sacrificed and dissolves as dextrin and dextrose through the holes. First, after two days, the yeast also present in the raggi is sufficiently developed, the rice is transferred to a vat full of diluted molasses from 15° Beaumé, standing outside in the open air, covered only with a lid of flat-beaten bamboo. After two days, the fermented contents are poured into a larger vessel with diluted molasses of the same density, which is next to the first vat, and only after two or three days the yeast is powerful enough to be poured into the actual yeast tubs, which are located inside and are also supplied with a syrup or syrup sugar of the indicated strength, then endowed with the fermenting liquid and left for four days at the fermentation. Now the rice grains and other floating pollutants are created and the fermented liquid is poured into earthen pots, which contain about 10 liters and stand in long rows on and next to each other. In those pots, the solution undergoes a slow secondary fermentation. which lasts for 8 days and is broken down for fear of acidification, but long before all the sugar is fermented. Then it is distilled in a simple distillation kettle or in a column.

[When sugars from sacharification are described as dissolving and seeping into the false bottom, I wonder if that has the effect of raising the temp on the actual mass of rice keeping it safe from aroma negative bacteria?]

(1) Geneesk. Tijdschr. voor Ned. Indü; 1893, 1169.
(2) Archief 1894, 532.

The departure for secondary fermentation in a Chinese distillery is unbelievably unclean, by pouring in and out of the small pots there is spilled and repeatedly the earthen pots break, so that the contents flow over the floor: the shards remain lying and on top of that new rows pots stacked, so that such a space does not meet the modern requirements of asepsis, and nevertheless the best and most fragrant arrack emerges from it. The European distillers sometimes also make yeast from raggi, but usually there is still so much left in the vats, that it is not necessary to add yeast separately into the diluted molasses. Their yeasts are much faster, do not let them fry, and usually do not end up with unfermented sugar in the fermented wash, so that the yields there are considerably higher. [The translation breaks down a bit here, but I think its safe to say these Europeans operating in Java can not wrap their heads around the Chinese objectives (aroma over alcohol).]

[It may be best to print these and lay them side by side if you really need to use the data]

Of the samples listed below, No. 1, 2 and 3 are from Batavia in Chinese distilleries. No. 4 in a distillery on the coast from very sugar-rich molasses the Batavia-way with secondary fermentation [Cheribon]. No. 5 and 9 in Chinese distilleries on the coast. No. 10, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 in European distillers on the coast, of which the latter has a very slow fermentation and works with concentrated solution. No. 6. 7. 8. 11. 12, 13 and 14 are precursors and lagoons or foosels [heads and tails fractions?] from distillates in European spirits factories on the coast. Now, 15 and 22 are kinds of liqueurs, the former from a Chinese aromatherapy in Tegal, the second from a sugar factory in the Straits Settleinents [settlements, a region?]. No. 21 is a pure alcohol from a distillery in Cochin China, where rice is used as a raw material. No. 23/26 I received from a sugar factory in the British Indies, where the molasses is fermented and distilled. The product is sold under the name of rum and is therefore colored with caramel, as a result of which the alcohol contained a little dissolved substance. The Nos. 27 to 36 have been fermented by me from the specified raw materials in the laboratory with the aid of pure cultures of Saccharomyces Vordermanni, while the Nos. 37 to 40 essences from the trade, intended to give alcohol to cognac, rum or arrack. [these last I assume are artificial essences]

We already immediately see from the analysis figures that the arrak from Batavia differs not only from a high content of volatile acids and esters, but also from aldehyde, furfurol and higher alcohols. The sum of admixtures, not being alcohol, is the highest of the arrak samples, immediately followed by the Batavia-style arrack in a European coastal distiller made out of pure material and fired by the shore by Chinese on the coast [Cheribon?]. The arrak, distilled by Europeans on the coast, is only a neutral alcohol with very few additives, which was also the case with the British Indian rum and fermented the alcohol from molasses or sugar in the laboratory with pure cultures, the alcohol from rice and from sugar from sugar contained in their first fractions many esters, acids and aldehyde, but their lack of higher alcohols does, however, deviate strongly from the Batavia arrak from a chemical point of view.

[keep in mind all these investigations are futile because none of this old school titration can account for the divine congeners.]

