Info

Note: Determinations were made according to the official methods of analysis of the Association of Office Agricultural Chemists.

"Determined by the Komarowsky colorimetric method.

'As acetic acid.

cAs ethyl acetate.

dAs acetaldehyde.

Note: Determinations were made according to the official methods of analysis of the Association of Office Agricultural Chemists.

"Determined by the Komarowsky colorimetric method.

'As acetic acid.

cAs ethyl acetate.

dAs acetaldehyde.

dard of quality, consumers know very little about it. Not much information is revealed by government regulations, which only specify the use of cereal grains and a minimum requirement for aging in oak casks; in Britain, spirits described as Scotch Whisky shall not be deemed to correspond to that description unless they have been obtained by distillation in Scotland from a mash of cereal grain saccharified by the diastase of malt and have been matured in warehouse in cask for a period of at least three years.

In the United States,

Scotch Whisky is a distinctive product of Scotland, manufactured in Scotland in compliance with the laws of Great Britain regulating the manufacture of Scotch Whisky for consumption in Great Britain, and containing no distilled spirits less than three years old.

This minimum age requirement is greatly exceeded by the Scotch distillers. For example, nothing under 4 years of age is included in their exports to the United States, and for the most part, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-yr minimum ages are featured in their brands. Most Scotch brands are blends of grain whiskies and numerous distinctive malt whiskies are produced by more than 100 distilleries in four major areas of Scotland. Malt whiskies are characterized by their location.

Even though there are many distilleries and, no doubt, slight variations in their production methods (that is how single whiskies acquire the characteristics attributable to each specific plant) there are definite processes generally used. A basic knowledge of these traditional methods, still in use today, is needed to fully appreciate the quality concept inherent in Scotch whisky.

As in Canada, no government limitations are placed on production and maturation techniques. The Scotch distillers are guided by their production experience developed over many centuries and by consumer reactions.

The outstanding taste characteristic of Scotch, its subtle smoky flavor, is due to the techniques used in the production of malt whiskies. Malted barley, dried over peat fires, is the only grain ingredient in the mash. The kind and the amount of peat used in the fires determines the intensity of flavor in the final product. The aroma of the burning peat, known as peat reek, is absorbed by the barley malt. This smoky flavor is carried through to the final distillate and becomes a characteristic of single malt whisky. Peat is heather, fern, and evergreen that have been subjected to aging and compression processes over the centuries.

The dried malted barley is ground to a grist and allowed to hydrolyze in a mash tub. After conversion is completed, the liquid portion, or wort, is drained off, cooled, and placed in a fermenter. After fermentation, the separation of malt whisky from the fermented wort takes place in a batch distillation system, a copper kettle with a "worm," or spiral tube, leading from its head. The size and shape of these pot stills exert a definite influence on the character of the whiskies. Another critical factor is the selection of the product during that portion of the distillation cycle that will produce the desired flavors. The first portion in the cycle is referred to as foreshots and the last as feints (heads and tails in the United States). The middle portion, after further distillation, becomes high wines and is subsequently reduced to maturation proof for storage in oak casks. The final distillation proof is in the 140-160° (70-80%) range.

The grain whiskies used in Scotch brands are produced in a manner similar to the production techniques used in Canada and in the United States. Corn (referred to in the UK as maize), rye, and barley malt are the ingredients. The proportions again depend on the individual distiller. Because delicate flavors are desired, the distillation proof is around 180-186° (90-93%). The distillation system is basically a Coffey still composed of two columns.

The grain whiskies are generally aged in matured oak casks of 190-L capacities not unlike U.S. and Canadian barrels. Some malt whiskies acquire other distinctive qualities by being matured in oak casks that were previously used for sherry.

Whereas the materials, geographic location, and production processes are responsible for the uniqueness of Scotch whisky, it is the skill of the blender that achieves the quality of the final product. As many as 20 and sometimes more, different malt and grain whiskies are married to produce a brand. Of course, the formulae are well-guarded secrets.

Irish. Irish whiskey is manufactured either in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland in compliances with their laws regulating the manufacture of Irish whiskey for home consumption and containing no distilled spirits less than three years old. Like Scotch, Irish whiskeys are blends of grain and malt whiskeys. Unlike Scotch, Irish whiskey does not have the unique smoky taste because the barley malt is not dried over peat fires. Because whiskey has been known in Ireland as long as in Scotland, it is not surprising that their production techniques are closely related. One variation, however, is the use of some small grain, mostly barley, in addition to barley malt in the production of malt whiskey. The production process involves four basic steps: brewing (mashing), fermentation, distillation, and maturation. Mashing takes place in a Kieve (mash tun), a circular metal vessel with two bottoms; the upper is perforated, which permits the wort (converted grain starch or maltose) to be filtered to the underback and sent on to the washbacks (fermenters) where the inoculation with and action by yeast produces the whiskey. The wash (fermented mash) is then distilled in a pot still (batch), producing a low wine of about 100° proof (50%), which in turn is redistilled to produce first shots (fore shots) from which the final product or whiskey of about 140-150° proof (70-75%) is distilled. Irish whiskey brands are generally considered to be more flavorful and heavier bodied than Scotch blended whiskies.

