Can the moonshine be hot during the distillation?
Isn’t it bad?
Which way does it influence the product quality?
On the theme concerning hot distillate, not only alcohol, many a lance was broken in conversations and a lot of flood is bred on thematic forums, in smokerooms and kitchens. I decided to highlight this topic. I put this text to other resources as well, but in shortened form. The uncut version is available on two sites: here and :
If you want to copy this information, please point out both sources.
Now, let us get right to the theme. What arguments are made by those who are in favour of cold moonshine or, speaking more broadly, distillate in general?
The main argument is “Because!”
And it is not a joke. Most people reply as Portos does in the Soviet film “Three Musketeers”:
– Why do you fight?
– I fight? Because I fight!
To our case that is, I make moonshine to have it cold because I make moonshine to have it cold!
It is clear that such an answer can satisfy only a person who answers, but not a person who asks the question.
Some people consider that if the temperature of the distillate is very hot, the moonshine evaporates a lot. They are right. If you cool the distillate just a couple degrees below the condensation temperature, a lot of the distillate is evaporated. But you either need reliable automatics for stable maintenance of such conditions or are to stick to the apparatus regulators and keep an eye on them during the whole process. However, it is not necessary in the home or for a domovar. Also, it is normal to cool the distillate not to the temperature of water, but to 45-55 degrees Celsius, especially, during the first distillation, which must be performed as quickly as possible.
Yet, during the second distillation, it is not very good to have the hot distillate. I would like to underline, that the above-mentioned concerns just distillation, not rectification. The fact is that the process of rectification is usually controlled by sensors, while at distillation process we use an organoleptic control, that means that we taste the product ourselves. Still, tasting hot distillation is little informative action if you are not used to it.
However, there is a method and I used it myself, although it is not my own invention. You need to have a set of metal shot glasses (metal is the most preferably) standing on ice or in cold water. You pour the hot distillation in them, and the resulting temperature is suitable to taste.
It took me some time and efforts to get the proper result. To begin with, I turned the shot glasses by myself of stainless steel and copper and I was far from being a good metal turner, that is why I was afraid to make shot glasses with thin walls and therefore they had 50 milliliters of volume and 100 grams of weigh, or something about that. As a result, at my first attemps I got too low temperature. I put shot glasses on the ice, poured them incomplete and the output product was very cold and little informative as well. Later I began to put the shot glasses in cold water, and everything became good. Gradually I was used to tasting hot distillation and even found in that some kind of charm and usefulness: in that way stinkers were better felt.
At distillation of aromatic distillate, this method is incorrect if you do it for the first time and use an organoleptic control, that is, you taste and estimate the output product. The fact is that a lot of aromas at higher temperatures do not just produce a stronger odour, but their smell is distorted at all. In large and small concentrations, we perceive many substances too differently. That is, not just strong and weak (remaining the same), but different smells. A vivid example that I often take is skatole:
Here are some excerpts from Wiki about the skatole:
“Skatole is derived from the amino acid tryptophan in the mammalian digestive tract. Tryptophan is converted to indoleacetic acid, which decarboxylates to give the methylindole.“
“In high concentrations it is the primary odot of feces. In low concentrations, it has a flowery smell and is found in several flowers and essential oils, including those of orange blossoms, jasmine and Ziziphus mauritiana.”
“It is used as a fragrance and fixative in many perfumes and as an aroma compound.”
When distilling the herb infusion, the hot distillate can give off a smell different from the cold distillate. The hot distillate not only has a stronger smell than the cold one, but the smell can be completely distorted.
Therefore, in my experience and from the experience of my colleagues, you should collect the distillation at temperatures above room temperature, but the temperature still should be below the boiling point within assured delta of 10-20 degrees, when additional conditions are met:
1. You realise that at some changes in your system there will be no breakthrough of steam, and if it will be, it is not scary to you. That is, you are always nearby and react to it, or there is automatics. Or maybe you mean a radical option: your real, but thoroughly hidden target is to blasted the room. That is why, having lit a candle for vapor detonation, you went for a walk.
2. In the distillation there is no highly volatile aromas, or you want to get rid of it, having ejected it into the atmosphere and turning the room into a kind of perfume shop after the accident.
Once I was distilling a concentration of wormwood oils, and realising that if there was a smell of wormwood the room, then that meant something went away, I stopped not just at the cold output, but the vessel was in a basin with ice.
And in another case, while distilling the mixture of herbs with the predominance of melilot, I found out that if the temperature of the final product is 45-48 degrees and in the room there is the smell, and in addition, it is sharp, then as a result, the product is much more pleasant to drink (of course, IMHO and according to friends of mine brought up on my drinks). That is, everything that was unnecessary to our taste has gone. Such a method requires an individual approach to each composition.
3. Here I would like to say a few words not about a condition, but present my thoughts on “whether gases are dissolved or are not dissolved in hot distillate”.
Put this out of your mind unless you write a work on chemistry. Because if you distil standard distillation for yourself from year to year, you will experimentally select what you need. If every time you have different distillation, then you get different gases and you need different conditions. If you are a domovar with experience, you will be helped by experience and tasting. If you are without any experience, but you have your brain, consult with experienced friends of yours. If you are without any experience and without a brain, you will soon leave our ranks (it will be nice if you do not bring your neighbours down with you).
4. And, naturally, hot distillate should be collected in a closed vessel, so that it will not evaporate much more unless that is your goal. Sometimes it is collected purposely without closing the cover. Then the sulfur compounds evaporate, the rotten smell disappears (totally or not, as it will work). But also it is important to understand that if you pour the distillate at temperature close to the condensation temperature into a wide open vessel, then a lot of useful stuff can volatilize.
It is necessary and helpful to keep the brain turned on at all stages of the process.