In general, the strongest aromatic alcohols contain, apart from the essences, which will be discussed later, the most high-boiling components, while the previous researchers preferred them in the lowest boiling, so first distilling. This gave me reason for the two arraks of which I had the largest samples, a large amount of fractional distillation and the different fractions each for itself. To that end, I chose the real Batavia arrack, which I had brought from Amsterdam and harbored the shore at Bataviamanier. 2.5 liters of each were separately distilled in a reaming flask with a simple helmet and each fraction of 250 c.M3. collected, while the latter remained in the flask. [what he is getting at is Micko distillation which is taken much further with the bi-rectifier]

300 c.M3 of each of the first three fractions of the Batavia arrack. saponified together and the alcohol distilled off: it contained a lot of aldehydes according to the reactions with nitroprussid sodium and methylamine and with metadiamidobenzol ethylaldehyde. The remainder was acidified with sulfuric acid and distilled off. The distillate required 3.34 c.M3. normalization to neutralization and after evaporation of the neutralized, yielded a residue of 289 m.Gr., so that the molecular weight of the compound is 85. (acetic acid sodium = 82. butyric sodium 110). Further, 100 c.M3. of the distillates 7, 8 and 9 are saponified and distilled off together. The distillate contained no aldehyde, but amyl and butyl alcohol. The residue was also made acidic with sulfuric acid and calcined, neutralization required 1.85 c.M3. normally lye, but proof that the main mass of the acid has remained in the residue: in view of that small amount we can not attach much value to the specific molecular weight, that was 90, that is to say between that of the vinegar and the butyric acid salt.

[We are seeing very early clever version of the detailed work that tells us what to expect from each phase of the distillation.]

The fractions of the arrak prepared in Batavia were subjected to the same tests and also indicated an aldehyde content in the first fractions i.e. a content of amyl and isobutyl alcohol in the latter, while the molecular weights of the sodium salts of the volatile acids, both the free as the bound in the esters in both cases amounted to 86, thus being the same with a mixture of a lot of acetic acid and little butyric acid.

In the first fractions there are therefore mainly the esters and the aldehydes, except the alcohol, the fractions that then pass through contain few admixtures, while the higher alcohols, the furfurol and the free acid predominate in the latter fractions. It is very remarkable, in view of the purpose of this investigation, that the first fractions, in which the esters are found to exceptionally high proportions, do not at all show the distinctive aroma, but that it came mainly to fractions 6 and 7, which in a case contained little and in the other even no esters at all, so that the already mentioned general conviction that the odor would be caused mainly by esters and acids, can be regarded as unfounded. This is in complete accordance with the fact that in the saponified arrak, where therefore the acids are neutralized and the esters are dissected, the smell has remained unadulterated and rash with the experience, which teaches, that a glass with arak, that one stands up and from which a part of the contents evaporates, preserves its smell, which would not be the case when that smell was caused by the so volatile esters. The investigation shows that the esters were mainly composed of ethyl acetate and for a very small part of ethylbutyrate, which makes it very understandable that the attempts to imitate arrak by acidic acid and similar esters could not succeed.

[rum oil rum oil rum oil rum oil rum oil rum oil rum oil rum oil rum oil rum oil]

The higher alcohols and in general the last overdistilling substances are the main ones, which determine the quality and price of the rack and this is not a fact in itself, but is also in the analysis of the different brands of rum, whiskey and the like. In the work of Girard and Cuniasse, which has been cited several times, the writers give large series of alcohols, cognac, rum, studied in their own way. Whiskey, etc., showing that the real good types of cognac, prepared from wine or from apple wine, usually 1500 m.Gr. higher alcohols per liter, genuine rum from 400 to 1500 m. whiskey up to 1800 m. Gr., while the counterfeit or sliced ​​beverages contain much less. One has come back very much to just the fusel or what is the same to attribute to the higher alcohols the detrimental effect of alcohol, and just as one freely uses amyl compounds in artificial lemonades, the little amyl that is found in cognac or rum will not be more detrimental than the main mass of the ethyl alcohol. In all these cases, the higher boiling products appear to have a large share in the aroma of the beverages, as a result of which they distinguish themselves from the neutral spirit and in which their unequal value is higher. This, then, has made the Swiss authorities decide to add a little higher alcohol to the brandy, which has already been rectified and is therefore pure, in order to meet the tastes of consumers. An example is also known to me in Java, where a distiller, which yielded almost pure diluted alcohol, was requested by the buyers to make it more fragrant, which was done by the addition of a few of the later-going fractions to the general satisfaction.

[Interesting that he takes time to justify that higher alcohols are not poisonous. Keep in mind that its not the higher alcohols that you want so much as the rum oil that sits alongside in that fraction. You want yeast types and fermentation temps that reduce higher alcohols that way you can distill further into the tales and accumulate more rum oil without blowing your higher alcohol limit.]