United States. Distilled spirits for beverage purposes in the United States are characterized specifically as to type, materials, composition, distillation proofs, maturation proofs, storage containers, and the extent of the aging period. The federal government also requires that a detailed statement of the production process be filed for each type and any subsequent improvements or changes must be filed and approved before being placed into operation. In addition, a generalized application of the regulations is made to establish the identity of products where the intensity of flavor may not conform to an arbitrary organoleptic evaluation based on chemical analysis. As a result, in spite of extensive manufacturing facilities and know-how available for the production of a wide range of whiskies, the distiller is restrained within narrow limits and does not enjoy the degree of latitude available to the Canadian and Scotch distillers. U.S. regulations, by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms of the Treasury Department, are very specific and more limiting than those of Canada or the UK. Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart C, paragraph 5.22 et seq. sets the standards of identity for all distilled spirits. Those that are a factor in the U.S. market are given here.

Whisky is an alcoholic distillate from a fermented mash of grain produced at less than 190° proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to whisky, stored in oak containers, and bottled at not less than 80° proof.

Neutral Spirits or alcohol are distilled spirits produced from any material at or above 190° proof.

The requirement of distilling above 190° proof (95%) gives a distiller an opportunity to take advantage of the physical relationship that exists between water, alcohol, and congeners that are produced during fermentation. The sophisticated equipment utilized by progressive distillers permits a technique known as selective distillation, whereby the distiller can remove all congeners or retain those that are deemed desirable.

Grain spirits are neutral spirits distilled from a fermented mash of grain and stored in oak containers.

Because grain spirits have delicate flavors, they must be stored in oak barrels previously seasoned through the storage of whisky or grain neutral spirits. It is important that the barrel is compatible with the flavor intensity of the grain neutral spirits; otherwise, the woody character of the barrel would overwhelm the light flavor of the grain neutral spirits and thus prevent proper development during aging. Grain neutral spirits are produced on continuous and batch distillation systems. Each produces a number of distillates having a low flavor intensity that, when stored in barrels, develop in flavor in the same manner as whisky (4).

The batch system, related to the pot still, is simpler in concept and offers an opportunity to use the heart-of-the-run principle for the production of grain neutral spirits. Sometimes referred to as a time-cycle distillation system, it involves three stages: (2) the heads (aldehydes) are removed, (2) the product is removed, and (3) the residual distillate (tails) remaining in the kettle is removed for subsequent redistillation in the continuous system. The batch system is composed of a large kettle with a capacity of up to 190,000 L (50,000 wine gal) with a vapor pipe leading to a product-concentrating column having as many as 55 bubble-cap plates. The large capacity of the kettle is important in maintaining product uniformity. Straight whisky, produced in the normal manner in the whisky column, is pumped into the kettle, indirect steam heat is applied through a coil within the kettle, and the alcoholic vapors rise into the product column where they are refined. The grain neutral spirits thus produced are reduced in proof with deionized water to between 110 and 160° proof (55 and 80%), put in oak barrels, and placed in government bonded warehouses for storage.

Vodka is neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.

This definition has come under fire recently because some vodkas on the market claim to have some flavor. Since the 1950s drinking patterns in the United States have become more diversified. Vodka has moved up from negligible sales in 1949 to 36% in 1996. The fact that it can be mixed with any flavored substance seems to be the reason for its wide acceptance.

Rye whisky, bourbon whisky, or malt whisky is whisky produced at not more than 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51% rye, corn, or malted barley respectively, and stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers.

Corn whisky is whisky produced at not more than 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 80% corn. It may or may not be stored in oak containers, but only in used or unchanged ones.

In producing bourbon whisky, eg, the mashing formula must contain at least 51% corn and the remaining ingredients (49%) generally are proportioned between rye grains and barley malt. Each distiller selects a preferred formula. Very little bourbon with 49% small grains is produced. The most popular proportions are 60% corn, 28% rye, 12% barley malt (referred to as 40% small grains), 70-18-12 (30% small grains), and 75-13-12 (25% small grains). Although some bourbons use as much as 15% barley malt, the general practice in the industry is to use 12% barley malt for all bourbon production.

Because rye and barley malt produce more intensive flavors than corn, the formula with the greater small-grains proportion will produce a bourbon with more body, provided, of course, that the same distillation techniques are used.