The council also fails to do so, by Went and the author of this (1), to make a foolish free distillation, if one desires a high-grained arrak. You will get a pure, fine alcohol, but not a Batavia rack, as we thought at the time. [not sure how to fill in the translation errors]

(1) Archief 1894 pag 547.

This same idea is also expressed in the recently published work of Pairault “Le Rhum et sa fabrication,” where he on p. 176. speaking of the choice of distilling apparatus, says: It must be remembered that it can not be done to make alcohol, but rum, i.e. distillate of fermented cane syrup, which still contains the first and last transiting admixtures (produits de tète et de queue), the mixture of which gives the scent to the rum and constitutes the high value of it. The new continuous distillers must only increase the alcohol content of the rum under the explicit stipulation that they leave the admixtures in order to prevent a poorly understood purification from depriving the rum of the smell and character.

Therefore, in order to obtain an alcoholic distillate having the character of Batavia arrak, it is necessary, when fermenting, to obtain the constituents identified by the analysis, to keep them at the distillation and finally to start from so pure raw materials that an unpleasant odor or taste from those raw materials does not harm the quality of the distillate.

The question of arak fermentation is, the courts were noticed, treated by several researchers on biological grounds, but all were too impressed with fermentations with reincarnations to keep in mind that the goal is not so much to remove alcohol as quickly and as completely as possible sugar, but a special distillate. The fact that the best arak comes from the most uninspiring environment already indicates that the quality does not require fermentation with pure cultures. There is also no separate arrak ferment or arrak yeast, because the organisms, which picked up on pot shards, picked up in a Chinese distillery, were exactly the same as in the distillers on the coast.

[He is losing it. He is stealing pot shards to search for magic yeast, but is not coming across the Pombe.]

Rather, I believe that the long secondary fermentation in a wash, which is set up with too high a density, so that the yeast dies before all the sugar has been decomposed to obtain the flavor necessary, or at least to promote it. It is well known that with a slow fermentation more by-products are produced, which can be regarded as waste products from the life of the yeast, than with a rapid and complete fermentation, or fermentation in which the smooth splitting of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide comes to the fore.

For succinic acid and glycerin, the quantity in the various fermentations was determined in figures, but I could not find any research from the higher alcohols. I do, however, derive from the table that the arbor 4 far more compares the composition of Batavia arrak than the arrack. 10 in the same distilling plant after a fermentation of 3 days, and that also the arrak fermentation 20 as well the Chinese in composition approaching. Pairault cites, in his aforementioned book, examples (1) of fermentations made by him with raw yeast and non-pure cultures, with the result that there was no difference in the aroma at all between wash in a normal way and with pure culture, proving that the property of odorous distillate is due to the yeast and is not caused by additional wild yeasts or bacteria, but which is also important to us is not stopped. With this I do not want to touch the ferment as indifferently and unclean as possible, because in any case the bacteria reduce the yield and furthermore they can sometimes take the upper hand, that the yeast tubs are completely infected and even no longer fermented, pass. The only conclusion which I draw from this is that without risk of aroma, the distillery can be cleanly trained and the far-reaching uncleanliness of the Chinese factories is not necessary for the production of the aroma, but that on the other hand it is also not necessary with pure cultures in sterilized environment to operate in sterile fluid. A proper cleanliness, as it prevails in sugar factories, is perfectly adequate.

1) t. a. p. 156, 105.

[The translation has some problems in the beginning I could not unravels, but we see conclusions being drawn on pure culture or not, bacteria or not, and a clean factory or not. And of course its a toss up.]

The second point touches the distillation and the equipment used in it.

It has been known from ancient times that the old distilling apparatus, which is broken down, that is to say, which is filled, slowly heated and fired and then emptied, yields an aromatic distillate, than the newer continuous appliances, in which the fermented wash only stays a shortened time. The size of the distilling kettles is also important, since a small kettle never produces such a nice rack as a large kettle. Furthermore, with the old distilling kettles, it is easier to obtain a product of better flavor, e.g. to collect and mix the first and the last products separately and to use the neutral middle fractions for another purpose as alcohol, which is not possible with a continuous appliance. Pairault, (1) who studied this matter in the rum distilleries in the West Indies, says that the aroma is the best, where the wash has been heated the longest. The continuous devices used on the Antilles also have very large pre-heaters, in which the fermented batter is brought and the alcohol vapors, which are passed through with a serpentine, condensate. The contents of those fore-heaters, two of which are provided for each column, are not less than 10,000 liters each, so that the fermented wash lasts for a very long time. Pairault attributes the preservation of the aroma to a column apparatus and strongly recommends it, and also recommends that a large kettle be placed under the column to keep the fermented liquid on the fire for as long as possible and to add as much flavor as possible. to withdraw.

(1) t.a.p. 70, 74, 75.

[Opinions like this are a gem. Time under heat is a concept I have worked on for quite a while through my Distiller’s Workbook and while generating ideas that can start on a pilot plant then scale up to larger stills. It is also important for understanding the limitations of home distillation. A very interesting point mentioned here is that with batch distillation for odd things like export only concentrates, the neutral centers can be removed from spirits. I call this super fractionation and Arroyo elaborates it greatly to its supreme conclusion.]

Nevertheless, the stillage which runs away still contains a lot of smelling substances and this is undoubtedly the reason why in many regions the fresh molasses are mixed with a mixture of water and the fired stillage [dunder] for the preparation of a new wash. This is done only when a very aromatic distillate is desired and only mixed with water when a beverage will be prepared for personal use. The ratios are e.g. 10 to 15 volumes of molasses, 20 to 35 parts of water and 70 to 80 volumes of stillage, while the remainder of the stillage, which remains, is thrown away. The addition of the stillage makes the aroma of the distillate stronger and this is attributed to the nutrients for the yeast, which would contain it, citing the fact that in the laboratory of the mycologists yeast decoction also forms a good breeding ground for yeast. Apart from that, that in the first instance these nutrients must have been present in the syrup and thus originate from the same raw material as is always used again, it appears from no test that an increase in aroma was noticed by intensive fermentation, after nitrogenous and other nutrients in a fermenting wash were mixed. The most obvious reason for increased aroma upon addition of the stillage of a previous operation in the wash for the new one is the fact that it still contains aromatic fermentation products which have not been removed from the first distilling and which are now gradually accumulate, partly pass into smaller distillations and strengthen the newly formed aroma through their own presence.

[I spent a lot of time drawing flow charts and looking at why we recycle fractions. It isn’t always about salvaging alcohol. Often its about giving more time under heat and another chance for aromatic congeners to make it across. There are only a few exit point from the recycling loops that contribute to production. What is interesting is that we do not even give names to some of the fractions so they go taken for granted.]

A prerequisite for such an exhaustion of all volatile parts driven to extremes is that at least one drinkable product is to be obtained, that the raw material used is free from odorous substances which might impart an unpleasant taste to the distillate, as is the case in the distillation of potatoes, beetroot carrots, madder among others, from which very bad smelling and tasting lag products arise. If a molasses is distilled, which smells uncomfortably after fermentation, the unpleasant tasting of the distillate at the higher alcohols will cause such unpleasant tasting in the distillate that, despite the good analysis, the product can not be sold. In order to show which differences in composition one finds in what is meant by cane sugar molasses in the various countries, here I give some average compositions of raw materials for rum in the West Indies according to Pairault.

[Some major rum faults would be be sorted out until the work of Fahrasmane in the 1970’s and 80’s.]

The analysis of molasses from the Antilles, separated in centrifuges from the sugar third product, is on average as follows: (1).

Saccharose                        30 a 40
Glucose                             32 » 22
Asch                                    4 » 6
Water and undetermined 34 » 32
100 100

(1) Pairault. Le rhum et sa fabrication pag. 20, 25, 26.

This raw material is the most important for the preparation of export, all the great distillers of Martinique use (or rather used) them, and those of Guadeloupe, Trinidad, Jamaica etc.

[This statement about Martinique might acknowledge their transition to fresh sugarcane juice.]

Furthermore, a first syrup is used in smaller distilleries, which is stripped from the muscovado. Cane juice is evaporated and placed in flat containers for cooling and crystallization, after which the crystallized mass is scooped into barrels, which are provided with holes. The sugar crystals remain behind the syrup is used for rum making. It is of course much richer in sugar than the previous one and has about this analysis:

Saccharose                                 52.47
Glucose                                      15.07
Asch                                              3.00
Water (door indrogen bepaald) 26.00
Onbepaald                                    3.46

A third raw material is evaporated cane juice, which is concentrated to 40 Beaumé and often contains sugar crystals. They prefer it over raw, uncooked juice, because that sometimes produces bad products by wild yeasts.