Straight whisky may be any of the whiskies in the preceding two paragraphs that have been stored in the prescribed oak containers for two years or more. A straight whisky may further be identified as bottled in bond, provided it is at least four years of age, bottled at 100° proof (50%), and distilled at one plant by the same proprietor. A bottled-in-bond whisky may contain homogeneous mixtures of whiskies, provided they represent one season, or if consolidated with other seasons, the mixture shall be the distilling season of the youngest spirits contained therein, and shall consist of not less than 10% of spirits of each such season.

Light whisky is whisky produced in the United States at more than 160° proof, and stored in used or uncharred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies. If light whisky is mixed with less than 20% by volume of 100° proof (50%) straight whisky the mixture shall be designated Blended Light Whisky.

Blended whisky is a mixture which contains straight whisky or a blend of straight whiskies at not less than 20 percent on a proof gallon basis, and, separately, or in combination, whisky or neutral spirits. A blended whisky containing not less than 51 percent on a proof gallon basis of one of the types of straight whisky shall be further designated by that specific type of straight whisky; for example, "blended rye whisky." Scotch whisky is whisky which is a distinctive product of Scotland, manufactured in Scotland in compliance with the laws of the United Kingdom regulating the manufacture of Scotch whisky for consumption in the United Kingdom: such product is a mixture of whiskies, such mixture is "blended Scotch whisky."

Irish whisky is whisky which is a distinctive product of Ireland, manufactured either in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland, in compliance with their laws regulating the manufacture of Irish whisky for home consumption: if such product is a mixture of whiskies, such mixture is "blended Irish whiskey."

Canadian whisky is whisky which is a distinctive product of Canada, manufactured in Canada in compliance with the laws of Canada regulating the manufacture of Canadian whisky for consumption in Canada: if such product is a mixture of whiskies, such mixture is "blended Canadian whisky."

Gins

Gin is a product obtained by original distillation from mash, or by redistillation of distilled spirits, or by mixing neutral spirits, with or over juniper berries and other aromatics, or with or over extracts derived from infusions, percolations, or maceration of such materials, and includes mixtures of gin and neutral spirits. It shall derive its main characteristic flavor from juniper berries and be bottled at not less than 80° proof.

France de La Boe, a 17th-century professor of medicine at Leyden University, The Netherlands, is credited with being the originator of the botanical-flavored spirits known as gin. Because his product's primary flavor was due to the essential oils extracted from juniper berries, he gave it the French name jenievre, which appeared later as the Dutch geneva and finally as the English gin. Gin produced exclusively by original distillation or by redistillation may be further designated as distilled. Gin derives its main characteristic flavor from juniper berries. In addition to juniper berries, other botanicals may be used, including angelica root; anise; coriander; caraway seeds; lime, lemon and orange peel; licorice; calamus; cardamom; cassia bark; orris root; and bitter almonds. The use and proportion of any of these botanicals in the gin formula is left to the producer, and the character and quality of the gin depends to a great extent on the skill of the craftsman in formulating the recipe. The more skilled producers formulate their aromatic ingredients on the basis of the essential oil content in the raw materials to assure a greater degree of product uniformity.

To expose the essential oils, the ingredients are reduced to a granular form and then immersed directly into the kettle (pot), which is filled with grain neutral spirits at approximately 100° proof (50%). A vapor-phase extraction may also be used. In this case, the botanical mixture is placed on trays or in baskets in the head of the kettle where the alcoholic vapors passing by extract the essential oils and rise to the condenser.

It is important that the grain spirits be as neutral as possible (devoid of congeners) to avoid undesirable flavors. In addition to the kettle, some gin stills have a refinement section (as many as six plates) above the kettle for flavor stability and enrichment. Indirect steam heat is applied and the various essential oils are distilled over during the entire distillation cycle. The first (heads) and last (tails) portions of the cycle are not included in the product. Only the heart of the run is used, representing approximately an 85% recovery of the original alcohol concentration and varying with the type of product desired. Some distillers, to avoid thermal decomposition of the delicate flavors and to acquire a degree of softness, conduct the distillation under reduced pressure at a temperature of about 57°C. London Dry Gin, for example, is produced in this manner.

British and Canadian regulations permit and recognize the use of maturation techniques for gin. Gins stored in special oak casks acquire a pale golden hue and a unique dryness of flavor. Although distillers are permitted to store gins in the United States for further flavor development, the federal government does not permit any reference to aging to appear on the label.

Holland Gin, characterized by its high flavor intensity derived mostly from juniper berries and cereal grains (corn, rye, and barley malt), is produced by immersing the botanical mixture directly into the grain mash before distillation or by extracting the essential oils from the botanical mixture with the heavy distillate (high wines) from a fermented mash of grain, consisting of corn, rye, and barley malt. Consequently, the flavors produced during fermentation become flavor components of the final product. Compound gin is a mixture of grain spirits and essential oil extracts from botanicals. It does not undergo any distillation procedure.