Pairault also points out that the juices are kept acidic, and then it does not surprise us that after fermentation of so pure raw materials we get washes, which can be distilled to the utmost, without causing any smelly substances to pass. That these molasses are very pure. It also appears from this that large quantities from Barbados, Puerto Rico, the other Antilles, Demera, etc. are shipped to the United States to serve as a delicacy and to prepare baking, a use to which our Java molasses is used, will never use it. In my laboratory book, I also find an analysis of melasses, by Prof. Went of his mission to the West Indies and Suriname, kindly brought for me, these figures:

All these end molasses therefore have purities of above 50°; they taste sweet without a bitter aftertaste and are bright brown in color.

The Java molasses, on the other hand, which I do not describe as need, are exhausted as far as possible, dark, sticky and bitter in taste as a result of the alkaline treatment of the juices. With such a raw material as a basis, it will soon become a problem that the arrak gets an unpleasant melange taste and therefore can not distill so far to get all the crystals.

Now I know very well that a lot of Molasses from Tegalsche and also from Pekalongan factories are sent to Batavia to serve there for the arrak production, but I have repeatedly assured myself that the Chinese distillers are mainly using the syrup of the native sugar factories. Buying in Tangerang and also fermenting syrup sugar, so that their raw materials would then be just as pure as the ones mentioned above, allowing distillation without getting bad-tasting ingredients in the distillate.

[Arroyo eventually puts a big emphasis on molasses pre-treatment]

Where in the factories we do our best to exhaust the molasses as far as possible, we can not expect that it will produce a well-tinged, high-listed arrak, and we come to the final conclusion, that when we desire a product which is fragrant and superior, we must start from a pure raw material. If we do this, we will lose all the profit again, because first of all it is more advantageous to exhaust the sucrose as far as possible and to make as much sugar as possible, than to leave a lot of sugar in it, and convert to alcohol. If one wants to distill, it is a lot of work to make pure alcohol from the syrup and sell it as such, if there is at least demand for it, and not to try to use a finer, more fragrant product from a much more expensively prepared raw material, that no buyers find, because the continuing temperance movement in Europe has reduced the demand for arrak so that it does not pay to start a new factory. In general, the demand for alcohol is so small that it is not advisable to put in so much effort and perhaps the best option is to use the molasses that have been exhausted as far as possible as fuel.

[As fascinating as the science is, its just not viable to make even full flavored spirits.]

Finally, some details in the analytical field. I was repeatedly asked, even during my last stay in Europe, whether I knew no means to demonstrate in a sample arrak whether this was really an artificial product. Above, I already stated that various reactions had been proposed, such as an aldehyde or furfurol, which did go for real arrak, but also produced a positive result in many artificial reproductions. The furfural reaction is in its place in such a way, if this substance also occurs under the last over distilling substances, e.g. when it is found in arrak that is a drinkable proof is that it has been fired very far and is real. For a decoyer, who is aware of his time, however, it is not a problem to insert the trace of furfurol, which gives the reaction, into the essence, with which the artificial arrak is made, so that characteristic becomes too uncertain. There is no reaction which passes through a test tube, to indicate whether arrak is actually an export or an artificial product composed of sauces and essences and the only way to make that out that the beverage to be tested is quantitatively examined in the manner indicated in this essay and compared to the figures obtained in the list for No. 1, 2 and 3 specified.

[Compare what you have to the three best he put at the top of his list!]

If they essentially agree with this, then the arrak is real, if not, then it is an artificial product, and from the absence of one or other component it is then possible to deduce further conclusions by a skilled chemist.

The question remains whether the essences that occur in the trade are not added to dilute alcohol, the same quantitative composition of acid. ester, aldehyde and higher alcohol can produce the Batavia arrak, so that the research is led on the wrong track. A look at the composition of the esters shows, however, that such a fear is unfounded.

For esters, the arrak essence contains about four times the content of arrak, to free acid not even the figure, which shows arrak to that component and so it goes with the other essences too. According to the regulations, 1 c.M3. essence is sufficient for 1 liter of alcohol, so that one can see that the analysis of such a mixture can not deviate much from that of alcohol, and the admixtures supplied in the essence are reduced to very insignificant quantities. Finally, I prepared a mixture of alcohol and essences and did some chemical analysis, the same composition as a real arrak, but the smell and taste of that mixture were so horribly strong and penetrating, that no one would resort to such decoy. Only the total chemical analysis therefore gives a complete answer to the question of whether a sample is a real Batavia arrak or not.

1 thought on “The Quality Of The Java-Arrak. by H. C. Prinsen Geerligs (1905)

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