Brandies

Brandy is an alcoholic distillate from the fermented juice, mash, or wine of fruit, or from the residue thereof, produced at less than 190° proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to the product, and bottled at not less than 80° proof.

The most important category of brandy is fruit brandy, distilled solely from the juice or mash of whole, sound, ripe fruit or from standard grape, citrus, or other fruit wine. Brandy derived exclusively from one variety of fruit is so designated. However, a fruit brandy derived exclusively from grapes may be designated as brandy without further qualification, and unless the product is specifically identified, the term brandy always means grape brandy. Brandy is subject to a distillation limitation of 170° proof (85%). If distilled over 170° proof (85%), it must be further identified as neutral brandy. A minimum of two years of maturation in oak casks is required, otherwise the term immature must be included in the designation. Although the age is not indicated on the label, brandies are normally aged from three to eight years.

Brandies are produced in batch or continuous distillation systems. The pot still or its variation is universally used in France, whereas in the United States both systems are employed. The batch system produces a more flavorful product, the continuous system a lighter, more delicate flavor.

The history of brandy can be said to be the history of distillation, because in the distant past it was the distillation of wine in crude stills that produced aqua vitae. In the ensuing evolution, many areas of Europe and of the United States became renowned for their brandies. Perhaps the most popular brandy comes from the Cognac region of France, in the Department of Charente and Charente Inférieure. As such, it enjoys an exclusive identity, Cognac, under which no other brandy may be labeled. Cognac is produced in the traditional pot stills by small farmers and sold to the bottlers who age the brandies in limousin oak casks. When the brandies reach maturity, they are skillfully blended for marketing under their own brand name.

Cognac is a blend of some Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, and Fins Bois, the proportions of each being a well-kept secret. To further characterize Cognac, the bottle is labeled: E, especial; F, fine; V, very; O, old; S, superior; P, pale; X, extra; C, Cognac; eg, VSOP means very superior old pale, and is considered to be a better-quality product.

Another well-known brandy of Frances is Armagnac, produced in southern France. Armagnac is distilled from wines in a continuous system using two pot stills in series. Armagnac is considered to be more heavy-bodied and drier than Cognac. Brandies are distilled in almost every wine region of France; they are called eau de vie, exported as French Brandy, never as Cognac.

In the United States, California produces almost all of the grape brandy. Generally, it is a well-integrated operation, the cultivation of the grapes, the making of the wine, the distilling, aging, bottling, and the marketing of the brandy being done by the same firm. Usually a continuous multicolumn distillation system is employed. Of the total U.S. brandy consumption of approximately 56 million L (15 million gal) California brandies account for over 80%.

Blended applejack is accorded a special classification as a mixture that contains at least 20% of apple brandy (applejack) on a proof basis, stored in oak containers for not less than two years, and not more than 80% of neutral spirits on a proof gallon basis and bottled at not less than 80° proof (40%). Another class of beverage spirits, flavored brandy, is a brandy to which natural flavoring materials have been added with or without the addition of sugar; it is bottled at no less than 70° proof (35%). The name of the predominant flavor appears as part of the designation, ie, blackberry flavored brandy; cherry flavored brandy, etc. Such a flavored brandy may contain up to 12.5% of wine derived from the particular fruit corresponding to the labeled flavor.

Certain areas in Europe and in South America are well known for their specialty brandies, such as Spanish brandies, distilled from Jerez sherry wine; the fragrant, fruity

Portuguese brandies, distilled from port wine; the pleasant and flowery muscat bouquet of Pisco brandy from Peru; Kirschwasser brandy, with its almond undertone flavor, distilled from a fermented mash of small black cherries, which grow along the Rhine Valley in Germany and Switzerland; and Slivovitz, the plum brandy, which is produced in Hungary and in the Balkan countries.

Cognac or Cognac (grape) brandy, is grape brandy distilled in the Cognac region of France, which is entitled to be so designated by the laws and regulations of the French Government.

Rums

Rum is an alcoholic distillate from the fermented juice of sugar cane, sugar cane syrup, sugar cane molasses, or other sugar cane by-products, produced at less than 190° proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to rum, and bottled at not less than 80° proof.

Blackstrap molasses is the most common raw material for the manufacture of rum. Otherwise, the same basic factors that produce different whiskies are responsible for the flavor varieties of rums. The type of yeast, fermentation environment, distillation techniques and systems, the maturation conditions, and not least the blending skill all contribute to the final character and quality of rum. Blackstrap molasses varies in composition according to origin owing to the environment and to some extent on the processing of cane (a greater recovery of sugar is usually reflected in a lower concentration of residual sugar in the molasses). A typical composition of Puerto Rican blackstrap molasses is as follows:

pH

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